If you’re on Team Snow, you should tune in for this one. As winter settles in, we’ve noticed a new genre of beverage rising to the fore: the coniferous cocktail. Or sparkling beverage. Or hot drink. Basically, we’re all increasingly turning to drinks that taste like being happily lost in a winter forest. Think Douglas fir cocktails. And juniper cocktails. They smell like winter holidays, and taste surprisingly refreshing. Some of them might even be good for you (although the jury’s still out on that one). If you’re up for it, here are some of the latest libations we’ve found that will bring an evergreen to a glass or a mug near you. Intrigued? These are the best evergreen-inspired botanical drinks right now.
why are coniferous drinks a thing?
Juniper is central to Nordic cuisine, which is having a moment since the emergence of Noma in Copenhagen. The region’s cuisine employs flavors from forest items not traditionally seen as food, including pine, fir and hay.
Juniper is already the defining flavor in most gins, and as vodka loses some its popularity, gin has taken its place as creative mixologists play with new flavor combinations, leading to new coniferous cocktails.
Intrigued? Then have a look at the many ways in which you can join this wild green brigade.
the best evergreen-inspired botanical drinks right now
Sparkling Waters and Sodas:
1. Still Thyme Botanicals.
Based in Vermont, Still Thyme Botanical sodas feature “medicinal herbs in a bottle with a touch of honey and bubbles.” They come in an old-fashioned apothecary-style glass bottle. We discovered their Holy Basil Sparkling Beverage on a recent ski trip. A 12-oz bottle has 36 calories, and the ingredients are water, honey, organic herbs and lemon juice. According to the label this herb is said to spark your digestion and get your brain firing on all cylinders. Holy basil is a cousin to the culinary basil most of us are familiar with. The company makes two other flavors: Rose Balm and Hibiscus Mint. All are caffeine-free and run about $3.25 per bottle.
2. No 1 Botanicals.
Founded in 2017, and based in Chelsea in London, we discovered No 1 Botancials during a visit to the fabled food court at Harrod’s. We later learned that the beverages are made with extracts authenticated by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew. Also available at Harvey Nichols, the company says that these are “super herbs with super powers.” Packed in sleek minimalist white opaque bottles, there are currently 10 flavors: Rosemary (which was the original), Juniper, Thyme, Sage, Fennel, Lemon Verbena, Mint, Meadowsweet, and Olive Leaf. A case containing 12 bottles is £29.49.
Seedlip launched its first product in late 2015 at Selfridge’s. Currently, the company offers three blends of distilled botanical-based non-alcohol beverages: Spice 94; Garden 108; and Grove 42. Each can be served with tonic or mixed to create a sophisticated non-alcoholic cocktails. The Garden blend is the most forest-inspired of the lot. It’s made with peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme (the peas used in the blend can be harvested only once a year). $34.99 per bottle.
Starbuck’s Juniper Latte.
Starbuck’s introduced its seasonal Juniper Latte in 2017 on a limited basis, and then brought it back for the 2018 holiday season at all of its retail cafes. The fragrant hot drink is made with coffee, steamed milk infused with a syrup made from dried juniper berries, sage and mandarin. It’s finished with juniper sugar and sprig of fresh sage.
1. Dram Apothecary
Dram Apothecary in Colorado makes an evergreen syrup from local trees that can be used for either alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages. Their Alpine Manhattan Cocktail Kit ($36) is so popular that it’s currently sold out. All you have to add is your own bourbon.
2. Floral Elixir
Floral Elixir’s Juniper Berry Elixir is a non-alcoholic syrup that adds a bit of pine , citrus and sweetness to cocktails or mocktails.
When you’re ready for a Douglas fir cocktail, or a juniper cocktail, you have lots of options for mixing them yourself with these evergreen-inspired spirits.
1. The Moorland Spirit Company
In September 2018, the Moorland Spirit Company released a flavored vodka made with Douglas fir needles grown on its Northumberland estate. Just 1,350 bottles were produced. It was sold at Fortnum and Mason in London this fall until supplies ran out. This spirit is the first in the company’s new experimental Explorer Edition series. Bottled at 41% abv, the vodka was two years in the making.
2. Ketel One
Ketel One’s botanical vodka line is more fruit and flower than forest-inspired. Still, for completeness, we’ve included it here. The three blends are Grapefruit and Rose; Cucumber and Mint; and Peach and Orange Blossom. We’ll circle back around to these in the spring.
3. Greenbar Distillery
Greenbar Distillery’s herb-infused organic Tru Garden Vodka includes celery, dill, fennel, mint and pink peppercorn. It’s said to be reminiscence of a lush garden and particularly well-suited to Bloody Marys.
4. Phillips’ Fermentorium Distilling Company
Phillips Fermentorium Distilling Company’s STUMP Coastal Forest Gin is “crafted using hand-foraged herbs and unique botanicals grown in British Columbia . . . with the bright freshness of an old growth forest.” It includes juniper and grand fir flavors.
5. Clear Creek Distillery
Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Brandy is “a tree in a bottle.” It’s made in Oregon from springtime Douglas Fir buds infused with clear brandy. Inspired by the obscure Alsatian spirit Eau de Vie de Bourgeons de Sapin made from pine buds, it took ten years of experimentation to develop. The spirit has a naturally vibrant green hue from the Douglas fir’s chlorophyll. No artificial color has been added.
6. The Botanist Gin
The Botanist Gin from Bruichladdich Distillery is made with 22 hand-foraged botanicals, plus berries, bark, seeds that originate on the remote Scottish island of Islay. The distillery’s website has an extensive collection of foraged gin cocktail recipes. The Carbonated Spruce Gimlet pairs perfectly with our winter forest theme.
That’s it. Our top picks for the various evergreen-inspired drinks right now. Ready to try a sip? Let us know your favorites. And enjoy the winter!
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