Peach smashes in August are inevitable. Fresh ginger smashes in September are unrivaled.
- ¼ ounce fresh mint simple syrup* (traditional, but not obligatory)
- 2 slices crystallized ginger and 2 more for garnish**
- 2 ounces sons of liberty spirits battle cry single malt whiskey
Muddle 2 slices of crystallized ginger with fresh mint simple syrup. Add ice and whiskey and stir for 10 seconds. Garnish with 1–2 slices of crystallized ginger.
* Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan. Simmer until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves and infuse 15 minutes. Strain the batch and discard the mint. Cool and store the syrup in a clean glass jar. Keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
** Combine 1½ cups water and 1½ cups granulated sugar in a small saucepan and simmer. Peel and slice fresh ginger root into ⅛-inch sections and add to simple syrup. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. Transfer ginger to a wire rack set over a shallow pan. Let ginger cool completely and dry, then roll slices in additional sugar. The candied ginger will take at least 4 hours to cure. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Refrigerate ginger simple syrup, the delicious byproduct, for up to 2 weeks.
TAKING ROOT WITH THE EDIBLE LANDSCAPE: SIMPLY SMASHING
The smash is a tremendously tolerant category of cocktails. It is considered the younger, “shorter” brother of the mint julep: base spirit, sugar, muddled mint (or other herbs) and ice. My favorite smash recipes are off-the-cuff—inspired by the most radiant and ripe ingredients of the season. For the base spirit, I prefer a bright single malt whiskey like Sons of Liberty Spirits’ Battle Cry that encourages the fresh herbs and muddled fruit to shine through the mash bill of rye malt and honey malt.
September brings a fleeting ginger harvest in New England, and with it, a most enviable smash. According to Silas Peckham-Paul from Wishing Stone Farm in Little Compton, “Young, fresh ginger is different from the large rhizomes (what we refer to as “roots”) that you buy in the grocery store. It’s white and bright pink close to the shoots. Our ginger is more delicate and mellow.”
He’s right. The young locally grown rhizomes are tender and less fiery than the ginger that’s available at the supermarket. In order to embrace our short-lived ginger season, candy the fresh root and save it for recipes that cry for a sweet, assertive spice. Muddle fresh mint simple syrup with crystallized ginger for a fallish smash or substitute 2 dashes of Angostura bitters for the mint when green foliage is out of our grasp.
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