Not jam, but still sweet

Not jam, but still sweet — and a great one-two kick to any cocktail looking for a quick escape from blandsville.

Happy New Year!

Spiced Simple Syrup

Make a simple syrup and reserve around 1.5 cups (12 fl oz) for this recipe. For the syrup, bring equal parts white sugar and water to boil and lower heat to gently simmer the solution, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved.

Cut and peel segments from a large ginger root to yield about five inches of the central stem (i.e., not the skinny stubs at the sides). Smash root once with a mallet and add to reserved syrup. Add a 2-3-inch piece of cinnamon bark, one whole star anise and about 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg.

Simmer gently 15 minutes. The syrup will have thickened and reduced somewhat. Turn off heat and let spices infuse the syrup for at least two hours, but remove star anise from the cooling syrup after around 20 minutes.

Strain and blend 1 part syrup with 2 parts vodka or gin and a twist of lemon.

Prefer rum? Make a brown sugar syrup and try adding 2-3 cloves to the syrup. Remove cloves after the initial infusion over heat.

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