Last week, freelance food photographer and food stylist Melina Hammer shared her mother’s Lemon Meringue Pie recipe. This week, she shares a Linden Blossom Cocktail, which she’s been enjoying a lot of this summer. It looks so refreshing, I wish I had a glass right now! — Kristina
About Melina: Melina Hammer is a Brooklyn-based freelance photographer and food stylist and the blogger behind Licking the Plate. Later this year, you can find her speaking on food styling and photography at the 2012 Conference of Nutritionists and Dietitians.
The full recipe continues after the jump . . .
- 3 cups water
- 5 cups linden blossoms
- 4 lemons, zest and juice — shave off any bitter white pith, which lines the skin
- 1 lb cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups agave nectar
For the Cocktail
- any white spirit, such as vodka, gin, or tequila — I used Farmer’s Botanical Organic Gin Club soda or seltzer.
- ice cubes
1. Make the syrup: Add the sugar and agave nectar to the water in a non-reactive pot and bring just to a boil. Stir the sugar to dissolve completely. Rinse blossoms and give them a good shake to remove any insects or debris. Remove sugar water from the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, and flowers. Cover, allow to come to room temperature, and set aside for a day. Refrigerate, allowing the blossoms to infuse the syrup, for an additional 2 to 4 days. Pour the syrup into glass jars or bottles, straining the solids with cheesecloth or a fine-meshed sieve. Refrigerate — it keeps for one month.
2. Put some ice cubes into a mixer. Pour in a 2:1 ratio of liquor and syrup over ice cubes. I free pour, so each is an estimate and should be tasted to your liking. Using a long-handled spoon, stir carefully in a circular motion to mix the two.
3. Place a few ice cubes into the cocktail glasses and add a lemon and/or orange twist: Cut a strip of skin off the fruit, shaving off any white pith (this adds a bitter flavor, which you don’t want). Bend the twist lengthwise and give it a quick squeeze over the glass — outer skin facing out — to release the citrus oils. Rub the glass rim with the twist and drop into the glass.
4. Strain mixture into glasses and top with soda. Taste after adding just a little soda and add more if you like. In this simple drink, the key is to taste each element as you add on to determine how much of each flavor you want to experience.
Ever since going on a foraging tour with the awesome Leda Meredith, I look at the trees and plants around me in a completely different light. Knowing that these rarefied ingredients are literally right outside my door makes “grocery shopping” a whole new process. I love this drink because it is so easy and delicious. The intensity of the spirit softened by the richness of the honey-like floral syrup is just great, and to finish it with the brightness of the fizzy soda — I’m in heaven. The versatility is great too, as you can mix just the syrup and soda and have a refreshing — and nuanced — drink without much effort at all. Sip up and enjoy!