How do you design a warming winter cocktail that’s still bright and lively enough to sip before dinner? According to Kevin King, beverage director at Husk Savannah, it’s all about winter fruit.
“Pears are the perfect fruit to enjoy during the holiday season,” he says, “whether for dessert or an early evening cocktail. They last all through the winter, and I love using them in cocktails. Married with winter spices, they really give a warm feeling of nostalgia.”
Pear and spice: That’s the idea behind his “Livin’ On a Pear” cocktail. King loves both bourbon and brandy during colder winter months, and uses both in this accessible, approachable drink.
He opts for a high-proof bourbon to anchor the cocktail. “Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon has a high rye content, which imparts flavors of fruit and spice,” he says. It’s a solid base on which to build lighter flavors, including St. George Pear Brandy, “which elevates those fruit notes and give it a bright and juicy aroma.”
For a uniquely Southern spin, King opts for rich sorghum as a sweetener, which he spices up with cinnamon, clove, and star anise. “It has tons of warming flavors, and really gives the cocktail body,” he says; and, in the South, its distinctive flavor lends a pleasant familiarity to a holiday drink.
To keep the cocktail bright and easy-drinking, it’s lightened up with fresh lemon. “I wanted this cocktail to be approachable for all kinds of palates,” King says; “something I could serve at a family gathering and everyone could enjoy, while still retaining the spice and toasty backbone of the cocktail.” Finally, cardamom bitters and a dusting of cardamom finish it all off. “Cardamom and pears are naturally best friends, and the spice gives the drink a cooling component to complement and balance the flavors.”
Fresh with citrus, juicy with pear brandy, rich and substantial with bourbon and sorghum—it’s a drink designed as a crowd-pleaser, which makes it particularly appealing during the holidays. “It reminds me of being around family and friends during the best winter months,” says King. And once you’ve made the spiced sorghum and gathered the bottles together, it’s simple to shake up a round for a crowd.
Livin’ On A Pear
King recommends Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon for this drink, which has an ABV of 50 percent. If you opt for another bourbon, use something equally high-proof and rye-heavy.
1 1/2 ounces Four Roses Single Barrel Bourbon
1/2 ounce St. George Pear Brandy
1/2 ounce spiced sorghum (recipe below)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur
2 dashes Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
Instructions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain over ice in rocks glass. Garnish with a few fanned-out pear slices, and dust with cardamom.
“Sorghum is one of the most underused ingredients in cocktails,” says King, who appreciates its rich texture and distinctive flavor. He recommends using a high-quality sorghum like Muddy Pond.
12 ounces sorghum syrup
6 ounces water
1/2 cinnamon stick
5 whole cloves
5 allspice berries
2 star anise pods
Insutrctions: Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sorghum syrup, then remove from heat. Let cool and strain before using.
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