I wish you could’ve seen the faces of my 3rd grade classmates during lunchtime. As they were snacking on their Gushers and Fruit by the Foot, I was eating some strange, foreign fruit out of my Tupperware. Trust me, I was envious of their sugary treats (who didn’t love Gushers?!), but they certainly weren’t vying for my bowl of pomegranate seeds or quartered persimmon. I don’t blame them; in 1993, most people weren’t buying these fruits at grocery stores or seeing them on restaurants menus. These were the pre-POM Wonderful years. For me, though, growing up in a Persian household meant always having an enormous fruit basket in the kitchen, filled with ruby red pomegranate and sweet persimmons every winter.
Now, the popularity of both fruits has skyrocketed. I think it’s safe to say they’ve reached food trend status; pomegranate definitely, that’s for sure. You can even find persimmon and pomegranate featured in dishes together – salsas, salads, you name it. And I dare you to find a December issue of any food magazine that doesn’t have a recipe featuring either ingredient. Impossible.
Last week, I had a handful of overly ripe persimmons that I thought would work perfectly in a chilled, fizzy, bourbon cocktail. But last-minute errands and packing meant I didn’t get around to it before flying to Seattle for the holidays. So here I am, at my parents’ home in the suburbs, with my precious persimmon cargo with me. Typical for December, the weather here is chilly and rainy. As I started working on the original cocktail recipe, I simply couldn’t bring myself to open the freezer door, let alone grab some ice cubes. It’s just too cold, and wouldn’t a hot drink be so much better? Enter a new plan: Persimmon-Bourbon Hot Toddy!
This Persimmon-Bourbon Hot Toddy is made of equal parts persimmon purée and bourbon. Freshly squeezed lemon juice gives it a tart bite, and the drink is topped off with hot water. Garnish it simply with a cinnamon stick, which also doubles as a drink stirrer. What I really love about this drink is that it doesn’t taste too sugary. The honey-like sweetness of the persimmon subtly peeks through the bourbon and lemon.
The only real prep work involved for this drink is the persimmon purée. It’s even better with overly ripened, soft persimmons too. And it’s quick; taking just 10 minutes to make and you don’t even have to peel the persimmons. Just trim the stems, quarter, and drop in a pot with water, sugar and cinnamon stick. Let it simmer, purée in a blender, strain, and voilà, persimmon purée ready to go!
This recipe makes roughly 2 cups of purée, so if you’re not using it all for cocktails, refrigerate it in a covered container. You can pour it on top of Greek yogurt or ice cream, drizzle it over pancakes, or add it to sparkling water for a hint of sweetness.
Stay warm through the winter season with this Persimmon-Bourbon Hot Toddy! And, here’s to many more years of persimmon-everything everywhere; because for me, it’s never been a trend after all.
- 3 Fuyu persimmons, stems removed and quartered (with skin on)
- ¾ cup sugar
- Cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons persimmon puree
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ cup hot water
- 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, dissolve sugar in water.
- Add persimmon quarters, cinnamon stick and cook on low heat until syrupy, about 7 minutes.
- Remove cinnamon sticks, then pour contents in a blender to puree.
- Once smooth, pour the mixture over a mesh strainer. Discard the solids.
- In a heat-proof serving glass or mug, add persimmon puree then bourbon.
- Add lemon juice, and pour hot water to fill glass. Stir.
- Garnish with cinnamon stick and serve immediately.