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ANNIE VANDERMEER : Designer / Writer / Narrative

(a.k.a. Murderblonde)

Basic Bits

Simple (or Honey) Syrup

From the recipe featured on "How To Drink," this simple syrup is the standard featured in all of my drink recipes (that are NOT flavored), and can be done with either demerara or white sugar. (There are brown sugar simple syrups but they're a more involved process, anyhow).


Because of the high volume of sugar in these it is impossible for bacteria to grow in them, meaning they don't require refridgeration and are SHELF STABLE (...though you very well might not have to worry about that if you use it in drinks as frequently as I do...!)

  • 2 parts sugar (white or demerara) OR honey

  • 1 part water (preferably filtered)

1. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until all the crystals are melted and it is well combined.

2. Let heat until warm but not boiling (I typically wait until there's a slight heat film at the top), then take off the heat, and allow to cool.

3. Pour into a sanitized plastic or glass bottle.

I'm a huge fan of fresh citrus, especially expressed over a drink, but it can be devilishly hard to keep fresh citrus on hand all the time, and sometimes they just don't want to express well, leaving you to sadly wipe a limp slice of lemon peel on a glass. With this oil extraction, however, you get the best parts of the citrus with all the work up-front!

The scale of this recipe is played somewhat fast and loose, and done in proportion to the size of the citrus being used (ex. using 3 limes vs. 1 grapefruit).

(NOTE: while this is similar in principle to oleo saccarum, this does use alcohol and is meant to be used in a spray/atomizer form, not poured. It is also advisable to use a very small jar to do this so that there isn't a lot of room for the zest to get stuck outside of the alcohol)

  • Citrus of choice (fresher the better)

  • vodka or everclear (something over 40% ABV)

1. Carefully zest your citrus (making very sure to not get the pith underneath) into a small sanitized glass jar, then cover with just enough alcohol to submerge the zest.
2. Shake thoroughly at least twice a day, making sure to swirl it around to get any zest stuck on the sides of the jar back into the mix.

3. After about a week or so, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve, then through folded cheesecloth or a coffee filter.

4. Pour the mixture into an atomizer (little spray bottle). To use, just give one full spritz into a glass to give an amazing citrus fragrance without dominating the taste of the drink!

Also taken from the excellent How To Drink video, this variation on the simple syrup recipe uses a 1:1 sugar/water ratio to go along with the fruit, which importantly is NOT shelf-stable, so you'll likely be looking at about a 4 week use for concoctions like these. Watch out for when they have floaty bits in them - that's time to dump it!

  • 1 part sugar

  • 1 part water (preferably filtered)

  • 1 part fruit of choice (probably minced or otherwise a bit smooshed) OR spice of choice (also minced or loosened up in some way)

1. As with the simple syrup, combine water and sugar in a saucepan, but over medium-high heat, and add flavoring thing (fruit or spice, you get the idea).

2. Bring up to a simmer and stir, making sure the sugar is dissolved, and wait until either the fruit has broken down to a desired degree or the spice has infused the mixture to a desired strength.

3. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then strain through a mesh sieve into a plastic or glass bottle.

4. Store in the fridge for about 4 weeks.

A subtle but useful tool in the mixologist's arsenal is this little concoction, which adds a little bit of salty and tart that livens up all kinds of drinks, especially ones that lean on the sweet side.

  • 5 grams kosher salt

  • 4 grams citric acid

  • 2 grams malic acid

  • 100 grams water (preferably distilled or filtered)

Carefully measure out all ingredients, then mix together in a small measuring container until salt and acids are dissolved. Pour into small storage container (preferably with screw-top) and store at room temperature.

This recipe is taken from Botanicals and Booze (with minor variations), which is an excellent resource for all kinds of fantastic mixology madness. I'd wanted to make saffron bitters for a drink inspired by one of the Elder Dragons from Guild Wars 2, Zhaitan (whose drink I will share later), though this is tasty in many a beverage.

  • 8 oz. rye (recommended Rittenhouse Rye - or something else that's high proof)

  • 2 ea. Strips of orange peel

  • ½ tsp. Cardamon, crushed and seeds removed from the pods

  • ½ tsp. Cloves

  • 1 ea. Cinnamon stick

  • 1 ea. Star anise

  • ¼ tsp. Saffron

  • ½ tsp. Gentian root

1. Crush the cardamom pods with the side of a knife to loosen the small seeds inside.
2. Transfer the cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, star anise to a small sauté pan and toast on low heat until aromatic, taking care not to let them burn
3. Add the cooled spices to an airtight container, and add the orange peel, saffron, gentian root, and rye.
4. Seal the container and give a good shake to mix all the ingredients together, shaking multiple times a day over the next 7-10 days.
5. When desired flavor intensity has been reached, strain and store in an airtight container.

Citrus Oil
Flavored Syrup
Citrus-Saline Solution
Saffron Bitters
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