Kansas City’s bartenders are increasingly letting what is growing in the garden inform what they're mixing in cocktails, and there’s no reason home bartenders can’t as well. If you are looking to add some new drinks to your cocktail repertoire, check out these drink recipes using fresh herbs.
An egg so fresh that it was still warm prompted Kate Frick of the Myers Hotel Bar in Tonganoxie to create this cocktail in the greenhouse at Crum’s Heirlooms in Bonner Springs. It calls for homemade rhubarb bitters, but Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters make a fine stand-in.
Makes 1 drink
1 fresh egg white
1-1/2 ounces gin (Frick used Leatherbee)
1/4 ounce rhubarb bitters (see note)
1/2 ounce rhubarb simple syrup (see note)
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1 dash orange flower water
1 nasturtium leaf, for garnish
Combine egg white, gin, bitters, simple syrup, lemon juice and orange flower water in a cocktail shaker; dry shake until ingredients are combined. Add ice, and shake again until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with nasturtium leaf.
For rhubarb bitters: roughly chop two ripe stalks rhubarb (deep red stalks will yield the best color). Place in a clean glass container and cover with high-proof neutral spirits of your choice. Put the lid on, and place container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, agitating daily. Strain into another clean container, discarding rhubarb. Bitters will keep indefinitely if stored in a well-sealed container in a cool, dark place.
For rhubarb syrup: Combine equal parts chopped rhubarb and sugar in a saucepan. Simmer on low heat until the rhubarb breaks down, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and strain using a fine mesh strainer. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Herbaceous IPA Float
Lemon verbena and French tarragon from Crum’s Heirlooms’ greenhouse inspired this cocktail from the Myers Hotel Bar’s Kate Frick.
Makes 1 drink
1-1/2 ounces mezcal (Frick used Mezcal Amarás)
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1 handful French tarragon leaves
Crane Brewing Farmhouse IPA
1 sprig lemon verbena, for garnish
Combine mezcal, Aperol, lime juice, agave nectar and tarragon in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into a Collins glass. Add ice and top with beer. Garnish with lemon verbena.
Stalking the Wild Julep
Chris Conatser, a bartender at Black Dirt on the Country Club Plaza, prefers using home-grown orange mint in cocktails like this mint julep variant. Mellow, sweet bourbons play off the mint’s bergamot and black tea character, and serving it up — an unconventional julep choice — allows the orange mint to shine, Conatser said.
Makes 1 drink
2-1/2 ounces bourbon (Conatser uses Four Roses Yellow Label or Buffalo Trace)
1/2 ounce orange mint syrup (see note)
Orange mint leaf, for garnish
Combine bourbon and mint syrup over ice, and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and serve up, garnished with a fresh orange mint leaf.
For orange mint syrup: in a saucepan, combine 1 cup dried orange mint tops with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Strain syrup through a coffee filter and refrigerate.
Get Well Soon
Tarragon holds its own in this cocktail from the Brass Onion, which beverage manager Megan Downes said is the bar’s most popular order. She uses a Breville Smoking Gun to add a smokey flavor to her honey syrup but promises the drink will be just as delicious without smoke.
Makes 1 drink
1-1/2 ounces bourbon (Downes uses W.L. Weller Special Reserve)
1/2 ounce berry-tarragon shrub (see note)
1/2 ounce honey syrup (see note)
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
Lime wheel, for garnish
Combine bourbon, shrub, honey syrup and lime juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass, add ice and garnish.
For berry-tarragon shrub: Combine 20 ounces fresh or frozen berries (Downes uses a blend that includes cherries), 2 loosely packed cups of fresh tarragon leaves, zest of one lemon and 1 tablespoon black peppercorns in a four-quart container with lid. Fold in 6 cups of granulated sugar until well blended, being careful not to bruise the herbs. Allow to macerate for one hour. Add 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup water and stir until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, stirring regularly. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve, chinois or cheesecloth. Bottle strained mixture and refrigerate for up to two weeks. Use leftover solids in sauces or berry cobbler.
For honey syrup: Combine 1 part honey with 1 part water and stir until blended. Store in a container with a lid.
"The Cocktail Hour Garden" is a delightful place to start when thinking about how to structure your garden and what to drink in it. This cocktail uses parsley, which is just as happy in a pot as it is in the ground, and can be served either with or without alcohol.
Makes 1 drink
1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
Zest of one line, finely grated
1 cup cold water
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
2 ounces vodka, gin or tequila (optional)
Sparkling mineral water
Parsley sprigs and lime wedges, to garnish
Combine parsley, lime zest, water, lime juice and agave nectar or honey in a blender or food processor and puree. Strain through a fine sieve. Divide liquid into four tall glasses and add ice. Add two ounces of your favorite spirit if you like, or leave it out. Fill glasses with sparkling mineral water and garnish with parsley and lime wedges.