Pine Needle Sour
“People say they don’t like gin because it tastes like pine needles. Well this is actual pine needles and it tastes nothing like gin,” Ryan laughs. “Balsam fir needles have five times more vitamin C than most citrus fruit, and it’s a natural decongestant. If you don’t want to use pine, rosemary will work great as well.”
Keep the pine needle syrup around to add a surprising note to a bloody mary, French 75, any gin drink, or mixed with club soda and lime if you’re driving.
A SERIOUS NOTE OF WARNING: When you make pine needle tea, please, PLEASE be advised that certain species of pine are super poisonous. If you don’t know what species your tree is, don’t risk it. Go to a tree farm, a wreath-maker, or the farmers market, and ask them for trimmings from a Balsam fir. And make sure to confirm with your tree guy that the fir hasn’t been treated with any chemicals, like flame retardants. Or just use rosemary instead.
Pine Needle Syrup
Thoroughly rinse the Balsam fir branches and hang them up until the needles are dry. Pluck the needles from the stems, measure the volume, and add them to a sauce pot with twice as much water. Bring water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for another hour. Strain the tea, and measure the volume of the liquid, then add that same amount of hot water to make a diluted tea. Then, measure the tea’s volume and add an equal amount of sugar, whisking until dissolved.
(The measurements will vary depending on how much water the needles soak up. Here’s a good place to start: 1/4 cup needles boiled with 1/2 cup water. It should yield about 1/3 cup tea, to which you’ll add 1/3 cup hot water, and 2/3 cup of sugar.)
Pine Needle Sour
2 ounces Tattersall Aquavit
3/4 ounce pine needle syrup*
3/4 ounce lime juice (or 1/2 ounce lemon and 1/4 ounce lime for a little more layer and nuance)
dash orange bitters
Shake ingredients well with ice, and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a small twig of balsam fir.