I wanted a cocktail that would work happily for any Fall/Winter holiday. You will likely be left with extra pear syrup, which can be poured over ice cream or yogurt, on hot cereal, or to make a kid friendly version of this cocktail. As for the Vanilla Bourbon, I keep a small bottle of bourbon full of a few vanilla beans for cocktails and baking. It's a good way to get extra use out of vanilla beans, if a recipe calls for just the scrapings. It also makes for a nice gift. —Cristina Sciarra
Wash and dry the pears. Peel and core them;
move the peels and cores directly into a medium-sized pot. (You can save the pears for snacking.)
Fill the pot with enough water to cover the peelings. Add the nutmeg, the cinnamon stick, the sugar, the vanilla bean, and the salt, and then give the whole thing a stir, so the sugar dissolves. Simmer the peelings on medium-low heat for about 1 hour, or until the syrup runnily coats the back of a spoon. (The syrup shouldn't be too, too thick--you are just looking for a concentrated flavor).
Strain out the pear peelings, the cinnamon stick, and the vanilla bean. Cover the syrup (You can transfer it to a bottle) and chill.
Vanilla-Pear Bourbon Cocktail
Add the first 6 ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake, shake, shake, until the drink is thoroughly chilled. Pour the drink through a strainer, and into a glass. Top with soda. Enjoy!
If you want to be fancy about it, thin out a little spiced pear jam with water. Brush it along the rim of the glass, and then dip into vanilla sugar.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.