Sumac, a spice made from the dried fruit of the sumac plant, has long been used to add a tart, floral, almost citrusy (but slightly savory) flavor to Middle Eastern dishes. A classic swizzle is made with rum, lime, sugar, and mountains of crushed ice, but here, the lime is left out, in favor of a tangy cherry and sumac syrup. Falernum, which is flavored with bitter almond, lime, ginger, and cloves, serves as a sweetener.
To swizzle the cocktail, plunge your swizzle stick or bar spoon all the way down into the ice-filled glass and then back up again, all while twirling the stick (or spoon) by rapidly rubbing the handle between your palms (like you're trying to keep warm). This should create a frost on the glass and make sure the rum gets properly diluted.
- Yield:1 cocktail, plus extra syrup
- Active time: 10 minutes
- Total time:2 hours 20 minutes
- For the cherry-sumac syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sumac
- For the cocktail:
- 2 ounces demerara rum (such as El Dorado 12 year)
- 1 1/4 ounces cherry-sumac syrup
- 1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
- Crushed ice
- Dried sumac, for garnish
For the syrup: Combine sugar, water, cherries, and sumac in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container, reserving cherries for garnish. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
To make 1 cocktail: In the bottom of a highball or pilsner glass, add rum, cherry-sumac syrup, and falernum, and fill glass with crushed ice. Using a swizzle stick or bar spoon, rapidly spin back and forth between your hands while also moving it up and down. Add more ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and several of the reserved cherry quarters from the syrup.