Choice Cocktail for Christmas

December 12, 2008

While Sugar on Snow indulges our inner-child with it’s sticky sweetness, this shaken beauty delivers sweetness while also taking the edge off. As the skilled-bartender trend continues to thrive in the city, I discover that maple syrup is the natural sweetener of choice for mixologists.

The Northwood #2 was created by David Moo, co-owner and head bartender at the Brooklyn bar Quarter, and featured in the November issue of Bon Appetit. It combines fresh-pressed apple cider, maple syrup, and rum.  The perfect Ode to New England, which was actually ripe with rum distilleries in the mid-1700s.


Northwood #2

(Bon Appetit, serves 2)

  • 3 Tbsp gold rum
  • 2 Tbsp brandy
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp apple cider
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • 3/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 thing apple slices

Combine first 5 ingredients in cocktail shaker; fill with ice. Cover and shake vigorously until cold. Strain into 2 coupe glasses. Cut slit in each apple slice and attach to rim of each glass.

Photograph by Craig Cutler


Sugar on Snow

December 8, 2008

Maple Syrup

In honor of the first snowfall of the season that I did not sleep through, I am sharing a recipe for a New England delicacy I first learned of this weekend. You may recall Laura Ingalls indulging in a wintry mix of boiling-hot maple syrup over snow in Little House in the Big Woods (although I certainly did not remember this and thank my friend LBM for the reference). As a loyal fan of maple sugar candy from childhood trips to Vermont, I was surprised to hear of another maple confection with the consistency of sticky taffy.

With a little research behind me, I can tell you that Sugar on Snow is actually a springtime tradition in northern New England and Canada. Hot syrup (225-245 degrees) is poured over snow at sugar houses during the maple syrup harvest. Better yet, there are sugar on snow parties, where the maple taffy is served with fresh donuts, sour dill pickles and coffee.  The pickles and coffee are said to enhance the maple flavor and cut the sweetness. Some even serve a side of maple syrup for donut-dunking. Um, you had me at donuts. And sugar theme party.

Since there was no accumulating snow last night–and city snow likely harbors all things toxic–I was happy to find recipes suggesting food-processed ice as a substitute. Here’s a simple recipe adapted from

Heat maple syrup to about 2340 F, a candy thermometer is helpful. As soon as the syrup reaches the proper temperature, pour or drizzle immediately, without stirring, over packed snow or shaved ice. Because it cools so rapidly, the supersaturated solution does not have a chance to crystallize. It will form a chewy, taffy-like sheet over the snow. Twirl it up with a fork and enjoy!

The following video offers a glimpse of sugar-on-snow making at a Canadian sugar camp: