In recent years, bartenders have been experimenting with a range of cocktail sweeteners. Infused simple syrups and honey syrups might be most common, but a number of bar pros have discovered a sweetener that imparts a vanilla-caramel richness and depth to drinks: maple syrup.
It's the perfect twist for adding a touch of autumnal flavor to your cocktails. WhistlePig, a top rye whiskey producer based in Vermont, has even collaborated with Runamok maple syrup to produce a syrup aged in ex-rye barrels— a product that practically begs for the syrup to be used in a rye Old Fashioned.
You might try a small drizzle of maple syrup in place of simple syrup in a cocktail to start, or plunge right in with any of these eight cocktails created by top bartenders, in which maple syrup was specially chosen to complement and enhance the other flavors in each drink.
1. Benton's Old Fashioned
The pioneering use of fat-washed bourbon isn't the only unusual element of this now-famous cocktail created by Don Lee at PDT. It also calls for replacing the Old Fashioned's standard sugar cube or simple syrup with maple syrup, perfectly complementing the bacon-flavored bourbon.
This Margarita twist is anything but ordinary, amping up the traditional drink's flavor with mezcal, lime juice, and a maple-beet shrub that adds a tart, earthy sweetness to the cocktail as well as a vivid ruby hue, taking your favorite summertime drink well into the colder months. The maple syrup, salt, and pepper rim is the ultimate sweet-savory final touch.
The drink's name says it all. In this cocktail from bartender Naren Young, applejack, amontillado sherry, and pear brandy mix with maple syrup and apple bitters to produce a rich and complex drink with all of fall's best flavors.
4. Pumpkin Hot Toddy
The classic Hot Toddy gets an autumnal treatment in this cocktail from New York City bar pro Jane Danger. Apple brandy, rye whiskey, lemon juice, maple syrup, pumpkin puree, and Angostura bitters get stirred together and topped with hot water and garnished with grated cinnamon, producing a cocktail that's satisfyingly warming in all the best ways.
This drink from bartending vet Jeremy Oertel leans toward a fall Sangria, with its red wine and fruity flavors. The wine is joined by vodka and spiced pear liqueur, plus maple syrup and a touch of lemon juice to brighten it all. It's then topped with seltzer for some festive bubbles. A pear fan and a sprinkling of nutmeg finish it off.
6. Autumn Rickey
Bar pro Dominic Venegas' take on the classic Bourbon Rickey, a simple combination of bourbon, lime juice, and soda water, gets an autumnal spin with the addition of maple syrup. The soda water gets swapped out for club soda, the slight salt content of which keeps the flavors all in balance.
7. Applejack Rabbit
This recipe comes from bartending vet Jim Meehan, who frequently turns to maple syrup in his cocktails. In this one, he employs Laird's bonded apple brandy along with lemon and orange juices and, yes, maple syrup, rendering an autumnal version of an easy sour-format cocktail.
8. Maple Old Fashioned
Allen Katz, the cofounder of New York Distilling Company, makes two crucial twists to the classic Old Fashioned in this recipe: He swaps out the usual whiskey for rum, and he (as you've no doubt guessed) employs maple syrup rather than the typical sugar cube or simple syrup. Add a couple dashes of Angostura bitters to those two ingredients and finish it off with an orange twist, and you'll have yourself a delicious cool-weather cocktail.