This Easy Maple-Chile Syrup Is Your Ticket to Endless Fall Cocktails
The only thing better than a good recipe? When something’s so easy to make that you don’t even need one. Welcome to It’s That Simple, a column where we talk you through the process of making the dishes and drinks we can make with our eyes closed.
I’ve been creating cocktail recipes for over a decade now, from bar menus to global competitions. My sneaky secret to layering flavors? I love using the ingredients already in my kitchen. Everything you need to make an add-to-anything cocktail syrup is probably in your pantry right now.
Here’s a favorite one, extremely on brand for fall: Blend dried chiles into maple syrup. It’s the easiest way to spice up your cocktails with a consistent, sweet heat, and you can dial the spice to your desired level.
Dried chipotles lend a rich, warm smokiness and subtle spice, which I adore. If you are craving something brighter and spicier, opt for dried or fresh cayennes. Red chile flakes also work in a pinch. I shy away from using chipotles in adobo, as the sauciness and seasoning dramatically changes the texture and flavor of the syrup (which in turn alters the appearance and mouthfeel of the cocktail).
Sure, an Old-Fashioned with ¼ oz. of maple syrup instead of sugar is a fantastic fall treat all on its own, but imagine it with some sweet, smoky heat—you can practically feel the warmth of the fire. You can swap the maple syrup for simple syrup in any number of sour cocktails. A Whiskey Sour with spicy chipotle maple syrup and rye whiskey? Hand me a cozy cardi and ready my lap cat, I’m in for the night.
If booze isn’t your vibe, mix up a batch of lemonade and sub the spicy maple syrup in for the sugar, or go full fall and use a splash in hot chocolate. It’s even versatile enough to use in your cooking: Drizzle it on roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, and even popcorn.
How to make Chipotle Maple Syrup:
In a blender, combine ½ cup pure maple syrup with 2 medium dried chipotle peppers (mine were roughly 3 inches long), add a shake of salt. Blend until incorporated. Pour into a jar and leave in the fridge overnight to marinate (or longer if you forget—it happens). Give it a taste. Want more heat? Add a pinch of ground cayenne and let it chill for another 30 minutes before straining out the solids and storing in a sealed jar. Keep it in the fridge for up to a month and use it in, well, everything.
Then try a Chipotle Maple Old-Fashioned:
Add ice to a rocks glass, followed by the 2 oz. rye whiskey (or reposado tequila), ¼ oz. Chipotle Maple Syrup, and 2 dashes chocolate bitters. Stir for 20 seconds. Express an orange twist over the top and tuck behind the ice cube. All that’s left is to sip and savor the flavors of fall.