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Elements: Fig Cocktails

While produce tends to evoke notions of its season—strawberries in spring, melons in summer—the fig’s versatility transcends seasonal barriers. Though figs ripen in the summer, they’re often associated with autumnal and wintry treats because of their richness and subtle fruity notes— characteristics that balance well with the oak and vanilla flavors of bourbon and other aged spirits. At Fig & Olive in Newport Beach, California, fresh fig is accented by complementary walnut for a decadent spin on a classic julep. “Figs and walnuts are a perfect match,” says Pierre Fernandez, vice president of operations, “and crushed fresh fig is a great balance with bourbon and port.”

At MARCH in Houston, bar manager Alex Negranza makes a Mai Tai–inspired cocktail with a house-made fig orgeat. “Houston is warm all year. The seasons are very different than in other parts of the country, so the approach to seasonal drinks for cocktail menus is a little nontraditional,” says Negranza, who pairs fig’s flavors with Calvados and Cynar for a rich but approachable sipper. “The idea behind this cocktail was to make a bittered tropical cocktail, but in a way that didn’t hit the same overly sour and tart palate that I often find in such drinks made with amaro.”

Owing to the fig’s adaptability, Negranza suggests considering the cocktail’s function. “If you want something with figs for an after-dinner cocktail, infusing fig into a vermouth would be a great application, or soak a fig in brandy or a Manhattan variation with whiskey,” he says. “If you want to do something light and refreshing, think of the things you love about biting into a fig.” Since the fruit’s more delicate flavors can be lost in citrusy, spirit-forward beverages, he recommends using lime or lemon juice sparingly, or looking to herbal liqueurs and amari, such as Amaro del Capo, to fill supporting roles.

Portland, Oregon, bartender Adriana Garnica Alvarez, currently behind the bar at República, takes a similar approach in her Amor Eterno cocktail, using añejo tequila to complement the flavor of rich fig jam, while sparkling wine and citrus play supporting roles. “Make sure fig is the star, and any ingredient you choose after that plays well so as to not overshadow the fig,” Garnica Alvarez says. Fig’s enticing aroma and adaptable format—whether fresh or dried, infused or puréed—prove it’s not a one-trick pony but an ingredient befitting cocktails of any season.

Amor Eterno

Aged tequila pairs perfectly with the caramelized notes of fig jam and aromatic rosemary.

1 oz. añejo tequila
3⁄4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1⁄2 oz. dry curaçao
1⁄2 oz. fig jam
Chilled cava or other dry sparkling wine, to top

Tools: shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: coupe
Garnish: rosemary sprig

Shake all of the ingredients (except the cava) with ice, then double strain into a chilled coupe and top with the cava. Garnish.

Adriana Garnica Alvarez Portland, Oregon

Fig & Walnut Julep

Fresh muddled fig adds vibrancy to this rich julep cocktail.

2 oz. bourbon
3⁄4 oz. fresh lime juice
1⁄2 oz. elderflower liqueur
1⁄2 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
1⁄4 oz. tawny port
1 fresh fig

Tools: muddler, shaker, strainer, fine strainer
Glass: rocks
Garnish: fresh fig, mint leaf, shaved walnut

Cut the fig in half and set aside one half for the garnish. In a shaker, muddle the other fig half with the port, then add the remaining ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice, and garnish.

Fig & Olive, Newport Beach, California


Inspired by the Mai Tai, this bittered cocktail makes a decadent sipper for all seasons.

1 1⁄2 oz. Calvados
1 oz. fig orgeat
3⁄4 oz. Cardamaro
1⁄2 oz. Cynar
1⁄2 oz. fresh lime juice

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: double rocks
Garnish: pineapple fronds, cinnamon stick, edible or food-safe flower

Shake all of the ingredients with ice, strain into a glass filled with crushed ice, then garnish.

Fig Orgeat: Bring 1 quart of water to a boil and add a sachet with 2 oz. of cinnamon sticks broken into pieces. Boil for 8-10 minutes to make a cinnamon “tea.” Meanwhile, cut the stems off and quarter 10 oz. of dried black mission figs. Add the figs to the cinnamon tea and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sachet, strain the liquid (set the figs aside), and measure the remaining tea, then add an equal amount of granulated sugar by weight and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the reserved figs to a blender, and blend at medium speed, slowly adding the cinnamon syrup until well blended and evenly smooth. Add 1⁄4 oz. of orange flower water. If the mixture is too thick, more simple syrup can be added until pourable. Bottle and refrigerate for use within 2 weeks, or freeze in small batches for extended storage.

Alex Negranza, MARCH, Houston

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