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Local Libations: The Heliotrope

2011 May 13

By Andrew StatesHeliotrope-Ingredients

Impressed as I was by Brianna’s healthful answer to cocktail making, I find my innovations generally veer in a decidedly more intemperate direction.  It’s a challenge, one which I’ve given much thought, to try and create something that is alcoholic as well as healthy.  The truth of the matter is that any health benefits derived from drinking, and this only refers to light or moderate drinking, are a mixed bag.  According to current thinking (at least at the Mayo Clinic), while abstemious alcohol consumption may stave off certain kinds of stroke and heart disease, and may reduce a person’s risk of developing gallstones or diabetes, any benefits are only potential ones while the detriments are factual.  The take away being, that no matter what else you throw in that cocktail, it’s not going to be as good for you as it would be if you left the booze in the cupboard.

So, what to do?  Personally, I weigh the pros and the cons and decide (sometimes excessively) that a little self-indulgence is sometimes the one thing that makes a dark and unfair world bearable, even enjoyable.  I am a flawed creature, but a smiling one.

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I liked that Brianna’s cocktail kept the herbal tone rolling along and decided to see if I could keep it up.  I was intrigued with her use of lemon verbena and thought I could find some in my neighborhood.  I felt positive that the apothecary had to at least know where I might get some.  As luck would have it, my roommate stopped in to purchase some herbal tea mix (made on premises) and happened to call me.  Being the long-suffering guinea pig for many a failed cocktail experiment, he had a vested interest.  I told him to pick up an ounce of lemon verbena and, what the hell, an ounce of dried cilantro.

“Coriander seeds,” he corrected me.

“Yeah those.”

He’s a patient man.

I arrived home to find two brown paper sacks waiting for me on the table.  The first was a leafy collection of dried lemon verbena and the second, a small maraca’s worth of coriander seeds.  I smelled the bags and understood immediately why Brianna chose them.  They mixed very well.

For my alcohol, I chose a vodka that I’d read about in a recent issue of Edible Manhattan.  Vodka is a tricky business and, as with most things commercial, how it’s sold to the public should be viewed with the utmost skepticism.  Liquor is a business and businesses are out to make money.  People choose what they drink based on either quality of product or quality of sales pitch.  It’s about image as much as it’s about taste.  I liked the article I read so I elected to give Comb Vodka a try.  Made from honey in nearby Port Chester NY, Comb is a vodka that tastes like something.  It has a clean sweetness that sets it apart from the chemical syrup taste of flavored vodka while retaining the clarity and crispness of a finely made spirit.

I decided to not ape Brianna entirely and opted to leave out the lemon verbena of which I’d been so enamored.  Crushing the coriander in the bottom of a glass, I poured on the vodka and, after stirring vigorously and then straining the dregs free, I topped the pale cocktail with Saratoga Sparkling Spring water (also native to New York) and a pulp-less twist of lime.  The result was a refreshing foray into an almost healthy coriander cocktail.

For your summer outdoor drinking pleasure:

The Heliotrope

Prep time: 2 minutes

Yield: 1 serving

Tools: Mixing glass, spoon,  tumbler, measuring spoons, jigger, pestle, fine strainer


  • 1 1/2 oz Comb Vodka
  • 1 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 3 oz Saratoga Sparkling Spring Water


  1. Crush 1 tsp of coriander seeds in bottom of mixing glass
  2. Add 1 1/2 oz Comb Vodka
  3. Stir vigorously (If you have a shaker, use that…violently.)
  4. Strain into tumbler
  5. Add ice
  6. Run twist of lime around rim of glass to spread oils.
  7. Top with soda water
  8. Stir
  9. Drink



  • V.

    It sounds great, I can’t wait to try it!

  • Leah

     that sounds amazing.  

  • Leah

     That sounds amazing. I’d like one now. THANKS.

  • andrew

    quite refreshing. Thanks for another great excuse to imbibe.

  • Harlapsivan

    yummers! that sounds so good! i want one!!

  • cH

    sounds lovely.  and saratoga uses the best bottles..

  • marymajella


  • Alec

    I’m not crazy about vodka but after 3 or 4 of these I really started to enjoy them! Nice one.

  • Katie

    Is this generally enjoyed by the vodka-averse, do you think?

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