If you find yourself in the middle of the high season for strawberries, of course the thought arises to use this fruit as an ingredient in some classic drinks. The problem is: there are not many classic drinks that rely on fresh strawberries. I don’t really want to mention all those some dubious sweet versions of classics like the Margarita or the Daiquiri. Those can be good…but all too often are the opposite.
Strawberries have a very interesting flavor profile in which the sweetness is often seen as the main aspect of the fruit. Strawberries also have a fine acidity and these intense fruit flavors without which they won’t probably be so popular. It is no accident there are numerous recipes where strawberries are – for example as a starter or in some desserts – combined with pepper and herbs. Actually strawberries and pepper have become a classic harmony of flavors. Or who does not know the strawberry on a steak?
When first mixing today’s drink I wanted to create a drink that just highlights the lesser sweet tones of the strawberries and comes with a nice complexity of aromas. Base spirit here is a gin which harmonizes perfectly with the strawberry due to its floral and herbal notes. The hotness of pepper combined with the hot and fruity depth of Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub and a dash of Angostura add a nice complexity to the drink. Fresh mint gives a fresh emphasize to underline the “woody” character. A little sugar is, however, also used to avoid neglecting the sweet side of the strawberry completely. However, if you expect a drink in the sense of a Strawberry Margarita your expectations will definitely be disappointed.
I have named the drink after Thallo, a goddess from Greek mythology that represents burgeoning nature. Like a breath of the forest the Thallo’s Breeze is a wonderfully complex cocktail. Although it certainly looks rather sweet at first glance, anyone who likes it more sweetly can adjust the amount of sugar used.
7.5 cl Gin
5 drops of Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub
1 Dash Angostura
A twig of mint (+ another for garnish)
2 cl lime juice
½ teaspoon sugar
Preparation: The Thallo’s Breeze is “built” directly in the glass. First, add lime juice and sugar in a glass and stir together until the sugar has dissolved. Now add mint leaves and peppercorns and press lightly with your muddler. Then cut 2 strawberries into slices, also add to the glass and press them very gently, without crushing them completely. Add Gin, Angostura bitters and Hellfire Habanero Shrub and fill with ice. Stir with your bar spoon until the glass turns foggy on the outside from the cold. At last, float the drink with some tonic.
Garnish: twig of mint and a strawberry
Buying Sources: Angostura bitters and a high-quality gin can be obtained at well-stocked supermarkets, in specialized stores or online (for example here). I recommend using a gin which has a stronger juniper character. You will probably find The Bittermens Hellfire Habanero Shrub only via the internet or with luck in specialized stores. I like to buy my fresh mint in Turkish supermarkets while strawberries are best if bought directly from the farmer.