Last week I was in my frigid homeland: Minnesota. Yes, the temperatures were cold enough to force anyone and everyone to run politely between cars and buildings in an attempt to minimize the amount of time spent in the dangerously cold air. This is a practice my husband says he had never seen before living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. It never seemed strange to me for two reasons: 1) when it is below zero degrees you want to do anything to get from outside to inside as quickly as possible, and 2) it's like a little mini-workout that could potentially warm you up a bit more than a simple stroll...right? Yes, Minnesotans are a little strange (I'm allowed to say that because I am one) to live in such a cold place by choice, but we are not stupid. We have a survival mode of sorts.
For me, another necessary method of surviving winter is simply reminding myself that warmer weather will come. Mixing up a cocktail is a pretty great way to do just that. In this case, I've made a Tamarind Bourbon Sidecar. Tamarind is a fascinating ingredient that is used in familiar Southeast Asian dishes such as Pad Thai. It's flavor is sweet-sour, similar to citrus, but it is a little richer and more complex. It's the perfect addition to a warming bourbon sidecar because it gives just the right amount of brightness. Plus, since it is used in warm-weather countries like Thailand, it helps paint a mental picture of palm trees, oceans, sandy beaches...all the things many of us start to long for this time of year.
Just to be clear: I LOVE winter. This weather is my bread and butter. I'm not typically the type of person to long for an escape this time of year. That comes for me in the middle of summer when temperatures are stiflingly hot and I can't breathe. That is not my favorite. Still, a reminder of warmth and sun is good for the soul no matter what season you prefer.
Tamarind Bourbon Sidecar
For the cocktail:
For the tamarind syrup:
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 3/4 oz Tamarind Syrup
- splash of cointreau
- fine sugar
- 3/4 cup tamarind paste
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Lime wedge for garnish
- Using your (clean) finger, coat the edge of a cocktail glass with some of the tamarind syrup. Put the sugar on a plate. Gently put the rim of the glass in the sugar and rotate just slightly to coat. Set aside.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, tamarind syrup, and cointreau. Cover and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Pour through a strainer into your prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with a keffir lime leaf (or lime wedge) and serve.
- Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Using a wooden spoon, break up the tamarind paste and stir until the syrup is completely combined.
- Bring the syrup to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid thickens slightly.
- Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a heat proof jar.
- Bring to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.
- Kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the syrup will stay fresh for two weeks.