By Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef
Around 2012-2014, there was an explosion of veggie cocktails and natural “green” libations and for 2017, there seems to be a resurgence of this “healthier” trend. With the northeastern portion of the USA starting to get their spring greenery, I thought it would be fun to focus on putting some of that green into some tasty cocktails - either as an ingredient or as a delectable garnish.
Some common cocktail greenery includes celery, bell pepper, peas, wheatgrass and kale. Celery is often used as either an ingredient which can be muddled, juiced or utilized as a garnish. Also trending as a green garnish, I have seen a few Bloody Mary's garnished with asparagus. Bell pepper tends to be either juiced or muddled, but I have candied a bell pepper as a garnish to give it more complexity. Peas have been muddled for a light flavor, but I feel that juicing them gives a more vibrant green color to the cocktails. Now wheatgrass is tricky as the flavor can quickly overpower a drink if using the juice so balance is important, but if muddled or bruised within the drink, it imparts only aroma and no real flavor. So use wheatgrass cautiously.
Kale, typically juiced, has found its way to the plates of the more health conscious eaters, and has made its rounds in some select cocktails places.
A little less common green ingredient that I feel is way under used is fennel. I find that muddled fennel is the way to go. It extracts a nice amount of the licorice and vegetable flavors that pair amazingly with gin or vodka. With a little garnish of dill, this becomes a killer combo! Another fun vegetable that I have used in a cocktail is muddled scallion with Jasmine syrup with Shochu. I have been told this is one of my more odd combinations, but the sweetness of the Jasmine and the light onion-like taste of the scallion is surprising, but very refreshing. I have used it, but I would love to see a rise in the usage of chlorophyll in cocktails. It is a dark green color is commonly know to help with detoxifying the body, which would enable someone to “detox while they intox.”
I always say that “your imagination is your only limitation” and the same goes for the usage of greens in cocktails. Don’t be afraid to explore, but be careful….Greens loose their nutrition quickly after being juiced and it can easily oxidize turning a vibrant green cocktail into an ugly brown mess if not balanced properly.
Here is a recipe for one of my favorite "spring green" cocktails:
1 1/2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Bianco
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz Aloe & Lemongrass Syrup
2 Tablespoons of chopped fennel
Muddle the fennel and syrup in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients, ice & shake. Double strain into a rocks glass full of ice
Garnish with dill.