Pear Prosecco Cocktail, A Boston Souvenir
Recently, on a breezy fall day, when I was in Boston for work, a good friend and the older sister of a beloved ex-boyfriend and I tucked ourselves into a tiny café table at Sofra. At the busy Eastern Mediterranean bakery, Milica and I ordered subtly spiced, grilled flatbread sandwiches, Persian doughnuts, and an icy glass of pear cardamom juice—and quickly fell into conversation. We talked about Milica’s Peruvian nanny, her little boy, and my work, and as we did, I took a sip of the pear cardamom drink.
The chilled nectar was sweet, thick, and laced with a flavor that reminded me of Christmas and India all at once. “Ooo, try this,” I passed the juice to Milica. I couldn’t help sharing. I was so captivated by the flavors: warm and refreshing; sweet and spiced. The flavors were exotic, almost magical, which, I suppose, is why it didn’t surprise me when an almost unreal, and certainly unexpected guest, walked into Sofra. As I took the glass back, Christopher Kimball, the editor-in-chef of Cook’s Illustrated and my former employer, swung open the café door. He placed an order and then proceeded to squeeze into the tiny bench seat next to me.
I took another sip of pear cardamom nectar, thinking that these flavors had brought me to the most serendipitous of moments. To my right sat the head of the very first magazine I’d ever worked for. The man whose stern demeanor and 20-mph walk had kicked off my career, but kept him so busy, he rarely recognized me when I worked for him and he certainly didn’t recognize me now. In front of me, sat Milica, a warm and charismatic reminder of her brother, whose rug still lies under my coffee table and whose helmet I still wear bike riding. In a blur of sweet cardamom, my past had suddenly become my present.
I went to wash down that realization with another sip of nectar, only to find myself peering into a glass of melting ice cubes. The moment was done. Time to turn to the future—and I knew that I would be bringing the spiced pear juice with me.
Indeed, back in Denver, thinking of Milica and Kimball, I smashed cardamom pods with a rolling pin and added them to sugar and water to make an infused simple syrup. Then, I stirred in golden pear juice. If I’d wanted to recreate the Sofra moment, I would have stopped there. But I was back at home, where brunch and cocktails matter as much as authentic Middle Eastern flavors, so I opened a bottle of Prosecco and stirred that into the cardamom pear syrup. I raised the light bubbly cocktail, laced with the delicate touch of pear and the warmth of cardamom, and I hoped I’d have a chance to share it with Milica someday.
Prosecco Pear Cocktail
Makes six cocktails
Adapted from Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean
At Sofra, I picked up a copy chef Ana Sourtun’s cookbook, Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean, and on the airplane home, I found this lovely recipe for a bubbly pear cardamom cocktail. I immediately planned a brunch, and early the morning of the meal, I made the simple syrup and pear juice mix, so that when company came, I only had to add Prosecco.
8 cardamom pods
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
1 cup pear nectar (like the Loóza brand, available at Whole Foods)
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 750 ml bottle Prosecco or Cava, chilled
Place cardamom pods in a sealed bag and using a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pan, smash the pods until they are all open and the black seeds are crushed.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cardamom pods, water, and sugar to a boil. When boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Syrup should thicken slightly so that it easily coats a spoon.
Return heat to medium-high and add pear nectar. Bring to a boil, and then remove syrup from heat. Cover and let stand 30 minutes to infuse cardamom flavor.
Using a sieve, strain the pear juice into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add lemon juice and refrigerate until very cold, at least 30 minutes.
To serve, fill Champagne glasses with 4 tablespoons of syrup and top with Prosecco.
For printable recipe, click here.