The gastrique is a traditional French sauce, and a superbly simple way to incorporate acidity along with sweetness and even herbal flavors into a cocktail all at once. It’s made by reducing sugar and fruit with vinegar to form a syrup, essentially sweet and sour sauce (and now I’m pondering making a cocktail with sweet and sour sauce), which can be created with any kind of vinegar, fruit and even fresh herbs.
Using the cookbook approach to creating a cocktail works even better when designing your gastrique. You may be able to find an existing gastrique in a recipe book or on a cooking website, which on its own, or with simple substitution, would make a marvelous mixer.
1. Adding vodka to your gastrique will lengthen it’s shelf life. When kept refrigerated in a container with a tight fitting lid, it will last a month or more.
2. If there are solids in your syrup, strain it through a chinois or tea strainer after it cools.
3. Possessing a fully developed flavor profile, many gastriques make for a fine libation simply by shaking with a base spirit, and serving over ice with a splash of soda.
4. You can use fruit juice or fresh fruit and sugar, or jarred fruit preserves, which are already sweetened.
2 ounces gin
1 ounce tangelo gastrique (recipe below)
1 ounce soda water
Shake gin and gastrique with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add soda water and garnish with a tangelo twist and a sprig of marjoram.
zest and juice of one tangelo
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 sprig of marjoram leaves, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until reduced by half. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing to release all of the liquid.