Herb cocktails: Go green with your drinks!

If you get out as much as we do, first of all no judgment and second: You may have noticed that fresh herbs are cropping up on cocktail menus throughout the city. What brings about this wave of greenery in our drinks, and how does it enhance spirit flavors? We spoke with mixologist Jen Gordon, who designs cocktails for Altamarea Group’s Ai Fiori (400 Fifth Ave.) in collaboration with director of bar operations Eben Freeman. Here’s what she has to tell us about this exciting trend.

Why are herbs in drinks making an appearance on cocktail menus?

Herbs are popping up in cocktails because, like in food, they add an element of freshness to drinks. They can be used in a variety of ways, from just shaking straight into a cocktail to infusing into syrups or the spirits themselves.

What kinds of drinks are best to support herb flavors?

This feels like a cop-out of an answer, but herbs are so versatile that they can go in any direction. Savory, sweet, classic, innovative, etc. However, if the goal is to highlight the flavor of the herb, simple is usually best. If you get too complex, it is easy to lose sight of the main ingredient.

What inspired the flavors in your cocktail (recipe below)?

All aspects of the Green Vespa are meant to scream fall. The base flavors are pear and sage. The color of the drink is balancing between green, yellow and burnt orange from the cayenne pepper. It is meant to be reminiscent of autumn leaves. That point is driven a little further by the garnish of a small sage leaf. It sits on top of the rock so that it is right in your nose when you take a sip. It’s autumn in a glass.

Are fresh herbs necessary?

Fresh herbs are usually preferred, but it really depends on what flavor you want in the drink. Dried herbs are typically used when fresh aren’t available, but in drying them, they can take on new flavor profiles of their own. In some cases, those subtle differences can benefit a drink. That said, I tend to lean toward fresh.

Is it typical for a bar to have fresh herbs on hand?

Serious cocktail bars and restaurants always seem to have fresh herbs available. I am fortunate to work in a restaurant with a very well-stocked kitchen so fresh herbs are always available to us. Unfortunately, your average dive-bar isn’t going to be garnishing your gin and tonic with a basil floret — yet.

Is this something our readers can do at home?

Absolutely! My favorite way to do it is through flavored simple syrups. Use 50/50 sugar to hot water, stirring until fully dissolved. While still hot, drop a bunch of whatever herb you have on hand — my favorites are thyme or lemon verbena. Let it steep for a couple of hours and you’re ready.

Herb cocktails around NYC

Green Vespa
Created by Jen Gordon, Ai Fiori

Ingredients:

½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
½ oz. Simple syrup
¾ oz. Pear puree
1 Pinch cayenne pepper
2 Large sage leaves, torn
1½ oz. Grey Goose Poire pear vodka

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a cobbler shaker. Shake and double strain into a chilled rocks glass over a large ice cube. Place a single small sage leaf in the center of the ice cube.

Shiso Gimlet
Created by Camille Austin, Hakkasan

Ingredients:

1.5 oz. NOLET’s Silver Dry Gin
3 Shiso leaves
.75 oz. Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
.5 oz. Lychee juice
1 Bar spoon Yuzu Marmalade

Instructions:

Shake, strain into a martini glass and garnish with a shiso leaf.

Tequila Mockingbird
Pachanga Patterson

Ingredients:

2 oz. Tequila
1 oz. Simple syrup
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
2-3 Slices of cucumber
Fresh mint, to taste

Instructions:

Muddle cucumber and mint in cocktail shaker. Add tequila, simple syrup and lime juice. Shake; serve on ice.

Kentucky Ginger
Campbell Apartment

Ingredients:

2 oz. Maker’s Mark Bourbon
1 oz. ginger liqueur
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 spring muddled rosemary

Instructions:

Shake in a glass and serve over ice.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Turkey: Voting begins in country's first direct presidential…

Some 53 million people are able to vote in the election, including 2.8 million citizens abroad. Until now, Turkish presidents were elected by parliament.

News

Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia…

By Patrick Markey and Aziz El YaakoubiTRIPOLI (Reuters) - Black plumes of smoke marked shell blasts and bulldozed earthen barricades mapped out the frontlines around…

Breaking: News

Russia mad about sanctions, says U.S. contributing to…

Russia reacted angrily on Saturday to additional sanctions imposed by the European Union over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis, saying they would hamper cooperation…

National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.