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01.06.11 by  

Ask The Bon Vivants

Spicing it up with San Francisco’s cocktail ambassadors.

We caught up with experience hunters Josh Harris and Scott Baird between road trips and cocktail competitions about maxing flavor without sacrificing balance. This installation of a four-part series covers how to incorporate spices into heart-warming drinks.

The Bon Vivants endorse giving your glass the royal treatment by rimming with house made scented sugars.

served raw: how are you using warm spices like cardamom, anise, cinnamon and nutmeg to craft well balanced fall and winter season cocktails?
The Bon Vivants: The warm spices will immediately bring to mind fireplaces, grandma’s house, full bellies and warm homes full of people that you love or at least like a little. The spices are a really versatile bunch. They can be grated over the top of a finished drink as garnish, ground into powders and folded into softened butter with brown sugar to make a spiced compound butter for any number of warm drinks. They can be infused directly into spirits or can be made into teas that can then be a background element for your punchbowl.

let’s talk about how to impart a warm flavor into a drink, without increasing temperature?

Cinnamon. Vanilla. Nutmeg. All of these bring a warm richness to whatever they are added to.

what techniques are you using with these ingredients?

A great way to add these flavors is to scent superfine sugar with them and then use the sugar as a rimming agent. You get the scent, as well as the flavor. We know everyone has trended away from sugar on rims but when done artfully it is another layer enhancing the drink.

are there certain spirits that lend well to mixing with warm spices and why?

Wood aged spirits pair well with all of these warm spices. Aquavit works nicely with it’s strong cardamon notes — think chai tea.

everyone’s talking punches — what is it about punches made with warm spices that’s so right?

These spices already bring up memories of people gathering together, usually around the holidays. A group of friends drinking out of a communal bowl with that in mind puts us all in the right mood.

do you have a signature cocktail that fits this flavor profile?

The Royal Crusta made with El Dorado 15 year, Royal Combier, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, lemon, cinnamon tincture, vanilla-orange scented sugared rim.

Royal Crusta

  • 2 ounces El Dorado 15 Year Rum
  • ¾ ounce Royal Combier
  • ¾ ounce lemon
  • ½ ounce Lyle’s Golden Syrup*
  • 2 dashes cinnamon tincture
  • Vanilla-orange scented sugar, for the rim**
  • Orange zest and peel, for garnish
  1. Moisten the rim of a small bucket glass with a lemon wheel, and drag through the vanilla-orange scented sugar creating an attractive band around the top of the glass and set aside.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, shake and double strain into the bucket glass over fresh ice, being careful not to mess up the sugared rim.
  3. Peel a piece of orange peel using a vegetable peeler, zest on top of the drink and drop in.
  4. *To soften the Lyle’s Golden Syrup: Add 1 part boiling water to 5 parts Lyle’s and whisk to soften.
  5. **To scent the sugar: Combine 2 cups of superfine baking sugar, the microplaned zest of 2 oranges fully dried in a warm oven, 3 vanilla beans split lengthwise. Place all three together in an airtight container and let sit for at least 3 days.