and two drops of ashwagandha tincture are added to a cocktail
shaker. The mixture is shaken, strained into a coupe glass and
garnished with an edible marigold and three drops of chili oil.
A mocktail can be made by omitting the gin and adding cara
cara juice for more sweetness. “The ashwagandha provides the
cocktail with earthy, warm and woodsy notes, and complements
the turmeric honey,” Simone says.
Fernando Bambaren, bar manager, Virtù Honest Craft,
Scottsdale, Arizona, uses lemongrass stalks for the aromatics
in the Lemongrass cocktail, made with vodka, apricot liquor,
grapefruit liquor, amaro, prosecco, simple syrup and mint.
The stalks are cut into small pieces, then thinly sliced at the
bottom. Bambaren rubs the stalk back and forth in his hands to
release aromatics, mists with sauvignon blanc spray and reserves for a
garnish. “The result is a beautiful, fresh scent that goes along perfectly
with the spray of sauvignon blanc,” he says. “The lemongrass stalk
continues to impart its delicate herbal flavor as the drink sits.”
Charity Johnston, bar manager/mixologist, Innovative Dining
Group, Los Angeles, says, “Operators need to create a beverage
menu that complements their concept and what’s coming out of the
kitchen. People come to a restaurant for a top-to-bottom experience,
and expect to have consistency between food and drink.”
The Stranger in Paradise includes green shiso that’s ripped
and muddled with strawberries to express the herb’s flavor in a
shaker. Gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and ice are added, shaken
and poured into a coupe glass. The cocktail is garnished with an
expressed shiso leaf to deliver a bright green flavor on the nose.
“The drink has a vibrant reddish-pink color, so people think
it’s going to be overly sweet,” says Johnston, “There is a touch
of sweetness from the juicy strawberry, but then there’s a taste
of bright citrus and slight bitterness and vegetal flavor from the
shiso that hits the back of the tongue.”
helps offset the sweetness of the prosciutto and melon. The herb
is left whole to get its full flavor, and some of the stem is left
attached to deliver a lemony/orange acidic taste.
Micro purple shiso (basil/mint flavor), bull’s blood (sweet
and with a distinct beet-like flavor with an earthy taste and aroma
similar to spinach), fennel fronds and sambuca leaves (different
flavors of anise between bright and herbal versus intense
licorice) garnish bucatini with Manila clams. “The combination
of flavors complements each other and add brightness to the
dish,” Hoffman says.
Vasiliki Vourliotaki, chef de cuisine at Ousia, New York,
steeps Mount Olympus flower buds in milk to infuse a sweet,
lemon-zest nectar flavor and sage aroma used in dessert items.
The buds also are infused in Greek honey whipped cream cheese,
which is used as a stuffing for tsoureki French toast.
Everyone knows that adding a pinch of salt and pepper to
food can enhance its flavor. Bartenders are now grabbing a slice
of the action with fresh and dried herbs that are muddled, torn,
infused and used for garnish.
“In a competitive world of bars and restaurants, operators
need to push boundaries and not just rely on spirits alone to
get guests’ attention,” says Vita Simone, owner, Copper Spoon
Cocktails & Kitchen, Oakland, California. “Herbs not only
enhance drinks with flavor, but they add healing and restorative
properties that many people are wanting as part of their diet.”
She uses a tincture made with ashwagandha in the Down the
Rabbit Hole cocktail. Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, has been used
since ancient times for a wide variety of conditions, such as anxiety,
stress and immune support. Simone buys the tincture because it needs
to be made under strict guidelines to achieve the correct potency.
Four Pillars barrel-aged gin, housemade carrot juice, apple
cider shrub, amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, turmeric honey ROB BENES IS A CHICAGO-BASED HOSPITALITY INDUS TRY WRITER. CONTAC T HIM AT ROBBENES@COMCAS T.NE T.
Pacific Hideaway in Huntington
Beach, California, uses dried
sage and oregano in the Dazed
& Confused. The cocktail
also has a faux joint clipped
to the side of the glass. The
“joint” uses a special blend
of dried sage and oregano
for a pleasantly skunky and
reminiscent scent that trails
through the restaurant.