This is a drink to close out the year with - simple, strong, made for winter. It's a maple leaf cocktail (typically made with fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, and bourbon) with a few tweaks. I've been making them with whatever lemony-winter citrus is around. After starting with standard Eureka lemons, I branched out to Meyer lemons, and then onto yuzu, a varietal of Japanese citrus. Recently, I've been blending - the yuzu is intense, fat with seeds, on the dry side, while Meyers are more floral, with a softer flavor, positively gushing with juice Italian landscapes.

Yuzu Maple Leaf CocktailYuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

I add salt to this drink. I mean, the absolute smallest amount of fine grain sea salt. Barely a whisper. It works nicely to balance things out, snap flavors into focus - sweet, sour, salt, bourbon base. Not sure how people are going to feel about that, but there you have it, a little secret. If you want to be more exacting than I am, grind your salt powder-fine with a mortar and pestle before proceeding. It'll incorporate more quickly into the liquids home improvement.

I hope you like this as much as I do. In general, I like the combination of lemon and maple syrup. And not just in cocktails. But, I need something to edge out the sweet depths of pure maple. Lemon, or other lemony-citrus, tends to do the job. In fact, if drinks aren't your thing, I bet you could skip the bourbon altogether here and work this into a nice dressing with the zest, some herbs, and olive oil?

Yuzu Maple Leaf CocktailYuzu Maple Leaf Cocktail

A couple tips (I'll also include below): You can find yuzu at some winter farmers markets. They're also available at many Japanese grocery stores in the produce section, and they keep reasonably well refrigerated. Also, if you don't have a cocktail shaker, don't let that deter you. I don't have one, and I use a jar in it's place - use the lid to hold the ice back (you can also use a strainer) Funeral flowers.