Wayne's Weekend

Wayne's Weekend

Fresh Herbs Make Great Summer Drinks

Creating herb infused simple syrups is the key ingredient to tasty summer beverages

By Wayne Johnson
|  Thursday, Jul 7, 2011  |  Updated 8:22 AM CDT
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Summer Drinks

Wayne Johnson

Herb infused simple syrups flavor amazing summer drinks

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Summer Drinks

Wayne shows you how to make summer drinks on the rooftop of the Palmer House.
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Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton has inspired me to make some fun summer drinks.  The 140 year old hotel has recently added a rooftop garden 25 floors above State Street.  The herbs grown in the large planters will help support preparations made in Lockwood Restaurant, Potter’s Lounge as well as in room dining. 

After checking out the rooftop at the hotel, I though it would be fun to do a little entertaining of my own using the herbs I’ve been growing in my backyard.  And, rather than focus on savory dishes, I decided to make some fun drinks.

The key to all of my drinks is simple syrup.  The basic simple syrup is equal parts of water and sugar brought to a boil until the sugar dissolves and then cooled and refrigerated.  But, with fresh herbs in abundance, I’ve created six additional flavored syrups.  They are all very easy to prepare and can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.  I’ve also provided a few recipes using these syrups.  They all incorporate additional fresh ingredients so each drink is a perfectly refreshing summer treat.

SYRUPS

Basic Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat, cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Basil Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 2 loosely packed cups of fresh basil leaves that you’ve crumbled a bit to release their flavor.  Cover for 1 hour.  Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Rosemary Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 2 1/2 ounces of fresh rosemary.  Cover for 1 hour.  Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Lavender Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 3 tablespoons of  lavender buds.  Cover for 1 hour.  Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mint Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 1 cup of loosely packed fresh mint that you’ve crumbled a bit to release their flavor.  Cover for 1 hour.  Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro/Jalapeño (Cilapeño) Simple Syrup

Combine 2 cups water with 2 cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 2 cups of loosely packed cilantro and 2 jalapeño peppers that you’ve thinly sliced.  Cover for 1 hour.  Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

DRINK RECIPES

Blueberry Basil Lemonade
Non alcoholic

Ingredients

10 blueberries
1/2 lemon
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Basil Simple Syrup
Water
1 Fresh Basil Leaf, for garnish

Method

Muddle blueberries and lemon in a tall glass.  Add syrups and fill the glass with crushed ice.  Add water to top ad stir.  Garnish with basil leaf.

Texarita

Ingredients

1/2 Lime
1 Orange Wedge, (about 1/8 portion of the orange, cut in half)1 oz Cilapeño Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Tequila
Jalapeño Slice and Fresh Cilantro, for garnish

Method

Muddle lime and orange wedge in an old fashion glass.  Add simple syrup and tequila.  Top with crushed ice and stir.  Garnish with Cilantro and jalapeño

Lavender Mojito

Ingredients

4-5 Mint Leaves
1/2 Lime
1/2 oz Mint Simple Syrup
1 oz Lavender Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Rum
Club Soda
Fresh Mint Leaves, for garnish

Method

Muddle leaves and lime in an old fashion glass.  Add simple syrup and rum.  Top with crushed ice and pour club soda on top to fill glass. Stir and add mint leaves for garnish

Berry Berry Rosemary

Ingredients

3-4 Raspberries
3-4 Blackberries
1 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup
1 1/2 oz Gin
Tonic
Fresh Rosemary Sprig, for garnish

Method

Muddle raspberries and blackberries in a tall glass.  Add simple syrup and gin.  Add ice and tonic and stir.  Garnish with rosemary.

Blackberry Sage Martini

Ingredients

3-4 Blackberries
1 Orange Wedge, (about 1/8 portion of the orange, cut in half)
1 oz Sage Syrup
2 oz Vodka
1 drop Dry Vermouth
Thin Orange Slice, for garnish

Method

Muddle blackberries and orange wedge in a shaker.  Add syrup, vodka and vermouth.  Add 1/2 cup of ice and close shaker.  Shake vigorously and pour into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with orange slice and float a blackberry on top.

Special thanks to Justin Jameson, Ken Price and all the fine folks at The Palmer House who helped make this segment a success.

If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com or follow me on facebook.
 

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