A Canadian Delight: Home-made Maple Syrup Liqueur
When most people think about Canada, their thoughts will usually run to some of the country’s most famous (or infamous) culinary and cultural exports; Canadian back bacon, Celine Dion and Justin Bieber (who do tend to act like hams during live shows), ice hockey, butter tarts, Nanaimo bars and William Shatner.
Fortunately, there are some other things that Canadians are good for that can compliment or make up for the other exports, and one of the most important things is maple syrup. Sweet and uniquely flavoured, for centuries it was the only sweetener available in North America and was used to make maple butter, candies, sweets, cakes, and deliciously enough, cocktails and liqueurs.
Maple syrup liqueur isn’t exactly a huge industry in Canada; this is probably because good home-made liqueur can be made at home. Quite soon though, as international demand for all things maple syrup increases, we can be sure to see our liquor store shelves festooned with bottles of commercially produced maple syrup liqueur.
Although quite rare, there are some commercially available specimens: N.V. Maison des Futailles Sortilège Maple Syrup and Canadian Whiskey Liqueur from Quebec is one that is building a good reputation for itself. If you can’t find the deliciousness that is a maple syrup liqueur in your area, there’s no need to despair; you can easily make it at home yourself.
Making Maple Syrup Liqueur at Home
The recipe itself is easy: Just get a clean jar with a lid that seals properly, or a bottle that can be corked, and pour in one cup of Canadian rye whiskey and one cup of maple syrup. Close the jar, and give everything a good shake, then put it in the refrigerator for about two weeks. It will then be ready to serve.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, before you run out and buy a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and a bottle of generic Canadian rye whiskey, you have to keep in mind that the liqueur making process will only work if you use proper ingredients. The syrup that you usually put on pancakes at a breakfast restaurant usually doesn’t contain maple syrup at all; it just contains hi-fructose corn syrup and some maple flavoring. If you use this in your recipe, you’ll end up with something that will taste overpoweringly sweet with not much flavor.
Real maple syrup must be used. This is the stuff that’s usually three or four or even five times the price of Mrs. Butterworth’s Pancake Syrup, and it’s pricier for good reason. Maple syrup is a pure ingredient; no additives or preservatives are added to it. Real maple syrup comes from Eastern Canada – namely Quebec and Vermont in the north-eastern United States. Maple syrup is also produced in Ontario, Canada and in the American state of Maine. It comes in various grades and has a very strong flavor that almost all find incredibly tasty. The highest grade of maple syrup is Grade A Light Amber, which is delicate, sweet and floral; however, if you want a liqueur with a strong maple note, then you might want to go for a grade B syrup: in general terms, the darker the syrup, the stronger the maple taste.
As far as rye whiskey is concerned, get a good one. Crown Royal is almost always a winner and can be enjoyed on its own, and Canadian Club is also a good
By mixing top quality maple syrup and rye whiskey, you’ll get a terrific tasting and uniquely Canadian liqueur.
But How do you Drink Maple Liqueur?
There are several ways to drink maple liqueur. Because it is a very warm flavor, it’s probably a drink to consume during the winter time or on wet, rainy days. The best way to drink it is neat, served in a nice port wine glass or footed shot glass. It can also be served on the rocks.
A traditional favorite way to drink the homemade liqueur is to make a fancy coffee with it. If you’ve got maple sugar, use it to rim a coffee mug. Simply pour in some freshly brewed coffee, add one or two ounces of the liqueur, and top with some whipped cream.
Maple liqueur also makes an interesting substitute for Kahlua in the cocktail known as a Paralyzer. In a glass full of ice cubes, simply pour in ½ ounce of vodka, 1.5 ounces of maple liqueur, and pour in some Coca-cola until almost the top of the glass. Float some Half&Half or whole-fat milk on top, and garnish with a slice of lime.
Maple Ginger & Rye
A hiball drink that’s very common is rye and ginger ale. The two flavours go together perfectly, making a drink that’s smooth with just a hint of sweetness, making it perfect for people who find rum and coke to be too sugary. Maple liqueur would be a great addition; however to make the most of the flavors and avoid too much of a sugar flavor, it should be made in a tall glass.
Simply fill a very tall glass with ice cubes, pour one or two ounces of maple liqueur, ½ ounce of rye, and ginger ale over the ice cubes. Give a stir and serve.
Just like the famous Black Russian cocktail, this one will also be dark, sweet, and strong. When you’re asked if you’d like a second one, you’ll surely shout “oui”! In a short glass with a few ice cubes, pour 1.5 ounces of maple liqueur and ½ ounce of vodka. Stir and drink.
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