(Cover photo - courtesy of liquor.com)
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd and to honor what it stands for I am offering up truly "green", farm-fresh, organic ingredients and cocktails for spring. As an added bonus, I list the best fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, and florals to be used in cocktails, infused spirits, syrups, purees, and juices for the season, best way to prepare them, and what base spirits pair best with them.
As the length of sunlight increases and the ice thaws, we gradually phase out spicy bitters, herbal cordials, dark spirits, and rich fortified wines, and lighten things up with blooming flavors, fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruits, such dill, rhubarb, and strawberries. Once the trees begin to bud and bloom, we start working with tisanes, including chamomile, jasmine, and lemon verbena. Floral cordials and savory spirits, such as Aquavit and Blanco Tequila replace hearty spirits like Islay Scotch and aged Jamaican dark rums. Rhubarb and thyme start to arrive at the farmer’s market and everything else falls into place. It’s important to stay current on fresh produce releases.
Below is the list of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, and flowers available in the spring months (some remain and crossover to the summer months).
Spring Ingredients – kumquats, rhubarb, strawberries, kale, dill, cucumber, jasmine flower, chamomile, cardamom, lemongrass, blood oranges, Meyer lemon, nectarines, plums, peaches, passion fruit, and prickly pears. Gin, blanco tequila, vodka, flavored vodkas, aquavit, pisco, elderflower liqueur, aperol, crème yvette, vermouth, and champagne emerge as the go-to spirits with hundreds of infusions possible in spring. Also, enjoy these farm-fresh organic cocktails using all ORGANIC spirits and liqueurs and many of these spring ingredients.
Dried Jasmine Flower – infuse, tea, or syrup, best in vodka or gin
Nectarines – muddle or puree, best in brandy, rum, or whiskey
Blood Oranges – juice or muddle, best in gin, tequila, or vodka
Ginger – syrup, infuse, or juice, best in vodka or gin
Cucumber – muddle, juice, or syrup, best in vodka, gin, or tequila
Kumquats – muddle, best in gin, rum, whiskey, or vodka
Meyer Lemon – juice, best in gin, rum, tequila, or vodka
Dill – muddle or infuse, best in gin or vodka
Kale – muddle, puree, or juice, best in vodka or gin
Passion Fruit – puree, best in brandy, rum, or tequila
White Peaches – puree, best in brandy or whiskey
Dried Chamomile – syrup or tea, best in gin, vodka, or rum
Plums – muddle, best in brandy, gin, or whiskey
Prickly Pears – puree, best in rum, tequila, or whiskey
Strawberries – muddle or infuse, best in gin, rum, or tequila
Lemongrass – infuse or syrup, best in vodka or gin
Vanilla Bean – infuse or syrup, best in rum
- 1 ½ oz Prairie Organic Gin
- ¾ oz chamomile honey syrup
- ½ oz fresh pressed kale juice
- ½ oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ oz Cointreau
- Chamomile buds
- Fresh kale leaf
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice; shake. Fine strain into a lowball glass. Fine strain into a lowball glass. Drop in large ice cube with kale leaf frozen inside (optional). Garnish with a dried chamomile buds on top of kale leaf.
Optional - To make the large kale ice cube, use a large format ice cube tray; add filtered water and the top of a curly kale leaf to each cube and leave in freezer.
To make chamomile honey syrup - 1 cup local honey, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup dried chamomile flower (or chamomile tea). Add all ingredients to small pot and bring to a low boil. Simmer for 10 minutes; turn off heat and let cool. Fine strain into s sealed container and store in the refrigerator.
Berries & Spice
(courtesy of Greenbar Craft Distillery)
- 1.5 oz CRUSOE spiced rum
- ¾ oz FRUITLAB ginger liqueur
- ½ oz lime juice
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 2 strawberries and 1 sage sprig
- 4 dashes BAR KEEP Chinese bitters
- Soda water top
Muddle all ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice. Shake and fine strain into a tall glass with ice. Top with soda water – gently stir and garnish a strawberry.
(photo courtesy of Misfit Restaurant & Bar)
- 2 oz KOVAL Organic Dry Gin
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 3 English hothouse cucumber slices (leave peels on) and 1 large rosemary sprig
- Cucumber ribbon for garnish
Muddle cucumber slices and rosemary sprig with lemon juice and simple syrup for at least 20 seconds. Add ice. Shake very well and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish cucumber ribbon on a skewer.
- 2 oz TRU Organic Garden Vodka
- ½ oz fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz simple syrup
- 3 English hothouse cucumber slices (leave peels on) and 2 large dill sprigs
- Cucumber ribbon and 1 dill sprig for garnish
Muddle cucumber slices and fresh dill with lemon juice and simple syrup for at least 20 seconds. Add ice. Shake very well and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish cucumber ribbon on a skewer.
(Courtesy of H. Joseph Ehrmann and Square One Organic Spirits/adapted by Michael Nagy)
- 1.5 oz Square One Botanical Vodka
- ½ oz lemon juice
- ¼ oz organic agave syrup (diluted)
- 1 oz *Lavender syrup
- 5 - 6 kumquats
- orange bitters as garnish
Muddle the kumquats with lavender syrup in a mixing glass. Add other ingredients and dry shake (no ice) for 5 seconds. Add ice and shake well for 10 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a collins or sour glass and garnish with a few drops of orange bitters.
*To make lavender syrup – use 1 cup water, 3 tbsp fresh or dried lavender flowers, and 2 cups sugar. Bring water and lavender to a boil. Stir in sugar until fully dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, strain out the lavender. Pour into bottle and keep in the refrigerator. Store up to a week.
Variations: Substitute the kumquats for other citrus, like 1 oz. of blood orange juice, lemon juice, or Meyer lemon juice (cut syrup back by 1/4 oz.) or try 1/2 oz. each of lemon and lime juice.
(photo courtesy of Je Blague)
- 1.5 oz 123 Organic Reposado (Dos) Tequila or Del Maguey Organic Mezcal VIDA
- ¾ oz FRUITLAB Hibiscus Organic Liqueur (floral) or KOVAL Orange Blossom Organic Liq (orange)
- 3 oz Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice
- Top with Prosecco
- Garnish grapefruit peel
Add all ingredients to a mixing tin with ice, except Prosecco. Shake well and strain into an ice-filled wine goblet. Garnish grapefruit peel.