Upgrading Cocktails With Fresh Herbs

Nothing livens up a cocktail like some fresh
herbs.

Luckily, as the
weather warms up, mother nature delivers everything a home bartender needs to
level up a beloved classic with handpicked and fragrant additions, or even
invent something new.

Leading mixologists
regularly use herbs—a sprig of mint or a few freshly plucked basil leaves—as
garnishes to add a multisensory component. But to give a more complex,
herbaceous punch to a libation, one needs to infuse the herbs in a spirit or
mixing syrup.

Working with herbs
can be tricky for the inexperienced, so Mansion
Global Experience Luxury
consulted with mixologists from notable bars and
cocktail lounges to learn how they utilize them in their favorite cocktails.
Even if you don’t have a green thumb or home garden, it’s easy to get your
hands on fresh herbs. So when it comes to whipping up impressive cocktails
worthy of a summer soiree, look no further than these inviting, time-tested
concoctions.

BASTARDITA
PICOSA

Bastardita Picosa from Negroni Midtown Miami.


Negroni Midtown Miami

At Negroni
in Midtown Miami—the lone American outpost of a successful South American
culinary brand—bar manager Angres Jorges
created this beautiful cocktail to help the stylish crowds beat the heat.
“Cilantro is a popular herb with a zingy flavor that pairs perfectly with the
profile of this cocktail,” Mr. Jorges explains. “It is refreshingly smoky with
a spicy finish—perfect for the summer.”

2
ounces
Ilegal Mezcal

0.5
ounce
 
Ancho Reyes
(chile liqueur)

2
ounces
pineapple juice

Pinch (around 0.25 ounce) of chopped cilantro

2 cilantro leaves

Combine mezcal, Ancho Reyes, a pinch of
cilantro, and pineapple juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until
chilled. Double-strain into a salt-rimmed cocktail glass, and decorate with
cilantro leaves. Makes one cocktail.

SIP OF
SUMMER

Gallery Bar’s Sip of Summer.


Beth Allen

Lovers of fine libations in Charlotte, N.C.,
flock to Gallery Bar at The
Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel. Food and beverage manager Juan Fernandez, who uses fresh, locally
sourced herbs in his cocktails, is a big fan of tarragon. “It’s a great
combination of mint, vanilla, pepper, as well as licorice and anise,” Mr.
Fernandez says. “This adds complexity to cocktails or food dishes.”

1.5
ounces
Effen Cucumber vodka

0.5
ounce
tarragon-infused simple syrup

0.5
ounce
lime juice

2.5
ounces
fresh ruby-red grapefruit juice

1 cucumber ribbon

1 lime wheel

Combine ingredients in a shaker, shake, and
strain into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with cucumber ribbon and lime
wheel. Makes one cocktail.

Tarragon-infused
simple syrup recipe:

1 cup of demerara sugar

1 cup of water

5–7 tarragon sprigs (fresh; washed and patted dry)

Combine sugar and water in a stove pan. Slowly
bring to a boil. Add tarragon, and let it steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain
the tarragon from the syrup using a mesh metal strainer, and store in an
airtight glass container in the fridge.

MEDITERRANEAN
MULE

A Mediterranean Mule from Aba Austin.


Aba Austin

At Aba,
a Mediterranean restaurant in Austin’s Music Lane, patrons enjoy
Mediterranean-inspired cocktails packed with exotic herbs and flavors. Thomas Mizuno-Moore, senior beverage
manager, enjoys taking classic cocktails that everyone is familiar with—in this
case, the Moscow Mule—and adding a sense of place rooted in Aba’s cuisine.
“It’s important that the herbs don’t infuse for too long, as rosemary and
thyme, which are both indigenous to the Mediterranean, can start to extract
bitter, tannic flavors the longer they infuse. And we love those herbs in this
cocktail for their aromatics, not their bitterness,” explains Mr. Mizuno-Moore.

0.75
ounce
lime juice

0.5
ounce
Lula’s Aguas Ginger (ginger water)

0.5
ounce
almond orgeat

0.25
ounce
Galliano L’Autentico (Italian herbal liqueur)

1.5
ounces
rosemary-thyme vodka

1.5
ounces
soda water

1 sprig of thyme

Combine lime juice, ginger water, orgeat,
Galliano, and rosemary-thyme vodka in a shaker with ice. Shake until cold. Add
soda to shaker, and strain into a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with thyme.
Makes one cocktail.

Rosemary-thyme
vodka recipe:

Add 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 sprigs of thyme
to a bottle of your preferred vodka. Let it sit at room temperature overnight.
Strain out any herb remnants through a fine mesh strainer, or, for a clearer
end-product, a coffee filter.

MODERNIST

One of the most scenic drinking locales in the
nation’s capital can be found atop the Conrad Washington, DC, where SUMMIT the Rooftop welcomes a mix of
hotel guests and fashionable locals. Beverage director Nial Harris Garcia, a big fan of rosemary’s flavor, aroma, and
medicinal benefits, uses the herb, which is grown on-site at the hotel, in this
complex cocktail. “We directly insert rosemary inside the bottles of bourbon,
and the alcohol dilutes the oils, allowing the bourbon to take on the rosemary
flavor,” explains Mr.
Harris Garcia.
“One trick we use to make the cocktail
taste exceptionally refreshing is to use freshly squeezed lemon juice, so the
citrus and rosemary aromas are at their best.”

1.5
ounces
rosemary-infused Belmont Bourbon

0.75
ounce
lemon juice

0.75
ounce
honey syrup ​​

Prosecco

1 lemon peel

Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and honey syrup
in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne

flute. Top with prosecco. Garnish with lemon
peel. Makes one cocktail.

Bourbon
infusion recipe:

Place 3–4 large sprigs of freshly cut rosemary
into a full 750ml bottle of bourbon. Allow the bottle to sit at room
temperature and steep for 4–5 days. Strain bourbon into an airtight decanter
and store at room temperature.

Honey
syrup recipe:

Use a 1:1 ratio of honey to water. Place honey
and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling,
turn the heat to low, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool, then store in
an airtight container.

REPOSADO
OLD-FASHIONED

Ernest’s Reposado Old Fashioned.


Max Alexander

At Ernest,
a globally inspired restaurant from chef
Brandon Rice
in San Francisco, bar
director Max Alexander wins raves
for his seasonal take on the Old-Fashioned. “Infusing spirits is really
straightforward once you know how the herb being used will react to alcohol,”
he says.

1.5
ounces
strawberry-and-basil-infused Reposado Siete
Leguas Tequila

0.5
ounce
Ventura Spirits Strawberry Brandy

0.5
ounce
St.
George Basil Eau
de Vie

0.25
ounce
strawberry-and-basil sugar syrup

1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters

Pinch of salt

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with
ice, stir briefly until cold. Strain into an Old-Fashioned or rocks glass over
a large ice cube. Makes one cocktail.

Strawberry-and-basil-infused
tequila recipe:

Add 2 ounces of blanched basil to a full
bottle of tequila, steep overnight. Add 8 ounces of dehydrated strawberries,
steep for four hours. Strain into an airtight decanter.

Strawberry-and-basil
sugar syrup recipe:

In a small pot over medium heat, combine 15
ounces sugar, 3 ounces water, 15 ounces strawberry juice,

2 ounces basil leaves, and 2 grams agar-agar. Bring to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Refrigerate overnight. Using a whisk to help break up this mixture, strain through a cheesecloth, and store in a mason jar.

This article appeared in the July edition of Mansion Global Experience Luxury.

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