'Twas the night before the night before Christmas and a festive cocktail was in store.
My glass wanted something fruity and fun with color galore.
It was time for something clever, different, and pink:
A cosmo made with ginger-beet syrup - what do you think?

Okay, okay - I promise I've not been drinking these cosmos all day. I haven't even had one ... yet. I guess you could say I'm just in the holiday spirit and sometimes that calls for silly little poems about fun new ingredients for cocktails. But even if you're not a fan of the poem (and who could blame you?), do yourself a favor and whip up some of the syrup. While I like to add an ounce to my standard cosmo for a fun twist, you can substitute it for sugar syrup in most any cocktail, add it to seltzer water for a fun drink, or even layer it in a lemonade for a fancy kiddie cocktail. It's also beautiful drizzled over ice cream, pound cake, or even pancakes. And it brings a lot of flavor and color to the party! After all, 'tis the season.

What makes this a particularly great recipe is that it utilizes something that most often finds itself poured down the drain: the steaming liquid produced when you steam or pressure cook beets. This syrup was born of curiosity. One day, after pressure cooking a bunch of beets in my electric pressure cooker, I was about to pour the steaming liquid out when I stopped to admire how absolutely beautiful the color was. I thought about trying to use it as a fabric dye, but realized I was looking at a great method for turning my family's underwear pink. That might be just fine for the girl child, but I'm pretty sure it might not be universally appreciated.

Then I thought about food applications in which some bright color might be good and it didn't take long to consider cocktails. My favorite cocktail happens to be a cosmopolitan and I am particularly fond of the lovely color they carry. Why not make a fun sugar syrup with the steaming liquid (beets are sweet, after all) and make that color even more intense? And when I think of sweet beets, I also think of spicy ginger. I just happened to have some fresh baby ginger on hand from our CSA box, but any ginger root will work. The depth of flavor produced when you use these two items to make a syrup is actually quite stunning and the color is just gorgeous.

So, whether you're making a fun festive cocktail or pouring some sweetness over French toast on Christmas morning, enjoy this festive recipe. I hope it's just one of many ways you can bring color and brightness to your holidays. Seasoned Greetings, everyone!

Ginger-Beet Syrup

  • 2 c. steaming liquid from traditional or pressure steaming beets (use the beets for some other delicious thing!)
  • 1 1-inch long piece of fresh ginger root (peeled and grated coarsely)
  • 2 c. white sugar

Combine the steaming liquid, ginger, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue whisking regularly until the mixture boils. Adjust the temperature to keep the mixture at a low boil. Continue whisking and boiling until the mixture is reduced by 1/3-1/2 and the liquid clings to a spoon when dripped off it.

Remove from the heat and cool completely. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth to remove the grated ginger and pour into bottles. Store the bottles in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

  • Yields: 3 cups syrup
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes