I know I say this every year (okay, this is only the second year of this blog, or even the first if you don’t count the previous incarnation) but how is it almost Thanksgiving already?! I’m not complaining, except Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (save for the genocide and oppression and all), and in my fantasy life, I get to spend the entire month of November making spiced syrups and hand turkeys while wearing $300 off-white chunky sweaters and taking pictures of my tan ankle booties among a pile of brightly-colored leaves (for Instagram, duh).
Alas, my life is not that cozy or hygge or aspirational or whatever. Most days, I’m working too much and lint-rolling dog hair off my cleanest gray sweatshirt while simultaneously smothering my face in Vaseline so my skin doesn’t dry up and fall off. And I’m pretty sure my yard is an actual mud pit. But you know what? I haven’t completely given up on life, not even my fantasy one, and I somehow managed to make not one, but TWO spiced syrups this week. The first was a chai cider syrup for my wreath event at Boulevard, and the second was a spiced pomegranate syrup.
To be honest, a spiced pomegranate syrup wouldn’t be the first thing I’d think to make for a cocktail, since whiskey, citrus, and ginger are my default ingredients. But when Mean Mule Distilling Co. reached out asking if I wanted to partner on a Thanksgiving cocktail, I knew I wanted to do something different. Mean Mule is a Silver American Agave Spirit made in my hometown of Kansas City, MO, and while it’s similar in taste to a really great tequila, it’s not tequila because it’s not produced in Mexico. But hey, it’s not trying to be tequila. Just like I’m not trying to be an Instagram girl in a chunky white sweater (seriously, I’d spill something on it within 20 minutes of leaving the house).
Anyway, this stuff is good. Really good (you can even drink it neat without making that horrible guttural hissing sound one makes when booze stings). Mean Mule imports 100% blue agave from a farm in Mexico that sustainably grows and processes their own plants, then it’s distilled in a handmade still here in Kansas City. I’m probably bordering on cocktail nerd shit here, but all you really need to know is that this stuff is quality. And just based on the email exchanges I’ve had with the dudes that make it, I’m gonna say it’s made with love. (How’s that for some Instagram girl #goodvibesonly? You’re welcome. Happy Thanksgiving. Hashtag blessed.)
So back to the drink: I very rarely see drinks with an agave spirit base that don’t feature citrus, but I wanted to go a different direction for Thanksgiving. And because I genuinely like the taste of it on its own (even just a lil’ nip at room temperature — of which I’ve had more than a few, FOR RESEARCH) I love that the cinnamon, anise, and clove in the spiced pomegranate syrup really enhance the warm flavor of the Mean Mule — as opposed to masking it.
The syrup itself is really easy to make — and will make your house smell AH-mazing for hours — but it does take a while, so plan to include it in your Thanksgiving prep. Even though I de-seeded a pomegranate for this photo (TOTAL LIES! I made Kyle do it) you don’t actually have to. But pomegranates are really good, and they’re in season right now, so you should. You know, while you’re waiting three hours for your spiced pomegranate syrup/edible air freshener to simmer.
Spiced Pomegranate Syrup
Don’t use some old-ass cinnamon sticks you found in the back of your pantry. Hell, you shouldn’t use any old-ass spices, ever, but especially for this syrup. If you don’t get a strong kick of cinnamon when you take a whiff, get some new ones.Yield: 3.5-ish cups
48 ounces pomegranate juice
8 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
1 tablespoon whole cloves
¾ cup agave syrup
Add the pomegranate juice to a medium pot over high heat. When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves. Let it simmer until it reduces by half (about 90 minutes). Add the agave syrup, stir well, and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Turn off the heat an let it cool for about an hour before straining. Store it in a jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
1.5 ounces Mean Mule Silver American Agave Spirit
1 ounce spiced pomegranate syrup (above)
½ ounce orange liqueur
Add the ingredients to a mixing glass with a handful of ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with star anise and/or a fresh sprig of rosemary if you’re fancy (or nasty, because that’s more fun than fancy).
TIP: To wake up both the color and scent of the rosemary, run it under warm water for 10-15 seconds.
For a variation on this drink, give the ingredients a stir and top it off with some ice and club soda. Or just put a little bit of the syrup into a generous pour of Mean Mule on the rocks. It’s all good.
This post is in partnership with Mean Mule — which I’d totally drink even if they weren’t paying me to, because it’s really that tasty.
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