Christina's Winter Spice Syrup

Christina's Winter Spice Syrup

Sun Basket’s Project Manager for Content, Christina Stork, is a living, breathing episode of Portlandia (minus the unbearable smugness). She knits ponchos (in fact she wrote a book about them), makes ceramic mugs and planters, and crochets rag rugs. She raises ducks in her backyard and brews kombucha in her kitchen. Did we mention that she's also a DJ and an amateur mixologist? (You want her at your party.)

This Thanksgiving, she's mixing up a batch of winter spice syrup. Christina uses it as a base for cocktails, a flavoring for cookies (in place of vanilla extract), and she drizzles it on cakes and over ice cream. It's her secret weapon—from brunch to dessert to drinks. And when she's a guest, guess what she brings as a gift? 

1¼ cups sugar
1¼ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
9 to 11 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods, cracked
2 star anise pods
1 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons orange peel
½-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 vanilla bean, split
1 teaspoon orange flower water, optional

Glass measuring cup, small sauce pot with lid, fine-mesh strainer, funnel, clean bottle with a cork stopper or tight-fitting lid

Make the base; steep the aromatics
In a small pot, combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar, about 10 minutes. Add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, allspice berries, peppercorns, orange peel, and ginger. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla bean halves, and let cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes

Strain & Bottle
Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the syrup into a pitcher or glass measuring cup. Stir in the orange flower water, if using. Pour into a clean bottle with a cork stopper or tight fitting lid. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Here are some of Christina's favorite ways to use her Winter Spice Syrup:

For a non-alcoholic cocktail, add a little syrup to a mix of orange soda and pomegranate juice (shown), or swirl some into ginger ale.

Over 21?
Drizzle a little into champagne (shown) or make instant mulled wine: warm red wine in a pot on the stove and stir in a few tablespoons of the syrup.

Make like a mixologist
Incorporate it into a juice + spirit combo, like bourbon and oj, plus a few drops of bitters.

. . . shaken . . . 

. . . or stirred. 

Delicious in punch and mimosas.

Or try making a winter cordial. Combine equal parts Winter Spice Syrup with bourbon or rye whiskey.

Don't forget the garnish 

Orange peel twist - Frozen cranberries - Orange wheel - Cinnamon stick (add to mulled wine or punch) - Persimmon wedge - Brandied cherry

And there you have it—one syrup to rule them all.

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