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Behind the Bar: 12 Bottle Bar’s Maple Thyme Sour

by Kristina Gill

This week we have a Maple Thyme Sour by the duo behind the great website 12 Bottle Bar.  I can say from personal experience that my little bar cart is probably nearing collapse under the weight of all the different bottles I’ve purchased to make the cocktails you see on the column once a month.  I was therefore really attracted to the concept behind David and Lesley Solmonson’s website: you can make a wonderful home bar with just 12 bottles!  Though I initially thought I’d find a cocktail with maple syrup to be too sweet, I was delightfully surprised to discover their Maple Thyme Sour was an absolute pleasure to drink. I hope you’ll try it, too! –Kristina

About: David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson are the husband-and-wife publishers of the popular website, 12bottlebar.com, which they started together five years ago. David Solmonson has written for film and television and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson, cocktail and wine writer for L.A. Weekly, is also the author of Gin: A Global History and the forthcoming Liqueur: A Global History. She has also written for Chilled, Wine Enthusiast, and C magazine. Their new book The 12 Bottle Bar is out this month. The Solmonsons live in Los Angeles.

See Lesley and David’s recipe for the Maple Thyme Sour after the jump!


Maple Thyme Sour

This sour, pale golden and opaque in color, balances the sweetness of maple with lemon tartness for a beautiful savory finish.

  • 1 1/2 ounces thyme-infused vodka
  • 3/4 ounce maple syrup
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  1. Add a handful of thyme to a drinking glass and cover with vodka for 2 to 3 hours. Strain out the thyme.
  2. Add 1 1/2 ounces of the infused vodka, the syrup, and the lemon juice to a mixing glass.  Fill the glass 2/3 full of cubed ice
  3. Cover the glass with a mixing tin and shake vigorously for 15 seconds.  Strain the drink into a cocktail/martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.


Why Lesley and David love this recipe:  Of all the classes of cocktails, the sour is unquestionably our favorite. Made with a quality spirit, fresh citrus, and an honest sweetener, the classic sour leaves little room for improvement — little but definitely some. Starting with the drink’s sweet-tart profile as a focal point, we like to layer on flavors which harmonize with the base citrus without overpowering it. The Maple Thyme Sour replaces traditional simple syrup with maple syrup, adding deeper caramel notes. To complement this, we use thyme-infused vodka as our spirit. Vodka on its own adds little flavor to a sour, but it provides the perfect blank canvas upon which another flavor can shine.  In this drink, thyme adds a subtle, yet noticeable, herbal and woodsy back note. The key to infusing thyme — which doesn’t give up as much flavor as other herbs — is to use the freshest herbs you can get your hands on or, if your thyme isn’t as fresh, add more sprigs to the infusion. Once made, the infused vodka will keep for quite awhile, but it’s best to make it in batches that you’ll use up within a week or so. By adding both deeper base notes along with herbal high notes, the Maple Thyme Sour brings layers of depth and complexity to a basic sour. After you’ve sipped a bit, flavors continue to reveal themselves on your tongue. The drink is, at once, simple to assemble yet multi-faceted on the palate — something we relish in any cocktail.



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  • Oooh we’re gonna have to serve that at our Bed & Bar– our neighbors make maple syrup and our meadow is filled with wild thyme!

  • Sing hallelujah! That is one very tasty libation! Made it with Maine grown thyme, Maine maple syrup and Maine-made vodka. Next year, I’ll work on Maine lemons. Wish me luck!

    @Casey — love the idea of a Bed And Bar!