Lovin’ Fresh is a series of recipes designed to showcase produce gathered from local farms or grown in my own garden.
I bet you and your friends have a few summertime traditions. An annual 4th of July BBQ? Maybe a no-excuses-we’re-going-to-the-beach-the-same-weekend-every-year outing? Or perhaps a camping trip instead? A group of my friends, who have long scattered across several state lines and life stages (singles, newly weds, divorcees, and new parents are all among them), come together one night a summer to sit under the same tree in a big back yard, drink a lot of beer, play horseshoes and pretend for a little while that we’re still carefree and 20.
Quite frankly though, I’ve outgrown what little taste I had for a keg of lager beer. So, this year I decided I’d try a taking along the ingredients for a cocktail. Spurred by my success with the Lavender Lemon Soda recipe, I thought I’d try another simple syrup infused with a fresh herb that would add a little somethin’-somethin’ to my cocktail. The rosemary plants in my garden called out to me immediately.
When I noticed the long-neglected bottle of vanilla vodka that I’d been using to prop up some cookbooks, I knew I had the makings of a smashing combination. Fresh rosemary and a vanilla bean steeped in a warm simple syrup make a heavenly perfume and an even more divine taste senstation.
While this adult Vanillay Rosemary Spritzer was a homerun with the gathering of old friends, I think the next batch I make will skip the vodka, opting instead for lemonade so I can drink it everyday without feeling guilty. A girl’s gotta have her limits, after all.
Vanilla Rosemary Spritzer
1 large bunch of fresh rosemary (5-6 stems)
1 vanilla bean
3/4 C. sugar or sugar substitute
1 C. water
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the rosemary (reserve a few of the tops of the stem for garnish), vanilla bean, sugar and water. Bring to a gentle simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for at least an hour. Strain the syrup into a jar or other container and chill until ready to use.
To make the cocktail, combine 2 parts syrup with 1 part vodka over ice and fill the glass with club soda. Adjust ratio according to taste. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary and serve.
(makes enough syrup for 6-8 drinks)