Thinking of all the unique drinks that we sipped this year (and there were many either in competition or repose), there were several that stood out as being revelatory in their deliciousness, but few that we’d want to suffer the labour of when making them at home. One of these was the work of Hailey Pasemko, commander and chief of beverages at Whistler’s Nita Lake Lodge. The Cedar Sour sounds like it might require an axe at some stage of its construction, but after we asked Hailey to demonstrate it for us (with lovely photography by Sonya Tumuluri), we found that it was surprisingly straight-forward, and more rewarding than building a shed.
Step 1: Sterilize a Cedar Shim
Scrub the wood to remove any dirt or dust. Soak it in warm salt water for 20 minutes. Then soak in fresh water for another 20 minutes to remove any saltiness left in the wood.
Step 2: Cut Wood into Kindling Size Pieces
It is easiest to cut the shim up while the wood is still wet and soft from sterilizing. Cut it into pieces that are about 1cm thick.
Step 3: Infuse the Rye
In a large glass container combine 10 1cm thick pieces of cedar with 1 750ml bottle of rye. Seal the container and store it in a cool dark place for 6 days. It is important to choose a rye that has a smooth finish and not a ton of character as the goal is to give it the flavour of the cedar. I always use Wiser’s Deluxe for infusions.
Step 4: Strain Rye to Remove all Wood Particles
Pass the rye through a very fine filter (coffee filter will do) to remove all wood particles.
Step 1: Simple Syrup
Combine in a pot 1L of white granulated sugar with 1L of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat immediately. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Step 2: Add Lemon Thyme
While the syrup is still hot add ¼ cup of fresh lemon thyme. Allow the syrup to cool at room temperature. Transfer to a container and store overnight in the fridge, leaving the herbs in the syrup.
Step3: Strain Syrup to Remove Herbs
Pass the syrup through a fine mesh strainer to remove the herbs. Syrup will keep in the fridge for up to one month.
1 ½ oz Cedar Infused Rye
1oz Fresh Lemon Juice
¾ oz Lemon Thyme Syrup
1 Egg White
1 Orange Slice
2 Brandied Cherries
In a cocktail shaker combine the egg white, cedar rye, lemon juice and lemon thyme syrup. Always add the egg white first just in case the yolk breaks. Do a “dry shake” of the cocktail before adding ice to the cocktail shaker. This will whip the egg white and ensure a good froth on the cocktail. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously. Double strain the cocktail into an old fashioned glass and top with cubed ice.
To garnish cut an orange wheel, cut a slice in it from the center out and splay the 2 loose ends away from each other. Spear a brandied cherry on either side.