Savoury sips: A Field Guide to Mixing with Herbs

IMG_0643 Rosemary Cocktail + GradField Guide, in Halifax’s North End, is not just a place to grab a drink, it’s a cocktail experience, where each ingredient has been carefully thought out, drawing on both the history of bartending and new trends. Owners Ceilidh Sutherland and Dan Vorsterman have created a neighbourhood space where their small, inspired staff can express their love for food and drink through unique, local and sustainable products. Expect to experience dishes and cocktails that not only look good, but have the flavour to match.

Head Bartender
Shane Beehan is the centrepiece of Field Guide. He is the face behind the bar, always polite, kind and not showy. He lets the complex cocktails do the talking, but is always happy to offer up a wealth of information about his homemade syrups and fizz.
All recipes and cocktail herbs use tips by Shane Beehan, and Field Guide guest bartender Jeff Van Horne.

Herb tips

An Essential Slap
When using an herb as a garnish, bruise its leaves to release its essential oils which bring out its aroma and flavour. To bruise the leaf, slap the herb between your palms, like a hard clap, to wake up its true flavours.

In a Pinch
Although fresh herbs are recommended for garnish, and are generally preferable for most recipes, some herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, respond well to freezing. Run the herb through a food processor to roughly chop it, or freeze full sprigs layered with paper towel or wax paper to preserve freshness.

Farm Fresh
The best quality and most aromatic herbs can be sourced from local herb growers.

Cold Storage
Herbs can get tired and wither quickly if not stored properly. While mint likes to have its stems in water and kept cold, basil is not meant to be refrigerated and is best if kept in a dry place. If experimenting with a new herb, be sure to research the best storage for the herb in question.

Gin’s New Scent
Like vodka, gin begins as a neutral spirit. It is during the distillation process botanicals are incorporated into the clear spirit, giving it a strong, herbaceous character.
Some gins have very few added botanicals, which makes those aromas more distinct, while other gins can have several dozen. What differentiates one style of gin from another is usually the level of sweetness, the alcohol level and the type of botanicals.

Absolut Thyme
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Absolut Thyme
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Method
  1. Add 1 1/2 fluid ounces Absolut vodka (750ml, $27.98), 3/4 fluid ounce freshly squeezed orange juice, 1/2 fluid ounce lime juice, 1/2 fluid ounce honey syrup 2 sprigs thyme to cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake for 15 seconds and strain, with a tea strainer (or other fine strainer), into a cocktail glass (or ice-filled rocks glass). Garnish with a sprig of thyme.
Honey Syrup
  1. To make the honey syrup, add 1 cup of honey and 1 cup of warm water to a jar and stir to combine. The syrup will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.
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Basil Smash
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Basil Smash
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  1. Muddle three lemon wedges, 4 to 6 basil leaves and 3/4 fluid ounce simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass using a muddler. Add 2 fluid ounces Grey Goose vodka (750ml, $49.98) and top with crushed ice. Give a quick stir and top with more crushed ice. Garnish with a basil leaf. Tip: To make crushed ice fill a tea towel with cubes, wrap it up, and crush with a muddler or bottom of a frying pan.
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Grays Peak Sour
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Grays Peak Sour
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  1. Add 1 1/2 fluid ounces Grays Peak Small Batch Vodka (750ml, $34.99), 1/2 fluid ounce Chambord liqueur, 3/4 fluid ounces fresh lemon juice, 1/2 fluid ounce simple syrup and 3 sage leaves to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake for 15 seconds then strain, with a tea strainer (or other fine strainer), into a cocktail glass (or ice-filled rocks glass). Garnish with a sage leaf.
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Rosemary Fizz
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Rosemary Fizz
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Rosemary Fizz
  1. Add 1/2 fluid ounce Tanqueray No. Ten gin (750ml, $44.99), 1 fluid ounce grapefruit juice, 3/4 fluid ounce rosemary syrup and 1/2 fluid ounce lime juice to an ice-filled highball glass leaving enough room for a few splashes of soda. Top with a dash of soda, give the glass a quick stir and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
Rosemary Syrup
  1. To make a rosemary syrup, combine 1 cup of simple syrup with the leaves from one sprig of rosemary in a blender; purée on high for 1 minute. Pour the syrup through a fine strainer into a clean jar. The syrup will keep for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
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