Time to update your bar with a new mixer option, a syrup that takes the work out of cocktails and a delicious nibble to sustain you while mixing those drinks.
Bruce Cost Ginger Ale
This ginger ale is different from others on your grocer’s shelves since it’s made with fresh ginger, not dried ginger or ginger extract. It’s light and crisp, not too sweet and with lots of ginger flavor but without what can sometimes be a harsh ginger bite. We thought it would lend itself perfectly to mixed drinks providing fresh ginger taste but not overpowering the rest of the ingredients in your drink. We made a mojito, substituting the Passion Fruit with Turmeric flavor for the traditional club soda. Perfect. And sampled the Jasmine Tea and Blood Orange Meyer Lemon flavors as well. There’s a 66 variety sweetened with cane sugar and monk fruit for fewer calories. You can see the bits of ginger in the soda and the bottle’s label suggests you shake gently before serving. $1.99 per bottle or $6.99 per four-pack. Available at Sprouts, World Market, The Fresh Market and H. Mart. http://brucecostgingerale.com.
PROOF Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup
The Pinewood has become a Decatur institution beloved as much for the quality of its cocktails as for the dishes on its menu. Now you can make Pinewood-quality cocktails at home, using their PROOF Old Fashioned Cocktail Syrup. The syrup comes in three flavors – Maple Bacon, Traditional and Pecan. And the little elves at PROOF have done all the work. Each syrup has oleo-saccharum as its base, and let us assure you making oleo-saccharum is no easy task. Lemons and oranges are carefully peeled to remove just the colored zest. Then the zest is mixed with sugar so the sugar soaks up the citrus oils. Then it’s muddled and left to sit. Finally, you drain off the result. It’s time consuming and meticulous work. Once they’ve made the ole-saccharum, the folks at PROOF add flavorings like pecan tincture, or maple syrup, or they hickory smoke the oleo-saccharum. Finally, it goes in a 16-ounce bottle, providing enough syrup for 32 cocktails. But you don’t have to restrict the syrup to cocktails. We tried the pecan syrup and found it so delicious, we enjoyed it in just a glass of sparkling water. $25 per 16-ounce bottle. Available online and at Total Wine & More and Max’s Bottle Shop. http://proofsyrup.com
Marilyn’s Cheese Straws
What’s a round of cocktails without a little tasty nibble? We are total snobs about cheese straws, preferring to make our own from a 1930s recipe we inherited from a lovely neighbor, tediously squeezing them out with her ancient screw-top cookie press. But we have to admit, Marilyn’s Gluten Free Gourmet Cheese Straws could make that a thing of the past. Marilyn Santulli makes her cheese straws with GMO-free rice flour which gives them just the right crisp texture. We tried the regular and jalapeno varieties and they were happily devoured. The jalapeno straws have a little heat, but it’s not overwhelming at all. She also makes gluten-free cheese buttons and artisan flatbread crackers. There’s a whole world of sweet bakery treats available as well. The cheese straws are $6.99 – 7.99 per 5-ounce package. Available at Whole Foods Market and Kroger stores, and at the bake shop. Marilyn’s Gluten Free Gourmet, 1007 Mansell Road, Roswell. 770-587-5874. http://marilynsglutenfree.com.