Perennial Cocktails: Simple Syrup, Shrub & Bitters

This series of drinks features perennial plants and herbs that can all be grown here in Illinois! Perennial herbs come back every year and are a great addition to any garden. Learn how to make the following to diversify your cocktails!

 

  • Simple Syrup: A thick, sweet liquid made by dissolving sugar in water used to sweeten cocktails
  • Shrub: A combination of fruit, sugar and vinegar that creates an acidic syrup that adds depth and complexity when mixed into a cocktail. 
  • Bitters: Liquor created using plant and natural herb flavors. 
Ingredients
Fennel Simple Syrup
Sugar
1 cup
Water
1 cup
Fennel bulb, chopped
1
Salt
Dash
Fennel Sage Fizz
Fennel syrup
1 ounce
Vodka
1 1/2 ounce
Lemon, juiced
1/2
Sage leaves
3
Soda water
Fennel sprig
Blackberry Rosemary Shrub
Sugar
1 cup
Fresh blackberries
1 cup
Rosemary sprigs
2
Apple cider vinegar
1 cup
Blackberry Basil Mule
Fresh blackberries
2
Basil leaf
1
Lime, juiced
1/2
Vodka
2 ounces
Blackberry rosemary shrub
1 ounce
Ginger beer
Basil
Garnish
Rosemary
Garnish
Lavender Rose Bitters
Dried lavender
1 ounce
Dried orange peel
1 ounce
Dried rose petals
1 tablespoon
Dried ginger
1 teaspoon
Vodka
1-2 cups
Lavender Rose Martini
Vodka
1 1/2 ounce
Simple syrup
1/2 ounce
Lemon juice
1/2 ounce
Lavender bitters
4 dashes
Lemon peel
Garnish
Fennel Simple Syrup
  1. To make the simple syrup, add water, sugar and salt to a large saucepan over high heat. Heat to a boil and allow sugar to dissolve.
  2. Add the fennel bulb and steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain fennel and allow to cool. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

 

Fennel Sage Fizz
  1. In a rocks glass, muddle 1 ounce fennel syrup with 3 sage leaves.
  2. Add lemon juice and vodka and stir.
  3. Fill glass with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a sage leaf and a fennel sprig.

 

Blackberry Rosemary Shrub
  1. Mash blackberries with sugar until they are fully incorporated. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Add blackberry mix to a large mason jar. Add apple cider vinegar and rosemary sprigs. Seal the jar and place in the fridge undisturbed for 3-5 days.
  3. When the shrub is ready, use a fine mesh strainer to strain out the blackberry solids.

 

Blackberry Basil Mule
  1. In a rocks glass or copper mug, muddle 2 blackberries, 1 basil leaf and half a lime, juiced.
  2. Add vodka and shrub and stir.
  3. Fill glass with ice. Top with ginger beer and stir again. Garnish with a basil leaf and a rosemary sprig.

 

Lavender Rose Bitters
  1. Grind the lavender, orange peel, rose petals, and ginger into a powder.
    1. You can use a blender, coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle to do this.
    2. If you don't have any of these, just try to find something (muddler, back of a spoon, cup, etc) to grind up the herbs a bit. They will be completely strained out at the end, so it is okay if they aren't a fine powder.
  2. Place herbs in a jar and pour vodka over herbs, adding enough to cover by at least 2 inches.
  3. Store in a cool dry place for 14 days, shaking the jar several times per day.
  4. When ready, use a cheesecloth or coffee filter to strain out the solids. Store in an airtight container. Bitters are best stored in dropper bottles, as only a miniscule amount is used in a cocktail!

 

Lavender Rose Martini
  1. In a cocktail shaker, add vodka, simple syrup, lemon juice, bitters, and ice. Shake vigorously until cold.
  2. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon peel.