LEARN HOW TO MAKE COCKTAILS WITH FRESH HERBS
When people think of herbs that go in cocktails, most limit themselves to mint. But there is a whole world of magnificent drinks made with a whole range of herb garden essentials. I’m going to introduce you to some amazing and unexpected flavour combinations. It will require a bit of faith, but give them a try and allow yourself to be surprised by the instantly fresh and vibrant taste. As always, these flavours best complement a quality, premium gin. So, take your pick from the Ludlow Dry Gin family and get your wellies on.
Ocimum basilicum L.
Let’s start with surely a staple of the herb garden: basil. The Basil Smash is a wonderfully refreshing, bright green drink. Pick a good handful of fresh basil leaves and put them in the bottom of your shaker. Add 1 part fresh lemon juice and, using the end of a rolling pin, ‘muddle’ the basil leaves. Muddling is essentially mashing up the leaves, breaking them down and releasing that gorgeous crisp basil flavour. Add 2 parts gin and 1 part sugar syrup before shaking with ice. Use a sieve to catch the basil bits as you decant the cocktail into a tumbler glass over ice. Garnish with some fresh basil leaves.
The leaves of soft-stem herbs, such as basil, are sweet, clean, and fresh, whereas the stems are often bitter. You can use the stems of woody-stem herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, because they have an earthy, arboreal taste which adds to the flavour of the drink.
The Sage Sour is an amazingly elegant fresh herb cocktail. Sage is a much more potent flavour than basil, so you are probably only going to need three or four fresh leaves for this cocktail. Pop those in the bottom of your shaker and add 2 parts gin, 1 part fresh lemon juice and an egg white. I like to use a generous teaspoon of runny honey, instead of sugar syrup, to add beautiful fresh floral flavours of blossom and to create a soft golden glow. Double shake and double strain for a frothy and light texture. A martini or coupe glass is best for this cocktail. Garnish by laying a single sage leaf on the foamy head.
When garnishing with fresh herbs, smack them against the palm of your hand to release their fresh and bright aroma.
Feeling a bit naughty? This is a dirty cocktail. Dirty because you put it all in, bash it around and serve it as messy mix of incredible fruity and woody flavours. The Rosemary and Blueberry Fizz is stunning both visually and in your mouth. Put five or six large blueberries in the bottom of a highball glass, along with two sprigs of fresh rosemary and a teaspoon of granulated sugar. Use the end of a rolling pin to muddle the blueberries, rosemary, and sugar together. Add 1 part lemon juice and 2 parts gin before half filling the glass with crushed ice. Use a long spoon to give everything a good hard mix. You are chilling the ingredients here as well as combining them, so you can be quite vigorous about it. Top with soda water and fill the glass with more crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a slice of lemon.
If you like the woody, earthy notes in the Rosemary and Blueberry Fizz, try adding a ½ part of Roots Mastic Liqueur. This is an exquisite Greek liqueur made from the resin of Mastic trees growing on the island of Chios.