Have you ever cooked with or otherwise used thyme? If you enjoy herbal flavors but haven't given this particular one a chance, drop everything you're doing and go to the store. Thyme is a fantastic complement to many different fruits. It's likewise magical in soups and just about anything roasted. Within the realm of cocktails, I tend to use thyme alongside pear and apple flavors. The results never disappoint.
This cocktail, apart from paying homage to the Madeleine L'Engle novel that got me started on science fiction (5 points if you got that reference), combines thyme, pear, gin and bitter lemon with dangerously drinkable ratios. Pear is a tricky fruit to work with raw, so I tend to buy natural pear juices/nectars to make my life easier. If you have a juicer, you can reap the extra health benefits of homemade fresh pear juice (fiber, vitamins and minerals galore).
I chose to use gin as the spirit as it's always beautifully elevated when paired with fresh herbs and botanicals. If you're curious about which types of gin I tend to favor, I highly recommend trying Koval Dry Gin (local to Chicago) or any variety of St. George gin (CA). St. George is especially great for narrowing down the botanical mix you prefer (spice, floral, or earthy notes).
To add some natural fizz with a twist, I topped the cocktail with Seasons Soda Bitter Lemon Tonic. This soda is local to Chicago and features a blend of maple, orange blossom honey, aromatics and bitters. I loved that it heightened the complexity of the cocktail rather than watering it down. Plus, no refined sugars or preservatives!
If you're feeling extra fancy when you make this one, you can garnish with a lemon peel spiral and a thyme sprig as shown in the photos. I prefer to make my spirals using a channel knife - starting at the top of the lemon, I trail the channel knife in a spiral path, maintaining constant pressure. You may need to physically twist the peel into a spiral after you separate it from the lemon. I also find that lemons with thicker peels lead to better spirals due to the relative rigidity of the skin.
A Wrinkle in Thyme
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz pear juice
- 1/2 oz thyme syrup*
- 3 oz bitter lemon soda
- fresh thyme sprig (garnish)
- lemon peel (garnish)
Shake first three ingredients with ice until chilled. Strain into rocks glass over a large ice cubic or spherical ice cube. Top with soda and garnish. Enjoy while discussing the implications of time travel with your nerdy friends.
*To make syrup, heat 4:1 parts water:sugar in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves. Add thyme and keep on heat for 5 minutes, making sure thyme is fully submerged. Strain, allow to cool and store excess in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.