I recently shared some seasonal cocktails and homemade sodas at a special event at Maven Collective, a vintage shop in Southeast Portland. If you are in Portland, Oregon, I highly recommend visiting this shop; they are good people.
I had a wonderful time meeting many of you! I know I promised to post some of the recipes here. Today I will share two of them with you: Cydonia in the Sand, a playful variation of a margarita, and a fresh cider soda.
When Maven asked me to come up with a specialty drink for the event, I thought of their bright, open space filled with succulents, well-loved boots, and gorgeous turquoise jewelry. The song Cowgirl in the Sand popped in my head, along with the scents of sagebrush and mezcal. I decided to create a margarita.
I wanted the margarita to feature a seasonal fruit, and quince, with its rough and tumble qualities, fit the bill. The sweetness of the quince needed some tempering with notes of spice and complexity so I added a little chipotle and vanilla. Making a drink with so many layers, it is easy to make a murky mess, but I was happy with the results and would love to share the process with you.
Cydonia in the Sand
Margaritas are often made with a 3-2-1 ratio of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, but feel free to play around with the ratios to find your preference. I recommend Creole Shrubb over any other orange liqueur because the added spice elevates an everyday drink to something special. This recipe makes two cocktails.
3 ounces tequila. We like El Jimador, a tasty and smooth tequila with an excellent price point
1.5 ounces Creole Shrubb, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, or Cointreau
1.5 - 2 ounces homemade quince syrup (see recipe below)
Juice from 1 -2 limes
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mason jar, and shake well. If you like a salted rim, then lightly rub the rim of glass with the remains of a lime half and dip the rim gently into a saucer of salt. I used a Himalayan pink salt and a touch of Salish alderwood smoked salt from Washington. Serve on the rocks.
Quince Syrup No. 1
This may seem like a laborious process, but there is something wonderfully alchemical about cooking quince. You take something hard, stubborn, and pale, leave it to simmer in a pot for a few hours in water and sugar, and it magically softens into sweet rose colored fruit. For those of you in a hurry, I have provided an alternate recipe using membrillo, or quince paste. Please see recipe No. 2.
I decided to add a whole dried chipotle and a vanilla bean to the quince to add some smoky earthiness. I added them towards the end of the cooking process and let them steep until the flavor was a little stronger than I wanted (I thought the chipotle flavor was too tame at the event). This recipe makes about a quart of syrup, depending on how stubborn your quinces are, and how much water they require.
4 – 5 medium quinces, peeled, washed, quartered, and cores/seeds removed
1 cup sugar (feel free to use less)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Water to cover fruit
1 chipotle pepper (optional)
1 vanilla bean (optional)
Add quince, sugar, and water to a Dutch oven or large heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil; stirring gently. Turn heat down to low. Simmer for 1 – 4 hours until quinces are tender and the color of the fruit becomes a deep rosy pink. If you use chipotle and vanilla bean, add them before fruit begins to soften. You may need to add more water during this process. Once the quince is cooked, remove the fruit and save it to enjoy with yogurt for breakfast, or add it to your favorite apple cake recipe. Add the lemon juice to the remaining liquid and strain through a medium sieve into a bottle. Keep refrigerated for up to one week. You can use the syrup in cocktails, for homemade soda, or a cake soak.
Quince Syrup No. 2 - an easier way
1 tablespoon membrillo, also known quince paste (found in the cheese section of larger grocery or natural/gourmet food shops)
1/2 cup water
1 dried chipotle
1/2 vanilla bean
Place membrillo and water in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat and stir well, until membrillo paste softens and melts into water. Add the chipotle and the half vanilla bean. Simmer on low for 5 minutes. Take off heat. Let cool. Remove the chipotle and vanilla bean. Strain, if necessary. Bottle and chill. This makes enough for a few cocktails.
Rosemary Cider Soda
I made a few different simple syrups to share with the under 21 crowd. This one was a big hit. This recipe will make one soda.
2 fluid ounces apple cider (I use a cocktail jigger to measure)
juice from 1/2 lemon, drop spent fruit into the glass, if desired
1 tablespoon or more of pear rosemary syrup (see recipe below)
seltzer, sparkling mineral water, or soda from a syphon
Add cider, lemon juice, and syrup to a pint glass; stir well. Add ice and stir some more. Pour into a juice glass, add a bit of seltzer, and give a few gentle stirs. You can garnish with pear or apple slices, a rosemary sprig, or some mint.
Pear Rosemary Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (I use organic sugar cane crystals)
I pear, sliced into 4 - 6 pieces (no need to peel or remove seeds)
1 good size sprig of rosemary
Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan. Turn heat to low medium and let simmer until sugar is completely melted. Remove from heat. Let cool and strain into a bottle. This keeps refrigerated for about a week. It is also good with yogurt or as a cake soak.
Happy experimenting! Please let me know if you have any questions.
PS - I was too busy to take pretty photos at the event, but you get the idea. I thank the Maven Collective team for including me. It was a blast.