The fig is a multifaceted wonder of a fruit. It’s at once soft and snappy, with a mildly sweet, rich flavor that’s delightfully earthy, too. Though figs make great cheese plate additions—both fresh and dried—bartenders have discovered that these pear-shaped, pink-fleshed fruits are also amazing in cocktails, particularly those spiked with whiskey. Deeply flavorful and complex, figs not only improve a cocktail; they carry it. And they require little more than a boozy backbone and a modifier to shine. Infused into a spirit or made into a jam, figs pair with all kinds of flavors, from tart fruit liqueurs to spicy ginger. Her, four fail-proof fig cocktails, courtesy of bars across the U.S.
4 Cocktails That Prove Figs and Whiskey Are Soulmates
If simplicity is the name of your game, this cocktail from John Brown’s Underground in Lawrence, Kansas, is a figgy dream come true. Blending bourbon with a small measure of fig jam is an easy way to turn a spirit into a cocktail. Topped off with aromatic Angostura and orange bitters, which bring out the fruity and spiced notes in both the whiskey and the jam, it’s the ideal, simple drink to make when you’re hanging with, you know, just friends.
As its name suggests, this cocktail created by Christian Orlando at New York’s Seamstress channels everything autumnal—but not in the way you might expect. “I wanted to create a seasonal cocktail that wasn't your typical apple pie or pumpkin spice cocktail,” Orlando says. Inspired by the Hudson Valley’s late fall fig season, he mixes richly sweet fig jam with quality maple syrup, a measure of bourbon, pomegranate liqueur, ginger liqueur and lemon juice. Egg white gives the drink a lovely creamy, frothy texture. “The fig jam brings this whole cocktail together,” Orlando says. “It adds depth and layers while all the flavors marry together.”
Jam isn’t the only way to incorporate figs into cocktails. Infusing a spirit with figs is a surefire way to extract just the right amount of flavor from the fruit without overdoing it or compromising any precious ABV. In this fruity take on an Old Fashioned, Manny Nieves, bartender at Silver Trumpet Restaurant and Bar, upgrades the standard whiskey base to fig-infused bourbon. “Figs and bourbon have very complementary profiles,” he says. “Both have rich, sweet and warm notes that play off each other nicely, so it’s a no brainer to infuse the two.” Made with maple simple syrup in place of the usual sugar, along with black walnut bitters, it’s an ultra-cozy take on a timeless classic.
maple simple syrup
black walnut bitters
Like Nieves, Jeff Zillmann of Anvil in Houston, also decided to infuse bourbon with figs for one of his most recent cocktail creations. “I've worked with figs in the past and enjoy the earthy richness they can bring to a spirit when infused,” says Zillmann. “They also add a touch of sweetness, which pairs well with the bitterness from the Cynar and Punt e Mes.” A small measure of cinnamon syrup and a dash of tiki bitters finish off the Manhattan-esque cocktail with a touch of sweetness and spiced depth.
Punt e Mes Vermouth