.

Seasonal Chef: Herb Syrups for Summer Drinks and Beyond

Area barkeeps inspire herbal infusions

Prospect Heights is a fine neighborhood for a menu reader. With a good restaurant tucked into most intersections, a person can while away a nice morning sipping iced tea and planning a future dining experience. Essentially window-shopping for the food-inclined, menu reading is also a great way to seek kitchen inspiration.

Invariably, restaurant menus bandy about the names of fresh herbs like so many casual accessories. But looking a little closer, as I did this week—having splurged on the fresh bundled and potted herbs at last Saturday’s Greenmarket—some new ideas emerge.

Over at , the Pimms cup contains sweet basil. At , the Prosecco and Wild Celery cocktail features the distinctly celery-like flavor of lovage. And across the way at the , a gin concoction known as the Garden Snake contains Thai basil.

Mixing herbal drinks is a compelling practice: for one, it allows you to infuse the fresh flavors of the season into the most refreshing tipples of the season. And it allows you to preserve them: pulling the herbaceous character of fragrant herbs into a simple sugar syrup means you can enjoy them long past when that short-lived bunch of Greenmarket basil has begun to blacken.

Herbal syrups also have uses far beyond cocktail hour. They will sweeten and flavor non-alcoholic beverages like iced tea and lemonade, they can be fizzed with seltzer for a homemade soda, and they can even be poured over scraped ice if you’re into adult snow cones. Plus, stoppered in an attractive bottle, they make a nice summery gift.

It’s hard to imagine needing to preserve the bounty of summer ingredients newly available at the Greenmarket, but drinking them in feels like the thing to do.

Chamomile-Vanilla Syrup
Uses: Iced tea, lemonade, mix with sparkling wine, drizzle over yogurt or fresh peaches
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup sugar
¼ cup fresh chamomile blossoms
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ingredients with a cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Boil for 1 minute then remove from the heat. Let cool for an hour before straining the syrup into a clean jar. Add the vanilla bean pod back to the strained syrup and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Rosemary-Lemon Syrup
Uses: Cocktails containing citrus or gin, lemonade, drizzle over lemon sorbet or pound cake
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary needles
Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ingredients with a cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Boil for 1 minute then remove from the heat. Let cool for an hour before straining the syrup into a clean jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Basil-Mint Syrup
Uses: Iced tea, light rum–based drinks, drizzle over strawberries or melon
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup sugar
¼ bunch each fresh basil and mint

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the ingredients with a cup of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Boil for 1 minute then remove from the heat. Let cool for an hour before straining the syrup into a clean jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something