badabing.jpg
The Bada Bing at Poppy combines sage and bing cherries with bourbon.
There are plenty of uses for herbs in the kitchen, and many people

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Herb-Infused Cocktails Inspired From the Garden

badabing.jpg
The Bada Bing at Poppy combines sage and bing cherries with bourbon.
There are plenty of uses for herbs in the kitchen, and many people incorporate fresh herbs into their cooking. For many area bartenders and chefs, herbs also make their way into cocktails.

At Poppy, chef Jerry Traunfeld's large L-shaped herb garden behind the restaurant provides a lot of inspiration for the cocktail menu. Bartender Veronika Groth has been working with Traunfeld since Poppy opened in 2008. She has developed an extensive cocktail menu of herb-infused cocktails like the Bada Bing (a mixture of Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon juice, bing cherries, and sage) and the Block Party (a combination of gin, mint, lemon, housemade cucumber water, and rose geranium-infused water).

Traunfeld and Groth recently gave a tour of the restaurant's herb garden to some ladies in the cocktail group LUPEC. We started off by adding an herb leaf to a glass of bubbly. Groth suggested slapping the leaf between our palms to release the essential oils. In addition to the Bada Bing and Block Party cocktails, the menu for the evening also included the Lemon Verbena Drop. Traunfeld explained that you can preserve lemon verbena by mixing it in a spice grinder with sugar, then freezing the mixture.

The cocktail menu at Poppy changes with the seasons, although many cocktails are available year-round. Traunfeld shared some of his favorite pairings. Lavender pairs well with cherries or plums, and anise hyssop goes great with peaches. In his book The Herbal Kitchen, Traunfeld has a recipe for a cocktail called the Sage Rush. It combines sage with gin, grapefruit juice, and sugar.

Herbs also work well in savory drinks. Lovage--a relative of the celery plant--has hollow stocks that can be used as straws in Bloody Marys. Rosemary goes great with gin, and can be used simply as an aromatic garnish in a gin and tonic. The prickly leaves of the borage plant have a cucumber flavor. At Poppy, borage is used instead of cucumber in a Pimm's Cup.

Across town, at Kathy Casey Food Studios in Ballard, herbs make their way into many cocktails Casey develops for Liquid Kitchen, the cocktail consulting arm of her business. In her book Sips & Apps, Casey has a recipe for a Peach French 75. She adds peach puree to the standard French 75 recipe of gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, and champagne, and garnishes it with a sprig of tarragon. The distinct aroma of the tarragon tickles your nose with every sip.

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