Elements: Chamomile - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

“Chamomile can be misunderstood as a cocktail ingredient that adds one note and little else, but I’ve always found it to be a much more capable, complex addition to a drink,” says JP Fetherston, former head bartender at Washington, D.C.’s Columbia Room. “It contributes a floral quality that is less ‘bouquet’ [and more] ‘walking through a field of meadow flowers.’ ”

The herb is also adept at adding layers of complexity to alcohol-free drinks. “Chamomile’s best quality as an ingredient is as a conductor, quietly tying other ingredients together rather than crashing in as one sudden, floral burst,” adds Fetherston. Here are a few spirited, and spirit-free, drink recipes that highlight the herb’s many virtues.

Chamomile Toddy Chamomile tea lends a floral note to this whiskey toddy.

Eveleigh Lemonade Chamomile-infused tequila anchors this honey-sweetened citrus cooler.

Kurozatō Seppun Delicate shochu meets chamomile tea and honey-ginger syrup.

Snake Bit Sprout Chamomile flowers perfume this refreshing cocktail.

The Scarecrow Dried chamomile flowers inspired this alcohol-free recipe.

The Sixth Hour Chamomile tea meets up with pineapple and lime in this zero-proof drink.

Yankee Notions Subtlety is the name of the game in this cocktail from Employees Only.

High Kirk

Using the ancient herb to soften the profile of an intense stirred cocktail, Fetherston employs chamomile in the High Kirk to draw out and bind the grassy profile of scotch; the sea spray, citrus, and bready qualities of sherry; and Bénédictine’s honey notes.

1 1⁄2 oz. manzanilla sherry
1⁄2 oz. chamomile-infused single malt Scotch whisky
1⁄2 oz. Bénédictine
1 lemon twist

Tools: barspoon, strainer Glass: Nick & Nora

Stir the first 3 ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled glass. Express the lemon peel over the top of the drink, then discard the peel.

Chamomile-Infused Single Malt Scotch Whisky: Add 1 750 ml. bottle of single malt Scotch whisky (Fetherston uses Glenfarclas 12, but any unpeated single malt will work) and 2 grams of dried chamomile flowers to a large sous-vide bag or resealable plastic bag. Use an immersion circulator (sous-vide device) to heat water in a large pot to 60 degrees Celsius, then add the sealed bag and let cook for 2 hours. Remove the bag from the water bath, strain the infused whisky into a sealable container or bottle, and, once cooled, seal the container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 month. Alternatively, add the dried chamomile to a 750 ml. bottle of whisky, allow to infuse for 1 week at room temperature, then strain, rebottle, and store.

JP Fetherston for Columbia Room, Washington, D.C.

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