Kuma's Corner crafts a caramel-apple cocktail—with a miso kick | Cocktail Challenge | Chicago Reader

Kuma's Corner crafts a caramel-apple cocktail—with a miso kick 

Hanna Mutsch's challenge: create a drink with fermented soybean paste.

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Challenged by Marta Jean Evans of Longman & Eagle to create a cocktail with miso—a Japanese soybean paste fermented with the Aspergillus oryzae mold culture­—Hanna Mutsch of Kuma's Corner was unfazed. "I used to live in Hawaii, and there's tons of Japanese influence there, so I learned a little about Japanese cuisine," she says. "There's tons of different kinds of miso you can use; some of them are fermented forever and they're really pungent."

Mutsch opted to use white miso, which is fermented for only a few weeks and has a milder, sweeter flavor than the more aged varieties (the oldest are fermented for years). She caramelized the miso with honey and sugar, heating the ingredients in a slow cooker for several hours until the mixture turned a deep caramel color, then straining it until it was smooth.

Mutsch had been thinking about caramel apples, and decided to add the miso caramel to mulled cider; in keeping with the Asian theme she used five-spice powder, aniseed, and ginger in the cider rather than the traditional spices. Laird's apple brandy, which is 100 proof, "gives it that nice warming, boozy flavor," she says. Bärenjäger, a German honey liqueur, added a little more sweetness, balanced out by lemon juice.

"The miso gives it a nice earthiness, so it's unusual but still delicious," Mutsch said of the cocktail she named the Miso Honey.

Miso Honey - MELISSA KLAUDA
  • Miso Honey
  • Melissa Klauda

Miso Honey

1 tsp warm miso caramel*
.5 oz lemon juice
1.25 oz Laird's apple brandy
.75 oz Bärenjäger
4 oz hot mulled cider
Fresh ginger

Stir all ingredients together in a mug until the miso caramel is well incorporated (this may take a couple minutes). Shave off a slice of ginger, put it on a bamboo skewer, and garnish.

*Miso caramel: Add one pint white miso, a cup and a half of sugar, and a half cup of honey to a slow cooker and simmer for several hours until the mixture turns a deep caramel color. Strain.

Who's next:

Mutsch has challenged Eric Houser of Parson's Chicken & Fish to create a cocktail with mustard oil.

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