Posts tagged mocktails
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Oxymel
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Oxymel

Since moving to Montana, I've been going on hikes with Connor nearly every morning. It's been a really nice way to familiarize myself with this city and check out the local plants. It's also been great for me to get outdoors. Between intense Montana weather and writing the book, I've been a real indoor cat, which is not normal for me. 

Last weekend, we got in the van and drove out to one of the many nearby forests. I'll admit, that my anxiety has been a little off the charts this year and especially with the recent move, so spending time outdoors has been vital for me. Once we found our campsite, we scrounged together some money for the reservation (sorry for all the change, Forest Service!) and parked the van. It was one of the best designated campsites I've ever been at. A large picnic table sat next to a fire pit, hidden from the road by overgrown trees and flowering brush. A small path to the side of the clearing, lead to the creek, which looked much more like a river with all the flooding we've had lately.

As we explored the campground, my heart began to flutter and a child like excitement overcame me. I turned to Connor and exclaimed, "this is the best place in the world!!!" What really got me, was the abundance of medicinal plants around me. Spruce tips, woodruff, cleavers and mushrooms! It felt like the Disney World of herbalism in that moment, and I couldn't have been happier. 

Conifer tips are not only delicious, but they are filled with vitamins that are perfect for fighting off colds. They taste and smell of the forest in such a way, that it's impossible not to feel like you're next to a roaring campfire while sipping on a doug fir tip tea or adding a bit of this oxymel to a cocktail. (Try it with gin or vodka and some fizzy water or elderflower soda!) Conifer tips appear in mid-late spring and go fast, so now is the time to keep an eye out for those light colored tree tips. 

I decided to make an oxymel with my humble harvest. They are so simple to make and they last.. forever? I'm not entirely sure, but since the preserving liquid is vinegar, any oxymel will last you through to the next season. Take an oxymel on it's own or add it to your preferred drink. Bon Appetit has a great article on oxymels that you can find HERE.

As always, never harvest more than you need! And you don't need as much as you think you do. And always always ALWAYS, make sure you are harvesting the correct plant. 

Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum
Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum

Ingredients 

1 cup tightly pack doug fir or spruce tips
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup honey or agave

Method

Inspect tips for bugs and other little critters and place in a jar along with cinnamon sticks and honey. Completely cover with apple cider vinegar. Cap tightly and shake. Infuse for 2 weeks in a cool, light proof space and shake daily. After infusion time, strain herbs and store in a clean, airtight jar. I like to keep my herbal vinegar in the fridge, but any cool space will do. 

 

Doug Fir Tip // Spruce Tip Acetum
Homemade Grenadine Syrup
Homemade Grenadine Syrup

As a kid, my dad and I would always treat ourselves to Shirley Temples at our favorite restaurant, The Tap Room, on Nantucket whenever he had a night off from his hectic chef life. To this day, the taste of a maraschino cherry or grenadine syrup, immediately takes me back to that dark and cozy restaurant. (Fun fact, my family lived in the inn above the Tap Room and I spent many years wandering around the historic halls and making forts under the restaurant tables after hours.) The Tap Room sadly no longer exists, but I can always remind myself of its whaling era charm by mixing up a sweet batch of Shirley Temples, topped with a plump maraschino cherry, of course. 

So, I had no idea that grenadine syrup was made with pomegranates, I always assumed it was cherry based. This is a very new realization for me and I can't seem get over it. But here it is, the big juicy truth. And it's also wicked easy to make! Double wow. 

 

Ingredients 

1 ½ cups 100% pomegranate juice
1 ½  cups sugar
Juice of half a lemon
A dash or two orange blossom water

Method

Heat pomegranate juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the liquid is warm, add sugar and stir until dissolved. Once the liquid is no longer cloudy, remove from heat and add lemon juice and orange blossom water. Let cool and transfer to a bottle with a secure lid. Syrup will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

 

Shirley Temple

 Lemon lime soda (such as 7up) or ginger ale
A splash of grenadine syrup
Maraschino cherries
 

Pour grenadine syrup and soda over ice. Stir and top with a cherry. Et voilá! That's all it takes.