Corn has long been used as a cocktail ingredient thanks to its sweet-savory flavor, vibrant color, and wide availability.
These days, a growing number of bartenders are embracing the vegetable for an additional merit, approaching it with an eye to reducing waste, using not just the kernels but also the cobs, husks, and more in innovative ways, seeking to maximize how they use the versatile ears. You might call it the vegetable equivalent of a nose-to-tail approach.
Leanne Favre, the head bartender at Leyenda in Brooklyn, working with Shannon Ponche (who is no longer with Leyenda), developed a “Champagne corn cob syrup,” employing leftover corn cobs and sparkling wine that’s gone flat to make a flavorful syrup.
“The corn cob element came from thinking about things in [Leyenda’s] kitchen that might not have been used,” says Favre.
While boiling corn cobs releases an appealing sweet flavor, Favre says it’s also about the texture it provides. “Corn starch released from the cob provides a silky texture I almost relate more to honey,” she says.
Here, the syrup joins reposado tequila and fino sherry in a stirred and spirit-forward mix, making for an elegant and flavorful cocktail.
1 1/2 ounces reposado tequila
1 ounce Lustau Fino Jarana sherry
3/4 ounce Champagne corn cob syrup*
Garnish: lemon twist
Add all ingredients into a rocks glass with ice and stir to chill.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Champagne corn cob syrup: Add 1 cup granulated white sugar, 1 cup water, 2 cups flat Champagne or other sparkling wine, 3 leftover corn cobs (after kernels have been used for a different purpose), and 3 cardamom pods, cracked, into a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes. Allow to cool, then fine-strain into a container with a sealable lid. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to one week.