I’ve been fascinated with the idea of tree influenced cocktails since I heard about a restaurant in Seattle serving an “Evergreen Martini” with douglas fir sorbet years ago (I think I was in college?). Last spring, I read this post about making your own fir-tip simple syrup and it became only a matter of time and opportunity before I tried my hand.
While Daniel and I were hiking Mt. Washington, I noticed all the trees were still displaying beautiful spring growth. I picked a species (I think it’s the pacific silver fir) and started picking tips and dropping them into a baggie that had formerly held my bagel. Daniel was remarkably patient with me and over the course of our hike I filled one baggie and almost filled another.
While my mom was at work the next morning, I started on my project. First, I put the tips on a cutting board and tried to pick out any pinecone pieces or other “intruders” (there weren’t very many, careful picking was totally worth it). Next, I rinsed them off and left them to drain in the sink for awhile.
Next, I chopped the fir tips up. This step smelled totally divine. It was a little bit citrusy, a little bit woodsy, and really just made me super happy. I tried to not chop the tips too finely since they’d need to be strained out but I also wanted to make sure I was getting the full flavor complement. I was a little bit nervous about this step. It seemed so destructive and final! I followed the directions from Amy Pennington’s blog as best I could hoping for the best.
I combined two cups of fir tips with four cups of water, brought it and brought it to a boil and then reduced it to a simmer. They started out nice and green, but as they cooked, they blanched out a little bit as they simmered for 15 minutes.
I was really excited to discover that my mom had a fine metal mesh strainer. I probably should have checked for this before I started but it all worked out just fine. I had about 3 and a half cups of fir-water so next I added 3 1/2 cups of sugar to the water and boiled it down to reduce it approximately by half.
I’d never made simple syrup of any kind before and had read many conflicting opinions of how long to boil it and how far to boil it down. I was terrified of going too far and ending up with an un-usable thick syrup but didn’t want to have to put it back in a pan to reduce it further. With a bit of trepidation, I poured the finished product into a jar and waited for it to cool.
Sugar takes a long time to cool, my friends. When it was finally happy hour time, I mixed myself a drink using ManMade’s Coniferous Collins recipe as a guide:
- 1 oz. fir tip simple syrup
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 2 oz. London dry gin
- club soda
I eyeballed everything so there were no perfect proportions but it all seemed to turn out just fine. And by just fine, I mean, delicious: