Look for the chamomile julep on the ever-changing cocktail list at Firefly, a swanky restaurant known for innovative drinks. Manager Derek Brown often uses unusual ingredients to put new spins on classics, in this case swapping the standard mint syrup found in a mint julep for the lighter, floral flavors of a chamomile brew. He prefers to mix the julep with Jim Beam bourbon, which has a more neutral flavor than other bourbons, but you can use any brand. Brown's taste for Jim Beam extends to his off-work time, when he prefers to drink it neat.
- 2 tablespoons dried chamomile (available in natural food stores or upscale groceries)
- 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
Place the chamomile and fennel seeds on a small square of cheesecloth doubled in thickness (a 6- to 8-inch square works well). Secure the ends with a piece of twine, forming a small spice sack.
In a small saucepan, place the sack with the sugar and water and boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is infused with the chamomile flavor. Remove from heat and let sit until it cools to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
Adapted from Derek Brown of Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 202-861-1310).
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