It's not much of a secret, at least around here, that my wife, while fond of drinking cocktails is not so keen on making them. She keeps a notebook of favorites that have roughly three ingredients or less but sometimes I'll just batch a whole bottle's worth of drink to make her life a little easier.

Lately, those bottles have been in the Old Fashioned vein.


Recipes for the syrups used are below. They're both basically 2:1 with the sugar portion split between a few different types of sugar. Citrus peels have been steeped in the one designed for use with whiskey and there's some pineapple in the rum version. They both have bitters added as well. Batching cocktails with bitters can be tricky - sometimes they're more intense after they've been sitting in the bottle for a day or two. They're added with a light hand here to accommodate that but if you'd like to skip that step and add it per drink, go right ahead.

My goal here was to make something Amanda (ok, ok, I use these bottles too. Somewhat regularly.) could just pour over some ice and call good. Also, they each have some gum arabic because I have a ton of it on hand and I like how it can alter the texture of things. Certainly not required, but if you have it, give it a spin.


Simple Syrup for Whiskey Old Fashioned
200g Sugar (120 White, 40 Muscovado, 40 demerara)
100 g Water
1 med/large Lemon - Peel
1 Orange - Peel
50 g Gum Arabic
6 tsp (1 oz) Peychaud's
2 tsp Angostura

Dissolve sugars in water over med heat. Add citrus peels. Bring to boil. Remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain and discard peels. Return to heat and just before it begins to simmer, knock the heat back to low and begin whisking gum arabic in incrementally. A super small whisk is pretty handy here. Fine strain to remove any clumped up bits of gum. Stir in bitters. Let cool. Skim film off top. Refrigerate and use as needed.

Pour a bottle (750 ml) of bourbon or rye in a large container and stir in 2 oz of the syrup*. It won't probably fit back in the bottle so you're just going to have to drink an ounce or two. Of course, you could instead add it by the teaspoon to individual servings. However, having a bottle of pre-made cocktails can be insanely gratifying when you're feeling lazy or at a loss as to what to make. As such, it's a small but worthwhile investment.


Simple Syrup for Rum Old Fashioned
200 g Sugar (120 White, 40 Muscovado, 40 Demerara)
100 g Water
1/2 Pineapple (Peeled, Cored, Cut in slabs)
1/8 tsp Salt
50 g Gum Arabic
3 tsp (1/2 oz) Peychaud's
1 tsp Angostura

Put a non stick skillet over high heat. Let it get hot. Add the pineapple. Once it gets brown and begins to caramelize (2-3 minutes) flip the slab(s) over and repeat. Remove the pineapple and cut into rough chunks. Return pan to heat and use water listed above to deglaze. Put that water in small pot over medium heat, add the sugars and salt. Stir to dissolve. Add the pineapple chunks. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain off pineapples. Return to low heat and whisk in gum arabic incrementally. Fine strain. Stir in bitters. Let cool. Skim off film. Refrigerate and use as needed. 

Same deal as with the other syrup. Mix 2 oz of this pineapple syrup with a bottle of rum (I like using something aged). Again, you're going to have to drink some to fit it back in the bottle but that's just a bonus in my opinion.

This syrup was strongly influenced (ie: cribbed almost entirely) by the recipe in Duggan McDonnell's excellent book Drinking the Devil's Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and Her Cocktails. It's a fascinating look at San Francisco's history and the connection that city has to various drinks. As you can imagine it's full of great recipes.




* Sometimes the whiskey gets a little cloudy after adding the syrup. Once there's a few ounces in a glass with some ice though, it usually clears right up. Dilution and science at play.




Ok, one more. This one's pretty much a warm, baking spice, Christmas blanket of a syrup which includes a bunch of flavors I associate with this time of year - gingerbread, egg nog, etc. Mix it with some whole milk and blackstrap rum for a Santa Shot version of milk and cookies or use it as the sweetener for a holiday riff on an Old Fashioned.


Holiday Simple
200 g Brown Sugar
50 g Molasses
50 g Honey
150 g Water
15 g Ginger (cut into coins)
4 Cinnamon Sticks - broken
2 tsp Cloves (whole)
3 tsp (1 Tbsp) Allspice (whole)
1/2 tsp grated Nutmeg

Toast the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add water, brown sugar, molasses and honey to a small pot and put over medium heat stirring to dissolve. Add the toasted spices, ginger and nutmeg. Reduce heat. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let cool. Strain, bottle and refrigerate.