Pear Syrup & A Warm Fall Favourite

I love Bartlett pears. A lot. I am pretty convinced that all imitation pear flavouring emulates the flavour of Bartlett pears. I love them so much that I actually can’t understand why other varieties of pear exist; they all taste like wet cardboard to me.

There are many pear liqueurs out there but knowing that they were likely made with the inferior non-Bartlett pears and were on the pricier side, I chose to go the simple route and make simple syrup in a Bartlett pear flavour.
(NB: this recipe will work for any variety of pear, you just have to promise me that whichever pears you choose, that you absolutely adore them. Don’t just grab any pears off the shelf!)

I sauntered down to the grocery store nearest my place and I bought 3 Bartlett pears. I left them out on top of the kitchen table to ripen. Just like using over-ripe bananas to make banana bread, I let these pears ripen far past their “yummy-to-eat” date, until their bottoms looked a little brown and soft. There were also an alarming amount of fruit flies trying to stake claim on my precious pears!

Once the pears were over-ripe, I rinsed them and chopped them in half and scooped out the soft brown bits. I did not peel the pears as I knew the skins would just get filtered out later anyway. While I chopped them up into little cubes, I prepared a water-sugar mixture on the stove. Here’s the exact recipe I used:

3 Bartlett pears (over-ripe)
1/2 cup of water (125 mL)
3/4 cup of white sugar (~180 mL)

Put the pear and the water and the sugar all into a small pot and put it on the stove on low-medium heat. meshstrainerStir it frequently for 15 minutes, being careful not to let it boil. Then, turn up the heat a little higher to about medium heat until the mixture bubbles ever so slightly for 3 minutes or so. Remove from the heat and filter the mixture through a mesh sieve and push all the pear goo with a spoon in the sieve to make sure all the syrup comes out. I did this over top a mason jar.
NB: my finished product did have some tiny little fibrous pear bits in it that did pass through the sieve, so I would recommend doing another filtration through some doubled-over cheesecloth.

Put the finished product in the fridge to cool before using. It should keep in the fridge for about a month. The final yield for this recipe was a little over a cup of syrup.

leftoverpeargoo I also kept my leftover pear goo in the fridge. Could be used for many things, such as filling tart shells or put it in an omelette with brie and blue cheese!

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for, what kind of a drink uses pear syrup?

Since the weather is getting colder, the season of warm drinks is upon us and I decided to do a variation of the classic Hot Toddy. It’s a lovely cocktail that tastes more like tea than alcohol and feels oh-so-soothing when you have a cold! Neo Citran, eat (drink!) your heart out with this one:

Pear Hot Toddy

2 oz bourbon (or Tennessee whiskey or a blended Scotch of your choice)
2 oz pear syrup
Fill up with boiling water
Add a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg
(Garnish with a cinnamon stick if desired)

The bourbon/Tennessee whiskey/blended Scotch choice is up to personal taste. I recommend bourbon/Tennessee whiskey over a blended Scotch simply because I find they are thicker and more syrupy than a blended Scotch. You could opt to use a peaty Single Malt Scotch however, I think that’s a waste of an expensive Scotch that is best served alone. The sugar in the syrup is going to change the flavour of the Scotch too, so best to use something that is not too expensive and complements the sweetness of the pear and spices nicely.

If you happen to have pure maple syrup on hand, I also recommend using 1.5 oz pear syrup and 0.5 oz of maple syrup instead. That’s just my Canadian showing. ;)

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Gin & Tonic

I am huge lover of gin. I was never a big gin & tonic fan. However, having only had them at bars or at house parties, both the gin and the tonic typically used are not the highest in quality. Drinking “bar rail” gins are absolutely putrid (think: Gordon’s, Beefeater, etc.) and the tonic water coming out of the yellow Schweppes can makes my stomach wretch just thinking about it. Watching other people drink it inside of a nightclub however, is super fun because their drink turns neon blue under blacklight.

First of all, you have to find a gin that you like. There are typically two kinds of hard alcohols: those intended for mixed drinks, and those intended to enjoy on their own. Immediately, this eliminates the use of most bar rail quality gins because even though you are adding tonic water which has a type of sugar in it and quinine is also a very strong flavour, there are no juices or complex flavour to “hide” the lesser quality gins.
The type of gin you choose is chalked up to personal taste preferences; some people prefer a simple gin created with not many botanicals (i.e. Tanqueray is only made with 4 botanicals – juniper being the only one mandatory to call itself a “gin”), whereas some people prefer a more floral gin (i.e. Bombay Sapphire contains 10 botanicals), and some people prefer a more earthy vegetable flavour in their gin (i.e. any cucumber gin, Hendrick’s). If you have the money to shell out for a bottle of Hendrick’s or Tanqueray 10, those would be my higher quality gin recommendations.

Next, you have to find a tonic water that you like. Fever-Tree Naturally Light Indian Tonic WaterPersonally, I would stay away from any cheaply-produced tonic waters (i.e. Schweppes, Canada Dry) because anything produced from a company which mass-produces soda pop is going to contain foul ingredients (high fructose corn syrup as their sugar and sodium benzoate as a preservative). I used Fever-TreeNaturally Light Indian Tonic Water because it uses a small amount of fructose as its sweetening agent and has only 3.9g of sugar per 200 mL bottle. What is “Indian” tonic water? It’s the same thing as regular tonic water, it’s merely a marketing ploy to make it sound more fancy. Read the Wikipedia entry for tonic water and you will see that the history of the Gin & Tonic drink originated in British colonial India, hence the name. Quinine (the ingredient in tonic water that gives it that unique bitter flavour) is not indigenous to tree bark from India, it is indigenous to Africa and South Asia.

The first G&T that I made at home, I used 2 oz of Bombay Sapphire gin and the Fever-Tree Naturally Light Indian Tonic Water. It was too intense for me, so I added 5 drops of Hella Bitters Citrus bitters to try and temper the overwhelming flavour of the thinned out Bombay Sapphire. Choosing the proper gin was even more crucial in this case because I used half of the 200 mL bottle of Fever-Tree for my drink, which means there was next to no sugar to mask nor complement the gin flavour.

The second G&T I made was far better. Instead of using Bombay Sapphire, I used 2 oz of De Kuyper’s Genever Gin. This gin has a flavour like nothing else I had tried before it; it has a very citrus and sweet flavour to it. It definitely tastes like a gin, but lacks the earthy tones that Hendrick’s has, and also lacks the floral tones that Bombay has (sadly after my Bombay G&T, I felt a bit like I had been catapulted face-first into a bowl of potpourri)! The bitter orange flavour in the Fever-Tree complemented the Genever quite well. It was not necessary to add any bitters to this one to temper the flavour; the gin and tonic water alone were a fantastic combination. I now found a G&T that I liked!!

Further reading: