Set the Table with Maple Mixed Drinks

Artesheady Punch

Written By

Claire Fitts Georges

Written on

April 03 , 2013

When we asked Claire Georges if there were any recipes she wanted to add in the update, she said to make sure the maple sours mix was in this article - it is and has clearly stood the test of time (mix it with gin, or with seltzer, or with gin + seltzer). One absent beverage is this variation on a hot toddy - make a cup of almond tea (that's a Celestial Seasonings flavor not a fancy recipe), add a shot of whisky, 2 Tb of maple syrup, squeeze in a wedge of meyer lemon or regular lemon . . . or for something more desserty leave out the lemon and add cream instead. This is a recipe pulled from the recesses of sugaring memory and if you do not love it, do not blame Claire. 


While Vermonters know that maple flows well beyond the breakfast table, we don’t regularly take it behind the bar. So when, at the request of Local Banquet, I started on the quest of tippling the tree, I had some good starting points, but mostly got to invent. Some of the creations were immediately delicious, while others needed to stick to their day jobs.


The most immediate and obvious way to imbibe with maple is just to swap maple syrup for simple syrup in an existing recipe. Or add a splash of Grade B to your favorite spirit on the rocks. But you can go oh-so-much farther, and contrary to assumption, maple syrup isn’t just for the sweet drinks. My new favorite evening go-to (as of starting this article) is Vermont Sazerac, my New England version of the New Orleans staple. It is herbaceous, sharp, smooth, and scrumptious. The traditional version is made with Peychaud bitters, but in all of my bitters experimentations I keep going back to Vermont’s own Urban Moonshine, made in Burlington. Their organic bitters is hands-down my favorite. (A little goes a long way, so it’s well worth the organic penny.)

Vermont Sazerac

1/2 tsp. absinthe
2 oz. WhistlePig rye whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Vermont maple syrup
1/4 tsp. Urban Moonshine bitters
Swirl the absinthe in a rocks glass to coat the glass.
In a shaker, shake the rest of the ingredients with ice and
pour everything into the prepared glass.

Speaking of WhistlePig, a little while back I met the folks from this Shoreham-based whiskey maker at a party and one of them recommended a WhistlePig mixed drink that sounded kind of interesting (in both senses of the word). They didn’t give me ratios or a name for the drink, so I went home and came up with the recipe, while my fiancé came up with the name. This drink is shockingly good and appears to be liked by sweet and savory drinkers alike. It’s a great cocktail to make pre-dinner when you’ve just opened a bottle of red wine to add to the pasta sauce.

Red Whistle

1 oz. WhistlePig rye whiskey
1 oz. red wine
1/2 oz. Vermont maple syrup
1/2 oz. lime (or lemon) juice
Shake everything over ice and pour into a rocks glass.


Bars usually cook up simple syrup in large quantities to have at the ready for many a mixed drink, but we in the maple world have sugar-peeps to do that for us. Still, there are some mixes that benefit from planned preparation. When citrus is in season (during our cold winter months), I now buy bags and bags of the stuff. With a simple hand juicer, I press out fresh lemon, lime, and orange juice to make large batches of maple sours mix. Then I keep mason jars full of the sweet and sour goodness in the back of my fridge for whenever the need arises. 

This delicious variation on the sugary college staple can be added to just about anything. Your favorite distilled spirit + sours is simple and refreshing any time of year. My fiancé has taken to adding it to his rum and Coke in place of a squirt of lime. Meanwhile, my sours-du-jour has become a Gin Sours. There are more types of gin created in our region than of any other spirit besides vodka. That makes this gin lover very happy, but if you’re not a gin lover, I encourage you to take a second taste of our new regional delicacy. Green Mountain Distillers, Caledonia Spirits, and Smugglers’ Notch are making gin in Vermont (with Vermont Spirits Gin coming soon), while Flag Hill Distillery in New Hampshire (not to be confused with Flag Hill Farm in Vershire) is making Karner Blue Gin out of apples, and there is a Quebec flavored gin made just north of the border called Ungava. Mix any of these very different gins with tonic, sours, or just ice and see which becomes your go-to. 

