"Pomegranate was over-utilized in the 2000s," says Sepia's Joshua Pearson. He's on a mission to lend a new association to the tart, versatile fruit, far from its Cosmopolitan past. Here, fresh pomegranate seeds macerate in rye for a week, infusing the spirit with a dark, fruity flavor and a rosy glow.
Pearson is incorporating spice blends into his drinks, too. He tailored his house-made ras el hanout bitters to complement spirits, adding gentiane and flowery orris root. Take a stab at making your own (they'd make an impressive holiday gift), or substitute with a dash of premade, spice-forward bitters, like cardamom or ginger. For more 2012 Best Cocktails, click here.
Pomegranate Old Fashioned
Recipe adapted from Sepia, Chicago, IL
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
1 bottle rye whiskey
Ras el hanout bitters
1 bottle high-proof vodka
1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon grains of paradise
2 tablespoons dried rose petals
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 teaspoon diced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon grated cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon orris root
½ teaspoon gentian root
½ cup filtered water
½ blood orange wheel
1 brandied cherry
Orange peel, for garnish
1. Make the pomegranate whiskey: In a large bottle or jar, combine the pomegranate seeds with the whiskey. Let sit in a cool, dark place for one week then strain and bottle.
2. Make the ras el hanout bitters: In a large bottle or jar, combine the vodka and spices. Let sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks then strain, add the water and bottle. Let stand two more weeks before using.
3. Make the cocktail: In an Old Fashioned glass, gently muddle the blood orange wheel and brandied cherry. Fill the glass with ice, add 2½ ounces of the prepared pomegranate whiskey and a dash of the prepared bitters. Stir well. Garnish with a swath of orange peel. Serve.