We’ve had several experiments going on the last week or so. Unfortunately, no big hits with any of them. Got coalsaround to trying out the barbecue pit. It worked fairly well, but I don’t think I let the fire go long enough to build the proper amount of coals to get the cooking done. It was fun sitting out by the fire early last Saturday morning while it was still a little cold outside. The area around the pit needs some work to make it more comfortable. Once that’s done, we’ll try again but shoot for three or more hours of fire to get a good bed of coals.honeysuckle

One other idea came up while walking the dogs. Honeysuckle is in bloom now. The flower aroma is strong when you go by a large patch of it – seemed like a natural to put into a cocktail. After the dogs finished their loop, I went back around with a jar and filled it with blossoms. That measured 3.5 gms of material. Covered that with vodka and let it steep overnight. It must have been too long. The Amateur Cocktail Spouse got some stemmy flavors in a cocktail I made with it the following day. I still have most of the bottle left. I added a little sugar to part of it. We’ll let it sit for a while and see how it evolves.

Pre-made cocktails components get a bad rep. A really good cocktail starts with really good ingredients. There are a lot of crappy pre-made things out there, but there are also a lot of well made products waiting to be discovered. It’s all relative. Everything can’t be made from scratch. And so, to a degree you have to allow for a little slack. The degree you allow probably defines your approach to other things as well. Last year’s tarragon soda was a nice find. I guess to some people it’s a kin to using Collins mix, but it was unusual for this cocktail drinker (and good).

The first attempt at Honeysuckle vodka didn’t turn out so well. The current rage seems to be St. Germain Elderflower liqueur. It’s a new product concocted by an American. It has shown up in our local ABC stores, but at $30 a bottle it’s a bit of a luxury. It is a modern riff on elderflower syrup. A little searching will turn up several commercial varieties of the syrup, the most promising of which is here. You can also make you own.

There are others. I turned up an artisanal Rose syrup made in Lebanon. This came from Kalustyan’s in New York, a great source for the unusual or odd ethnic spice or cooking ingredient. Digging deeper, turn up quince lemon syrup and Sekanjebin (?) syrup. These last two will have to wait, but with the rose syrup in hand, we made a standard Tom Collins, substituting the rose syrup for the simple syrupRose Collins

Rose SyrupRose Collins

  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz Rose Syrup
  • 4 or so oz of sparkling water

Add first three ingredient to a Collins glass with ice, stir, add sparkling water and sir gently again. Enjoy on the back porch. Repeat.

Refreshing and enjoyable. One thing about the Lavender infusions from last year – Lavender gets used so much in toiletries, you could make yourself think you were drinking hand cream when your drink smells like lavender. The rose scent in today’s drink takes me back to the cheap hotel soap we encountered in China. The herbal tinge of the gin helps mitigate it a bit. I need to try it out one some friends to get an unbiased view.