Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup

Living in Los Angeles, few things truly invoke the feeling of Autumn.  The palms trees that frame the avenues, swaying ever so violently in the Santa Ana winds, do not burn with orange and gold leaves.  Even at night, temperatures rarely dip below sixty degrees.  So, in addition to strident insistence on wearing sweaters because it is October, guys, the thing that signals the beginning of Fall in the modern era is … the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.

When I managed a restaurant at the base of an office building in downtown LA, we would get requests frequently for our version of the beverage, and so I (a former Starbucks barista myself) developed a Pumpkin spice syrup for our bar, that I will happily share with you now, in consideration of the current Pumpkin Spice syrup shortage of 2012

I do something a little differently with my syrup, cutting the amount of sugar in the base mix and adding sweetened condensed milk, but I like the body that the sweetened condensed milk gives to the final product.  The cinnamon/pumpkin/condensed milk combo adds creamy richness and warmth to whatever you add this syrup to– coffee, latte, hot chocolate, a little brandy and creme de cocao shaken over ice…

If you don’t want to use the sweetened condensed milk, then just increase the brown sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Recipe after the jump

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Hospitality @ Home: Fizz….

I just received my first kitchen gift of the holiday season from the owners of the restaurant I manage; a Sodastream soda maker! I had, actually, looked at these a few weeks ago as a gift for a friend who’s soda habit has hit 6-8 cans a day. But then I realized that his thirst for coca-cola itself could never be matched by facsimiles….

Receiving one myself, I have to admit… I was kind of ridiculously excited.

The kit came with the carbonator, plus a box of syrups, 4 liter bottles, and 3 CO2 cartridges. You just fill the bottles with regular water (I used the Brita), screw the bottle into the Sodastream, and Fizz!

Then add syrups or other flavorings to create your own fresh sodas. A quick perusal of the Sodastream website lets you know that many consumers choose the sodastream for ecological and health reasons.

Their proprietary syrups are uncannily close to the flavor of “real” root beer, Cola, Dr. Pepper, etc., but they all contain Splenda (even the non-diet ones), and I am a firm believer of eating Real Food, until a doctor advises me otherwise.

So I was more excited at the prospect of creating signature sodas. I already had a batch of fresh grenadine from a cocktail experiment a few days ago, so I just added my syrup to a batch of fizzed water.

And it was delicious.

It was fresh, clean tasting, and the best thing was that I knew every ingredient it contained. Just water, pomegranate, hibiscus, and little sugar.


So, the next logical step is to create something… signature. Something like Chamomile Ginger-Ale.

I just made a simple syrup of fresh ginger, orange zest, whole all spice, anise seed, cinnamon sticks, and chamomile flowers. And the secret ingredient, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, which is a British sugar cane syrup; all the viscosity of corn syrup, but made from pure sugar cane, and endorsed by the Queen of England!

Chamomile Ginger Ale Syrup
4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tablespoons chamomile flowers (or 2 bags chamomile tea)
1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 teaspoon star anise seeds (or two star anise pods)
2 cinnamon sticks
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Orange zest
1 1/2 cups water

Combine orange zest, spices, and ginger and sugar in a pot and allow to macerate for a few minutes before adding the water. Place over medium high heat until the mix comes to a boil. after it comes to a boil, remove from heat, then let steep for 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and chill.

Pour two tablespoons of the syrup over ice in a glass, then top with soda water. Garnish with a cinnamon stick (if you want to be fancy).