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A Taste of Spring: The Birds and The Bees

Spring is here, and with it, fresh blooms in the air and the sound of bees buzzing about and pollinating the fields. What better time for a drink that highlights the bounty of the Earth and fresh spring flavors? 

The Birds and Bees cocktail blends and balances the floral flavors of chamomile tea, the sweetness of honey and the spiciness of gin. It’s a drink that brings to mind picking flowers, sharp bee stings and a yard coming to life with birds migrating back north.

The key to this drink is the syrup, made of chamomile tea and honey. Depending on your preference, you can use loose-leaf tea or tea sachets. This recipe is based on loose-leaf tea because tea bags tend to have a lower quality of tea. During the process of cutting the leaves in production, dust and fannings are left behind — essentially dust and crushed leaves left over from the process. This is what is used to fill a tea bag. These crushed-up bits can release tannins that give the tea a harsh flavor and lack of aroma. In contrast, sachets typically give the full flower experience of loose-leaf tea in a convenient package.

You can get chamomile at Tea Thyme in Sister Bay. The blend — from Harney & Sons — uses only the heads of Egyptian chamomile flowers, which results in a premium herbal tea with a definite body. Tea Thyme also carries a chamomile mix called Yellow & Blue that combines chamomile, lavender and cornflowers that can add a little twist to your syrup, and cocktail, flavor.

The result is a sunny, refreshing drink perfect for a spring day!

Photo by Brett Kosmider.

THE BIRDS AND BEES

2 oz gin 

1 oz chamomile-honey syrup

(recipe follows)

1 oz fresh lemon juice

Lemon wedge as a garnish

Combine gin (we used gin from Hatch Distillery in Egg Harbor), syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

Chamomile-Honey Syrup

Makes about ½ cup. The syrup will keep, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

2 tsp loose-leaf chamomile tea 

½ cup honey

½ cup water

Place loose-leaf tea in ½ cup of boiling water for five minutes (put it in a tea steeper or directly into the boiling water). After five minutes, strain the leaves. Add the honey (we used Wienke’s) and stir to dissolve. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.

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