Bay Lime Cooler

Here’s a refreshing summer cocktail that uses my Bay Leaf Liqueur.  It’s a balanced sweet/tart flavor, fabulously aromatic with bay and lime mint over a base of gin.

Bay Lime Cooler

sprigs of lime mint, fresh from my garden

I love growing scents in my garden — and lime mint is unique, in that it doesn’t smell minty.  Instead it’s more green, limey and herbal.  You may substitute a strip of lime zest if you can’t find lime mint.  Enjoy!

Bay Lime Cooler
(serves two)

3 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Bay Leaf Liqueur
a big sprig of lime mint, or strip of lime zest
1/2 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
ice for mixing
crushed ice
(bay leaf and lime slice optional garnish)

Give the lime mint a gentle squeeze, and place in shaker.  Add the gin, bay liqueur, lime juice, and ice.  Shake for 20 seconds, or until cocktail is very cold.  Strain into two glasses over crushed ice, garnishing with lime slice and bay leaf, if desired.

Bay Leaf Liqueur

Many years ago I planted a tiny sweet bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) in my garden*.  It has flourished, and produces an abundance of dark green leaves.

Bay Laurel leaves

I love experimenting with flavors in my cooking and cocktails, and decided to do something bold with my bay leaves.  The result is Bay Leaf Liqueur — an elixor long enjoyed in the Mediterranean from whence this noble plant comes.

Bay Leaf Liqueur

While the scent of the crushed bay leaf is pungent, the liqueur is surprisingly rounded and balanced.  It’s gentle on the taste buds, but full of scent and depth.  This liqueur is strong and sweet — rather like Absinthe.  Served over ice in small quantities, it is an intriguing apertif.  I like to use it as a mixer in cocktails.

bay leaves covered with grain alcohol

Creating this sweet liqueur is simple, and made in two stages.  The first stage involves packing fresh bay leaves in a jar and covering with grain alcohol.  After soaking for five days or so, strain off the bay leaves.  The resulting infusion is a stunning deep emerald green.

emerald green bay leaf infused grain alcohol

Mix the infused grain alcohol with equal parts simple syrup, filter, then you have Bay Leaf Liqueur.  Enjoy!

Bay Leaf Liqueur
(makes about 3 cups liqueur)

Fresh bay leaves — enough to lightly pack a 14 oz lidded glass jar (I didn’t actually count them — maybe 60 leaves)

Grain alcohol** — about 12 oz (I used the 191 proof, but 151 proof is also fine to use)

Simple syrup: mix 12 oz boiling water with 1 1.2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar.  Stir to dissolve, and cool.

Pack the rinsed and dried bay leaves in glass working jar.   The goal is to completely fill the jar with bay leaves.  Pour grain alcohol over the bay leaves to the top of the jar.  Cover, and set aside in a cool dark place for several days.

Filter the resulting infusion into another glass jar.  I filter mine through a new paper coffee filter, which removes any particulate matter that may cloud the liqueur.

Mix the resulting infusion 1 to 1 with simple syrup.  Store in a glass container, choosing a container that is the right size to minimize air in the closed jar.  Allow to sit for several days.  If the mixture clouds, and doesn’t quickly clarify with stirring, filter it again through a clean paper coffee filter.

This liqueur should last for months.  Store airtight in the refrigerator, though it will not spoil at room temperature.

*Laurus nobilis is not the same plant as the California native bay laurel.

**Grain alcohol is quite flammable as it is basically pure alcohol — be careful!

 

Rose Drop

My beautiful Gertrude Jekyll rose is about to bloom — time for a Rose Drop.  This recipe was recently featured in the May 2017 Sunset magazine.  Enjoy!

For me, the garden is a place of deep inspiration for my cooking.  I have a beautiful rose bush* — right now in full bloom with deep pink, fragrant blossoms.  A few years ago, while weeding alongside this righteous proclamation of Spring, I envisioned a cocktail — the Rose Drop.

I imagined the luscious scent of my rose concentrated in one beautiful cocktail.  After a bit of tinkering, I was rewarded with a lovely surprise when I infused the petals of this rose, which I reveal to you in the recipe below.  Enjoy!

Gertrude Jekyll Rose

Gertrude Jekyll Rose

For the Rose infused vodka:
Start by picking 9 – 10 full rose blossoms.  Rinse them and pluck the petals.

Rose petals

Rose petals

Lightly pack all the petals into a large lidded jar.  I used a 20 oz glass lidded working jar.  Add vodka to the brim, then cover and place in the fridge.  Give it a shake after an hour or so.

roses in vodka - the first minute

rose petals in vodka – the first minute

After a couple hours the petals will have been drained of most of their color, and the infused vodka will be a pale straw pink color.  (When this first happened, I was most disappointed, as I was really hoping for the color and fragrance of my rose in my cocktail.  I was stunningly surprised later, when I used this infusion in a cocktail, with the addition of acidic lemon juice — a little food chemistry magic to come.)

rose infused vodka - after three hours in the fridge

rose infused vodka – after three hours in the fridge

rose infused vodka, after straining

rose infused vodka, after straining

Strain the rose infused vodka into a jar and store airtight in the fridge until you’re ready for a cocktail.  Enjoy! (in moderation, of course)

The Rose Drop
(makes two)

4 oz Rose infused vodka (see recipe, above)
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 oz simple syrup** (add to suit your sweetness preference)
4 ice cubes

Stir all ingredients together until very cold.  When you add the lime juice to the rose infused vodka the beautiful colors of the rose revert to their acidified state and shine brilliant pink.  And the rose scent blooms in the glass.  Strain into two lovely cocktail glasses, garnish with a rose petal, and enjoy.

