Save those citrus peels!
As much as I am a lover of wine, I’m also a huge fan of cocktail hour. There is something so civilized about pausing the day to have a little refresher by way of a strong and delicious bevy.
Long-time followers will know I’m also a fan of simple and easy. Why take five steps, when you can do it in three? Why scour shops across the city in search of esoteric ingredients when you can create something just as delicious with no more effort than your weekly grocery shop?
So when I discovered the oleo-saccharum, my whole world brightened like the Lux filter on an Instagram post.
Yes, the name sounds intimidating and pretentious and like it’s a body part, but it’s actually just flavoured sugar syrup. Oleo means oil and saccharum is sugar. And you can make it from anything: citrus is the obvious choice, but I’ve seen people add herbs, spices and other fruits and veggies as well.
In cocktails, sweeties! Any time you’re reaching for a simple syrup (which is just sugar and water), try using oleo-saccharum instead. This flavoured syrup really punches up the intensity of your drink, and it’s dead easy to make. You can eyeball half the peel-to-sugar ratio, but if you’re a stickler for precision, here’s a decent measurement:
125g white sugar
62g lemon peels
125g hot water
Peel your lemons (or whatever citrus tickles your fancy) and toss them in a bowl. A wide vegetable peeler works best for this as you want to leave as much of the bitter white pith behind as possible. You can muddle them a bit if you’re looking to take out some frustrations, but it’s not super necessary. Add the sugar and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for up to 24 hours, or until the oil has been drawn out of the lemon peels. You should have a fragrant pool of citrusy sugar slush at the bottom of the bowl. Add the hot water to dissolve the remaining sugar granules, then strain into a clean container pressing on the solids to get every last flavourful bit out. Et voilà! Your oleo-saccharum is ready for your 5pm tipple.
I was first introduced to oleo-saccharum thanks to the helpful and knowledgeable barkeeps at Toronto’s Supernova Ballroom. I was hesitant to try their version of a French 75 (frequently this champagne cocktail uses gin, and as much as I love gin, I don’t love it with bubbly. I’m also not a fan of the traditional sugar cube, because it never really melts properly, and the granules just sit at the bottom making for an unpleasing texture as well as keeping the bottom overly sweet while the top of the drink is strong and tart. I’m very emotional about this subject, as you can tell.)
Anyway, the Supernova Ballroom opts for the traditional and, IMO, far more champagne-agreeable Cognac. The drink also uses – you guessed it – lemon oleo-saccharum instead of a sugar cube. Apparently, there’s also some secrets thrown in there, but because I’m a lady, I didn’t ask any further questions.
1 ½ oz Cognac
¾ oz oleo-saccharum
¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Champagne or brut sparkling wine
Add Cognac, oleo-saccharum and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake hard for 15 or so seconds. Strain into a champagne flute and top with bubbly, garnishing with a lemon twist.