Although St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, I’ve always considered the month of March as “green.” Maybe it has something to do with the arrival of spring, or is simply a carryover from celebrations on March 17. There are also other dates worth drinking “green” such as Earth Day and Green Living Day. After working in the garden, I often like to indulge in a green smoothie of sorts. Whatever the reason, let me share with you the basics of preparing green drinks.
The best place to start is by using green spirits. These are alcoholic elixirs with green ingredients that will definitely add a bold splash to a mixed drink.
Green crème de menthe has to be at the top of the list. It’s a shockingly green, mint-flavoured liqueur that is extremely sweet, but not creamy as the name implies. As a staple in any stocked bar, it is used in drinks such as an Emerald Isle (gin, green crème de menthe, bitters), Grasshopper Martini (cream, white crème de cacao, green crème de menthe), Irish Flag shooter (green crème de menthe, Irish cream liqueur, Grand Marnier) and a Mintini (vodka, green crème de menthe, peppermint schnapps, candy cane garnish).
Next up is green chartreuse. This concoction is produced from 130 different herbs, plants and flowers from the French Alps. It’s a cornucopia of herbal, floral flavours chock full of rosemary, thyme, cloves, citrus and cinnamon. It’s great in a Chartreuse Martini (gin, green chartreuse, dry vermouth) and Green Ghoul (Midori Melon Liqueur, chartreuse, ginger beer or ginger ale)!
Another classic is Absinthe. This anise-flavoured spirit is made predominantly with grande wormwood, anise and Florence fennel, although it does contain many other herbs. Absolutely essential in an Absinthe Cocktail (Absinthe, ice water, anisette, Angostura Bitters), Morning Glory (rye whiskey, cognac, Curacao, simple syrup, Absinthe, Angostura Bitters, club soda, lemon twist) and Brazilian Sangria (fresh seasonal fruit, Absinthe, cachaca, Spanish brandy, orange liqueur, red wine)!
Then there’s Midori Melon Liqueur. This light green, sweet melon cordial is an essential in most stocked bars because it accentuates other liqueurs in cocktails very nicely. Check it out in a Grinch (Midori Melon Liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup, Maraschino cherry), Spider’s Kiss (Midori Melon Liqueur, vodka, lemon juice, chocolate syrup, grenadine, chocolate dipped orange slice) or Wolf Bite (Absinthe, Midori Melon liqueur, lemon-lime soda, pineapple juice, Grenadine).
Other green spirits include Sour Apple Schnapps and green vodka.
That brings me to the use of green herbs, vegetables and fruits. Although using fresh ingredients in green drinks is a great idea, most of these natural selections will not supply the green colour that a green spirit will deliver. They do add pizzazz though.
Fresh mint and lime are two of my all-time favourites. Their zesty aromatics and flavour are wonderful. I also find green apples, green grapes, melon, and kiwi good additions. For vegetables, peppers, avocado and cucumber do admirable jobs.
Finally, we have food colouring. Nothing adds a simpler, deeper shade of green than several drops of green food colouring. It’s tasteless and harmless and you can add as much or little as desired.
So the next time you have a hankering for a “green” beverage, check out some of these spirits and other ingredients. You don’t really need a special occasion. Remember, the concept is a very popular buzz phrase these days so indulge your emerald side and sip “green.”