Now, I’ll admit it, the whole “alternative sugars” thing was something I wrinkled my nose at. While I won’t touch any of those chemically created sugars (don’t they make you run to the bathroom??), I really couldn’t be bothered with all those other “natural” sweeteners. Agave, date syrup, rice syrup… why couldn’t I just have plain old natural cane sugar? That is until recently, when I realized how you could get some very unique flavors whileÂ not using plain old evaporated cane sugar.
It started with some baking, and then, naturally, into my cocktails. I recently started experimenting with date syrup since I had been makingÂ my way through 3 of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks and found that instead of dropping some cash on the pre-made stuff, I could make my own (also, we are spending a LOT more time out in the Palm Springs area with family making the move that way. There’s quite a lot of dates out here). Making your own date syrup results in a slightly lighter syrup than the store bought kind and while that wasn’t always what I wanted for my baked goods, the lighter syrup resulted in a nice substitute for simple syrup in a few cocktails. The one I bring to you today, that I originally posted on Serious Eats, is for a Date Martinez.
The Martinez cocktail is aÂ classic cocktail. Classic as in pre-1900. You can read about its history somewhere else, for right now, let’s get down to its remake.
You have a choice here. You can make your own date syrup, and not only use it for this cocktail, but sweeten up your oatmeal, or bake with it, or I don’t know, make a face scrub. Or if you’re short on time and can pick up store bought, go do that. But keep in mind, you’ll need LESS of the store bought to sweeten the drink. If you do a 1:1 swap this will turn out too sweet.
Note: I found and made my date syrup recipe from Oh, Lady Cakes. Since I didn’t ask her about reprinting her recipe, you can find that link in the recipe below.
1-1/2 ounces amontillado dry sherry, such as Lustau
1-1/2 ounces gin, such as Fordâ€™s
3/4 ounce date syrup, homemade (recipe link here!)
2 dashes Peychaudâ€™s bitters
Orange peel, for garnish
- Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, then pour in sherry, gin and date syrup. Add the dashes of Peychaudâ€™s and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over top of drink to release oils and garnish drink with peel.
The syrup’s rich, deep date flavor pairs wonderfully with a nutty but dry amontillado sherry. Here, my fall-inspired riff on the Martinez mixes the sherry with equal parts gin to dry out the drink and lend some contrasting juniper and pine flavors. The cocktail gets a sweet and spicy kick from a few dashes of Peychaud’s bitter, and is brightened up with a twisted orange peel that doubles as a garnish.