Eats and Drinks
Published: July 31, 2013
My cocktails have “gone green” this summer, which has nothing to do with organic spirits or eco-friendly distilling. Against long odds, modest pots of fresh herbs have survived my black thumb and our torrid July. Some sprigs end up in Mrs. Juice’s cooking, but increasing numbers meet my muddler. Farm-to-table dining can seem like a stretch in my neck of the cement jungle, but garden-to-glass imbibing has me all abuzz.
Fresh herbs like mint (think julep) have long played a role in the canon, but the cocktail renaissance has brought renewed emphasis and diversity to the mix. “It’s a great way to add freshness and seasonality to drinks,” says Josh Sullivan, local craft-tail impresario and cybertender at postprohibition.com. Sullivan grows “probably 35 different herbs” in the backyard of his Park Avenue apartment, “so inspiration comes from a lot of different directions. It’s fun experimenting, and when I find a pairing that really works, I build layers of flavor from there.”
Some herb-spirit affinities can seem unusual at first, but reveal inner logic. Rosemary-infused syrup and juniper-derived gin, for example, share an echo of pine. “Sage and mescal play really well together,” Sullivan adds. “Somehow their earthiness harmonizes.” Specialized herb varieties can also shed new light on the classics. For juleps, Sullivan grows chocolate mint. “It goes hand-in-hand with bourbon,” he says.
Because Sullivan’s one of our free-weekly drinking buddies, he created a recipe just for us, based on his fondness for the basil-grapefruit combo. Here’s the catch: Our new cocktail needs a name. Leave a comment at citypaper.com to submit your suggestion.
2 ounces Boyd & Blair Vodka
1/2 ounce Galliano
1/4 ounce honey syrup (made from equal parts honey and water)
5 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
6-8 Thai basil leaves
1 1/2 ounces grapefruit soda (or juice mixed with seltzer)
Thai basil sprig for garnish
Add 1/2 ounce of Galliano to shaker. Place 6-8 Thai basil leaves in your palm and smack with your other hand to start releasing the oils. Add the leaves to the shaker. Lightly muddle the basil, gently tapping about 10 times (excess muddling imparts bitterness). Add all other ingredients except the garnish and grapefruit soda. Shake with ice. Double strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with grapefruit soda and garnish with a sprig of Thai basil.
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