We signed up for a CSA this year for the first time, and in addition to the regular box of produce the farm provides an assortment of herbs for us to take as much or as little as we want.
So what do you do when you come home with Lemon Basil, Dill, Savory or many others?
If you answered ‘make a cocktail’ consider yourself a winner.
If you didn’t say that, then read on.
If you want to use your garden in your cocktails, there are a couple easy choices.
- Put whole herbs in a shaker, muddle with other ingredients, and continue with business as usual but double strain when you’re done.
- Make an infused simple syrup.
I tend to go with choice one unless I am having people over and I know that I can go through a batch of infused syrup since they go bad within a couple weeks.
Your choices are really endless, but here are a couple I’ve been digging lately.
Lemon Basil Gin Sour
- 1 1/2oz gin
- 3/4oz lemon
- 3/4oz simple syrup
- 8 lemon basil leaves (or more to taste)
muddle the leaves in a shaker with the simple syrup, add the other ingredients, ice, and shake.Double strain into a coupe or Nick & Nora (I use a tea strainer).
This is a pretty straight forward summer cocktail with the basil taking the place of bitters. I also tend to like it a bit more as it warms up. I think the herb notes come to the fore a bit more. You could obviously sub any basil into this, though I would think that cinnamon basil would work better with a gin like Tanqueray Macalla.
with a couple tweaks and some soda you’ve got yourself a tasty collins as well (I Like 2-1-1/2).
Take your favorite julep recipe and substitute basil, or make it with gin, or make it with another herb. never had a gin julep? I feel bad for you son.
- 2oz spirit (plus some more if you like)
- 1oz simple syrup
- handful herb leaves (going to vary based on your choice) + a nice sprig for garnish
muddle ingredients lightly in a julep glass or double old fashioned. pack with crushed ice like a snow cone (lewis bag or food processor). add spirit to fill if you like. slap the sprig of herbs a couple times, and stick into the ice with a straw so you can smell the herbs with each sip.
remember to always use a high proof spirit as the ice will water it down quick like.
I’m still working on a cocktail that uses summer savory. at this point I’m thinking an aquavit collins might be the way to go.
I also want to try this Tequila and Sage Smash too.
Plus I have some tarragon in my garden that might make things interesting.
Herbs are a great way to roll your own.
as has become my tradition, here are my picks for the top 5 albums of the year so far. It’s been a really good year for music so far which made this difficult to narrow down, so I am looking forward to the remainder of the year (though my wallet may not be).
Rhye - Woman
- I’m not presenting these in any order, but this is far and away my favorite album of the year and a guaranteed end of year selection. Full of seductive songs, the spare arrangements give the songs enough room to breathe that they get in your head and won’t leave. Everytime you listen you bring something more to them and want ot keep listening long after they are done.
Savages - Silence Yourself
- One of the biggest buzz bands of the year, and they do not disapoint with this debut album.angular and jagged sounds in the veing of Wire and Gang of Four in their prime. This album is astounding and reports are the live show is even better.
Thundercat - Apocalypse
- If you heard about an artist coming out of the Flying Lotus/Brainfeeder scene to sound a certain way, but Thundercat’s music flies in the face of the instrumental/experimental hip-hop sound this scene is known for. Instead sounding like the love child of Stanley Clarke and George Clinton, he seems to find a middle ground between 70s-80s R&B and jazz fusion. The first thing you notice is the songwriting but once you notice the musicianship, I guarantee you’ll be blown away.
Classixx - Hanging Gardens
- In a year of high profile dance music releases, this stands out from the superstars and buzz bands as an album that sounds as good or better away from the dance floor, and one that you can come back to again and again. This is the kind of album that you put on as you get ready to leave the house and then end up staying in because you are having so much fun.
William Tyler - Impossible Truth
- The shadow that John Fahey casts over the american primitive style of guitar is immense and even the most inventive players of recent times like Jack Rose never fully escape it but rather they seem to try and extend his ideas and continue his journey. William Tyler on the other hand seems to be trying to find a new way with this album. Perhaps it is that Fahey, Rose, and Jones always seem to be looking back no matter how much they seemed to be pushing boundaries, while this album seems anchor in this time and place. Either way, this is a wonderful album and I look forward to many more years from him.
A couple months ago, I was at the local liquor store and saw a bottle of Tanqueray Malacca on the shelf. It said it was limited but what exactly is Malacca?
Well, in 1997 Tanqueray released Malacca which was supposedly based on an 1839 recipe from Charles Tanqueray himself. is this true? who knows, but the market place was not ready for a fairly different kind of gin and Tanqueray gave up the ghost in the early 2000s.
Apparently though this was just the time that classic cocktail excavators discovered that it made a nice substitute for Old Tom gin, which was unavailable at the time.
fast forward to 2012 and Tanqueray announced they would release 16,000 cases of it as a limited release. With this knowledge in hand one of them found its way to my house.
so how is it?
