A few weeks ago I was in a little sandwich shop in Rockport, Massachusetts. Its the kind of place that has been around forever. It used to be a general store of some sort, with one gas pump out front and a diners counter inside. Its an old red building, walking distance to the beach and it has picnic tables out front. These days the inside is more like a fine foods store. You can order a sandwich, grab a bag of sweet potato chips and some kombucha, find a spot at the counter or take it to go. Its a great place for picking up lunch on the way to the beach, or grabbing something to eat on your ride home. You can tell they get their regulars in there every day, but they also seem to get a lot of tourists too.
I ordered my favorite sandwich – the felafel on pita (so good) – and walked to the cooler to grab a drink. I perused the options, and they had a lot of the usuals – Nantucket Nectars, Izzy, a few different kombuchas and some interesting lemon aids (lavender lemon and rose grapefruit!) but my eye was caught by a cardboard box that said Drink Maple on it. I read the label and was sold immediately on this product. It is actually straight maple sap from the tree, bottled and sold for our drinking pleasures. I opened the cap right there in the store, before I had even paid for it (I do that often...not sure if thats a good habit to keep in practice) and took a big sip. I was expecting a chemically flavor, something fake or perhaps something that tasted just like regular water – but I was pleasantly surprised. The maple flavor is undeniable, but not overbearing. It drinks like water but has the distinct sweet hint of maple in every sip. To add to all of the good things I have to say about this water, it also has half the sugar of coconut water, more manganese than a cup of kale, it has electrolytes so it is ideal for athletes or just to beat this summer heat, it is vegan, non GMO and gluten free! I seriously just love this stuff.
I knew I wanted to make something with this product, something that really showed the natural maple flavors while also enhancing it with a little added something. In the mornings I usually top my oatmeal with some sauteed black cherries and a little maple syrup, and I thought that maybe those same flavors would work together with this Drink Maple. Seeing as its the middle of July and often around 85 degrees, I thought that popsicles might be the best way to enjoy this awesome product. I also thought – hey, while I'm at it – might as well turn this into an ice pop cocktail, amirite?!
These ice pops are deliciously sweet, juicy and refreshing. I love them because you can taste each flavor in every bite - the sweet maple, the tart cherries and the smoky bourbon. They are perfectly enjoyed on a hot summer eve, sitting on your porch or laying in a hammock. The world of cocktail ice pops has been opened to me...I may never stop.
• Maple, Bourbon and Black Cherry "Old Fashioned" Ice Pops •
makes 8 ice pops
• 1 cup black cherries
• 3/4 cup maple syrup (split in to two portions - 1/4 and 1/2)
• 2 1/2 cups Drink Maple
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup bourbon
• one dash Angostura bitters
Pit the cherries and crush the fruit gently with your hands, until juices are running and the fruit is torn into smaller pieces. Add them to a small skillet over medium heat and begin to sauté with the 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Once the fruit is soft, remove from the heat and set aside.
In a saucepan, combine the Drink Maple, the remaining 1/2 cup maple syrup, and the sugar. Heat over medium high heat, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the bourbon and bitters.
Pour the maple mixture into your popsicle molds. Spoon in two to three cherries into the popsicle molds, and pop the mold in to the freezer. After about 45 minutes, insert the popsicle sticks. Keep them in the freezer overnight. Once they are ready to be eaten, run the mold under some hot water and carefully remove the popsicles.
I want to note that this is not a sponsored post - I truly just love the Drink Maple product. They did send me a few bottles to play with so I could create a recipe, but I was not compensated in any way. These opinions are my own. You can find Drink Maple at Whole Foods and online here - go taste it and see!
listening to: Maple on the Hill by The Carter Family