Recipe (my first cocktail creation!)
1/2 lemon, squeezed, then cut into quarters
Leaves from 2 sprigs lemon balm
3/4 oz honey syrup*
2 1/2 oz gin
Squeeze 1/2 lemon into cocktail shaker. Cut the remaining lemon rind in quarters and drop them into cocktail shaker. Add lemon balm leaves and honey syrup. Muddle until the oils from the lemon and balm are good and distributed. Add gin, then ice. Shake vigorously until very cold. Strain into chilled martini glass.
*To make honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a sauce pan (1/2 cup honey 1/2 cup water). Warm and stir until honey dissolves, then cool. Store in refrigerator.
When I purchased our jug of Tanqueray at the liquor store the other day, the woman at the cash register said, “Oh, gin! What do you use gin for?”
And I thought, “Everything?”
“Martinis,” is what I blurted out. “Really cold. With big fat olives.”
Her coworker stopped what he was doing, ready to share in the joys of gin. “With just a hint of dry vermouth,” he said. I nodded.
“Tom Collins,” he continued.
“Gin sling,” I said.
And that honey grapefruit Gin Gila recipe from the Beach House album, or the Cucumber Gin Gimlet recipe from the Tennis album, both from Vinyl Me Please. Or my favorite cocktail when we eat out on summer nights, something with gin and honey and lavender, usually with “Bee” in the name.
In July, when the herb garden is out of control, the basil gin smash.
“What about appletinis? Are those gin?” the cashier asked.
I looked at her coworker. “No,” we said together.
A few days later, I was walking the garden, as I do multiple times per day. The lemon balm is flourishing, and lemon balm is one of my favorite scents on earth. I just want to bury my face in it.
I wondered, can I make a cocktail out of this? Maybe a variation on the basil gin smash? And with honey?
So I tried it tonight. It was my first attempt at creating a cocktail recipe. And omg, y’all, it was delicious. I’m not sure how much of it was the lemon balm, and how much of it was just the combination of lemon and honey, but I don’t really care. Whatever it was, it worked. It went down way too easily. I have to actively stop myself from having another.
Thanks to conversations at work today, I have a lot more lemon balm experiments to try. Some with gin, some with bourbon.
Summer is the best season. Especially when you have a garden full of herbs and flowers for cocktails.