Holidays might look different this year, but I’m ready for it with this Christmas sour – a little whiskey, a little cinnamon, a little hibiscus syrup and some fun aromatic bitters make this Hibiscus Cinnamon Sour one I’m going to be making all year round.
I knew I wanted to highlight the baking spices in the Uncle Nearest 1856, and adding a touch of cinnamon syrup and aromatic bitters brought out the other spices in the spirit – vanilla, hints of nutmeg and allspice.
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What Makes this a Christmas Sour?
First off, the cinnamon. I love cinnamon year round, and especially in summer with tiki drinks, but in November and December, the smell of cinnamon makes me think of all the wonderful cookies, treats and breads my family would make to share with others. I wanted to keep the taste of cinnamon in this one relatively light because there were already baking spices in the sour.
This Hibiscus Cinnamon sour has a little of the color of the season, too. It’s not a bright red drink. I didn’t want to overwhelm the cocktail with tart hibiscus since it was already a sour, but I did want to give a little sweet tart notes in there along with the red color.
Finally, I went with the good whiskey. I don’t normally use Uncle Nearest in a cocktail because it’s such a treat to savor neat. But, you get out the good stuff this time of year, so I’m using some of my “top shelf” whiskey to class up this cocktail.
If you need to know more about the whiskey sour, including history and the basic types, head to my article here.
The Argument for Good Whiskey in Cocktails
A lot of whiskey drinkers save the “bad whiskey” for cocktails. But if you don’t like it neat, chances are you might be able to detect and dislike those same off-notes in the cocktail. Use the whiskey you already drink in your cocktails. Use something you know you love. Perhaps not the whiskey that’s $50 a bottle, unless it’s a special occasion cocktail. But use a whiskey you enjoy.
I’m of the opinion that you should trade out whiskies you don’t love, or use them for infusions or self-batching to make your own house small batch. Creating your own small batches or fun infusions can completely change the flavor, balance and mouthfeel of a whiskey, and if you’re a true whiskey nerd you know you’ll love the experimentation of it.
But if you’re making a cocktail for a special occasion, take a little of that whiskey you treasure and build on the notes you love to make that special cocktail. You’ll love being able to pick out those subtle, familiar notes from the whiskey.
How to make Cinnamon Syrup
Cinnamon syrup is very easy to make. Simply heat 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of water on the stove to a low simmer. Add 4-5 cracked cinnamon sticks and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the sticks steep in the syrup until completely cool. Strain into a clean glass jar.
How to Build this Hibiscus Cinnamon Sour
To a shaker, add ½ oz cinnamon syrup, ½ oz hibiscus syrup, then 2 oz of whiskey, ¾ oz of lemon juice, and some cinnamon bitters. Add ice and shake for about 10 seconds. Strain out the ice, add the egg white, then whisk with a handheld latte whisk or put in a shaking tin again and dry shake for 30 seconds.
Pour into a chilled coupe and garnish with a lemon peel studded with cloves.
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Recommended Bar Tools
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You probably already have these, but you may need them, too:
Cinnamon Hibiscus Sour
- 2 oz Uncle Nearest 1856
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1/2 oz cinnamon syrup
- ½ oz hibiscus syrup
- 3 dashes 1821 aromatic bitters
- 1 egg white
- Garnish: lemon peel studded with clove
- Combine whiskey, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, hibiscus syrup bitters and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain out the ice and reshake, this time for 30 seconds. Alternative: instead of reshaking with ice, you can use a hand-held latte whisk for 30 seconds to build a great head of foam. Garnish with clove-studded lemon peel.