Despite the lack of springtime showers, Jacksonville’s gardens have still managed to produce some foliage. With the final month of spring upon us, local forager and Grape and Grain Exchange bartender, Kira Fisher, recommends celebrating with a season-inspired cocktail.
“‘I’m mostly inspired by wild herbs, chamomile, sage, lavender … anything fragrant and robust. Herbs are very easy to dry and turn into fresh herbal tea,” Fisher said. She recommends looking for local wild herbs around the turn of the season. These herbs can be used in many ways, but her preferred method is to turn them into teas.
She uses the teas as foundations for her cocktails. “Add some berries, a bit of honey and some bourbon, and ‘bam’ the tea turns into a cocktail.”
Her tip for a springtime drink inspiration is to hit the garden or even the local sidewalk. She explains that many of the flowers and plants that naturally come to life in the Florida springtime can be found growing in most natural, open spaces. “I found the lavender for this cocktail growing in the median across from my mom’s house,” Fisher laughed.
Easy-to-find local spring ingredients add freshness and delicate herbal notes to heavier liqueurs like bourbon and rye. As spring moves to summer in the Bold City, Fisher recommends a brew she calls the King’s Woods that uses chamomile, tangerine, lemon and bee pollen — ingredients that she said can be found in many Florida backyards or, at least, grocery stores.
The King’s Woods
- 2 oz Woodford Reserve Rye
- .75 oz chamomile lavender tea honey syrup
- 1 oz tangerine juice
- .25 oz lemon juice
- 2-3 dashes orange flower blossom water
- bee pollen
Tea Syrup (process can be used to make any tea syrup)
- Boil 1 cup of water
- Remove from heat, add 4-6 of chamomile lavender tea bags (or you can make your own with fresh herb sachets)
- Let steep for at least 5 minutes
- Remove tea bags
- Return to slight boil
- Add 1 cup sugar
- Stir until it is dissolved
- Let it cool, strain if necessary
- Keep in refrigerator for up to a month
- Mix all ingredients in a tall drink shaker except for the bee pollen
- Add ice and shake for at least 30 seconds
- Pour through a strainer into a chilled glass
- Garnish with bee pollen
Throughout her childhood, Fisher made concoctions in her mother’s kitchen from local, foraged ingredients. When she finished college at Virginia Commonwealth University, Fisher moved to NYC to pursue her passion for acting. She began bartending as a flexible and lucrative way to supplement her income. Initially, she found little excitement in making “Kamikaze shots” and cosmopolitans. However, after visiting a speakeasy on the Lower East Side called Milk and Honey, her eyes were opened to the world of craft cocktails. Since that time, she has worked in several renowned establishments, honing her craft and creating cocktails that inspire emotions. She moved to Jacksonville in 2014 and enjoys teaching her young son how to find, and prepare, the herbs she picked as a child.