flavor—just as you might with a spirit or liquor—and consider how
best to showcase its flavor.
Once you identify your ingredients, your best bet is to keep it
simple, at least, straight out of the gate. So instead of making an arugula
syrup or coming up with a crafty way to juice pounds of greens, simply
shake the bitter greens with ice, syrup, lime juice and your preferred
spirit. Gin works nicely with arugula, for example. The ice aerates the
greens, breaking them apart. Your cocktail becomes bright green from
the chlorophyll, and you get a peppery hit from the arugula, tempered
by the juniper in the gin.
“We make a parsley/gin julep by smashing the parsley with the ice
and just getting really great aromatics, and the muddling of it turns the
gin green. There’s nothing sophisticated about that process, but it really
works,” says Walter, who lines the bar with herbs for barhops to shake,
muddle or stir into cocktails. A couple of classic combinations: bourbon
shaken with thyme and mint, and chartreuse shaken with basil,
You can also pair herbs with vegetables in the same cocktail.
Blending dill with just about any vegetable, whether peas,
asparagus or some other mild-flavored green, adds brightness
to your drink, says Albert. When working with juice from a
vegetable that falls a little flat on the palate, throw some herbs
in to brighten it up. You might even pair herbs with herbs, such
as mint with rosemary or sage with thyme.
Fortunately, diners and imbibers are not afraid of veggies
the way they may have been as children when greens were
forced on them. Today, it’s perfectly acceptable to drink your
vegetables rather than munch on raw produce.
“Just don’t serve your guests a 20-ounce cocktail, especially
if you’re serving a five-course dinner,” says Albert. “Cocktail
samples are better, particularly when you consider the proof of
the drink.” That heavy hit of alcohol will not only detract from
the meal, it will also wreck guests’ palates.
And instead of overwhelming diners with huge quantities
of juiced produce, get creative with garden-themed extras. Use edible flowers such as pansies,
violas and borage flowers to make floral ice cubes. Fill each spot in an ice cube tray halfway, and
freeze. Then, place a flower on the frozen half-cube, fill the rest of the cube with water and freeze
again. Voila! Eye-catching drink décor that makes a splash with guests.
Albert capitalizes on the wow factor with garnishes, too, even setting some of them ablaze
tableside. Take her “Smoking Jacket,” for example, where she sets rosemary on fire as a garnish,
allowing it to smolder to release its beautiful aroma.
Albert believes the sky’s the limit with vegetables. “It’s all about being creative,” she says.
“The worst thing that can happen is that your cocktail is an epic flop.” And, ultimately, that may be
a good thing, because the failure will lead you to a better cocktail.
AMY PATUREL, A FREELANCE JOURNALIST BASED IN TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA, WRITES ABOUT FOOD, WINE, TRAVEL, HEALTH AND FITNESS.
Pairing food with veggie-laden cocktails
is more challenging than pairing food
and wine. A basic rule of thumb: Match
like with like.
“So if you’re using carrots in a cocktail,
pair it with a carrot dish,” suggests
Bridget Albert, national director of
education, Beam Suntory, Southern
Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, Miami.
“Featuring roasted potatoes or roasted
vegetables in the glass? Make sure
those ingredients are on the plate, too.”