This year's crop of plums from our tree was smallish -- just about 15 plums. A quick flip through Martha Stewart turned up Plum Brandy! It was a strange technique, with those extra steps that always seem to be in her recipes. Instead of simple syrup and plums, there was a proper 234-degree sugar candy syrup poured into the jar, where it immediately turned into hard candy at the bottom of the jar. The brandy was poured over it, then topped with plums.
It lingered at the back of the fridge all summer, all autumn. Like Tom Petty said: The waiting is the hardest part. At last, it was ready to drink a couple of weeks ago.
Drumroll please. Meh. It tastes like cough medicine. So I called Stephanie M., the erstwhile bartender at Mirror, a master mixologist and concocter of concoctions. She took on the task and concocted three suggestions.
1) Add orange peel and a cinnamon stick and infuse for a few days. The spiced-up brandy should be much more tasty.
2) Pour the newly re-flavored brandy into espresso, put it in a shaker and shake like mad for a macchiato.
3) Try the brandy in a creamy classic, the Brandy Alexander.
The orange peel was a great idea -- in less than a week, the "yuck" became "wow" as my cordial went from medicine to beverage. It was sweet and bracing on its own, and great in an Old Fashioned.
Next step: espresso. It was superb, especially when we turned it into a latte. Coffee, orange and cream with a kick.
Brandy Alexander: didn't try this, but really, there's no way it could be bad, with cream and chocolate and alcohol.
So Stephanie's inspirations were spot-on. Thanks Stephanie -- I hope to pull up a bar stool with you soon to hear more ideas.