Chase Ihde knows that there will be comparisons to the ubiquitous Starbucks pumpkin spice latte when people see the Squash Blossom on Affäre’s cocktail menu. And while they do have a spice profile in common—autumnal verging on holiday festive—Idhe’s version dials into the combination of a spiced squash shrub made with a blend of acorn and butternut chopped extremely fine and strained to produce juice, a whisper of brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, allspice, star anise, cardamom and green peppercorn—more akin to gingerbread than the syrupy faux coffee concoction that is either loved or hated. After infusing the spices in the squash juice, the mixture is strained and ready to star in the Squash Blossom.
Spice is definitely the focus of this cocktail, as St. George Dry Rye Gin serves as the base spirit. Its botanical profile echoes that of the squash mixture, featuring a heavy dose of juniper berries along with caraway, coriander, black peppercorn, grapefruit peel and lime peel. Think a bit of fir with the flavors of the holiday season.
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To round out the recipe, Benedictine sweetens and lemon juice adds brightness. And, as the Squash Blossom is a riff off of a classic gin fizz, aquafaba, a legume-based emulsifier, adds the froth as this drink is double shaken, first with ice, then without. The resulting cocktail has it all—the spiciness of gingerbread with the frothiness of a milk shake, all smoothed out with the subtle sweetness of squash. With a lingering finish tinged with star anise, the Squash Blossom gives you the best version of fall and winter flavor, no coffee cup or clichés needed.
The Squash Blossom
11/2 ounces St. George’s Dry Rye Gin
1/2 ounce Benedictine
3/4 ounce spiced squash shrub
3/4 ounce of lemon juice
3/4 ounce aquafaba
Spiced roasted squash seeds for garnish
SPICED SQUASH SHRUB
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
10 grams each of green peppercorns, star anise and cardamom
6 allspice berries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
FOR THE SHRUB: Chop both butternut squash and acorn squash into a very fine dice and juice. You should have about two cups of each variety. Grind all spices together and mix into juice, along with brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Let the mixture sit for a few days, agitating occasionally throughout each day. When the mixture has had time to infuse, strain through a fine mesh strainer and refrigerate. The mixture is highly customizable, so feel free to add more spice or tone it down. Makes about a quart of juice.
FOR THE COCKTAIL: Combine all ingredients over ice in a Boston shaker. Shake vigorously until you can feel that the volume has expanded. Strain mixture into a glass and dump ice. Rinse shaker with just a touch of club soda and pour mixture back into shaker. Cap and shake again until desired consistency is reached. Pour into a stemmed coupe glass and garnish with roasted pumpkin or squash seeds. Enjoy!