If you have an Instagram account, you already know edible flowers are having a moment. Twee pansies float on top of every other coupe to add interest and color, especially during the spring and summer. But the most creative bartenders and herbalists know these beauties really bloom in the glass, not just on top of it. Why Use Flowers in Cocktails? “Well-chosen edible flowers bring a range of qualities to recipes. And they are perhaps the most eye-catching and evocative visual marker of a very particular microseason,” explained Marie Viljoen, forager, herbalist, and cookbook author . “The year is an unfolding calendar of flower flavors.” If you really want to “drink local,” just look around your neighborhood. Much of what you see there would actually make a great cocktail. For Viljoen, flowers fall into four categories: appearance, taste, texture, and aroma. She tends to skip those that merely offer visual appeal — like those eponymous violets — and go for flowers that offer more bang for their buck. What To Look For When you get started using edible flowers on your own, make sure you buy pesticide-free. Your best bet is finding a food-focused purveyor to ensure you can eat what you buy. If you decide to forage instead, Viljoen said to follow your nose. “I like to collect flowers in the morning or evening, when they seem most scented and fresh,” she advised. Viljoen also recommended collecting them in paper bags, since plastic will make them sweat and moisture can detract from scent preservation. Don’t forage where pesticides or chemicals may have been used, and watch out for pet potties, too. This handy list provides an easy reference for which flowers — and parts of plants — won’t make you sick. Use your flowers as soon as possible. If you need the scent to stay, don’t go near the sink. But if you’re going for texture and flavor, feel free to wash your blooms. Flowers like nasturtium, hibiscus, violet, lavender, and even roses all work great in beverages. Try Making Tinctures Lauren Kowalski, who works in product development at Mile High Spirits in Denver, relies on botanical tinctures for her bar’s spring and summer flavors. There, she maintains a flavor library of over 50 single botanical infusions. “My bartenders and I use these to help inspire or decide what flavors we want to incorporate into a new drink,” she explained. Single botanical tinctures give bartenders a wealth of control over the strength and character of flavor, Kowalski said. A few drops of rose tincture can add just a whisper of florals to a Gimlet, or a few more can really pack a punch. “Having tinctures available is nice because they’re so easy and cheap to make, and take up such little space,” she explained. “It’s an efficient way for me to introduce more seasonal flavors.” Have Fun Fermenting Them Viljoen likes fermenting flowers, which allows wild yeast to transform and preserve scents for a funkier flavor. “I often […]
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