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And here it is - Southern front porch 'sipping' at its best, the Spiced Blood Orange Sour. Normally, I'd shrill at the thought of mixing a decent Scotch (anything particularly peaty), with anything else; after all, it's defeating to the entire purpose of distilling the planets greatest liquor in the first place. Yes, as I am sure it's not a surprise, I am a Scotch fan. I realize it's not for everybody, but I may more easily tempt you into trying it if you have not already with this charmed elixir which can be shaken with an entry level brand for beginner Scotch connoisseurs just to introduce the palette. Trust me, I may not convert you to becoming a Scotch drinker, but I can nearly guarantee you will want a second one of these citrus darlings. The secret is in the spiced simple syrup. Cardamom, clove and black pepper all marry together to perfume a key element of the drink making for a warm sweet flavor that embodies what it means to be thoroughly refreshed.
I like hosting gatherings where I can offer a featured cocktail in addition to a few select beers and some very good, albeit generic, bottles of both red and white wines. In some cases, serving a featured cocktail gives me an opportunity to show off my Great Grandmother's punch bowl or my nifty 1915 flea market champagne glasses which I use for nearly every event that screams 'libations.' Recently, I had a chance to do just that. On the occasion that this drink was first served as a featured cocktail in my home, I was hosting a drop-in as part of a larger progressive dinner in my neighborhood at Christmastime. Folks were to arrive at mine for the cocktails and nibbles before moving onto heavy hors d'oeuvres at the next, and then onto the house featuring the main courses, and so on. To pair things nicely with any citrus beverage, I tend to think savory. But in this case, and because of the spiced simple syrup being such a pronounced flavor component of this beverage, in my opinion a mix of both savory and sweet could work well. Given I was the first of five homes as part of the progressive, I wanted some 'stick to your ribs' appetizers on my table for people to enjoy - and soak up what was sure to be an evening of overindulgence for some. Homemade cheese straws by the pound, a massive antipasto centerpiece, hot and cold passed hors d'oeuvres, a second centerpiece of both shrimp and crab cocktail, an array of both handpainted chocolates and macarons from Christophe Artisan Chocolatier-Patissier - aside from ridiculous cleanup after, I and my little featured cocktail, were a holiday hit.
Ingredients for For the Spiced Syrup
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
10 green cardamom pods
5 whole cloves
3 whole black peppercorns
3 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
One 3-inch strip blood orange zest
One ½-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed
Ingredients for the Spiced Blood Orange Sour
2 ounces Scotch
4 teaspoons fresh blood orange juice
4 teaspoons spiced syrup
4 teaspoons lemon juice
2 to 3 dashes lemon bitters, for garnish
Freshly grated blood orange, for garnish
Ground cinnamon, for dusting
For the spiced syrup: In a small saucepan, combine all the syrup ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool completely. Strain into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For the spiced blood orange sour: In a cocktail shaker, combine the Scotch, blood orange juice, spiced syrup, and lemon juice. Shake for a few seconds until frothy, then add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain the cocktail into a chilled glass. Garnish with lemon bitters, blood orange zest and a dusting of cinnamon, serve immediately.