Jam makes everything taste better, so I’m using a cheat in my Strawberry Gin Jam Cocktail today. I’m building the cocktail using strawberry preserves to give the cocktail a great taste of strawberry without having to make a simple syrup. One of the easiest hacks to use with a sour is to swap out all or most of the syrup with jam or preserves.
It’s a forgiving cocktail, and an easy way to use the last few tablespoons of jam in a jar before it goes to the recycle bin. Here’s how it works:
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The Magic of Jam Cocktails
Jam doesn’t have a season. Sure you make it in the season your fruit is most plentiful, but the beauty of jam is that it’s available in the kitchen all year long. In the winter, like it is now, I long for truly fresh local fruit, but we’re months away from even the first local strawberries. So to cheat a bit, I get out a bottle of my favorite jam and get to work on cocktail recipes.
When I build jam cocktails, I choose the base spirit of the cocktail based on the flavor of the jam I’m using. In other words, the jam comes first.
After tasting the jam to see how sweet, sour and spicy it is (if at all), I think about the way flavors blend with that taste in meals. If the flavor blends with floral and herbal notes I might go towards jam, if it’s more spice notes, whiskey or even rum might be a better choice.
I generally avoid working with vodka in drinks like these because any flavor from the vodka gets buried under flavor notes from the other ingredients.
Tricks for Working with Jam in Cocktails
Jam and preserves come in different forms. Some are closer to jellies, finely strained and without much fruit pulp. Other jams are made with mashed fruit, with small pieces and pulp. Preserves generally are made with the entire fruit or have large pieces of fruit you can feel and taste as you eat them. Finally, fruit butters, like apple or peach butter, are made with pureed fruits, so it has a great deal of pulp in it, but it’s all been blended to a very smooth consistency.
Butters, fruit spreads, and jellies tend to dissolve most completely in a cocktail, while preserves and jams have more chunks and make the drink harder to strain.
Whatever type of jam or preserves you choose, note that it will take longer to strain the cocktail than with a typical sour or gimlet. You’ll be fighting to get the liquid out of the cocktail through the strainer.
While you can do a single strain, for a fancier cocktail you’re going to serve up, make sure to double strain. It will take some time and you’ll still have some cloudiness in the cocktail itself from the jam or preserves, but you won’t have large pieces of pulp or chunks floating around. Ew.
Another tip for working with jam and preserves: jams and preserves don’t impart the same mouthfeel of a cocktail with a simple syrup in it. Syrup, when added to cocktails does two things. First it adds sweetness to the beverage. Second, it makes the drink feel thicker.
If you’ve had a cocktail that’s felt far too thin as you sip it, adding a ¼ to ½ oz of simple syrup binds the ingredients together a little bit more and makes the drink feel more substantial as you sip it, for lack of a better word.
Don’t add club soda to this cocktail. Because of the amount of juice, and the particulates it in the soda will go flat faster than when used in a well strained cocktail, or spirit-only cocktail.
Flavors in the Strawberry Gin Jam Cocktail
I started with strawberry jam, but I also wanted to add in the flavor of grapefruit. The two aren’t paired very often, and I wanted to play with grapefruit as the sour element in the drink. But once I added both strawberry and grapefruit I HAD to add Campari. It works so incredibly well with both of those flavors, that I wanted to use Campari as my bittering agent in the cocktail.
But with the gin added, and a little extra lemon to add some tartness, the gin jam cocktail was still too thin. So I added a little hibiscus simple syrup. This made the drink coat the mouth a little better as I sipped it. And it also made the cocktail and even more vibrant red color.
Now, while I did use lemon and grapefruit juice, you could substitute out the lemon juice for lime juice, but lime is much more bitter, so you’ll need to tame the grapefruit juice ratio as well. In addition, if you wanted to try raspberry jam or preserves, I would go with the lime juice. Raspberry and lime are a brilliant combination.
How to Make the Strawberry Gin Jam Cocktail
To make the gin jam cocktail, I added 1.5 tablespoons of strawberry preserves to a shaker, then ½ oz lemon juice, 1 oz grapefruit juice, ½ Campari, ⅛ oz hibiscus simple syrup and 1.5 oz gin. After adding ice and giving it a very vigorous shake for about 10 seconds, I strained it into a nick and nora glass. I wanted this cocktail to be fancy, served up, like a Boston Sour without the egg white.
I used a dried grapefruit chip as garnish from Dried Peel that had been infused with jalapeno sugar. After I put it in the cocktail, I waited a few minutes to really start sipping on it. As the chip infused into the cocktail, it became slightly more bitter, and also had just a tinge of heat coming up in the mouth after each sip.
You might not notice it if you were sipping this with food or snacks, but on its own, the slight heat from the jalapeno made the drink delightful to sip.
Other Fun Drinks You Might Like
- Cherry Gimlet
- Strawberry Gin Bubbles
- Bitter Bourbon Spritz
- Strawberry Rhubarb Smash
- Strawberry Basil Smash
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Strawberry Gin Jam Cocktail
- 1.5 oz gin
- 1.5 tablespoons strawberry jam or preserves
- ½ oz Campari
- ½ oz lemon juice fresh
- 1 oz grapefruit juice fresh
- ⅛ oz hibiscus syrup
- Garnish: dehydrated grapefruit garnish with jalapeno sugar sage leaf
- Combine jam, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, hibiscus syrup, Campari and gin in a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake 10-12 seconds and double strain into a nick and nora glass or a coupe. Garnish with a dehydrated, infused grapefruit peel and a sage leaf. Let the chip infuse in the cocktail for a few minutes before sipping to get the full effect of the jalapeno sugar in the cocktail.