Glossary: Gum Syrup

You may have seen the term " gum syrup" on cocktail lists at higher-end bars or in cocktail books and wondered, like I did, what it meant and why it's used.

Gum syrup (gomme in French) is a simple syrup with gum arabic added. Gum arabic is the hardened sap from the acacia tree - native to Africa and West Asia. Its uses are wide - cake decorating, watercolor painting, film processing, the glue on stamps!

In cocktails, a gum arabic adds thickness (often called viscosity or silkiness) and stops the sugar from crystallizing in simple syrups (especially in syrups that have a higher ratio of sugar to water). It's also said to add a richness (while a thickening agent like egg white can taste dry).

You can find food grade gum arabic in powder, flake or chunk form - check ethnic (like Indian), specialty, baking stores or online.

You can substitute gum arabic with other natural gums (like xanthan or guar gum - results might vary widely) or use egg whites (like in Pisco Punch vs. Pisco Sour). You can also buy gum syrup at Cask.

Gum Syrup
(adapted from Bunnyhugs Blog)
1/2 oz gum arabic
3 oz water
6 oz sugar

Make a paste with the gum arabic and 1 oz of the water. Let sit for a couple of hours. Heat the remaining sugar and water to a low boil. Add the gum paste and return to a boil. Let cool and store in a clean container.

Pisco Punch
(via the Bank Exchange, pre-Prohibition bar in San Francisco)
One Pineapple, cut in to 1" chunks
8oz Gum Syrup
16oz Water (still or sparkling)
10oz lemon juice
One 750ml bottle Pisco

Soak the pineapple in the gum syrup overnight. Add all ingredients to punch bowl next day with a block of ice. Add more lemon or gum syrup to taste. Garnish with reserved pineapple chunks.

Give it a try and let us know if you can taste the difference.

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