Long hours in the dirt and sun from tending gardens and sowing hopes and seeds are starting to pay off through the hot days of July. Summer is here and Illinois in July holds nothing back regarding temperature and humidity.
To combat these foes, we bring the garden to your glass with this vegetal and refreshing sipper for the shade in the afternoon. Finding the right bitters for your palate not only enhances those flavors within the drink but also adds a lingering follow after each sip as they evaporate off the back of the tongue and sit behind your nose.
These flavors often cascade after each other and are my favorite part of a drink, taking my mind to different places and memories as the drink evolves from the nose to the finish. Play around with the bitters if you have the opportunity. I’m using three for this cocktail: celery, cucumber and Rizzo (rosemary, grapefruit, and peppercorn by Crude bitters).
First, the TOOLS. You will need a cocktail shaker, a measuring jigger, a hawthorne strainer and a champagne coupe. Prepare a coupe in the freezer or with ice water to chill the glass.
Next, the INGREDIENTS. To the shaker add:
- 1 dash celery bitters
- 2 dashes cucumber bitters
- 5 drops Rizzo bitters
- .5 oz. simple syrup
- .75 oz. fresh lemon juice
- .25 oz. Lillet Blanc
- .33 oz. Benedictine
- 1.5 oz. Basil Brandy
Finally, the PROCESS: Fill the shaker with ice and shake hard for 10-15 seconds. It’s hot out there so shake hard to make this drink colder than ice! Crack open your shaker and strain into the empty coupe using the hawthorne strainer. Take a fresh mint leaf and give it a good smack – one that makes those nearby glance up expecting to see something scandalous. This smack brings the fragrant oils to the surface and lends to the drink’s nose. Lay the leaf atop the surface of your drink and enjoy the bouquet of herbaceous flowers and spices as you sip into the evening.
Feel free to get creative with this one: peppercorn and rosemary added to your simple syrup when you bring it to boil and then strain out, nasturtium garnish, some tomato juice to make it bloody and add body. Mr. Basile has a lot of moods. Try to find them all.
A note about the Basil Brandy: I use Saint George Aqua Perfecta Basil Eau de Vie, a quality liquor made with California grape brandy infused with several varieties of basil including Thai and then distilled again. If you can’t find this brandy or would like to try your hand at your own flavors, feel free to pour some unaged grape brandy into an airtight jar with fresh basil and refrigerate for a day. Strain out the basil and enjoy. Cheers!
About our mixologist: Dustin Crawford is co-owner – with partner Kip Rodier – of the 33 Room in Peoria Heights. Prior to that, the U.S. Marine Corps veteran traveled the world before returning home to work his magic behind the bar at various central Illinois establishments