As life has gotten more hectic for me recently, I haven’t had time to post about any of my amateur mixology experiments. I feel that’s at least in part because I had unrealistic expectations of what I could do with my limited free time. My posts here have never been overly substantive, but the energy I was able to put into planning posts and taking pictures has been called upon to search for gainful employment and spend time with my kid.
Despite that, I still love to experiment with the resources I have, and I’d like to share what I make here. So in the interest of more frequent posts, there may be fewer pictures and more drink-of-the-day posts. I also want to post more about long-term projects, at least to serve as a record of progress.
With that in mind, I’ve been experimenting with flavors recently—specifically anise.
Anise and licorice can be polarizing flavors, but I’ve been enamored with them for a while now. Ouzo has long been one of my favorite liquors, and licorice root spiced tea often gets me through the day at work. So naturally, I wanted to make my own anisette and see if I could create my perfect anise-based liquor. I’ve already made one version of this, and I will update you all on that soon.
For my drink of the day, I made a grapefruit and fennel syrup by mixing a handful of fennel fronds, tarragon, and grapefruit zest in some 1:1 simple syrup and letting it infuse off the heat. I was happy with the flavor after about ten minutes, but a note of caution learned from previous attempts at fennel syrup: taste frequently. If you infuse the fennel too long, you can start to get unwanted bitter and grassy flavors.
I’ve made two drinks with this and I’ve been happy with both. First I made a simple grapefruit and fennel soda with some seltzer, and it was light and refreshing. The carbonation really helps bring out the complexities in the syrup.
Next I used the grapefruit and fennel syrup in an old fashioned with calvados and angostura bitters. This was excellent. I loved the way the anise and rich apple worked together, with the grapefruit and bitters keeping the drink grounded and from being too cloying. A little syrup goes a long way here. This may also be improved with Peychaud’s bitters or a dash of absinthe instead of or in addition to the angostura.