Our twist on a popular cocktail led us to this recipe for a popcorn rum sour. The concept of a “sour” is pretty simple. Start with your choice of spirit. This is one of the most forgiving cocktails when it comes to the choice of alcohol because it works with just about all of them. Vodka, rum, whiskey, gin, brandy (think pisco sour) and even tequila can be made into a sour. We love them all and each has their place in the world of cocktails. But when it comes to a balance of sweet and sour, we probably reach for the rum first.
But what exactly is a “sour” in cocktail jargon? Quite simply, it’s an alcoholic drink with a base liquor, a sour component such as lemon juice or lime juice and a sweetener such as simple syrup. Most have a foamy white topping which comes from mixing egg whites into cocktail shaker but more about that soon. A couple of extra ingredients sometimes sneak their way in, most commonly an additional sour component such as orange or grapefruit juice. Sometimes it’s an extra sweet element such as maraschino liqueur. Agave nectar or orgeat can sometimes be used instead of simple syrup but the classic combo of equal parts sugar and water, cooked together and cooled, is still the standard for most cocktails.
OK, let’s get back to the egg whites because some of you are nodding knowingly and some of you are shaking your heads no. Eggs in drinks are nothing new. Think of good old fashioned spiked egg nog which wouldn’t exist without the eggs. In sours and flips, egg whites add a foamy texture, volume and creamy mouth feel to the cocktails. You won’t taste the egg but you’ll enjoy a smooth, creamy drink. And if you’re worried about eating raw eggs, just look for a container of pasteurized egg whites in the grocery store.
To get that attractive foamy head on the drink, you’ll need to shake the cocktail. Some bartenders dry shake first, meaning without ice, and then shake again with ice. Either way, a good long shake will get you a pretty foam.
In building our rum sour, we decided to add another layer of citrus with some fresh orange juice. It’s a little sweet and a little tart and we love the flavor and aroma it adds. And since we were already messing with a classic, we took it a step further with popcorn flavor. Yup, a popcorn flavored drink. You know you want to try it.
You can replace the simple syrup with a store bought sweet popcorn syrup but we don’t love that. The flavor can be a bit artificial and that can stand out in a simple drink like a sour. We prefer to make an infusion. You can just add popcorn to a large jar, pour over a bottle of rum and let it sit, covered, for a few days before straining. But infusing the sugar syrup is quicker and then you can use it to moisten cake layers or sweeten your iced tea. Any sour should be a simple but perfectly balanced drink and we think we’ve achieved that in a popcorn delicious way.
To make the popcorn syrup, add the sugar and water to a pot and simmer on low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the popcorn, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Pour into a jar with a tight fitting lid and place in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. Strain out the popcorn and store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Add the rum, orange juice, lime juice, popcorn syrup and egg white to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, shake well and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with popcorn and orange peel.
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