Ahhhhh summer. We’ve waited so long for this here in Wisconsin, and I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to enjoy the fresh fruits and herbs that flourish here! Except I get busy. And I don’t know how to make jam. And I feel the fresh bounty of the yard, the farmer’s market, even the grocery store slipping out of my reach…
Insert the easiest way to use fresh produce – make simple syrup infusions for your cocktails! They last a while in the fridge, can be frozen, and there’s nothing like bragging to your friends about the mulberries that you picked from your yard and made into the fabulous martini they’re sipping on!
So here goes – fruit to cocktail in four easy steps:
1. Pick the fruit/herbs. Or buy it. Or get it from your CSA. Whenever you have some extra in the house that you’re looking for a use for, this is it. (These mulberries grow wild on a tree in the yard – it’s a pain in the butt to pick all of the little stems out to use them for pie or jam or anything, so this is a great way to get around that step).
2. Make the syrup. This is not an exact science. I put my berries into a large pot, added about a cup of fresh basil, 4 cups of sugar, and about 12 cups of water. Some people say to use a 1:1 ratio for sugar to water, and it does get more syrup-y, but I like to tone it down a little bit – this turns out more like a liquid. I brought this to a boil and continued to boil it for about 15 minutes – get all those flavors out of the berries and basil!
3. Strain the syrup. Remove your syrup from the heat and let it cool a little. Line a plastic or metal strainer with cheesecloth and place over another large pot or bowl. Strain the syrup through removing all pieces of berry and basil. Throw those away, and bottle up your infused syrup.
4. Make your cocktail. This is the fun part, because you can do so many things with infused simple syrups based on your flavor profiles! My martini used 1 part Hendricks Gin to 1 part mulberry-basil simple syrup with the juice of 1/4 of a fresh lemon. Shake with ice and pour!
I think this syrup would also make a great margarita with tequila and lime, and of course, it would pair well with vodka. Probably make a pretty good mojito, too – I could probably get carried away here, but you get my point.
The moral of this story – don’t ever feel like you are letting the fruits of summer go to waste! This is a 30 minute project that will impress your friends, and use up the delicious goodness of the season. Happy concocting!