I’ve always thought St. Paul looks good in the rain. This old railroad town can proudly wear a coat of misty grey. And walking down Grand Avenue with the autumn chill in my bones, how pleasant it is to step into the new Hyacinth restaurant for a mighty glass of bourbon.
It’s not exactly citrus weather outside, so general manager Beth Johnson uses some leftovers from the kitchen for a balancing bitterness in this whiskey cocktail. “We do lots of pickling and preserving,” she says, squeezing a dose of plum vinegar into a shaker tin. “Don’t be surprised to see more vinegars and pickled things on the way. That’s our answer to the lack of fresh local stuff in the winter.”
Plum vinegar (see: Spirits Close-Up) can be made by steeping the plum pits (with a little flesh still attached) in a good white wine vinegar for a week or two, shaking it every now and again. This works with any stone fruit: just use equals parts of each—one cup of pits to one cup of vinegar. For a faster preparation, Hyacinth’s method is to simmer the pits in the vinegar.
Either method works great for this drink—just don’t use the umeboshi plum vinegars found at Asian markets (they’re full of pickling salt). And this drink has three, count ’em, three ounces of bourbon. If that’s not a general recipe for easing into winter, I don’t know what is.
Orange & Plum
3 ounces bourbon
1 ounce dry orange curacao (Pierre Ferrand)
½ ounce plum vinegar
½ ounce cinnamon-orange-fennel syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Make the syrup by simmering a fennel bulb, cracked cinnamon sticks, and the rind of an orange in equal parts sugar and water. Let cool, and strain. Rub an orange wedge on part of lowball rim and dip it in spiced sugar (a combination of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and raw cane sugar) and add a couple large ice cubes. Add all the cocktail ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and shake well. Strain into the prepared glass and serve.
Find more recipes for delicious cocktails in our Craft Cocktails archive.