Using Preserves and Jams in Cocktails

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Here in Oregon, we look forward to this time of year more than most any time. It’s raining nearly every day, and the occasional bright patches of sunlight are coaxing flowers out of the ground, green out of the grass, and fruit buds out of the once-dormant trees. I’m keeping a close eye on my two blueberry bushes, but for now I’m still without fruit.

Eventually we’re going to be reaping the bounty of fresh fruit that grows here, but for now we need to resort to other methods if we want to enjoy those summer fruit flavors. And fortunately for all of us, there’s a trick to incorporating the flavors of summer to a cocktail without the need for actual fresh fruit, and that’s through the use of preserves.

Preserved fruit comes in a huge variety of options, from jams, jellies, preserves and conserves, to marmalades, fruit butters, and chutneys. Anything that you can find in the fridge that offers a burst of concentrated fruit flavor to introduce to the drink is fair game in your cocktail.

It’s also a nice way to add flavors that you can’t find locally. I love the flavor of a nice English or Italian bitter orange marmalade with my whiskey sour, but so may other fruits that we can’t find around these parts make for great additions to cocktails for a hint of something more… exotic.

Salvatore Calabrese did it in 2000 with his famous Breakfast Martini, which is essentially just Harry Craddock’s Marmalade Cocktail from 1930 with some orange liqueur added and a piece of toast served on the side. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I just like adding a heaping teaspoon of whatever I have on hand to a shaken cocktail that I enjoy. One of my favorites is the Whiskey Sour.

Marmalade Sour

2 oz whiskey (I like Whistle Pig’s 12-Year Old World rye)
1 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz 2:1 simple syrup
.5 oz egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tsp orange marmalade

Combine ingredients and shake with ice cubes until cold. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

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