If you haven’t noticed, maple is having a bit of a moment. It’s in our cocktails, in our bourbon, in our beer; you name it, we’re drinking it (sometimes not by choice). Maple dominates the syrup world, but its long lost cousin is making a name for itself. Introducing: birch syrup.
There’s no doubt that Americans have an everlasting love affair with maple syrup but newcomer birch is about to make moves. The sweet syrup is taken from the sap of a birch tree. The birch trees are tapped and the sap is then boiled down into syrup that has a spicy sweetness with hints of caramel flavor. So why have you never seen it before? Unfortunately birch syrup is in short supply because it takes a whole lot of sap to produce. One gallon of birch syrup requires one hundred gallons of birch sap. For one gallon of maple syrup you only need forty gallons of sap, which is probably why it’s invading every facet of our drinking lives.
The most famous, and one of the only brands of birch syrup available is Kahiltna Birchworks, located in Alaska. Not only do they produce pure organic birch syrup but they’ve also helped some major booze brands get their flavor. When Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada teamed up to create their collaborative ale, Life & Limb, they needed something to make the beer unique and they chose the distinct flavor of Kahiltna. In addition, Great Divide Brewing added the syrup to their 19th anniversary ale that debuted this year. But beer isn’t the only booze that can be flavored with birch. Known for their infamous smoked salmon vodka, Alaska Distillery puts out a birch vodka that packs a unique but sweet flavor from the syrup.
Like any good syrup, birch makes an excellent cocktail ingredient as well. If you can get your hands on a bottle (your best bet is buying it online), mix something up. Topping our list are the Birch & Pina and the Birch Leaf. Try them for a sweet, spicy and simple drink that will take you through fall.
Have you ever tried birch syrup? Tell us how it stands up to its counterpart maple below.