Concord Hymn · Toro

By Eric Twardzik · 11/01/2019

Toro’s identity as a New England Spanish tapas restaurant is fully embodied in the Concord Hymn, an autumnal spritz that mixes ingredients from Spain with local grapes and takes its name from a Ralph Waldo Emerson poem written in 1837.

Atxa Blanco Vermouth, cava, and a Bully Boy Gin—made specifically for Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette’s JK Food Group—bring the booze. But the drink’s defining character comes from a Concord grape syrup made by macerating the fruit with sugar overnight before blending it with water.

The grapes should be blended just slightly: enough to release the juice without pureeing the seeds, skins, and pulp.

“You don’t want that stuff to break down too much,” says lead bartender Rob Dunn. You just want that juice to make a nice, sugary syrup.”

The grape flavor is strong in this crisp, zingy cocktail: Dunn compares it to a grape popsicle. But it’s not on the sticky-sweet side, and the gin’s botanicals still shine through.

If you have leftover grape syrup, Dunn recommends using it to create tasty non-alcoholic beverages as well.

“You can throw it into some club soda, add some lemon, and you get a great lemonade,” he says.

Concord Hymn
While Dunn uses a custom gin, he recommends using Bully Boy’s Estate Gin at home.

2 ounces cava
1 ounce Atxa Blanco Vermouth
¾ ounce Bully Boy Estate Gin
¾ ounce Concord grape syrup*
3 Concord grapes, for garnish

Add vermouth, gin, and Concord grape syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into a wine glass and top with cava. Fill glass with fresh ice until it’s ¾ of the way full, then garnish with floating Concord grapes.
*Concord grape syrup (yields about 1 pint)
1 quart Concord grapes
1 pint sugar
½ pint water

Add grapes to sugar in a container, seal, and allow mixture to macerate for 24 hours. Add mixture to a blender with water and blend for 10 to 15 seconds, or until the juice has been released but the mixture is not totally smooth. Fine strain into a container and seal. Keeps about 2 to 3 weeks, refrigerated.

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