* My rose bush, a Gertrude Jekyll Rose, is grown with no pesticides of any kind.  This is very important for using roses petals in cooking — don’t use any roses if you’re not entirely sure that there are no systemic or foliar pesticides that have been used on your flowers.

**simple syrup:  Blend equal proportions by volume sugar and boiling water.  Cool before using.

 

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Summer Happy Hour alert:  combine frozen yellow watermelon, fresh squeezed lime juice, thai basil, and white rum.  This delicious frozen cocktail was a hit at my house this week.

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Three fragrant ingredients combine to produce a sophisticated and interesting cocktail:  watermelon, orange blossom water, and thai basil.  I love the beautiful color of yellow watermelon, but feel free to use red if it’s what you have.

lime, yellow watermelon, and thai basil

lime, yellow watermelon, and thai basil

White rum adds punch without muddling the flavors and a squeeze of fresh lime brightens the flavor of naturally sweet & mellow yellow watermelon.  This slushie can easily be made without rum for a family friendly drink everyone can enjoy.  Enjoy!

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie
(makes two)

2 cups frozen seeded yellow watermelon chunks
4 oz white rum (use water for a non-alcoholic version)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. orange blossom water
1 tsp. white sugar (optional, and to taste)
small sprig thai basil leaves

Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Strain into chilled glasses garnished with lime slice and piece of watermelon.

Venus Thistle Cocktail

A cocktail is an impression of a greater experience –  evoking something beautiful, mysterious, tender, dramatic.  My Venus Thistle Cocktail is an impression of the stunning wildflowers and rocky crags of Pinnacles National Park.

Venus Thistle Cocktail

Venus Thistle Cocktail

Its namesake wildflower, The Venus Thistle, blooms bright and fresh in a harsh and dry landscape.

Venus Thistle

Venus Thistle

Scotch was the natural choice to represent a thistle.  My favorite mixer, St. Germain, lends a gentle and well rounded floral sweetness to this drink.  Muddled white thyme from my garden evokes the fragrant, resinous vegetation of the Pinnacles.  Serve in a small, chilled cocktail glass.  Enjoy!

The Venus Thistle
(serves one)

1 1/2 oz good quality scotch
1/2 oz St. Germain
2 sprigs fresh thyme
ice

Gently muddle one spring thyme in the base of your cocktail mixing glass.  Pour in scotch and St. Germain, then add four cubes of ice.  Stir for a minute to thoroughly chill the cocktail.  Strain into a coupe and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

Rose Drop

For me, the garden is a place of beauty, prayer, and deep inspiration for my cooking.  I have a beautiful rose bush* — right now in full bloom with deep pink, fragrant blossoms.  A few years ago, while weeding alongside this righteous proclamation of Spring, I envisioned a cocktail — the Rose Drop.

I imagined the luscious scent of my rose concentrated in one beautiful cocktail.  After a bit of tinkering, I was rewarded with a lovely surprise when I infused the petals of this rose, which I reveal to you in the recipe below.  Enjoy!

Gertrude Jekyll Rose

Gertrude Jekyll Rose

For the Rose infused vodka:
Start by picking 9 – 10 full rose blossoms.  Rinse them and pluck the petals.

Rose petals

Rose petals

Lightly pack all the petals into a large lidded jar.  I used a 20 oz glass lidded working jar.  Add vodka to the brim, then cover and place in the fridge.  Give it a shake after an hour or so.

roses in vodka - the first minute

rose petals in vodka – the first minute

After a couple hours the petals will have been drained of most of their color, and the infused vodka will be a pale straw pink color.  (When this first happened, I was most disappointed, as I was really hoping for the color and fragrance of my rose in my cocktail.  I was stunningly surprised later, when I used this infusion in a cocktail, with the addition of acidic lemon juice — a little food chemistry magic to come.)

rose infused vodka - after three hours in the fridge

rose infused vodka – after three hours in the fridge

rose infused vodka, after straining

rose infused vodka, after straining

Strain the rose infused vodka into a jar and store airtight in the fridge until you’re ready for a cocktail.  Enjoy! (in moderation, of course)

The Rose Drop
(makes two)

4 oz Rose infused vodka (see recipe, above)
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 – 2 oz simple syrup** (add to suit your sweetness preference)
4 ice cubes

Stir all ingredients together until very cold.  When you add the lime juice to the rose infused vodka the beautiful colors of the rose revert to their acidified state and shine brilliant pink.  And the rose scent blooms in the glass.  Strain into two lovely cocktail glasses, garnish with a rose petal, and enjoy.

* My rose bush, a Gertrude Jekyll Rose, is grown with no pesticides of any kind.  This is very important for using roses petals in cooking — don’t use any roses if you’re not entirely sure that there are no systemic or foliar pesticides that have been used on your flowers.

**simple syrup:  Blend equal proportions by volume sugar and boiling water.  Cool before using.