Maple Leaf Cocktail

Next week is Canada Day, so what do you say we drink some maple leaf cocktails, eh?

As soon as my wife and I walked into my company’s Christmas party last year, Seattle Whiskey Collective co-founder Mark Palfreeman and his wife, Anna, got to us before we could even take our jackets off.

“There are two bartenders,” Mark said. “Don’t go to the older guy with the long hair.”

“He gave me a vesper martini that I’m pretty sure had lemon juice in it. It was awful,” Anna said.

“The younger guy is awesome. And he made me this drink that had bourbon and maple syrup in it. You have to try it.”

I made sure to position myself in the correct line of co-workers waiting for cocktails. When it was my turn to order I told the younger bartender, “I heard you make a great drink with bourbon and maple syrup.” He told me it was called a maple leaf cocktail and I was lucky, because it was his last pour of maple syrup before emptying the bottle. The first sip was great but there was something different. I asked what else was in it and he said the key to the cocktail was cardamom bitters.

The History

The first thing I did when I got home that night was look up the recipe. I was disappointed to learn that a true maple leaf cocktail does not have cardamom bitters. Just bourbon, maple syrup, and lemon juice. However, I believe the addition of the bitters really makes this drink stand out from being another simple variation of a whiskey sour.

I’m not sure where this drink originates, but Bobby Heugel, part owner of the Anvil in Houston, has written about it a bit on the Internet.

The Recipe

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • ¾ ounce maple syrup
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Cardamom bitters (variation–not in original)

Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain ingredients into a chilled coupe glass. No garnish.

The Execution

Here are a few tips to help perfect the cocktail:

  • I’m only aware of two bitters companies that make cardamom bitters: Scrappy’s Bitters and Bob’s Bitters. I have Scrappy’s and they’re great. Plus they’re cheaper and they’re local.
  • I’ve seen credible mixologists use both grade A and B maple syrup so try both and see what you prefer. I tend to go with grade B. Refrigerate the syrup after opening.

The maple leaf is a sweet and refreshing bourbon cocktail. Perfect for enjoying on a summer day and celebrating whatever Canadians celebrate on Canada Day.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below, email, or hit us up on social media. No question is too basic!