Mixology Monday LXXIII Cocktail: The Strawberry Witch

From Putney Farm on May 20, 2013

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The Strawberry Witch cocktail.

The Strawberry Witch cocktail.

Wow, time flies. It’s Mixology Monday again. It seems like we just made our CSA Gin cocktail for the last MxMo and here we are. Happily, we have another theme that is close to this wannabe farmer’s heart, “the witch’s garden”. Here are the details from this month’s host Cardiff Cocktails (an excellent site, worth a visit):

mxmologo As far back as we can look, the use of fresh herbs have been prevalent in the world of mixed drinks. From the early days of the julep, through Williams Terrington’s 19th century Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks, to Don the Beachcomber’s ahead of their time Tiki drinks, fresh herbs have always been at the forefront of mixology. So lets take influence from the bartenders that once ruled the world of mixology, raid your herb garden that too often gets neglected, and start mixing. I don’t want to put too many limits on this theme so get as creative as you please, want to use roots, spices or beans as well? Sure thing. Want to make your own herbal infusions or tinctures? Sounds wonderful.

witchwitch1 Well, we certainly have herbs here at the farm. Mint, thyme, basil, tarragon, oregano, sage, marjoram, lemon verbena, parsley and rosemary are all in full swing. But we also have strawberries that need to be used and we wanted to play with Strawberries and thyme for a while. So we chose these as the basis for the cocktail. We also took the name of the challenge to heart and immediately looked at our bottle of Strega (“Strega” means witch in Italian) as a potential ingredient.

witch2witch4 If you are unfamiliar with Strega, it is an herbal Italian digestif that features a rich yellow color (from saffron) and sweet herbal flavors. Strega, is usually enjoyed by itself, but we have been trying to get it into our cocktails. To our tastes, Strega has mint, juniper and citrus notes, so gin seemed like a good match (and one more herbal ingredient). But we were a bit concerned about too many herbal notes, so we added some lemon juice and a splash of sparking wine to brighten, and lighten, the overall flavor of the cocktail.

witch5 So how does the Strawberry Witch taste? In a word, herbal. But in a good way. Strawberries and thyme play very well together, the Strega sweetens without being cloying and the gin, lemon and champagne add the expected bright notes. The sip is tart, with mint and thyme flavors followed by some of the lemon and sweet notes of the Strega. The strawberries do more for color and aroma than flavor, but we are OK with that.The finish is very clean, almost dry.

witch6(One last note here. Thyme can be strong stuff. At first we muddled it along with the strawberries and some lemon peel. This was a bad idea- the thyme got harsh and bitter. The next time around we muddled the strawberries and lemon first, then added the thyme and gave it just a few nudges. This worked way better, plenty of thyme flavor but not too much. Fresh herbs vary widely in strength and flavor, but be warned, you may want to do a quick test run before you muddle your herbs.)

witch8 Thanks again to Cardiff Cocktails and Fred Yarm at Cocktail Virgin Slut for another great MxMo!

The Strawberry Witch:

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 medium strawberries
  • Lemon peel
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, plus some extra for garnish
  • 1 1/2 oz dry gin
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. Strega
  • 1-2 oz. sparkling wine or Champagne

Assemble:

  1. Place the strawberries and lemon peel in the cocktail shaker. Muddle until the strawberries are a smooth purée. Then add the thyme springs and lightly muddle a few times.
  2. Add the gin, lemon juice and Stega to the cocktail shaker. Add some ice and then shake until well-chilled. Double-strain the mixture into a coupé or flute. Top with the sparkling wine and garnish with a thyme sprig. Serve.
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