Sipping it neat, the first thing you notice is that it is much softer than regular Tanqueray, probably due to being only 80 proof versus 94.6. It also has a much creamier mouthfeel. Also the botanicals are on the warmer side. Much less citrus than standard Tanqueray, with some cinnamon and perhaps clove or something else with an earthy edge.
I would actually be happy sipping this neat but how does it do in cocktails?
First up is always also makes a mean old fashioned with just a dash of simple syrup and some orange bitters (I might even try cacao bitters if I had some).
Second, of course, is the G&T. Very good as expected and I actually preferred it without any citrus added.
For more involved cocktails, I tried a Martinez and was very pleased with the results. You see a lot of recipes for this classic, but here was mine:
- 2oz Malacca/Gin
- 1oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi Torino)
- 1/4oz Maraschino (could go up to 1/2oz)
- 4 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters (I like the less sweet Regan’s in this)
stir just enough to chill and pour into a chilled coupe.
and finally, no post would be complete without rolling my own right? The title needs some work but here you go:
- 1 1/2oz Malacca
- 1oz Cocchi Torino
- 1oz Averna
- 8-10 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
Stir and pour into a chilled old fashioned or nick & nora if you like.
As you may be aware this is a Negroni variation, but I am using the proportions for a Boulevardier instead. You may be able to get away with this with another Old Tom or young Genever, but I think a traditional dry gin would throw it all out of wack.
Despite a fairly large amount of Scandinavian heritage, Aquavit was never a part of my family or the holidays growing up. Most likely due to the strong German influence in Wisconsin it was all about the beer (or deadly serious Tom & Jerrys).
When I finally got around to trying some of the homemade stuff from friend’s family recipes I thought it ok, but nothing special (to be fair I never really drank at all until I was almost 30).
Last spring though, I went to the Heavy Table's North Coast Nosh IV and one of the originally scheduled vendors was Gamle Ode Aquavit. I was intrigued. A local spirit that wasn't from Phillips? It became my goal to try it immediately, but alas it was a no show that night.
Somehow in the way these things now work, I started following and chatting with Gamle Ode on twitter and eventually found my way to a liquor store tasting where I met Mike McCarron, the absolutely fascinating character behind the first dill aquavit to be produced in the US. Now there have been several good write ups about Mike so I won’t repeat that work here except to say that if you ever get a chance to sit down and share a drink with him, DO IT!!
Fast forward again to earlier this month, and I welcomed Mike and his equally fascinating girlfriend over for dinner and a night of cocktails. I wanted to feature the dill Gamle Ode but didn’t want to copy the recipes off the website, though I will say the Astrid Projection and Det Sista Ordet are fabulous.
And finally this is where rolling your own comes in.
After a welcome toast of North Shore Aquavit we moved on to our first cocktail of the night:
Dill Silver Fizz
The Fizz and the Collins are interesting drinks. If you look at recipes, they are essentially the same drink; one with ice, and one without. If you add an egg white you get a silver fizz, a yolk gets you a Golden Fizz, and a whole egg gets you a Royal Fizz (pretty sure you want to avoid eggs when it comes to a Collins). Since gin and aquavit have similar profiles I figured switching one for the other was an easy variation.
- 2oz Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit
- 1oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2oz Simple syrup (up to 1oz if you like)
- 1/2oz Egg white (I use the pasteurized ones personally)
- 2-3oz Soda water
Place all ingredients but soda water in shaker, and dry shake. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass (or 6-8oz highball) and top with soda water. Enjoy.
I really like the flavor of dill with honey so this drink, a variation of the Bee’s Knees, was really a no brainer. I recommend making a honey syrup in place of actual honey, and as with simple syrup, using weights versus volume will give better results.
- 1 1/2 oz Gamle Ode Dill
- 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz honey syrup
- Garnish with Bittercube Jamaican #2 or Grapefruit bitters
Shake all but bitters over ice and strain into a coupe or nick & nora. garnish with 4 drops of bitters. enjoy.
This last drink wasn’t prepared for my dinner with Mike, but came out of a trip to Marvel Bar a couple weeks ago. For their Improv night they were playing with Kombucha and Pip made me a gin version of this cocktail that was just divine, and I immediately wondered how it would taste with GO Dill. After a number of experiments that involved Curacao and Maraschino, I settled on the original recipe that was provided to me.
*note: this is part of the hyper diluted cocktail series Pip has been developing so you do need all the water called for*
- 2oz Gamle Ode Dill
- 2oz Kombucha
- 1oz lemon juice
- 1oz simple or honey syrup
- a few drops of orange flower water
- 3oz distilled water
build over ice in a collins glass and stir briefly to combine. You can use less water if you like, but don’t go below 2 oz. The idea is to dilute the Kombucha enough that it provides a savory backbone without contributing too much flavor.
*also can be made with 50/50 gin and North shore aquavit*