I have seen several vintage cocktail recipes call for "orchard syrup," and I've read about a similar syrup on Jennifer Colliau's blog, but like Jennifer, I've never been able to find an exact recipe. Assuming that the type of orchard being referenced is an apple orchard, it seems like the syrup should have a very concentrated apple flavor.
Then I found out Nick and Ira of Bittercube had come up with an amazing apple cider reduction syrup using a rare Japanese sugar and were using it in a riff on the Old Fashioned. Conveniently, I already had Seedling Apple Cider on hand at the Whistler (we do hot mulled apple cider nightly, once the temperature starts to drop). I substituted demerara sugar for the Japanese variety, and it worked well, yielding a nicely concentrated apple flavor.
Once the reduction syrup is made, this becomes the perfect drink to make in large quantities. Especially ideal for holiday parties when you'd rather be enjoying cocktails with your guests, rather than spending the entire evening making them for your guests.
Orchard Old Fashioned
2 1/2 oz 100 proof bourbon (I use Old Heaven Hill Bonded)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1/2 oz Seedling Apple Cider reduction syrup
Stir slowly with ice, strain into old fashioned glass over large rock of ice. Garnish with expressed lemon peel. I then top this cocktail with tobacco bitters, which is made by a special friend of the Whistler's.
Photo by my talented pal Alan Del Rio Ortiz.