Suzi's Blog

Raspberry Adobo Agua Fresca

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Growing up in Oregon, I was surrounded in spring and summer by fields of berries, mostly strawberry because they have higher productivity than raspberries. And strawberries behave themselves, while raspberries tend to “grow wild” and spread out of control. They are members of the rose family after all.

The United States grows 9% of the worldwide crop. Russia grows 26%. I have no idea what Putin and his associates do with them. I will research. There’s only so much vodka you can make.

The beverage above has no vodka, but it does have a bit of a kick. This is my latest agua fresca and I investigated what to do about the essential flavor of raspberries. Don’t get me wrong. I love raspberries. The color of raspberry red is immediately recognizable. Darker, deeper, more mysterious than pure strawberry read.

No, my issue is that raspberries tend to be tart and have a monolithic flavor. These days, mixologists will use 6+ ingredients to create cocktails with an abundance of flavor notes and layers. Wine makers have, of course, been doing the same for centuries. There is surely some difference between a deep Burgundy and the one-note of Welches Grape Juice.

Same issue as the raspberries: one note. The skills of a mixologist need not be devoted to just cocktails. Any beverage can be experimented with, extended, and amplified.

To give raspberries more flavor here, I’m doing a yin-yang approach. There is some lemon juice, which always brightens. There is sugar to sweeten. And there is Adobo Honey — see yesterday’s post! — for a second layer of sweetness and just the barest image of heat in the finish of your sip. This drink is not fiery, but it has full sweetness and series of flavor layers that you will sense and adore.

About the sweetness. This recipe calls for 1 cup of simple syrup, which consists of ½ cup of water and ½ cup of sugar. You’ll find agua fresca recipes that call for a range of sugar: from 1 tablespoon to that full ½ cup. You can adjust as you wish. But the sugar syrup is viscous, and I find that it adds some body to the drink. Textures is one of the senses involved in “tasting” food and here the syrup plays a double role of sweeter and “thickener.”

To make it easy for you, the Adobo Honey is made with ⅔ cup honey and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle pepper in adobo. Please, start with 1 teaspoon the first time out. Go for more heat in future experiments.


Raspberry Adobo Agua Fresca

Yield: 4+ cups


  • Two six-ounce packets of fresh raspberries
  • 3 cups of water
  • Juice of one medium lemon
  • 1 cup of simple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of Adobo Honey


Put the berries and water in a blender and process for two minutes. Strain through a fine wire mesh sieve. There will be considerable residue — with a blender and even with a Vitamix.

Stir in the lemon juice, simple syrup, and adobo honey. Mix very thoroughly. The honey can be viscous, so you may want to warm it before stirring in.

Chill thoroughly before consuming. At least 4 hours. And then, you can taste test. More sweetness is unlikely. But you can mix this agua fresca with some sparkling water to dilute the flavor a tad while imposing those bubbles. Or, you can mix this with the sparkling wine of your choice, in the proportions of your choice, to create an unmatched summer aperitif.

Sources: Brian O’Rourke

Photo Information Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5.0 for 1/15th second at ISO-3200



Black Pepper Syrup




That picture is the incredible residue from making Black Pepper Syrup. The syrup is for beverages. There is a beverage idea just below and a full blown beverage recipe coming tomorrow.

I investigate several black peppery syrup recipes but this is the one I like because it uses far more pepper — a full ½ cup of peppercorns for only about 3 ounces of syrup. Cooked in water and sugar, the leftover peppercorns are soft and little sweet. Do NOT throw them away. Go buy a great steak, and enjoy a Steak au Poive with a sweet bite. These peppercorns are meant to adorn meat and they contribute mightily to the steak sauce you’ll be making.

Now, how to use this syrup. One suggestion, from Food and Wine Cocktails 2013, is double down. Pour a glass of Drambuie, which is already rocket fuel class, and then add shots of both this Black Pepper Syrup and the Habanero Honey Syrup that has been blogged here. What you will have there is confluence of flavors sure to astonish your sensory system. By “shot” I mean you should experiment to get just the layering and lingering of flavors that you enjoy. It’s quite personal and definitely hot.

The shot of flavorless vodka suggested in the recipe is to give longer life to your syrup. Without the alcohol, the syrup will refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. With the vodka, you’ll surely have another 2 weeks of safe usage. And with this small a volume and the wonderful flavor, I expect this syrup will quickly be absorbed into your beverage history long before a month has passed.


Black Pepper Syrup

Yield: 3+ ounces


  • 4 ounces of water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup black peppercorns
  • ½ ounce flavorless vodka


In a small saucepan, combine the water sugar and peppercorns. Bring to a boil stirring occasionally. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to a moderately low and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup into a jar. Let cool. Add the vodka. Tightly seal and refrigerate for up to one month.

Source: Food & Wine Cocktails 2013

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60MM Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO-1600