In Forager’s Cocktails(Sterling, 2015), Amy Zavatto travels through farmers markets and speakeasies where the latest trends in mixology are coming from foraged and homegrown ingredients. This guide to imbibing will give you tips on how to forage and preserve the freshest berries, herbs, flowers and more.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Forager’s Cocktails.
Hops and Crops
For some of us, a pot on a stoop or a fire escape is about as wild as we can get, and you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Foraging from your windowsill can be a satisfying experience, too. My nose discovered lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) before I laid eyes on its frondy abundance. And if you’ve ever brushed by it, you’ll know what I mean. Its lemony, gum-like smell is so prominent and lovely, it’s as if someone from the perfume counter just misted you as you walked by — but you actually liked it. This flowering plant hails from South America, but like many popular rooted examples of modern horticulture, we managed to import and adapt it. It was first brought to Europe by Spanish and Portuguese merchant-explorers in the 1600s. My first plant was a wee spike in a tiny pot, but it grew quite quickly into a very big monster, stretching and climbing up to 3 feet high. (It probably would’ve grown much bigger had I not sequestered it to a container — you can plant it in the ground, too.) One of my favorite uses for the plant is another riff on the shandy, as with sheep sorrel. Here in the United States, the craft beer movement is blooming — and, as an outcropping, so to speak, regional hops and grain growing, too — with no signs of slowing down. Many of the craft brewers I like tend to tip heavily on the hops, making for some lip-smackingly bitter IPAs and intense double IPA brews. Adding a little lemony-sweet verbena syrup makes for an incredibly refreshing summertime quaff.
Lemon Verbena Syrup
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 cup water
• 1 handful of fresh lemon verbena leaves, gently rinsed
Lemon Verbena IPA
• Juice of 1 lemon wedge
• 1 ounce lemon-verbena syrup
• 14-ounce bottle of Imperial Pale Ale
• 1 fresh sprig of lemon verbena, for garnish
1. In a small pot, combine the lemon verbena leaves with the sugar and water.
2. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the lemon verbena releases its oils and is fragrant.
4. Squeeze the lemon juice into a pilsner glass.
5. Add the syrup, and pour in the beer.
6. Garnish with a sprig of lemon verbena as well as an optional lemon wedge.
Learn more about foraging and botanical mixology in Into the Wild: Foraging in Urban Landscapes.
Reprinted with permission from Forager’s Cocktails by Amy Zavatto and published by Sterling Publishing, 2015.