Friday night cocktail: Pumpkin Pie Cocktail

This recipe is the fruit of a discussion on eGullet about ways to incorporate pumpkin into cocktails without ending up with sliminess in the glass. It occurred to me that the problem is essentially one of filtration: you want all the flavour of the pumpkin, without any of the particles. In other words, it was a perfect candidate for gelatin filtration!

The other challenging element of the drink is pimento dram, a rum-based allspice liqueur. If you happen to be in the US, you should look for St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, the commercial version imported by Haus Alpenz. Otherwise, you’ll have to make your own. I tried a version of this using the nitrogen cavitation technique, but the flavour intensity was lacking, so we’re stuck with old-fashioned infusing for now.

I’ve made this cocktail a couple of times around Thanksgiving. It tastes pretty much exactly like a pumpkin pie, albeit a boozy one. It does require a lot of prep work, though, so plan about a week in advance. (Or a little over a month in advance, if you’re making the pimento dram.) The resulting drink is sweet and rich, definitely more suited to dessert than aperitif.

How to make a pumpkin pie cocktail

Brown butter pumpkin water

  • One pie pumpkin
  • Oil as needed

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds and strings, and cut each half into quarters. Place in an oiled roasting pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and roast until softened, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then scrape flesh from skin into a bowl. Mash with a fork, then weigh out 200 grams of roast pumpkin puree. Reserve remaining puree for another use.

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. skim milk powder
  • 200 g. roast pumpkin puree
  • 400 g. water
  • Leaf gelatin as needed

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the skim milk powder and cook until browned. Immediately add the pumpkin puree and water, stir to combine, and simmer briefly. Strain, pressing all of pumpkin through strainer. Weigh the result, and return to the saucepan.

Weigh leaf gelatin equal to 0.5% of the weight of the pumpkin “soup,” about 1.5 sheets. Soak gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water, then add to the pumpkin soup. Warm gently until the gelatin dissolves, but do not boil. Transfer soup to a container, and refrigerate overnight to set.

The next day, transfer container to freezer, and freeze for 24 hours, until solid. Remove from freezer and transfer frozen soup to a strainer set over a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until clear “pumpkin water” drains out of solids, up to three days, depending on the temperature of your fridge. (It may look like nothing is happening for the first day or two.) Discard solids. Yields about 8 oz, or enough for 4 cocktails.

Pumpkin pie cocktail

  • 2 oz. brown butter pumpkin water
  • 1.5 oz. Cognac
  • 0.25 oz. pimento dram
  • Dash of orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, then stir for a slow count of 20. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

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