Turn your herb garden into a perfectly balanced cocktail.
At the end of each summer, we’re faced with the same problem: How do we use up all of our herbs before they freeze over? Mojitos, Smashes and Mint Juleps are a great way to incorporate them into drinks, but you can only use the herbs for those drinks once. This year, we went another route to extend the shelf life of our favorite herbaceous ingredients: making herb-infused simple syrups.
Some may balk at the idea of homemade syrups, but we promise they’re truly easy. To prove it, we created three recipes that even the most craft-challenged cocktail enthusiast can master:
All you’ve got to do is dissolve half a cup of sugar in an equal amount of hot water. Easy enough, right? Then add fresh herbs and let them steep. (Directions vary a bit depending on which herb you use). Strain, cover and keep in the fridge for up to two weeks—or keep them longer by adding a couple teaspoons of vodka.
See? It’s super simple.
Now, the trick is actually using the syrup before it goes…funky. You can substitute any of the three flavors for traditional simple syrup in classic cocktails, including the Tom Collins, Mojito and even sour cocktails like the Daiquiri or Gimlet. But we also wanted a few drinks that would really capture each syrup’s lively qualities. We asked DrinkWire contributors Beautiful Booze and FoodieTails to create a special drink for each of the herbal concoctions.
From left to right: Asian Rum Moscow Mule from Beautiful Booze; G&T from FoodieTails; Minty Paloma from Beautiful Booze; Basil Old Fashioned from FoodieTails.
Love rum, spice and everything nice? Beautiful Booze’s Asian Rum Moscow Mule packs a punch, but is expertly balanced with a touch of Basil Simple Syrup. Or if you’re in the mood for a straight-up refreshing elixir, mix up her Minty Paloma, which adds just a touch of the mint variation to the tequila-spiked drink.
And, while admittedly “leery” of using tarragon as it can sometimes “be a little too strong,” FoodieTails’ G&T (Grapefruit & Tarragon) combines the tarragon syrup with vodka, grapefruit and lime juice, Peychaud’s Bitters and Prosecco.
Take the cue and make your own herbal syrups. It’s like uprooting a little garden into your glass.
Spices work well, too, you just have to watch how long they steep for. We did a cinnamon vanilla one last summer that turned out pretty well. Recipe is here: http://www.cravelocal.com/food-drink/make-cinnamon-vanilla-infused-vodka-recipe/.
To steep herbs in hot simple syrup will make a kinda tea'ish syrup - far too light to "make a splash".
It will also discolor much faster.
A better way is, to blanch the herbs- put them into ice water, press them out and then blend them with water [if you have a blast chiller or a lot of patient, you could some of the water, you blanched the herbs in].
Fine strain them through a cheese cloth and then add sugar to the green liquid [I usually like to make rich syrups - that means 2 parts of sugar to 1 part of liquid] and blend it thoroughly until all the sugar is dissolved.
If you have a high performance blender, be carefully and don't blend it too fast - otherwise it heats up too much.
What you get is a beautiful colored and much more intense syrup.