- Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- makes 1 drink
I’ll just come right out and say it: Pluots are the best stone fruit. Peaches? They’re ripe for like 7 hours. Apricots? Too small. Plums? Too delicate. For me the pluot offers all the best features of stone fruit; they’re portable, ripen well, and taste amazing. Plus, their vibrant mottled skins are a visual feast.
My love affair with pluots began when I read Chip Brantley’s fascinating book, The Perfect Fruit, which details the California central valley fruit farmers who endeavored to hybridize the plum and the apricot through a complex network of cross breeding that gave us such fruits as the aprium, plumcot, nectaplums, and of course, the pluot. The book offers a rare glimpse into the intricacies of how fruit goes from the ground to our countertops and how branding and consistency are just as vitally important for fresh produce as it is for any packaged good.
Whenever I’m lucky enough to encounter a particularly splendid bunch of pluots, I try to find ways to preserve that deliciousness for as long as possible. Making a compound syrup is one of my favorite ways to do this. I love to create big batches of layered syrups and bust them out whenever the mood for a complex non-alcoholic cocktail strikes me. Here we use a base of honey that, combined with the heat from the stove, soften and unlock all the goodness in the pluots, while the botanicals provide mini-symphony of gin-like notes. (And don’t worry, if you’re in the mood, you can always spike it! Vodka or tequila would be my top choices.) —John deBary
chilled tonic water
Pluot Elixir (see below)
Lime wedge for garnish
- Pluot Elixir
ripe pluots, washed, roughly chopped with pits removed
dried juniper berries
whole dried cardamom pods
dried rose petals
- Pour half of the tonic water into an ice-filled tall glass, followed by the Pluot Elixir, and then top with remaining tonic water. Stir with a straw very gently to combine. Garnish with the lime wedge.
- Pluot Elixir
- In a medium pan on the lowest possible heat, add juniper, cardamom, coriander, and rose petals. Warm until fragrant but do not toast, about 30 seconds.
- Add pluots and honey. Stir briskly to combine and leave covered, but stirring frequently to avoid bubbling and scorching, for about 30 minutes. Remove heat and leave covered to cool completely. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container. The Pluot Elixir will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks and in the freezer for up to 3 months.