In­spi­ra­tion from the plant king­dom

Ac­cord­ing to Think with Google’s Bev­er­ages Trends Re­port 2017, earthy fla­vors, such as matcha, ginger and turmeric, are top of mind for con­sumers. Bar­tenders and drink cre­ators around the world are giv­ing herbs, roots and spices more of their at­ten­tion th

Hospitality News Middle East - - IN THIS ISSUE -

HN had the op­por­tu­nity to speak to Mike Di Tota, the renowned ‘Botan­i­cal Bar­tender’, and cock­tail di­rec­tor of The Bon­nie in As­to­ria, New York, to dis­cuss the lat­est trends for us­ing herbs in in­fu­sions, mock­tails and cock­tails.

Ex­per­i­ment­ing with greens, beans, and more

Syrups are one of my fa­vorite ways to in­cor­po­rate plant notes into a cock­tail. Steep­ing soft herbs like tar­ragon, thyme or cilantro, in a slightly cooled 1:1 sim­ple syrup re­leases their bright fla­vors, while heat­ing hard spices like car­away seeds and all­spice berries, ac­ti­vates their aro­matic oils. Puree­ing fresh mint into a sim­ple syrup is a ter­rific way to ex­tract its fla­vor with­out the has­sle of mud­dling. It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that soft herbs work best when chopped, pureed or steeped in warm syrup, but not cooked. (Heat­ing mint over a flame will pro­duce a ran­cid fla­vor.) Barks, roots and dried spices like cin­na­mon, whole cloves and co­rian­der seeds, can be boiled to in­fuse a sim­ple syrup; ex­pos­ing them to heat re­leases their fla­vors. I think a per­fect drink stim­u­lates mul­ti­ple senses, so the gar­nish is an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a vis­ual pre­view of the cock­tail’s fla­vors, as well as an aroma to pre­cede each sip. Del­i­cate wild hon­ey­suckle blos­soms, scented gera­nium leaves and fen­nel fronds are lovely atop a glass; fresh bay leaves and thyme can add great sa­vory aro­mas.

Liquor in­fu­sions are an­other sim­ple way to in­tro­duce com­plex­ity to a drink. Dried herbs and flow­ers, like laven­der, chamomile, and bay leaves are bet­ter suited to in­fus­ing liquors than fresh herbs and flow­ers: they im­part max­i­mum fla­vor in min­i­mum time. In­fus­ing chamomile into gin is a per­sonal fa­vorite pair­ing: the flow­ers give the spirit a beau­ti­ful golden hue, and the flo­ral fla­vor is an un­ex­pected coun­ter­point to the spirit’s ju­niper notes. Laven­der is a lovely aro­matic match for ver­mouth blanc; dried hibis­cus flow­ers add both a tan­nic as­trin­gency and a vi­brant ruby color to tequila.

There’s a whole botan­i­cal world for both home bar­tenders and sea­soned bar pro­fes­sion­als to ex­plore, and you don’t have to be a bit­ters geek to in­cor­po­rate herbs and flow­ers into your drinks. The light bulb mo­ment for me was when I re­al­ized that ev­ery liquor comes from a plant, in some way: roots, bark, stems, seeds, flow­ers, fruit and veg­eta­bles. My two paths con­verged when hor­ti­cul­ture and mixol­ogy col­lided, and I con­tinue to learn more from their in­ter­ac­tion ev­ery day.


In­gre­di­ents • 1 ounce black­berry fig syrup (recipe fol­lows) • 1/2 ounce Haber’s Tonic syrup • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice • Soda wa­ter • Dried Le­banese Style Aphro­disiac Tea, for gar­nish

Black­berry fig syrup

• 1 quart turbinado sugar sim­ple syrup • 13 ounces fig pre­serves • 13 ounces black­berry pre­serves • 1 cin­na­mon stick, crushed • 1 tea­spoon whole black pep­per­corns • 5 ta­ble­spoons white bal­samic vine­gar Add all in­gre­di­ents to Vi­ta­mix blender. Blend un­til smooth. Strain and dis­card pulpy solids. Store in a cov­ered con­tainer, re­frig­er­ated, for up to one week. Prepa­ra­tion Com­bine the first three in­gre­di­ents in a high­ball glass and fill with ice. Top with soda wa­ter. Stir to mix. Gar­nish with a sprin­kle of dried tea leaves and buds. the­bon­

Ginger is still in

Tess Posthu­mus, is co-owner of the Fly­ing Dutch­men Cock­tails, a hot new des­ti­na­tion in Am­s­ter­dam. “At the Fly­ing Dutch­men Cock­tails, we fo­cus on clas­sic cock­tails but we do have three sig­na­tures on the menu, in­clud­ing the Fly­ing Dutch­men Cock­tail. This drink is very spice for­ward.” She be­lieves that bar­tenders and con­sumers are in­creas­ingly look­ing for real fla­vors. “Us­ing fresh herbs and spices will give your drink a quick boost. It adds depth and com­plex­ity to cock­tails, with­out hav­ing to add sug­ars.” She told HN that ginger is still very pop­u­lar (Moscow Mule and twists on it) and that they al­ways have thyme, mint, rose­mary and basil in stock at the bar.



• 45 ml Bols Bar­rel Aged gen­ever • 30 ml fresh lemon juice • 15 ml spec­u­laas gum syrup (recipe fol­lows) • 2 dashes Or­ange Bit­ters • 1 dash Or­ange Flower Wa­ter Prepa­ra­tion Shake and strain into a pre-chilled coupe glass. Gar­nish with or­ange zest and ed­i­ble flower. Spec­u­laas gum syrup The spec­u­laas gum syrup is made with gum Ara­bica so the drink gets a thicker vis­cos­ity and coat­ing mouth feel. Spec­u­laas spice mix is made with fresh ginger, cin­na­mon, green car­damom, white pep­per, cloves and nut­meg. fly­ing­dutch­men­cock­

Mike Di Tota, photo credit Sam Or­tiz

Tess Posthu­mus

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