Saffron Cocktail Competition373
with Emily Bishop
Savory Spice Team
I just checked my calendar and yep, it’s still February. The month of love, of playing unlabeled chocolate truffle roulette, and of getting lied to by a groundhog. For Savorians, (yeah I just made that up, but it includes you) it’s also Saffron month! Back for the second year, Saffron Salt and Saffron Orange Blossom Honey are blessing our store shelves and your online shopping cart this month only. And to sweeten the pot, our stores are also carrying two additional saffron-infused products: Saffron Infused Vinegar and Saffron & Apricot Maple Syrup.
At the Savory Spice headquarters in Denver, with all of the possible applications for these new ingredients buzzing in our heads, someone (me) suggested a friendly competition: 30 minutes, 4 saffron products, 1 cocktail. With 5 takers and an overabundance of volunteers to judge, our first ever Saffron Cocktail Competition was on. What libations were they able to create using “the world’s most expensive spice?” And more importantly, who took the saffron cocktail champion title? Let’s break it down:
The rules were simple: create a delicious saffron cocktail using any combination of Saffron Salt, Saffron Orange Blossom Honey, Saffron Infused Vinegar, and Saffron & Apricot Maple Syrup. Competitors were also provided a variety of spirits, juices, mixers, bitters, and more.
Stephanie, Warehouse Operations Manager
Entry: Golden Bee
Stephanie’s approach was to “adapt a recipe that already lends itself to honey and citrus,” so she took her inspiration from a classic cocktail: the bee's knees, which is made with honey, lemon juice, and gin. Adding saffron flavor with a splash of infused vinegar was “a fun way to add non-traditional ingredients.” The base of her drink was a luxurious saffron syrup crafted to compliment the botanicals in gin.
Stephanie’s Secret Ingredients
For saffron syrup:
Saffron Orange Blossom Honey- 1 Tbsp.
Saffron Salt- ¼ tsp.
Orange Flower Water- ¼ tsp.
Hot water- 1 Tbsp.
Combine 1 tsp. saffron syrup with the following and shake with ice:
Lemon juice- 1 tsp.
Gin- 1 Tbsp.
Saffron Infused Vinegar- 2 tsp.
Garnish with lemon wheel
Ariana, Senior Marketing Associate
Entry: Orange You Glad it’s Saffron?
Ariana put a saffron twist on her favorite: a margarita. With some saffron products, tequila, and limes, she knew she couldn’t go wrong. Ariana “thought about what would pair well,” and knew that “citrus and tequila are always a match made in heaven.”
Ariana’s Secret Ingredients
Tequila- 6 oz.
Half an orange
Saffron Orange Blossom Honey- 1 jar along with equal part water to make simple syrup
Saffron Infused Vinegar- a splash
Orange juice- a splash
Rim with salt, lime and orange zest
Garnish with mint leaves and sprinkle Saffron Salt on top
Michael, Test Kitchen Intern
Entry: Saffron Sapphire Sunrise
Michael used this competition as a chance to really let his creativity shine. He made saffron pearls with Saffron & Apricot Maple Syrup, pomegranate juice, and super agar by dripping the gelatinous mixture into cold oil. He took inspiration from his favorite color, blue, and mixed in blue curacao with pomegranate juice and xanthan gum to create an ombré effect. He has “been into experimenting with molecular gastronomy lately, which is where the saffron pearls came from- it’s called spherification.”
Michael’s Secret Ingredients
Blue Curacao- ½ oz.
Pomegranate juice- ½ oz.
Xanthan gum- a pinch
Mango Passion Fruit Juice- 1 oz.
Saffron & Apricot Maple Syrup- ½ cup
Water- 2 cups, for saffron pearl rinsing
Super agar- 2 gms
Cold vegetable oil- 2 cups
Cold water- 1 cup
Garnish with roasted, sugar-covered strawberries
Melinda, Food Services
Entry: Sassy Saff Sour
After some practice rounds at home, Melinda came to the competition ready to show off her skills. She decided to make a pisco sour inspired cocktail because she “love, love, loves pisco sours and always has.” She “played around with a variety of flavors including lime, pear, mango” and was excited to incorporate our saffron products for a new twist.
Melinda’s Secret Ingredients
Pisco- 1 ½ oz.
Saffron Infused Vinegar- ½ oz.
Saffron Orange Blossom Honey- ½ oz. of half water, half honey for simple syrup
1 egg white
Orange bitters- 2 drops
Fresh lime juice- 2 drops
Joseph, Graphic Designer
Entry: The Honey Bear
Joseph’s cocktail was nothing but unique. He made a tea-infused gin that steeped for 40 minutes! Then he mixed his infused gin with other ingredients to make an irresistible beverage. A couple of Joseph’s “buddies infused their vodka with tea” and he really liked it. He wanted to try it himself, and this competition was the perfect opportunity for him to do so. Joseph “knew that citrus goes well with saffron and gin,” and thus, the Honey Bear was created.
Joseph’s Secret Ingredients
Gin- 2 oz.
Orange Tea- 1 Tbsp. per 250 ml. of gin
Vermouth- 1 oz.
Saffron Orange Blossom Honey- 1 oz. half water, half honey for simple syrup
Garnish with orange peel
Contestants were judged on the following: taste, presentation, how well the saffron flavor came through, and the cocktail names. The judges were our Director of Store Operations, Christine along with Marketing Manager Molly and Digital Marketing Manager Matt. These judges know their cocktails (aka they enjoy a good happy hour) and used their expertise to determine the best saffron cocktail.
Christine’s Top Pick: Ariana’s Orange You Glad it’s Saffron “because it had the most saffron flavor and the addition of
the saffron salt intensified the saffron even more.”
Molly’s Top Pick: Ariana’s Orange You Glad it’s Saffron “because the salted rim was a nice contrast with the sweet notes
in the drink, kind of like a boozy, salty version of Tang!”
Matt’s Top Pick: Stephanie’s Golden Bee “because it had the best use of the key ingredient, saffron.”
With the votes tallied up, the competition was close. And the results were...
#1: Ariana’s Orange You Glad it’s Saffron?
#2: Melinda’s Sassy Saff Sour
#3: A tie between Joseph’s Honey Bear and Stephanie’s Golden Bee
Honorable Mention: Michael, for a solid effort.
Even though a winner was declared, all the cocktails were delicious and perfect for Saffron Month. We hope you have fun experimenting with our saffron products. Visit a store to get your Saffron Salt, Saffron Orange Blossom Honey, Saffron Infused Vinegar, and Saffron & Apricot Maple Syrup before they’re gone - all of these are only available during the month of February!