This is a drink to close out the year with - simple, strong, made for winter. It's a maple leaf cocktail (typically made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon) with a few tweaks. I've been making them with whatever lemony-winter citrus is around. After starting with standard Eureka lemons, I branched out to Meyer lemons, and then onto yuzu, a varietal of Japanese citrus. Recently, I've been blending - the yuzu is intense, fat with seeds, on the dry side, while Meyers are more floral, with a softer flavor, positively gushing with juice.
I add salt to this drink. I mean, the absolute smallest amount of fine grain sea salt. Barely a whisper. It works nicely to balance things out, snap flavors into focus - sweet, sour, salt, bourbon base. Not sure how people are going to feel about that, but there you have it, a little secret. If you want to be more exacting than I am, grind your salt powder-fine with a mortar and pestle before proceeding. It'll incorporate more quickly into the liquids.
I hope you like this as much as I do. In general, I like the combination of lemon and maple syrup. And not just in cocktails. But, I need something to edge out the sweet depths of pure maple. Lemon, or other lemony-citrus, tends to do the job. In fact, if drinks aren't your thing, I bet you could skip the bourbon altogether here and work this into a nice dressing with the zest, some herbs, and olive oil?
A couple tips (I'll also include below): You can find yuzu at some winter farmers markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and they keep reasonably well refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I don't have one, and I use a jar in it's place - use the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer). xoxo -h
Yuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail
It goes without saying, but cocktails should be mixed to your liking. Feel free to make tweaks the same way you would with any other culinary creation. You might like these a touch more tart than I do, or a hint less sweet. Go for it. If you can't find yuzu or Meyer lemons, absolutely have a go with regular market lemons.
As I mention up above, you can find yuzu at some winter farmers' markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and keep nicely, wrapped and refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I just use a jar in it's place, using the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer).
2 ounces / 1/4 cup bourbon (I used Michter's)
3/4 ounce / 1 1/2 tablespoon good maple syrup
1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon well-strained, fresh yuzu juice
1/2 ounce / 1 tablespoon well-strained, fresh Meyer lemon juice
extra small pinch of fine grain sea salt
Chill a few small cocktail or cordial glasses in the freezer. I typically use ones that are larger than shot glasses, but not quite by double.
Combine the bourbon, maple syrup, citrus juices, and salt in a cocktail shaker or jar (with lid). Fill with ice, cover, and shake vigorously - well enough that that maple syrup gets well incorporated. It's heavier than the other liquids and likes to hug the bottom of the shaker, you also want to give the salt time to dissolve.
Strain into the chilled glasses and serve immediately.
Makes 2-3 small drinks, or one larger cocktail.
Prep time: 2 minutes