The Perfect Spring Cocktail
April showers bring May flowers, and May flowers bring the perfect, fresh ingredients for a lovely spring cocktail or mocktail. Whether for infused syrups or a beautiful edible garnish, flowers are the ideal addition to bring spring to your palate, and a secret garden cocktail will do just that. With a focus on flowers, there is no better spirit to use for a spring cocktail than gin. Now, you might be thinking, oooh, I don’t drink gin, it’s too strong for me. Gin of old was produced primarily for medicinal purposes, but is actually nothing more than a distilled alcoholic drink that derives its flavor from juniper berries. Gins of today are produced in many ways from a wide variety of herbal ingredients, including botanical, herbal, spice, floral, or fruit flavors. For one of my favorite secret garden cocktail recipes, we are really going “wild” with gin that is produced with butterfly pea flower, giving it a gorgeous indigo hue and a bright, refreshing, floral taste. This deep indigo hue can change to a fuchsia, bright lavender, or even a soft pink, depending on the ingredients with which it is mixed, creating an added piece of showmanship for the mixologist and a cocktail as exciting to the eyes as it is to the taste buds.
My initial introduction to butterfly pea blossom gin was Empress 1908 Gin, made by Victoria Distillers and inspired by the legendary Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. Now that this style of gin is trending, you can find it from a number of local distillers, all possessing distinctly different flavor profiles, but sharing the wonderful floral notes and that beautiful indigo hue.
To add to the drama, floral theme, brilliant color, and delicious taste of the secret garden, we will be adding Crème de Violette. The taste and aroma are markedly floral and sweet, and reminiscent of the violet candies popular in the early to mid-20th century. Crème de Violette is made from Queen Charlotte and violet flowers from the Alps and has a regal dark violet color.
Finally, our delicious bouquet would not be complete without some elderflower liquer. As described on stgermainliqueur.com, “St-Germain is a French liqueur made with fresh elderflowers, hand-picked once a year in the late spring. To accomplish its exquisitely natural flavor, every bottle of St-Germain contains up to 1,000 of the very best elderflower blossoms, resulting in a finely crafted, perfectly balanced, and refined liqueur.” The sweet subtle taste adds to the sensory bouquet like a fine French perfume.
Ready to create a secret garden? Combine the butterfly pea flower gin, Crème de Violette, elderflower liqueur, some lavender syrup, and a splash of lime juice in a mixer with ice and shake for about 20 seconds or until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lavender sprig. For an added twist, top with Fentimans Elderflower Sparkling Water and/or a scoop of lemon or raspberry sorbet. Prefer a mocktail? Replace the gin with a non-alcoholic gin, or leave it out all together and just use cold brewed butterfly pea flower tea.
Cheers! April showers have brought all the splendor of spring flowers to your eyes, nose, and palate in our secret garden. Please remember to always drink responsibly.
Secret Garden Cocktail
– 1½ ounces Empress 1908 gin
– ¼ ounce Crème de Violette
– ¼ ounce St. Germaine
– ¼ ounce lavender syrup
– ¼ ounce lime juice
Secret Garden Mocktail
– 4-6 ounces butterfly pea flower cold brewed tea
– ½ ounce lavender syrup
– ½ ounce elderflower syrup
– ¼ ounce lime juice
For both versions, shake all ingredients with ice for about 20 seconds. Strain into a tall glass over ice, top with Fentimans Elderflower Sparkling Water, and garnish with a lavender sprig.
Owner of Broadsides & Brews, located at 223 S. White Street in Downtown Wake Forest. Follow on social media @broadsidesandbrews.