American holiday food has its own particular set of special olfactory triggers. The wafting aromas of the herbs and spices of special meals coming out of the kitchen from early fall to the New Year are a huge part of my own personal holiday memories. None more so than the aromas of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven.
In my house, the pumpkin pies started being baked the same time we started carving pumpkins for Halloween. Mom would pick up a pumpkin for each of us to carve plus a few extra for homemade pumpkin pies. These late October activities were the official start of our family holiday season and Schilling Pumpkin Pie Spice was, and still is, my personal holiday aroma harbinger. When those spices hit my nose I'm ready for scary Halloween costumes, the invasion of pilgrim Thanksgiving decorations and the impending arrival of Santa Claus and Christmas presents.
There is no pumpkin in this cocktail recipe, pumpkin has very little flavor itself and it's not necessary for triggering my holiday mode. All I need is a little pumpkin pie spice. And some bourbon.
Prepare the Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup a few hours ahead so it will be cooled for happy hour.
Chill glass in the freezer.
Add the ingredients to an ice filled cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
Strain into an ice filled Old Fashioned glass, garnish and let the holiday spirit begin.
Pumpkin Spice Simple Syrup
1-1/2 C. Water
1-1/2 C. Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 Tbsp. Vodka
Bring ingredients to boil, immediately reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved completely. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. This should keep in your refrigerator for several weeks or more thanks to the addition of the vodka.
You can also use this pumpkin spiced simple syrup in your holiday coffee or cocoa or pour it over ice cream or pound cake with some toasted pecans for a quick holiday dessert.