A surefire way to make a cocktail more exciting is to use an ingredient that, in it's raw form, is banned from being imported into the US. To clarify, this particular ingredient is not banned due to being dangerous or lacking in quality but because its a "protected-origin fruit." Intriguing. This means that the smaller, golden and flavorful Mirabelle plums can be found primarily in the Lorraine region of France. Clearly, this means that I need to pack my bags and go back to France, one of my all-time favorite travel destinations.
Assuming you don't have the means to set off to France on a whim, you're still in luck. You can find Mirabelle plums imported in processed form - such as syrups and jams. I stumbled upon one such syrup at my go-to grocery store for adventurous cocktail ingredients. Hidden away in the Chicago suburbs and masquerading as your typical discount store, this particular Shop&Save carries a multitude of goods from around the world, particularly from Eastern Europe. The products are both cheaper and purer than their American counterparts as European producers tend to use more natural ingredients. High quality fruit purees, syrups and teas are just a few of my Shop&Save cocktail treasures.
Ever since I picked up a Polish rhubarb and Mirabelle plum syrup (for under $5), I've been looking for the perfect cocktail combination to let it shine through. That perfect combination came to me this week when hosting friends who were all in the mood for whiskey sours: rhubarb, Mirabelle plum, Meyer lemons, bourbon and aromatic bitters. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. I loved this drink so much that I made it two nights in a row and the only thing stopping me tonight is that I ran out of Meyer lemons. This concoction is boozy and tart yet wonderfully smooth, lightly herbal from the Meyer lemons and with a touch of sweetness from the plum.
As with a fine wine, every sip uncovers a new flavor.
If you're as excited as I am about this cocktail, drop everything and find your nearest Polish/Eastern European grocery store to see if they have this syrup in stock. Believe me, you won't regret it. I'd also encourage you to use a larger ice cube, either cubic or spherical, as it will melt slower, thereby preserving the drink's flavor intensity. I've been quite satisfied with my recent large cube ice tray purchase - check it out here if you're interested.
- 2 oz bourbon (I used Basil Hayden's)
- 1 Meyer lemon
- 1 tbsp rhubarb Mirabelle plum syrup
- Dash of aromatic bitters
- 1 large ice cube
Cut a slice of Meyer lemon from the center and set aside for garnish. Juice the rest of the lemon into a cocktail shaker and add a few regular ice cubes, bourbon, syrup and bitters. Shake until frosted, then strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Cut a notch in the Meyer lemon slice and place on the glass rim for garnish (and refreshing lemon scent to lift your spirits). Enjoy while discussing plans for your next travel adventure.