Introduction: Pine Tip Simple Syrup
In springtime, Douglas Firs and other evergreens are growing new tips. The fresh growth is lighter green, and so if harvesting, these are the what you want. (You could technically eat your old Christmas tree). But the new tips are tender and have a slight lemony flavor. So they don't taste like Pine-Sol. Your Christmas tree might.
Step 1: Pine Tip & Honey Simple Syrup
The recipe for simple syrup is usually 1:1. One cup of sugar to one cup of water. Many recipes call for 1:1:1 if there's a third ingredient. I find this way too sweet and sugar dominates all other flavors. And didn't have any sugar on this particular day, so I used 1/2 cup of honey to 4 cups (loosely packed) pine tips, and 2 cups of water. The pine tips have a very subtle flavor, so too much water or too much sweetener and you can lose it entirely.
Step 2: Seep
Once you've cooked the pine tips and honey until the honey is dissolved and the water turns a little greenish, bottle it all up and put in in your fridge for 3 days to let the pine tips continue to seep.
Step 3: Strain
Once the pine tips have seeped for about three days, taste the syrup and see what you think. If you like it, strain out the pine tips. (Keep in mind with infusions, there's alway a sweet spot. If you let it sit for too long you might not get a deeper flavor, but rather, it can become bitter.)
Step 4: Mix
While the simple syrup makes a great homemade soda-just add sparkling water and ice, it's also a really good cocktail mixer. Here, I'm mixing it with El Castor. This is a delicious California brandy made from the prickly pear fruit of cactus. It has a smooth, tequila-esque flavor with slight fruit note, sort of like guava. I mixed 1 part simply syrup to 1 part El Castor to 1 part sparkling water. (So 1:1:1 did apply here, but that's because the simple syrup is so mild.)
Step 5: California Pine-Tip and Prickly Pear Cocktails
Springtime-in-California cocktail! Tastes a little like a woodsy margarita and so I added a wedge of lime.