chai pomegranate whiskey spritz | on winter survival

Happy new year!!

I know we are a solid five weeks into 2021. I can still celebrate. 😏 We took down our Christmas tree only six days ago, I just finished writing out my goals for the year, and I’m still sending out HNY cards into February. I honestly don’t know where the last few weeks went, so I’ll blame my tardiness on the haze that was the month of January. I think we can all agree that the month was, for lack of a better descriptor, weird.

With the darker days thankfully growing longer and brighter, I have been embracing all-things-cozy to keep me grounded and positive. It’s been rainy, snowy, and muddy here at the vineyard, so we have had to postpone outdoor projects and either remain glued to our computers or work on finalizing the blends for our 2020 wines. To keep my spirits high, I’ve been making time for muddy walks with the dog, cooking with my husband, giving the house a deep clean, and whipping up some new cocktail recipes.

This Chai Pomegranate Whiskey Spritz was one of my favorites that I made in January, and it features an easy-to-make chai syrup that works well with wintry drinks. The cocktail is rich and savory, with bright, pomegranate notes, and it finishes with a dry, refreshing pop of bubbly.

I’m also sharing the recipe for another cocktail that uses this chai simple syrup, the Rum Reviver, a rum-forward cocktail, which first appeared in the fall 2020 issue of Spoke + Blossom magazine. Both of these cocktails require low-maintenance prep and yield high-impact reward.

You might be able to score a fresh, late-season pomegranate at the grocery right now, but if you’re out of luck, using an already-juiced version is just as delicious and definitely less cumbersome. I love making this cocktail as an opening, pre-dinner drink, and since I’ve already popped some bubbly to make it, I follow up with that sparkling wine by pairing it with the main course.

Sparkling wine is my absolute favorite wine to pair with food because of its versatility. It ranges from dry or slightly sweet, rosy pink or golden, to fully sparkling or barely bubbly. Almost always, sparkling wine exhibits great acidity, which makes it highly compatible with almost any cuisine. I’ve paired a brut rosé with grilled steak, a racy blanc de blancs with seared scallops, and a sweet, sparkling red with rich chocolate cake.

I’m definitely due to write a post about my favorite sparkling wines, but first, let’s get after this spicy, fruit-driven, cozy cocktail.


CHAI POMEGRANATE WHISKEY SPRITZ


  • 1 1/2 ounces whiskey (I used Side Gig from Storm King Distilling Co.)
  • 3/4 ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1/4 ounce dry curaçao or orange liqueur (I used Pierre Ferrand)
  • 1/2 ounce chai simple syrup (see recipe below)
  • splash dry, white sparkling wine
  • pomegranate arils or star anise pods, for garnish
  1. In a mixing tin, combine the whiskey, pomegranate juice, dry curaçao, and chai simple syrup.
  2. Add ice and shake well.
  3. Over a large cube of ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with brut sparkling wine.
  4. Garnish with pomegranate arils or star anise pods.

NOTES

  • This recipe yields one drink.
  • This cocktail would also be delicious if subbed with either aged rum, bourbon, or an Old Tom gin.

CHAI SIMPLE SYRUP


  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 bags of your favorite chai tea
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water.
  2. Bring to a simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved, and then remove from heat.
  3. Add the two bags of tea and let infuse until the mixture reaches room temperature.
  4. Strain off the tea bags and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

NOTES

  • The syrup will keep for up to two weeks, refrigerated.
  • For variation, try substituting brown or coconut sugar for an even richer flavor profile or consider tossing in half of a vanilla bean pod for a sweeter depth.

I have to give a special shoutout to my friends over at Storm King Distilling Co. in Montrose, Colorado. David Fishering and his team just received a gold medal within the “specialty” category for their Side Gig whiskey, which I used in this recipe, in the inaugural 2020 Rocky Mountain Craft Spirits Competition. It also won best in class! Even before they received these well-deserved awards, this was a standout product for me from their diverse portfolio.

A few times a year, the team at Storm King Distilling Co. will play around with flavors, techniques, and cask sizes, and they’ll release a whiskey that is truly an expression of their creativity, aptly named, “Side Gig.” This year, David blended 50% triticale whiskey, a wheat-rye hybrid, with 50% bourbon whiskey. The resulting blend was aged for 17 months in two 15-gallon, charred, American oak barrels.

This award-winning whiskey is delicious in a cocktail or poured alone over a large cube of ice. With notes of vanilla, cloves, black pepper, toffee, and hints of orange peel, the Side Gig whiskey is complex and lingers on the palate. I’m happy I picked up two bottles of this interesting blend, before it sold out.

HAVE A LITTLE LEFTOVER CHAI SIMPLE SYRUP?

If you decide to make a small batch of the chai simple syrup, definitely set some aside and make this stirred, rum-forward cocktail that’s supported with sweet vermouth and ginger liqueur. You can find the recipe, which is shown below and was first published in Spoke + Blossom magazine’s fall 2020 issue, via this link.

The flavors in the chai simple syrup also marry well with a variety of brown spirits, like in a classic Old Fashioned cocktail, and I’ve especially loved adding a half-ounce or so with a glass of dry sparkling wine for a cozy twist on a Champagne cocktail.

I’m signing off with a few iPhone photos Steve and I took a couple of weeks ago on a snowy walk. We’re doing our best to intentionally set aside time to relax and enjoy this somewhat quieter season (we only have a few days left), before pruning and bottling season set in. Quiet walks, impromptu bonfires, and daydreams about the summer season are keeping our spirits high.

I almost forgot to share!

We just finished finalizing our blends for the 2020 vintage for our winery, The Storm Cellar, and we are increasing our rosé production by nearly 300%! I’m so excited that we will be releasing TWO different rosés in just under two months. It’s a race to blend the wines together, order bottles, design the labels, get government approval on the labels, send the labels off to the printer, and begin the bottling process in time for a late-April release.

We can do it!!

Cheers and happiest of new years to you!

Jayme

Having a border collie puppy has definitely gotten us outside more, and wintertime sunsets are just magical here in the North Fork Valley.

This is little Captain Murphy, the 2020 addition to our family, taking a rare quiet moment.

Walks along our driveway, which winds half a mile from the highway to our driveway, are intense. It’s a quick 500′ ascent to the top. 😳

We are both happy that the tasting room is closed, and we can continue to hibernate and recuperate from the intense tourist season.

My sweet husband shoveling the snow we’ve been getting recently. Thank you, Steve!!

Murphy kept trying to crunch on the ice-covered grasses from a recent storm.

We’ve been enjoying our experimental Riesling, a 50-50 blend from the hot, dry 2018 vintage and the cool, wet 2019 vintage. Its oxidative, nutty notes are just magical with the slightly effervescent spritz in this unique, small-batch wine.

8 thoughts on “chai pomegranate whiskey spritz | on winter survival

  1. Steven Steese

    Love these shots, and I’ve loved our cozy, wintery walks with Murphy lately! I’m also glad you decided to show-off some chai simple cocktails, they’re some of my favorite drinks this time of year!! ❤️

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Murphy’s walks are honestly SAVING me and giving me energy and sanity. Bummed I missed tonight’s walk, but a glass of wine and a hot shower sound like a perfect substitute. XOXO!!

      Reply
  2. Jim hinkle

    Jayme, Glad you and Steve are doing well
    Miss seeing the two of you at Shanahan’s.
    Everything is well with my family. The pandemic has slowed down the dining out. Hopefully it will be over and things ET back to normal.
    Take care, Jim@emeritusvineyards.com

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Jim! It’s always great to hear from you! Steve and I both send our love and miss seeing you and your family there at Shanahan’s. Steve actually dropped by and grabbed a crab cake and a dirty gin martini on his recent trip to Denver – I’m glad to hear that Marc and company are staying busy and doing well. We are all hoping that things will pick up within the dining scene. It’s been quite the journey over these past months. Stay well and safe – hopefully, we’ll catch up in person soon!

      Reply
  3. Danielle Grossi

    Beautiful as always!!! One day I would love to come to your tasting room and try your wines!! Enjoy your down time 😊

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      Thanks so much, Danielle! You’ll *have* to come out for a visit. We will have a tiny home available for rent, starting this season, and we are so excited about it! We are definitely enjoying the down time – we are getting ahead with grant applications and planning out the garden for the year. Still busy, but there is a lot more room to breathe. After Memorial Day, it’s go-go-go until harvest is over. It’ll be a blur.

      Reply
  4. Anne

    Always delighted to see a new post from you! And getting a glimpse of your neck of the woods makes it even better. Welcome to sweet Murphy! We adopted a young dog in December and it’s been getting me outside for more long walks, too. I’d forgotten how much energy a young dog takes. Haha.

    It’s definitely been a weird year so far. I haven’t even written out my goals for the year yet. Perhaps Chinese New Year is a good day to do it.

    So glad things are going well. It’s lovely to see you living your dream. I know how hard it must be.

    Take good care.

    Reply
    1. Jayme Henderson Post author

      I can say the very same thing – it’s always nice to hear from you and see what you’re creating! I always appreciate your newsletters. The colors, the inspiration, and insights into your world bring me smiles and motivation.

      Haha, dogs are CRAZY-energetic! 😳 That’s great your new pup is getting you moving and outside. Honestly, if I don’t get two good walks in with Murphy, even I pay a price. I feel so much better mentally, when I make the time to get outside.

      I am with you on feeling the weirdness and also not writing out my goals. I have some kind of loosely drawn out, but I always tend to stay on track when I clearly write them out. I know you’ll plan out some creative goals – I’m interested to hear what’ll be on your mind this year!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. It’s been a challenging year, for sure. Staying motivated in the dreary winter months is a full-time job! I know you understand that!

      Take good care, as well, Anne!!!

      Reply

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