Quinces of Eight

I was recently given some quince from my boyfriend's mom. I had never worked with it before and decided the best way to try it out was by making it into a syrup for cocktails. What I forgot in the process of syrup-making, is that the quince has an inordinate amount of pectin in it. That makes it a great fruit for making jam with, but when making syrup, you need to be careful about the ratios of water-to-quince.

When making my syrup, I forgot about this factor and my syrup ended up too watery. I didn't want a thin syrup, so I reduced it in the pan a bit more before bottling it and putting it in the fridge. The next day when I took it out to experiment with it in some drinks, to my surprise, when I tried to pour it out of the bottle, nothing happened. Because I reduced it, it had turned to jelly rather than remaining in a liquid form. Ooops!

A quick hot water bath to heat the jelly up was all I needed to remedy the situation. But, rather than turn it all back into syrup, I decided to keep some of the jelly. I like using jam, jelly, and preserves in cocktails. They often give a rounder, more complex mouth-feel than a syrup does, so I preserved some of the jam in addition to making some syrup. For this drink, I decided to use the jelly.

I put some cinnamon and allspice in while making the syrup/jelly, and what could go better with those flavors than a tiki-style drink? I decided to make a variation on a Jet Pilot, a cocktail that's on the strong side due to it's use of 2 1/2 oz of rum, one of those rums being 151 proof. It had lots of flavor and complexity to it and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. Tiki drinks by nature are a bit more work than others, since there are just more components, but this one is worth shaking up if you decide to get adventurous with some quince this fall. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

P.S. the name of this drink is a reference to the Spanish silver coins, Pieces of Eight, that were said to be used by pirates.

Quinces of Eight

  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Aged Demerara Rum (I used El Dorado 21)
  • 3/4 oz Aged Rum (I used Flor de Cana 7 yr)
  • 3/4 oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (I used Hamilton)
  • 1/2 oz Quince Jelly*
  • 1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 1-3 dashes Angostura Bitters

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Serve in a tall glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and a colorful flower (I used flowers from the Pineapple Sage that's flowering in my garden currently).

**With the holidays coming up, you may be wanting to serve this in a larger format for entertaining, it's pretty easy. Just use the proportions listed below.** 

Quinces of Eight Punch (serves 8)

  • 8 oz Lime Juice
  • 8 oz Aged Demerara Rum (I used El Dorado 21)
  • 6 oz Aged Rum (I used Flor de Cana 7 yr)
  • 6 oz 151 Proof Demerara Rum (I used Hamilton)
  • 4 oz Quince Jelly*
  • 4 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 1/2 oz Angostura Bitters

Add ingredients to a punch bowl, stir, and add a large block of ice for slow dilution. If you want to get fancy, add some flowers, cinnamon sticks, and lime wedges to your ice mold. I find that using a bundt pan or something similar works well. Serve over extra ice for optimal dilution.

* Quince Jelly

  • 1 1/2 lbs Quince (cored, peeled, and diced)
  • 4 cups Water
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 sticks Cinnamon
  • 2 berries Allspice

Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil. Stir sugar until it's dissolved, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer 45 minutes, strain out quince and reserve for later use. Return liquid and spices to the pot and simmer an additional 20 minutes to reduce the liquid volume. Can and refrigerate for use on toast, in drinks, or whatever.