Summit's Shu Jam Fizz / Courtesy Pamela Vlahakis
Preserving sweet summer fruits in jams and marmalades is a tradition for many home cooks, but home mixologists should consider stocking up as well. Preserves are good for more than just spreading on toast; they add bright flavors and a silky texture to cocktails.
Greg Seider, co-owner of The Summit Bar in New York’s Alphabet City, created one of the bar’s signature drinks, the Shu Jam Fizz, when a friend passed along her grandmother’s homemade apricot jam. After experimenting with the jam and some fennel he had on hand, Seider created the final version of the cocktail: a refreshing, lightly sweet fizz made with gin from DH Krahn (an upstate New York microdistillery), apricot jam, fennel-infused agave syrup, peach bitters and fresh lemon juice; it's all shaken, poured over ice and topped with soda water. "Apricot jam adds a silkier, more concentrated flavor than fresh apricot would," says Seider. "The flavors also last longer." These days, bartenders at Summit make the fizz primarily with an apricot jam made in-house. “The grandmother couldn’t keep up with my production,” Seider says.
To make jam-based cocktails, follow Seider’s guidelines for a basic recipe: two ounces of spirit to one ounce of fresh citrus juice with a half-tablespoon of jam. Adjust the jam accordingly, depending on desired sweetness. If it becomes too thick, simply turn the cocktail into a fizz by adding a splash of soda. A few of his favorite combinations include peach jam paired with tarragon and gin, apple jam with basil and bourbon, spicy tomato jam with mezcal, and a nonalcoholic fizz made with blueberry jam, pineapple mint and sparkling lemonade. The most important thing, according to Seider, is that the jam be as pure as possible. “You want to make sure when you’re buying jam that it’s just fresh fruit, pectin and fresh lemon juice,” he says. “There shouldn’t be any other preservatives in there—no Smucker’s.”