Foraging for Fennel Fizz

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fennel fizz

Fennel Fizz I like alliteration, especially when it’s so delicious.

Fennel has a natural “fizz” that makes the tongue tingle (there I go again). It’s part of why I like this Fennel Fizz recipe. That tingle you feel comes from anise and its menthol undertones. Long appreciated by the ancients for its breath freshening qualities, menthol causes a cool mouth sensation. This is purely psychological, but in my opinion opens the palate for all the subtle flavors that fennel and its fizz have to offer. Notice that I’ve included enough sage to keep this cocktail from feeling like and après ski adventure. The savory notes in sage keep this cocktail in balance.

Fennel Fizz

There’s that word. Savory. In case you haven’t guessed this Fennel Fizz is a savory cocktail from my book of the same name, Savory Cocktails. The book came out in September of last year, but I was reminded of this drink once again because of the time of year. It may still be February, but spring is beginning to be sprung here.

I live in Los Angeles, in the Hollywood Hills area. My street backs up to some of the  L.A. County conservancy property, which bleeds into Lake Hollywood and the land owned by Department of Water and Power, and culminates in 4200 acres of Griffith Park. That is a lot of wild land in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world.

Which means I have eagles, deer, rabbit, hawks, bobcats, coyote and a mountain lion with the romantic name of p-22 as neighbors.

It also means easy access to hiking trails and the peace and solitude that comes from being in nature.

But whenever I hike these hills I find I have an annoying little habit. I am constantly scanning the trails for edibles. I have some tried and true areas where I collect citrus, figs, herbs, cactus fruit, blackberries and wild greens. But you never know when that lone indigenous Blue Elderberry tree will reveal it’s hiding place. So it’s best to keep your eyes peeled.

February is the beginning of the best foraging of the year. I look forward to the tiny green, feathery fronds of fennel (notice the alliteration?) as  they begin their impossible push from the rocky slate and granite into the bright blue light of wintertime Los Angeles. How can I not pluck a few fronds and make a delightful Fennel Fizz? GREG

fennel fizz feet

Fennel Fizz Cocktail

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1Source From my book Savory CocktailsPublished

Herbal Lemon Syrup: Stir together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture boils, lower heat to low and continue cooking until a syrupy consistency is achieved, about 4 minutes. Add 2 thin slices of lemon and 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh herbs of any type or combination (such as mint, rosemary, basil, or lemon verbena) to taste. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Strain through a wire-mesh sieve double-lined with damp cheese cloth into an airtight container, discarding solids. Syrup may be stored covered in a cool dark place for up to 1 month.

Fennel Fizz Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 (2-inch) piece fennel, sliced (stalk only)
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 1 pinch coarse salt
  • 2 ounce citrus infused vodka (or London dry gin, as you prefer)
  • ½ ounce Green Chartreuse
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce herbal lemon syrup, made with mixed herbs (see notes)
  • 3 ounce club soda (or more as needed)
  • 1 fresh fennel frond (as garnish)

Directions

In a sturdy, thick-bottomed pint glass from a Boston shaker, use a bar muddler to crush the fennel slices, sage and salt until you achieve a fragrant, pulpy mush. Add the vodka or gin, chartreuse, lemon juice and simple syrup to the mixture; stir lightly to combine and to remove the syrup from the spoon.

Fill the metal part of the Boston shaker ⅔ full with ice. Pour the muddled gin or vodka mixture (including pulp) over the ice. Cap the shaker with the pint glass. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Using a Hawthorn strainer double strain the cocktail through a wire-mesh sieve into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with the fennel frond. Makes 1.