We find ourselves in the odd predicament of a winter snow and ice storm in mid-March, something that doesn’t happen too often in DC. So I’m in the mood for a dark and stormy mocktail to complement our weather: A Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail. –Andrew
Bittersweet Coffee Mocktail
2 oz Cold-Brewed Coffee
3/4 oz Grapefruit-Vanilla Shrub
3/4 oz Rosemary Syrup
To make the rosemary syrup: combine a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and a sprig of rosemary in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently until the sugar has melted, then remove from heat and allow the rosemary to infuse for 1o-20 minutes. Strain out the rosemary, bottle the syrup, and refrigerate.
Combine the coffee, grapefruit-vanilla shrub, and rosemary syrup in a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a candied cherry and grapefruit peel.
Coffee is an incredibly versatile ingredient for mocktails, providing complex, bitter, and astringent notes that evoke bold spirits without the booze. Here, it serves as the backbone for a rich, bittersweet mocktail with an acidic edge.
But we didn’t want to just offer a glass of coffee. We also used a newly-released shrub from Element Shrub, one of our local DC-area makers. This shrub combines grapefruit and vanilla with apple cider vinegar; the bitterness of the grapefruit and the smoothness of the vanilla together evoke, surprisingly, chocolate – which adds another rich, dark layer to this drink.
So, sweet chocolatey coffee – sounds delicious, but that’s not a mocktail. We needed another ingredient to elevate our drink, to give it that botanical edge that so many great cocktails have. Rosemary syrup is a versatile ingredient for both mocktails and cocktails, so don’t feel bad about making a full bottle of the stuff – you’ll use it faster than you think. It’s savory and herbaceous, a flavor profile reminiscent of herbaceous spirits like gin and dry vermouth.
As always, the goal with a mocktail isn’t to make a facsimile of a cocktail – it’s to make a drink that’s every bit as grown up and sophisticated as a cocktail, but without the booze. It doesn’t have to be complicated – just three ingredients are enough here.
Just remember, it is full of caffeine. Don’t drink too many of these late at night.
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Glassware by Liquorary
Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper