Bobby Heugel's Weekly Cocktail: The Maple Leaf

Why write about a drink whose names suggest such a pro-Canadian agenda in, of all states, Texas? Because right about now, we are probably all wishing we were in Canada. The upcoming weekend in Montreal sounds nice - high of 77 and low of 56. Hell, sitting through a Celine Dion concert, dealing with a currency actually called the looney, living in a country with a population density of three people per square mile, and warding off attacks from polar bears might make that type of weekend worth it right about now. Stick in there, Houstonians - it's just the humidity and the heat (mainly the freaking humidity) making us think that Canada might be a nice place to live. Let's all calm down and have a Maple Leaf.

The Maple Leaf

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • .75 oz Lemon Juice
  • .75 oz Maple Syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a highball or Collins glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

The Maple Leaf is a basic variation on the whiskey sour, but it has much more body. The noticeable maple syrup flavor also pairs perfectly with the bold oak flavors of the bourbon. Crushed ice helps the cocktail from having a cloyingly sweet texture, so go through the effort of crushing your ice if possible.

Using maple syrup in drinks is a trend that has transcended nearly every era of the cocktail. Countless example exist throughout history, including the 1930s Applejack Rabbit, tiki cocktails such as the Hai Karate, celebrated modern cocktails such New York City cocktail bar P.D.T.'s Benton Old-Fashioned (the origin of today's fashionable bacon craze) and countless other new options on menus nationwide. While the flavor is outstanding, the texture of drinks that utilize maple syrup is just as alluring.

Considering different sweetener types in cocktails is important when mixing drinks. Basic white sugar may be suitable for some drinks, but using turbinado syrup in cocktails can add a beneficial cane flavor. Gomme syrup adds a distinguishable silky texture to cocktails, and varying degrees of sweetness in liqueurs can dramatically affect the balance of cocktails. So don't stop your experiments with maple syrup; use the full ranges of sweeteners available. Just remember, cocktails should never be confused for candy. Please, if you aren't going to moderate the alcohol, for the love of all that is wonderful about a good glass of bourbon, monitor the sugar.

Ah yes, bourbon - a tipple seemingly boldly opposed to all that is Canadian. I'm not sure what crazy Canadian decided to ignore the fact that there is far more bourbon in this cocktail than maple syrup and gave it such a blatantly biased name. Whoever he was, I am sure he would be a Steve Nash fan. Maybe there's something to all of this Canadian-American mixing. Summers in Montreal and winters in Houston sound like a great idea after all.

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