Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Harvest Cobbler with Incentive Vodka (Sturgis, MI)

The Traveling Elixir Fixer was on tour with Incentive Vodka this past weekend in SW Michigan.  I was getting prepared for two events that would utilize the same cocktail created with Incentive Vodka, an artisan-crafted vodka distilled from 100% Michigan-grown corn at Big Cedar Distillery, located in Sturgis. Because the area is entering peak Autumn flavors (apples), and SW Michigan Fall foliage was beginning to burst with all of the colors that make the Fall Color Tours famous, it was time to try and capture the perfect PURE MICHIGAN Autumn day in liquid form, using locally-sourced ingredients. I began concocting my weekend experience the night before, through olfactory sensory stimulus - poaching my Michigan Gala apple garnish.  The aroma of rum, apple juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, orange and poached apples awakened my senses and I began to daydream of crisp and cool Autumn days, apple orchards, and cider mills.

My travel day was perfect - the temperature was hovering around the mid-60's and the sky was as blue as the few white, puffy clouds would allow.  As I crossed the Michigan border on I-94, my visual sensory stimulus began to unfold - green leaves were replaced with vibrant gold, red and orange paintings of leaves.  My mp3 player even got into the Michigan groove by ensuring that Tommy James and The Shondells' "Sweet Cherry Wine" would randomly play as I passed the Niles Exit. Yep, it was time to celebrate all of the Michigan flavors in liquid form - The Autumn Harvest Cobbler.

The Cobbler is an old form of mixed drink that consists of a base spirit (originally some form of wine, modern versions sometimes leave it out), sugar and fresh fruit. Just a little history for you behind the lost (but NOT forgotten) Cobbler cocktail: it dates from at least the 1830’s, and made excellent use of two items that were very new to the people of that time – ice and straws. It was time to celebrate Fall flavors, and I felt that an Autumn Harvest Cobbler would be a perfect fit for the weekend festivities in SW Michigan.

Downtown Kalamazoo's Art Hop - Liquid Art at Webster's

Autumn Harvest Cobbler

1 1/2 oz. Incentive Vodka
1 oz. Schultz Fruitridge Farms Apple Cider
1/2 oz. Spiced Apple Syrup (see below)
1/2 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
Poached Apple Slice (garnish - see below)
Dusting of Fresh Grated Cinnamon and Nutmeg (garnish)

Combine vodka, cider, syrup and lemon juice in a mixing glass.  Add ice to Boston Shaker, shake ingredients for 10 seconds.  Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass and garnish with a poached apple slice and a light dusting of fresh-grated cinnamon & nutmeg.

Poached Apples
1 cup water
1/2 cup locally-sourced honey
1 cup Castaway Rum
(available at Incentive Vodka's tasting room)
4 cups Indian Summer Apple Juice
(Suttons Bay, MI)
8 cups sugar
4 - 2" long fresh ginger root pieces, skinned
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp. Bourbon Vanilla Extract
2 oranges, cut into wheels
12 Michigan Gala apples

Peel and core apples and cut into 1/2" wedges.  Store in cold water until ready to begin poaching.

Heat water over medium heat in a non-reactive pan.  Gently stir in honey.  Once honey is dissolved, add rum and apple juice and continue stirring over medium heat.  Add 4 cups of sugar, stir well, then add cinnamon sticks, bourbon vanilla, ginger root and orange wheels.  Continue heat over medium temperature and add apple slices.  Cover and simmer for approximately 20 minutes or until apples are soft, yet firm.  Do not overcook.  Remove apples with a slotted spoon and allow to cool in a bowl or on a plate.

Spiced Apple Syrup

Remove cinnamon sticks, oranges and ginger and set them aside for later use.  Continue on medium heat and stir in 4 additional cups of sugar. Stir well until dissolved and remove from heat. Return oranges, ginger and cinnamon and allow to steep for an additional 20-30 minutes, depending on taste profile.  Once taste is achieved, remove orange wheels, ginger and cinnamon and allow syrup to cool.  Fine strain syrup into a bottle and refrigerate. Once the spiced apple syrup is cool, pour it over apples and refrigerate for up to three days.

Downtown Hastings, MI "Girls Night Out" Event at The County Seat Lounge with the Autumn Harvest Cobbler. Cocktail Created by Mixologist Angie Jackson.

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