SAVORY FOR SPRING
Sage is just one of the herbs that mixologist Corey Sievers uses in his crafty concoctions
What more can one ask for in this life than the kind assistance of devoted mixologists who dream of new ways to refresh your spirits?
The farm-to-table movement is in full swing on Cape Cod, but how about farm-to-cocktail?
¬†That‚Äôs what‚Äôs shaking in the cocktail shaker at Sage Inn & Lounge in Provincetown, where fresh herbs are harvested from an on-site garden and infused into new generation of fresh, delicious drinks that sure don‚Äôt taste like your grandfather‚Äôs Manhattan.
¬†The establishment‚Äôs signature drink is the Sage Cucumber Cocktail, a splendid and bracing concoction starring gin and a chorus of subtle flavors including sage, ginger and lemon. Suddenly you‚Äôre transported to a country garden on a chilly morning, and dew is on the leaves of the herbs and someone is slicing fresh, cold cucumbers and all the essence and mystery is now somehow in your glass.
¬†And you sip again and say to yourself, ‚ÄúI will never drink a sweet drink again,‚Äù because this delicately refreshing cocktail seems like it came from heaven‚Äôs apothecary and will cure all ills.
¬†Part of the kick of this drink was seeing Sage‚Äôs expert mixologist Corey Sievers harvest the sage from a snowy herb wall outside the restaurant just before the cocktail was created. During the warmer months, herbs grow up the wall to a height of about 14 feet, providing Sievers with a wide variety of fresh flavors to infuse into cocktails.
But some herbs can handle the off-season. ‚ÄúThe thyme and the sage and the rosemary hold up very well in the wintertime,‚Äù said Sievers, as he plucked fresh sage.
¬†Virtuoso bartenders like Sievers also depend on a wide variety of simple syrups to make a cocktail sing. The simplest simple syrup is something sweet dissolved in water, ready to add to a drink. But simple syrups can be infused with a wide variety of flavors, including fresh herbs.
¬†The great advantage of infused simple syrups is that the bartender has a prepared liquid at hand that instantly brings flavor and a desired level of sweetness to a cocktail.
¬†‚ÄúA simple syrup that is infused gives you a nice clean finish,‚Äù said Sievers, who has spent considerable time experimenting with and creating dozens of syrups at Sage.
¬†Another key to a complex, delightful cocktail can be muddling the ingredients¬†‚Äì¬†using a pestle-like object to mash or grind flavoring components before liquid is added to the drink. This releases and intensifies flavors for the cocktail.
¬†Muddling a lot of cocktails is a lot of work, and Sievers said he sometimes dreams about it.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs where you put most of your effort in,‚Äù said Sievers. ‚ÄúAfter a busy night you‚Äôre still muddling at 3 a.m., whether you‚Äôre awake or not.‚Äù
¬†What more can one ask for in this life than the kind assistance of devoted mixologists who dream of new ways to refresh your spirits? The sensible thing to do is gaze at the herb wall at Sage, pop inside and say to the bartender, ‚ÄúYes! I will join you on this flavor quest. Pour away!‚Äù
¬†Sage Cucumber Cocktail
2 ounces Amsterdam Gin
3 slices cucumber
3 sage leaves
1/2 ouncd fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ginger root
1/8 ounce simple syrup
¬†Place 1 thin cucumber slice tin a chilled martini glass. In a cocktail shaker and preferably with a muddler, muddle the sage leaves, lemon juice, ginger root (shaved on a microplane) and remaining 2 cucumber slices with ice. This should form a slurry consistency. Add gin. Add simple syrup to taste, shake well and strain into martini glass.