Maple Sours Mix

juice of 2 lemons (1/2 cup)
juice of 2 limes (1/2 cup)
juice of one large orange (1/2 cup)
1 cup Vermont maple syrup
Mix all the ingredients together and store for later use.

Before we leave the tastiness of homemade maple sours behind, I have to mention a delicious drink that you could totally defend as a health tonic. At a recent delicious dinner at Montpelier’s Kismet restaurant, I was introduced to the Kombuchita. I immediately needed to re-create it at home so I could partake at a moment’s notice. 


4 oz. kombucha (cranberry or your
favorite flavor)
1 oz. Vermont maple sours
1 oz. tequila
Mix all ingredients and pour over ice.


My friend Helen was tasked with writing a companion article to this one, so we decided that we needed to have a “work meeting” to “collaborate.” Yes, that did mean creating many, many mixed drinks with maple, and in this experimentation we came up with some surprisingly yummy drinks. One I wasn’t expecting to like was the Artesheady Punch. Beer doesn’t always belong as a mixer, but the Alchemist’s famously good Heady Topper out of Waterbury rises to the task. Artesano is a meadery in Groton with a well-honed palate. I’ve been creating many mixed drinks with the various flavors of their local honey mead.

Artesheady Punch

4 oz. Heady Topper
2 oz. Artesano original mead
1/2 oz. Vermont maple syrup
Mix all ingredients with ice and for an added flare, pour into a glass rimmed with cocoa powder and cinnamon. 

Another mead-inspired favorite that I’ve named the Mt. Mansfield Sunrise is tart, sweet, and refreshing. Or you could stay on the Heady Topper side of things and go with the drink that Helen named Unethical, for how good and easy to drink it is.

Mt. Mansfield Sunrise

3 oz. Artesano cranberry mead
1 oz. Green Mountain Distillers
orange vodka
1/2 oz. Vermont maple syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and enjoy. 


1 can cold Heady Topper
1 oz. Vermont maple syrup
1 oz. Vermont vodka
Stir all ingredients together in a tall beer glass. 


Sometimes you just need to go a little crazy and mix in a bit of everything. Fortunately, Vermont is producing a greater and greater variety of spirits, which give us more room for creativity and the ability to create this “everything” drink that I named with geography in mind.

Grand Isle Iced Tea

1 oz. Green Mountain Distillers gin
1 oz. Flag Hill Farm’s Pomme De Vie
1 oz. Vermont maple syrup
1 oz. Green Mountain Distillers orange vodka
1 oz. WhistlePig rye whiskey
1 oz. Smugglers’ Notch rum cola
Shake all ingredients, except cola, with ice. Pour, with the ice, into a glass and top with cola to taste.

And when the holidays come around again, or whenever your chickens or your neighbor’s chickens are happily popping out eggs, I wholeheartedly recommend this eggnog.

Maple Eggnog

8 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
8 eggs yolks, beaten until light
1 cup Vermont maple syrup
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup bourbon
1/2 cup aged rum
1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
1 1/4 cup cream
1 3/4 cup milk
Whisk all ingredients together and store in mason jars in the fridge until ready for use, keeping in mind that this mixture includes raw eggs. As the air settles out, the mixture will decrease in volume.

So, imbibe in maple, tipple the tree, and take a little sap behind the bar. This centuries-old local sweetener is primed for your post-Prohibition pleasure.

About the Author

Claire Fitts Georges

Claire Fitts Georges

Claire Fitts Georges is the owner of Butterfly Bakery of Vermont, a mom of two wee ones, and a recipe developer in Montpelier. Her popular hot sauce line includes Maple Wood Smoked Onion, a star on Season 7 of the food show "The Hot Ones". 

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