Portland- and San Francisco–based bartender Kate Bolton has the touch for subtle, delicate drinks that go wonderfully with food. This spin on the gimlet is no exception: shaking shaved fennel and muddled arugula into the drink gives it an anise-and-pepper flavor that’s ideal for serving with seafood or light pasta dishes.
GARNISH: lime wheel, arugula leaf, or peppery flower (such as nasturtium; optional)
The One-Bottle Cocktail by Maggie Hoffman
Using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, thinly slice enough of the fennel bulb to yield 1/4 cup (about 1/2 small bulb). Add a pinch of the fennel fronds to a cocktail shaker along with sliced fennel and arugula leaves. Add lime juice and simple syrup and muddle until the fennel is bruised. Add gin and fill with ice. Shake vigorously until chilled, about 12 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with lime wheel, arugula leaf, or nasturtium if desired.
SIMPLE SYRUP: IT’S SIMPLE
Many folks are intimidated by the idea of simple syrup. It’s time to get over our fears: no one wants a grainy mouthful of sugar in their drink. Plus, making simple syrup is actually crazy easy, especially if you happen to have a resealable jar (such as a mason jar) around. For 1:1 simple syrup, add equal parts sugar and hot water, seal, and shake until dissolved. Let cool before using and store for up to several weeks in the fridge. For 2:1 simple syrup, mix two parts sugar to one part hot water and proceed as above. Easy-peasy.
Your simple syrup needn’t be so basic, though; many grocery stores offer entire shelves of different types of sugar. Less-processed cane, turbinado, and demerara are a few great ways to add a touch more complexity to your drinks.