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A Summertime Favorite: French Tarragon & Grapefruit Sparkler

7/20/2010 11:33:53 AM

Tags: French Tarragon, Tarragon, Lavender, Mint, Pickles, Pickling, Grapefruit, Sparkler, Drink, Summer, Summertime Favorite, Letitia Star

Unwind with this herb-infused drink while enjoying your summer at the beach.

It's truly a pleasure writing for The Herb Companion for the last four years. Incidentally, I also write for two sister magazines of Ogden Publications – GRIT and Natural Home. To date, I've written over 1,000 published articles, including features on gardening, green living, travel, home design, sustainability, beauty, healthy cooking and good eating.  You can reach me at:

Inspired by KC's blog 10 Herbs for Your Kitchen Garden, which was about French tarragon and the excellent July 2010 cover recipe, Basil Limeade, I created this naturally-sweetened French Tarragon & Grapefruit Sparkler. The first time I tasted this I did a little dance in my kitchen—I couldn't believe how refreshing, delicious and calming it was.

As KC so aptly observes in her blog, French tarragon  (Artemsia dracunculus L.) should not be confused with Russian tarragon (A. dracunculoides L.).  My recipe showcases the subtle licorice sweetness of French tarragon, which strikes a lovely balance with the uplifting tartness of grapefruit.

I've also added a touch of lavender, which helps you soothe and relax on a hot summer's day. Since I wrote my July 2010 article The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, I've been fascinated with the medieval cultivation of lavender. I'm enjoying exploring lavender's many culinary uses, including its use in beverages.

French Tarragon & Grapefruit Sparkler

This caffeine-free sparkler can be wonderful to drink in the evening when you want to relax and unwind. Serve it with a leisurely brunch. Serve 4

• 2 cups water
• 2 tablespoons French tarragon, fresh or dried and preferably organic
• 1 teaspoon lavender, preferably organic
• 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar (to taste)
• 2 cups grapefruit juice (pink or white), preferably fresh-squeezed and organic
• Fresh French tarragon sprigs, for garnish
• Crushed ice
• Sparkling mineral water or club soda

1. Combine water and dried herbs in pot. Heat until a near boil. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 10 minutes to desired strength. Add sweetener. Strain and cool.

2. Combine herb infusion with grapefruit juice. Stir.

3. Put French tarragon sprigs and crushed ice in tall 16 ounce glasses. Add herb-juice mixture and top with mineral water or club soda. Gently stir.

Try my tips for a fast and flavorful sparkler:

• To truly taste French tarragon, omit club soda or mineral water and only fill your glass with the herb and grapefruit mixture.

• Use any type of mint instead of lavender.

• Don't toss out French tarragon and your other herbs after you make the infusion. For fun frugality, save these herbs and make quick pickles. See my article on the herbal joy of quick pickling, 4 Recipes for Quick Pickles, in the September 2009 issue.

What do you think about my French Tarragon and Grapefruit Sparkler? Leave a comment and let me know!

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