Move over, simple syrups: Your more sophisticated French cousin, the gastrique, has arrived. This acid and sugar reduction cranks up cocktails' flavors (and keeps for up to a month in the fridge). Here, it complements the heady sugarcane rum in the Garden Variety by Daniel Shoemaker of Portland's Teardrop Cocktail Lounge.
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugarcane rum, like Mount Gay
8 fresh figs, quartered
10 basil leaves, divided
3 strawberries, hulled and quartered, divided
1/4 cup fig gastrique
1/2 cup sugarcane rum, such as Mt. Gay
2 tablespoons Cointreau
About 1/4 tsp. Angostura bitters
Club soda to taste
How to Make It
Make gastrique: Bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until syrup starts to brown. Remove from heat. Slowly whisk vinegar into syrup. Add rum and figs; simmer 15 minutes and chill.
Make cocktail: Muddle 8 basil leaves, 2 strawberries, gastrique, and ice in a cocktail shaker, until fruit is in small chunks. Add rum, Cointreau, and bitters and shake. Strain into 2 ice-filled glasses and top with a splash of soda. Garnish each glass with 2 strawberry quarters and a basil leaf.