Fennel has a natural “fizz” that makes the tongue tingle. The tingle 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 Fennel Fizz Cocktail from feeling like and après ski adventure. The savory notes in sage keep it in balance.
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.
- 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)
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.