Local Libations: The Green Gremlin
by Andrew States
Yesterday I found myself caught in a swarm of yellow leaves and, looking up, saw the branches of a tree denuded by a stiff breeze. It’s fall in the city, a stutter-step away from winter. Winter is a difficult time in the Northeast for a number of reasons: Clanking, sputtering radiators, college kids jamming up all your favorite places, needles of wind knifing through your not-quite-heavy-enough-fashionable jacket and then, as a last betrayal, fruits and vegetables transform from colorful, lively, long-limbed varieties into stalwart, ground-hugging, types that don’t look like much fun. Everything is served hot as a way to stave off the ever-encroaching advance of the cold. Whee. Despite all that, I love the fall. I love the crispness of the air and that smell that I always forget until the season comes back again.
This one took some work. I’m not going to lie to you. When I had a peek at Brianna’s recipe, I was somewhat crestfallen. What sounded like a delicious meal also sounded like a wash from a cocktail perspective. There wasn’t much I could see that was both in season and that would taste good in a drink. (Leek Martini anyone? No? Perhaps a Spaghetti Squash Smash is more to your liking.) I tend to think of vegetables as good ingredients in a Bloody Mary and not much else but, after doing some minor investigating, I found that if there was any failure, it was one of creativity and not of available ingredients. I tend to like it when the preparation of a cocktail doesn’t infringe too steeply on my actual drinking time, but committing to the project and conquering my innate laziness, I was able to find a recipe for basil syrup that sounded delicious and strange.
After picking up some basil from the farmer’s market and concocting enough syrup for experimentation, I started snooping around for the base liquor. Based on the recommendation of others, I found my way to a bottle of Core Vodka. I’ve never been huge on vodka. It somehow feels like it’s made by chemists. In case you’re wondering, it isn’t. It’s made by the same kind of people who make whiskey, but where whiskey feels like it comes from an old wooden building, vodka feels like it comes from a lab. I set my feelings aside and I gave Core a shot. I would like to take this time to publicly apologize to vodka for all the bad things I’ve ever said. I was wrong and you are delicious.
Made in Valatie, NY, Core starts out as apple cider but after fermentation and three separate distillations, emerges as an eminently drinkable liquor. Aside from putting out a quality product, the people at Harvest Spirits who distill the stuff maintain a friendly and open atmosphere. I encourage everyone to visit their website where, among other bells and whistles, they have a page of distiller’s notes that details the type of apples that go into each batch and the distiller’s personal take on the outcome.
I had my base and I had my marquee ingredient and, after an arduous couple of hours testing different concoctions, I found that I didn’t need anything else. An Occam’s Razor of cocktails, the simplest solution to the puzzle of thirst being the right one. Without further ado I sat down with my Green Gremlin, a drink I could pour over ice and set about drinking, which is what I wanted to do anyway.
Basil Syrup Ingredients: 1½ cup fresh basil leaves, ½ cup confectioner’s sugar, ½ cup water, 1/8 tsp baking soda
Syrup prep: 15 minutes.
For syrup making instructions, click HERE. A note on the syrup instructions – You’ll see that there is no measurement for the baking soda. I think it’s meant to be 1/8 of a teaspoon. The reason I think this is because I used 1/8 of a cup the first time and, though it was a very vibrant green, it tasted terrible. Really terrible.
The Green Gremlin
Prep time: 2 minutes
Yield: 1 serving
Tools: Ice, jigger, mixing glass and strainer or shaker with strainer top, spoon.
- 2 oz. Core Vodka
- 1 oz. basil syrup
- sprig of fresh basil
- Pour 2 oz of Core Vodka into the shaker.
- Pour 1 oz of basil syrup into the shaker.
- Add ice to the shaker.
- Stir for a few seconds.
- Strain into chilled glass over a couple ice cubes.
- Garnish with fresh basil.
- Drink up!