There's an enchanting magic to nature that never fails to spark our creativity and imagination. Picture the breathtaking beauty of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with its lush greenery, pristine lakes, and majestic mountains – truly a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Amid the many wonders this region has to offer, one particular element has recently captured the attention of craft cocktail artists and culinary enthusiasts alike – spruce tips.
These tiny, vibrant green shoots from evergreen trees have found their way into the world of cocktails and cuisine, offering a unique and invigorating flavor that encapsulates the very spirit of Steamboat. If you've ever ventured on hikes around Steamboat, you'll know the feeling of being fully immersed in nature's embrace. The air is redolent with the scent of evergreens, and the gentle rustling of leaves creates a soothing melody that harmonizes with the wilderness. It was during one such enchanting hike that the inspiration for a spruce-tip cocktail was born. Surrounded by the lush forest, the sight of delicate young spruce tips clinging to the branches sparked my curiosity. Little did I know that these unassuming green shoots would soon become the centerpiece of an extraordinary libation.
But before we dive into the details of the libation, it's essential to understand the significance of properly sourcing spruce tips. Responsible harvesting is key to preserving the delicate ecosystems that sustain these evergreens. When gathering spruce tips, we must exercise care, taking only a few from each tree to ensure their continued growth and health. The choice of young and tender shoots ensures a true and inimitable flavor, with the ideal timing being late spring when they are at their freshest and most vibrant.
Though spruce tips have long been a well-kept secret in the culinary world, their history extends across various cuisines. Indigenous peoples in North America have valued these green gems for their nutritional benefits, incorporating them into teas and dishes. Similarly, in Scandinavian cuisine, spruce tips find their way into syrups, sauces, and even beer, imparting a delightful citrus and piney note. With their invigorating flavor and striking appearance, spruce tips have the potential to elevate any dish or beverage to new heights.
Now, let's turn our attention to the Forest Bianco. I use a spruce tip-infused gin, honey mead, and bergamot, which coalesces into an extraordinary symphony of flavors and aromas. The spruce tip gin, with its essence of evergreen, adds a refreshing and woodsy note that perfectly complements the golden sweetness of honey mead. Infused with a burst of zesty, citrusy brightness, bergamot completes the trio, intertwining earthy, floral, and herbal elements into a libation that excites the senses and explores the boundaries of taste. Each ingredient enhances the others, creating a captivating elixir that celebrates the bounties of nature and the artistry of craftsmanship.
Transport to the forest landscapes of Steamboat with the first sip of this cocktail. Let the bright, citrusy notes dance with the earthy, resinous essence of the spruce tips, telling a story of nature's bounty and inspiration drawn from the heart of the wilderness.
Alec Norton FHG Director of Cocktails
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