Magical Mixer: Gastrique

The gastrique is a traditional French sauce, and a superbly simple way to incorporate acidity along with sweetness and even herbal flavors into a cocktail all at once.  It’s made by reducing sugar and fruit with vinegar to form a syrup, essentially sweet and sour sauce (and now I’m pondering making a cocktail with sweet and sour sauce), which can be created with any kind of vinegar, fruit and even fresh herbs.

Using the cookbook approach to creating a cocktail works even better when designing your gastrique.  You may be able to find an existing gastrique in a recipe book or on a cooking website, which on its own, or with simple substitution, would make a marvelous mixer.

Helpful hints:

1. Adding vodka to your gastrique will lengthen it’s shelf life. When kept refrigerated in a container with a tight fitting lid, it will last a month or more.

2. If there are solids in your syrup, strain it through a chinois or tea strainer after it cools.

3. Possessing a fully developed flavor profile, many gastriques make for a fine libation simply by shaking with a base spirit, and serving over ice with a splash of soda.

4. You can use fruit juice or fresh fruit and sugar, or jarred fruit preserves, which are already sweetened.

Mid-Winter Shrub

2 ounces gin
1 ounce tangelo gastrique (recipe below)
1 ounce soda water

Shake gin and gastrique with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Add soda water and garnish with a tangelo twist and a sprig of marjoram.

Tangelo Gastrique

zest and juice of one tangelo
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 sprig of  marjoram leaves, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until reduced by half.  Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing to release all of the liquid.

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