Autumn grape silver sour features an Autumn grape shrub syrup, paired with oaked gin and spicy honey liqueur, honey syrup and a real free range organic egg white, garnished with a sprinkle of cinnamon, a single red grape and an edible nasturtium flower. Autumn grape silver sour is a warming and spicy Autumn cocktail marking the change of season, colder weather and celebrating the most delicious red sweet Autumn grapes. Preserving grapes in a shrub syrup is a useful way of ensuring there is no food waste – re-purposing the end of the grapes into a longer life syrup for cocktails, mocktails and desserts.
What is a Silver Sour? Gin sour with citrus, sugar, water, egg white, shaken with ice & strained
A Silver Sour is a fancy style of gin sour popular in the 1880’s that includes egg white for a luxurious texture and creaminess, along with citrus, sugar, water and gin. For more on the history of the Silver Sour see my post on Honey Rhubarb Silver Sour. I have referred to McDonough’s 1883 recipe for the vintage Silver Sour formula which appears in his McDonough’s Bar-Keeper’s guide and gentleman’s Side-Board companion (McDonough 1883: 44) with some help with measures from David Wondrich (2015: 78) in Imbibe – the Silver Sour calls for:
- 1 ‘table-spoon’ powdered sugar
- 1/2 wine glass water (1 shot)
- 5-6 dashes citrus (lemon or lime juice) (approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1 wine glass gin (2 shots)
- 1 egg white
to be shaken with ice and strained into a ‘small bar glass’.
How is the Autumn grape and honey silver sour different?
The Autumn grape silver sour swaps out the sugar and water and citrus for a honey syrup and a grape shrub syrup. The gin base is equally split with a spicy honey liqueur for a warming Autumn drink that celebrates seasonal red grapes. A real free range organic egg white adds creaminess and luxurious texture to this fancy sour cocktail. The Autumn grape silver sour is garnished with a single red grape, an orange and red striped nasturtium flower and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you do not have some of the ingredients you can make your own substitutions – this drink would still work well with a straight gin base for example and I encourage you to experiment with what you have at home to come up with your own variations.
Grape shrub syrup: Red grapes are in season now and are delicious – making them into a shrub syrup allows the flavour to be preserved and intensified using sugar, spices and vinegar. In this grape shrub I have used a cold process as outlined by Michael Dietsch (2016) in his amazing book Shrubs, the pairing of red seedless grapes with a rich demerara sugar, pink pepper and cinnamon along with a light coconut vinegar is my own contribution. The grapes are muddled with demerara sugar and the pink pepper and cinnamon added, they are then macerated in the fridge overnight or for up to two days – the longer the maceration time the brighter the red colour from the grape skins will become. The resulting syrup is then strained using a fine mesh sieve and the fruit reserved for use in desserts. Coconut vinegar is then added to the spiced grape and sugar syrup and stored in the fridge.
Preserving grapes: using a shrub syrup is a great way to make sure that no grapes are wasted – some can be used for eating fresh and some preserved in a shrub. The quantities provided here are for a small batch enough for a few cocktails – I made the shrub with the end of the grapes and thus saved them from being wasted giving them a new life as a syrup for cocktails, mocktails and desserts. In these times when we stay at home using up every part of precious fresh fruit and vegetables is so important – so learning and experimenting with old fashioned preserving techniques like shrub making is a wonderful way to use up things that could otherwise go to waste. Shrubs can be made with in season fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, flavoured with sugar, honey or maple syrup and preserved with vinegar. The traditional shrub syrup formula is 1:1:1 – equal parts of fruit/vegetable, sugar and vinegar. Modern shrub syrup recipes often reduce the amount of sugar but retain vinegar as a preservative. Many parts of fresh fruit and vegetables may go to waste such as herb stems and fruit that is becoming a little too ripe. Shrubs are the perfect way to re-purpose these and plentiful in season fruit and vegetables into amazing flavourful syrups. If you do not have grapes where you are you could make a shrub with other ingredients such as rhubarb, pineapple and fennel, raspberry and lime or apple.
Honey syrup: A 1:1 honey syrup is used in place of sugar and water or sugar syrup – this accentuates the honey flavour of the spicy honey liqueur and gives additional creaminess to the egg white when shaken due to the protein in the honey – for more on the science of honey in cocktails see Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence (Arnold 2014: 792). I used a Leatherwood honey that has a spicy flavour. If you do not have honey you can make a 1:1 sugar syrup or use maple syrup in place of the honey syrup.
