You can always count on Emily Butters and Forrest Butler to come up with interesting flavors for their small-batch simple syrups, which they sell under the name Royal Rose.

The syrups already come in varieties such as Strawberry-Fennel, Saffron, and Cardamom-Clove (great in a hot toddy when you have a cold). Their Three Chiles syrup – made with fresh poblano and jalapeño peppers and dried ancho chiles – was just selected as a finalist for the 2015 Good Food Awards, which honor socially conscious food entrepreneurs who take sustainability and social good into account in their sourcing and production. (Royal Rose syrups are certified organic.)

Butters and Butler, who moved to Maine from Brooklyn in 2012, develop a couple of new flavors every year. This year, however, they added several new syrups in a push to extend the Royal Rose line: Orange-Vanilla, Ginger-Lime, Anise, Jasmine and Fenugreek. While I was curious about the Fenugreek (“reminiscent of maple with a nutty flavor”), I tried the Orange-Vanilla first and got hooked. It’s made with orange juice, orange zest, spicy dried bitter orange peel and organic Fair Trade vanilla bean.

Butters and Butler recommend drizzling it over ice cream (a grown-up version of a Creamsicle?), yogurt or fruit, or – of course – using it to make homemade orange soda. As a cocktail syrup, it pairs well with bourbon, dark rum, rye or cognac. I added it to some bourbon and topped it off with club soda, and now I can’t look at a bottle of bourbon without wondering “where’s the Orange-Vanilla syrup?” Royal Rose syrups can be found at Leroux Kitchen, Aurora Provisions, and Vena’s Fizz House in Portland; Treats in Wiscasset; Lois’ Natural Marketplace in Scarborough; Bow Street Market in Freeport; Lacava and Elements in Biddeford; and Local Market in Brunswick. For a complete list, go to

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