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922 South Morton Street
Bloomington, IN, 47403
United States


Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington, Indiana that specializes in producing extraordinary spirits from local ingredients.  

The Drop

The Drop is your source for all things craft. 


Erica Sagon

Photos, story and recipes by Shelly Westerhausen,
Vegetarian Ventures and Driftless magazine

Summer cocktails don't get any easier than this — a three-ingredient Cardinal soda. One: homemade simple syrup. Two: a Cardinal Spirits clear spirit of your choice. Three: soda water. 

Simple syrup at its most basic is equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar dissolves. But you don't have to stop there. Adding fresh, seasonal fruits and herbs yields syrups that are worth building a cocktail around.

Today, we'll show you how to make three flavorful varieties of simple syrup: Cold-Pressed Cherry-Ginger, Pineapple-Turmeric and Roasted Strawberry + Tarragon. Each will elevate your cocktail game and each has its own method of preparation.

We like the idea of setting syrups and spirits out at a summer party and letting guests make their own sodas. These versatile recipes can be made with whatever fruit you have on hand, so experiment and play around with your favorite flavors. 


Makes 1 cocktail

2 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka, American Gin, Standard Gin or White Oak Whiskey
1 ounce simple syrup of your choice (recipes below)
Soda water

Add spirit and syrup of your choice to a glass filled with ice. Top with soda water.

Cherry-Ginger Cold-Pressed Simple Syrup

A fruit’s flavor changes when you cook or boil it. To achieve syrup as close to the actual flavor of the fruit as possible, I recommend trying this cold-pressed method, which involves very little hands-on time. The upside of this method is that it results in a vibrant flavor, but the downside is that we are not heating the fruit, so this simple syrup won’t last for more than a week in your fridge. It is so delicious that it doesn’t last long around here anyways. You can strain the syrup, but I usually prefer to just keep the little bits of cherries in the syrup for an extra boost in my cocktails.

½ cup sugar
½ cup cherries, halved and pitted
1 teaspoon grated ginger
¼ cup hot water

  1. Combine the sugar, cherries, and ginger in a bowl or large jar and use the back of a heavy spoon or muddler to break apart the cherries and to release their juices.
  2. Add the hot water and continue to smash until the sugar dissolves.  
  3. Let sit for 30-45 minutes, stirring and smashing occasionally. Strain if desired.

Pineapple-Turmeric Simple Syrup

This is the most common method for creating simple syrup and can be used to make pretty much any flavor imaginable into a syrupy form that is perfect for cocktails. I used pineapple juice in this recipe to avoid having to strain later on and avoid having to add water. However, this method can be easily done with fresh fruit and you’ll just need to add water in a 2 to 1 (2 parts sugar, 1 part water) ratio. Also, since we are heating this syrup, it should last up to three months in an airtight container in the fridge.  

1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup sugar
Peels from half a lemon

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for two minutes, stirring constantly, or until all of the sugar dissolves.
  2. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, remove lemon peels.

Roasted Strawberry + Tarragon Simple Syrup

The last method we have today is roasting the fruit to bring out the natural juices. As mentioned before, cooking fruit alters its flavor and, in this case, we are looking for that roasted flavor in our final syrup. If you’ve ever had a roasted strawberry then you already know that it tastes completely different than its fresh counterpart, but it's still delicious in its own way. Again, since we aren’t heating the whole syrup, I’d recommend only keeping for about a week in the fridge. 

1 quart of strawberries, halved, and green parts removed
1 cup sugar, divided
4-5 sprigs of tarragon (depending how strong you want the flavor to be)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss the strawberries with half of the sugar and lay in a single layer on a roasting pan. Add the tarragon sprigs and roast for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add in the rest of the sugar and use a muddler or the back of a spoon to smash the strawberries as much as possible, making sure that the sugar has completely dissolved in the process.
  4. Let cool completely and then strain.