Autumn is definitely in the air. The gorgeous sunny days dance their way into cool, inviting nights. I look back and ask, “How did summer come and go so quickly?” The last three months have flown by and again, so much has happened at the distillery. We started the summer months with tours and tastings on Saturdays and over the past few months added Fridays and special events during the week to the mix. It has been incredible meeting so many of you from across the state, even across the border, as your interest in the art and science of the distillation process at J. Carver Distillery brought you to our door. Who knew a re-purposed Pontiac Car dealership, where so many locals bought their first car, would now be the spot to enjoy a specialty cocktail with grains grown from just down the road.
We started slowly with our cocktail offerings and quickly became inspired to add to our specialty cocktail list. You asked and we created. From the Basil Cucumbertini to the Blackberry Bramble, local fruit, herbs, and infused simple syrup inspired the many specialty cocktails created in the tasting room for you to enjoy.
We wanted to highlight the J. Carver spirit in each specialty cocktail created. The Minnesota Mule using J. Carver Premium Vodka instantly became a crowd favorite as did the Lake House Lemonade and the Venetian. Okay, to all my gin lover’s, you have to know how happy I was to hear you say that Grimm Farm Gin made the best gin and tonic you ever had. Hats off to the history books and Wendin Grimm for bring everlasting clover to the Grimm Farm in Victoria, the botanical that inspired that gin. I’ll personally raise a glass to that. But honestly, the best ever has been the sheer enjoyment of those of you who sat back and relished every sip of your J. Carver Barrel Gin Old Fashioned. As promised, I believe to about 15 of you last Saturday alone, (wink, wink) here is the recipe to make the Old Fashioned simple syrup so you can enjoy a J. Carver Barrel Gin Old Fashioned at home. Just promise me you won’t be a stranger and come in for one at the tasting room every now and again. We love love when you stop in. Here it goes. I told you it was not that complicated, it just takes some time. I would be remiss if I did not give props to Robb Jones from Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis for the inspiration behind the simple syrup in this classic cocktail. Making this simple syrup upfront makes the actual task of making the cocktail a breeze.
You will need two separate pots, sugar, water, rosemary, vanilla bean, bitters, cherries, wild flower honey, and oranges or orange marmalade.
In one pot add:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup frozen organic cherries. (In season I used fresh cherries but hard to come by now)
¼ of a vanilla bean
Stir the sugar until dissolved over medium heat. Wait for a slight boil and macerate the cherries until you get the color and flavor extracted from the cherry and skin. Add vanilla bean. Turn off the heat and let cool. Check the intensity of how much flavor the syrup is getting from the vanilla bean. Remove the vanilla bean when the vanilla is balanced with the cherries, about 30 minutes. Leave the cherries in the pot.
In a second pot add:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 Rosemary sprigs
1 teaspoon Wild Flower Honey
1 teaspoon Orange Marmalade (Homemade is best. I got my from a dear mentor this summer - Thanks Winnie!)
Bitters to taste – here is where you can be creative. You’ll see what I mean later in the blog.
Stir the sugar until dissolved over medium heat. Wait for a slight boil. Add Rosemary sprigs, Wild Flower Honey, and the Orange Marmalade. Turn off the heat and let it cool. Check the intensity of how much flavor the syrup is getting from the Rosemary sprigs. Take out the sprigs when the rosemary is balanced with the other flavors in the pot, about 60 minutes. If you want a little more intensity, feel free to leave the rosemary in the pot for a longer period.
Once the simple syrup has cooled, usually about 1 ½ hours, strain the simple syrup into separate mason jars to remove any particles from the cherries, marmalade, and rosemary. Here is where you can be creative with the amount and kind of bitters you want to add to create your final blend. If you want a little more cherry and vanilla, add cherry vanilla bark bitters. If you want a little more orange, add orange bitters to the rosemary simple syrup jar. When you are satisfied, Blend the two mason jars together into a larger container. Pour the final combined syrup into two separate mason jars, label and date. The simple syrup will keep in your refrigerator for up to a month - if it lasts that long - and the J. Carver Barrel Gin is available at local liquor stores in your area.
To make the J. Carver Barrel Gin Old Fashioned:
2 ounces J. Carver Barrel Gin
½ ounce Rosemary Scented Wild Flower Honey Simple Syrup
1 slice orange squeezed into glass
1 brandied cherry
Serve over ice, stir and ENJOY!