A great cocktail is a wonderful thing.
I have been making my own limoncello for the last year, since my Meyer lemon trees produce huge amounts of fruit twice a year. Friends and neighbors start calling when they know those lemons are getting ripe, and we give away bags full of lemons, but I still have more than enough to make a large batch of limoncello.
This cocktail was inspired by my friend Holland’s garden, which I raid for fresh lettuce and greens whenever she lets me. She had some beautiful lemon verbena growing, which she recommended using in a salad. I did, and it was delicious. But since I had just finished a new batch of limoncello, I also wanted to use it in a cocktail.
I made a simple syrup and steeped some lemon verbena leaves in it. You can flavor a simple syrup with any type of herb or spice, and use the syrup for cocktails or desserts. A simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, add your herb of choice and let it steep while the syrup cools to room temperature. Then remove the herbs and refrigerate until ready to use.
Years ago I found the coolest cocktail set in my parents house, and they let me have it. It was given to them as a wedding gift back in 1955. I love vintage dishes, and this one makes me smile when I see it. Or maybe I’m smiling because I just made a cocktail.
Friendly spirits, indeed! These were made when making and having a cocktail was an art. Think Lucille Ball in her fabulous lounge clothes, which were so dressy compared to what I lounge in, which is yoga pants! OK, I don’t just lounge in them, I live in them, but whatever. . .
The Lemony Cricket (named for Jiminy Cricket, the vintage Disney character) is a very simple cocktail to make. Bottled limoncello can be found easily now in stores, or you can make your own.
Pour 3 ounces of lemon verbena simple syrup into a glass or cocktail shaker. Thinly slice 2 or 3 lemon verbena leaves and place them into the simple syrup.
Pour the Lemony Cricket into two glasses. You can strain the ice and leaves out if you wish, and serve the drink in a chilled martini glass. I like having the leaves in the drink, as they add a burst of flavor if you chew them as you imbibe.
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup + extra for garnish lemon verbena leaves
- crushed ice
Add one cup of lemona verbena leaves, lightly crushing them to help release the oils. Let the syrup cool to room temperature, strain out the leaves, and refrigerate.
In a cocktail shaker or large glass, pour 3 ounces of lemon verbena simple syrup. With kitchen shears, thinly slice one or two lemon verbena leaves into the syrup. With the back of a spoon press down on the leaves to release the oil into the syrup. Add 6 ounces of limoncello, then fill the shaker with crushed ice. Stir or shake the cocktail until the drink is well chilled. Pour the cocktail into a glass, or strain the cocktail into a martini style glass, leaving the ice and lemon verbena leaves in the shaker.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 cocktails