Look alive, maple fiends: Tapping season has begun across the Northeast, and in New York, inventive chefs, bartenders and farmers are making the most of the haul. Here’s where to get your fix.
Flapjacks with Smoked Maple Syrup from Fatty ’Cue Ordering pancakes might not be your first inclination at a BBQ joint, but Fatty ’Cue offers one compelling reason to depart from the meaty menu. During the weekend brunch you can get puffy silver-dollar flapjacks smothered in maple syrup that’s still smoldering after a 90-minute ride in an oak-filled smoker. Dunk strips of the house-made coriander bacon (which is served alongside the flapjacks) in the amber liquid for a double dose of smoky goodness. 91 South 6th St between Bedford Ave and Berry St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-3090). $10. Maple Cotton Candy from Wood Homestead Upstate New York farm Wood Homestead turns out this locavore spin on the old-school carnival confection. The feather-light floss gets its lovely hue and woodsy sweetness from pure maple sugar, made by boiling down sap collected from Homestead’s 5,000 trees. On Friday nights, husband and wife team Andy and Laura van Glad whip up batches of the treat in a cotton-candy machine that’s been modified to handle the superfine maple crystals. They set up shop at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturday mornings, hawking bags of the stuff (along with bottles of their excellent syrup). Come early if you want to score a taste—the cotton candy sells out as quickly as it melts on your tongue. Saturdays at the Union Square Greenmarket, Broadway at 17th St. Tub $3, bag $4. Noble Tonic 01: Tuthilltown Bourbon-Barrel–Matured Maple Syrup That this handsome bottle looks like it would be more at home in the liquor cabinet than on the breakfast table should tell you all you need to know about the potent condiment inside. The artisans at Seattle’s Mikuni Wild Harvest collect medium-amber-grade syrup—stronger and darker than most commercial varieties—from traditional sugar-houses in Quebec, where maple sap is boiled into a thick, tawny liquid. What happens next would scandalize Aunt Jemima: The sweet stuff takes a six-month nap in the same charred oak barrels that New York distillery Tuthilltown uses to mature its bourbon. The wood imparts a smoky whiskey burn that makes the syrup as fine an addition to a stack of pancakes as it is to an after-dinner dram. Available at the Plaza Food Hall, 1 W 58th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-986-9260). $34.95. Maple-Walnut Ice Cream from Ruby et Violette This adorable Hell’s Kitchen café is devoted to the art of the cookie, with more than 100 varieties available. Owners Jenji, Bekah and Heather Sue Mercer make the most of the infinitely adaptable baked goods by working them into decadent handmade ice creams. Our favorite: A rich, smooth base of maple ice cream studded with chewy chunks of maple-walnut cookie dough, and discs of pleasingly bitter dark chocolate. It’s only sold by the pint, which makes it perfect for sharing with friends. Or not. 457 W 50th St at Tenth Ave (212-582-6720). $10. Cap’n’ Bill Cocktail at The Drink Barkeeps around town may hint at the kinship between bourbon and maple flavors, but the aces at nautically inclined Williamsburg bar the Drink bring it home with the Cap’n’ Bill cocktail, named after co-owner Will Jones’s seafaring dad. Dark, concentrated grade-B maple syrup from upstate New York tunnels through a healthy pour of bourbon, sweetening and mellowing the hot hooch. It’s tarted up with lemon juice, plus a dash of bright, floral Peychaud’s bitters—a simple, balanced concoction that goes down as easy by the glass ($9) as it does by the bowl ($75). 228 Manhattan Ave between Grand and Maujer Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-8463).