Split base – oaked gin and spicy honey liqueur: The Silver Sour calls for a gin base but in this Autumn grape sour I split the base equally between an oaked gin with pepper berries and a spicy honey liqueur Krupnikas to add extra spice and sweetness. The grape shrub syrup works well with the complexity of the oaked gin and the spiciness of the honey liqueur – it is light but brings a fresh red grape flavour and spiciness from pink pepper and cinnamon. As detailed above you could use a straight gin base if you do not have honey liqueur.
Real free range organic egg white: for a rich creamy luxurious texture for the Autumn grape silver sour. Reserve the yolk for another use. If you do not have egg white you can replace this with aquafaba – the water used to cook chickpeas.
How to make an Autumn grape silver sour: Reverse dry shake
Following the method outlined by Tristan Stephenson (2016: 194) in The Curious Bartender I have chosen to reverse dry shake this cocktail – shaking with ice and removing the ice for a dry shake – called a reverse dry shake because bartenders often dry shake cocktails with egg white first and then shake with ice. This method produces a very creamy texture and mouthfeel even more so because honey is used in place of sugar – see above the effect of honey in increasing creaminess of shaken drinks.
Garnish & styling: Red grape, orange and red nasturtium flower and dusting of cinnamon
The Autumn grape silver sour is garnished with a single red grape, an orange and red striped edible nasturtium flower and a dusting of cinnamon. The grape ties back to the grape shrub syrup that forms the souring component of the drink and celebrates the beautiful red Autumn grapes that are in season. The nasturtium flower is from my garden and I was drawn to the complementary Autumn colours in the flower – orange and red like the Autumn grapes – so delicate and delicious. A dusting of cinnamon adds baking spice aroma and sweetness to the first sip of the Autumn grape silver sour. The end of my beautiful red Autumn grapes was transformed into a delicious cocktail syrup using an old fashioned slow preserving process of cold maceration with sugar and spices and adding vinegar as a preservative – while we stay at home experimenting with slow food processes is becoming ever more important as we try to make the very most of what we have to hand.
Autumn grape silver sourPrint Recipe
- Grape shrub syrup: 227 grams red seedless grapes
- ¼ cup demerara sugar
- 1 teaspoon pink pepper corns
- ½ cinnamon stick
- ½ cup coconut vinegar
- Honey syrup: equal parts honey and warm water, I used Leatherwood honey
- Autumn grape silver sour: 1 shot oaked gin, Tasmanian 40 spotted used here
- 1 shot honey liqueur, Krupnikas used here
- 1 bar spoon 1:1 leatherwood honey syrup
- ½ shot grape shrub syrup
- 1 real free range organic egg white
- Ice for shaking
- Glassware: Coupe
- Garnish: red grape, nasturtium flower, cinnamon
Grape shrub syrup: Muddle grapes with sugar
Add the muddled grapes, sugar and spices to a nonreactive container and allow to macerate in the fridge overnight or for up to 2 days
Meanwhile, sterilise your jar, wash well in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly, place the jar on a cookie sheet and place in a 110 C oven for 15 minutes until or completely dry, boil the lid in a pot of boiling water on the stove top for 5 minutes, allow to air dry – for more information see Resources
Strain the grape and sugar syrup through a fine mesh sieve
Pour the vinegar through the crushed grapes and spices in the sieve so that the vinegar dissolves any trapped sugar
Decant into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge
Reserve the crushed grapes for use in desserts
Honey syrup: mix equal parts honey with hot water and stir to combine, store leftover syrup in the fridge
Autumn grape silver sour: Reverse dry shake and strain – add all ingredients to a shaking tin with ice, shake for 30 seconds, strain the drink into the smaller side of your shaker and remove the ice, shake again and then strain into prepared coupe
Garnish with a red grape, a nasturtium flower and a dusting of cinnamon
Michael Dietsch (2016). Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Second Edition. Countryman Press: New York.
Dave Arnold (2014). Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. W.W. Norton & Company: New York & London.
Patsy McDonough (1883). McDonough’s Bar-Keeper’s Guide and Gentleman’s Side-Board Companion. Post-Express Print: New York.
Tristan Stephenson (2016). The Curious Bartender: The artistry and alchemy of creating the perfect cocktail. Ryland, Peters & Small: London & New York.
David Wondrich (2015). Imbibe. Perigree: New York.