High summer has come early in Seattle this year, which means we’re seeing lots of sun and very little rain. The sage, thyme, rosemary and other dry-season herbs are loving it, so we have plenty to harvest from the garden. Since the sage in particular has been exploding, we decided to see how we can use it in drinks. Read on to see what we paired it with.
We decided to see how sage paired with several spirits – mezcal, whiskey, gin, cachaca, vodka, and pisco. The whiskey just wasn’t cohesive, and the pisco was too perfume-y. The gin was nice; we used the Amethyst which has nice lavender notes. Very herbal and a touch astringent but a nice fresh base if we can soften the rough edges a little. Deserves further investigation. The mezcal was good too, minerally and dusty which played off the resiny sage well – also deserves further investigation. However, the stars of the show were the aged cachaca and the vodka. The cachaca brought a nice, mellow, slightly savory flavor that balanced the sage well. The vodka was somewhat surprising because we’re normally not big fans of vodka (even though we have several very nice ones here in Washington), but it really let the sage shine. Look for a future post on WA vodkas, BTW. They’re so good we have to acknowledge them. 😉
With our base spirits selected, we then proceeded to try various combinations of ingredients. We started with the aged cachaca from Ypioca. Citrus paired well, and with the cachaca grapefruit in particular seemed like a good choice. However a gentle hand was required, too much tartness overwhelmed the drink. Add a little bit of sweetener and voila!
- 2 oz aged cachaca
- 1/4 oz lime juice
- 1/3 oz simple syrup
- 2 large sage leaves or 3-4 smaller leaves
- 1 dash grapefruit bitters
Muddle sage leaves. Add other ingredients. Shake with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a sage leaf and a lime wheel. Enjoy!
- Nose: Sage, fresh lime, fresh cut grass, hay, little bit of vanilla, lime candy.
- Palate: Sweet lime and grass on the intro, followed by dry vegetal and clear sage flavors on the mid-palate. Very resinous sage. Lime peel and grapefruit bitters on the finish.
Next up we worked with the vodka (we used the Ebb & Flow vodka from Sound Spirits). The recipe worked out a lot like the one with the aged cachaca – spirit, sage, a little bit of citrus and sweetener, and something to add complexity, in this case absinthe. This formula lets the spirit and sage take center stage in the way we want, but ties everything together and adds some interest.
- 2 oz vodka
- 1/4 oz lemon juice
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
- 2 large sage leaves
- few drops absinthe
Muddle sage leaves. Add other ingredients. Shake with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. Cheers!
- Nose: Anise, sweet mint, sage, lemon, ripe melon.
- Palate: Sage and anise on the front. Mint, lemon and malty grain on the mid-palate. More sage and anise on the finish, with a touch of lemon peel bitterness. Very fresh and just slightly astringent.
These are both bright, tasty cocktails that are pretty quick and simple to make. We’ve found this a good reminder that herbs (not just mint!) can be magic in cocktails. I think it’s very likely that we’ll be noodling with thyme, rosemary, lavender, and hell, maybe hyssop too in the near future. If you’ve got a kitchen garden, don’t hesitate to see what you’ve got there that might be a great addition to your bar as well.