How does a caramel maple long john cocktail sound right about now? Are you thinking about biting into one, tasting the sweet yeastiness of the donut bread, the sweet caramel and maple glaze, and that hint of vanilla from the icing on top? I bet you are now. This week we’re mixing up donut-inspired cocktails for our 5 Quarantine Cocktails series (for previous cocktails in the series, head towards the bottom of the entry).
Donuts, is there anything they can’t do? No. The answer is no. Donuts are everything, and I wanted to step out and challenge myself to work on some flavors that come from baked goods like donuts. Now I wasn’t able to get the full custard-filled flavors to match exactly, and that was a disappointment, but I came close with a flip cocktail. If I figure it out in the future you can bet I’ll be adding those recipes to the blog.
Let’s start with one of my family favorites – the maple-caramel long john. I don’t know about you, but when I’m staring at trays of long johns, I always hope that one of them has bourbon in the glaze, and in Louisville, you can bet the caramel or maple ones often have a little bourbon in them. We all know bourbon sells in Louisville and adding bourbon to donuts just makes basic economic common sense.
I came up with this cocktail the day I opened a bottle of Stroopwafel caramel liqueur. It’s a liqueur that tastes like those addictive caramel-filled waffle cookies that appear in stores around the holidays. You know, the ones you put over a cup of hot chocolate or hot coffee to let the heat of the drink warm the cookie and make the caramel within even more gooey. I’m sure any caramel liqueur or vodka would work it its place (but I didn’t experiment with a creamy caramel liqueur like a Bailey’s caramel), but this Stroopwafel is low ABV and a fun ingredient since it has a little bit of the cookie flavor in it as well.
Now I did try adding Monin’s cupcake flavored simple syrup because I had been playing with it earlier for other donut cocktails, but it’s plenty sweet with the maple syrup. I have no idea what’s actually in Monin’s cupcake simple syrup, but it does indeed taste like a cupcake.
Normally I would want a lot more bourbon in my cocktail, but if we’re going for the decadence of donuts in a cocktail glass, we don’t want to overpower the caramel and the maple. If you are a true bourbon lover and you sample this before you pour it and find it too sweet, add ½ to 1 additional ounce of bourbon to the cocktail. It’ll still evoke those maple caramel long john flavors, but you’ll get plenty more of the bourbon punching through.
Alternately, you can use a higher proof bourbon. I created this so that the bourbon was understated; it’s more of a cocktail for friends you’re trying to woo into bourbon. But in any case, it’s a sweet breakfasty treat you can sip on any time of day. It’s spectacular followed by a strong cup of fresh coffee.
If you prefer a cocktail without quite so much caramel, try this easy Maple Old Fashioned.
Important note: some maple syrups will cause the cocktail to curdle. Not all, but some. I don’t know if it’s due to the grade of the syrup or a preservative in it. But to be safe, test it out. Take your bourbon cream and add your syrup in first. If it curdles, try a maple liqueur or another maple syrup. It’s still fantastic without the maple, and you can just use some on the rim of the cocktail instead to garnish and keep your cocktail creamy.
For those of you curious about the other recipes in the Quarantine Series, I’ll put them here before you skim past to get to the recipe. Quarantine Juleps, (Breakfast Julep, the Pineapple Sage Rum Julep, Elvis Julep (peanut butter-banana), Root Beer Float Julep, and the Persian Julep (rose-apricot) ), Quarantine Old Fashioneds (Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons ), Quarantine Manhattans (Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan, Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, French Quarter Manhattan, and the Caramel Orange Manhattan.), Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary), and Quarantine Smashes (Whiskey Smash, Blackberry Sage Smash, Pineapple Tiki Smash, Strawberry Basil Smash and the Coffee Cherry Smash.)
Maple-Caramel Long John Dessert Cocktail
- 1 oz bourbon
- 1 oz Buffalo Trace bourbon cream
- 1 oz Stroopwafel caramel liqueur
- 1 oz cake vodka
- ½ oz maple syrup liqueur some maple syrups, not all, will cause this to curdle. still tastes great, but doesn't look so hot. A maple liqueur is safest.
- Garnish: Long john, maple syrup, cinnamon stick, glazed donut hole, maple glaze
- Combine bourbon, bourbon cream, caramel liqueur, cake vodka and maple syrup in a mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled rocks glass with one large cube. Garnish excessively with your choice of maple syrup/glaze, cinnamon stick, glazed donut holes, what have you. You’d better make two, you’re going to want a second one.