Nojito: May Flowers
Friday, June 5, 2009
Credit the mojito, with its fresh mint and subtle sweetness, for changing the palates of tipplers everywhere. Without it, we might have all gone on ordering rum and Cokes and cloyingly sweet, synthetic amaretto sours and never learned any better.
Firefly's Alice Gaber met our challenge by taking the mojito's fresh-from-the-garden taste up a notch. Her herbaceous cocktail May Flowers takes its name from her signature house-made lavender liqueur, which she blended with gin and fresh grapefruit juice, and topped off with a dry Riesling that mellows lavender's medicinal edge. Then, the final touch: Floating delicately on top are edible flowers, including Johnny-jump-ups and violas, which Gaber picks just outside Firefly.
The resulting drink is a perfect post-brunch indulgence that you first taste with your nose, then with your tongue.
But can it really be done at home? As daunting as it might seem to make your own infusion, Gaber, who has been making her own liqueurs since 2006, says it requires only a few steps. Lavender, rose, jasmine and any number of fruits will give vodka a lovely hint of their flavor; use dried flowers (which you can get from Whole Foods) for intense flavor, and let it sit for at least a week (refrigerate if you're using fruit).
"When you buy Stoli Lemon, you don't know how much sugar is in it," Gaber says. "When you do it yourself, you can use fresh, even organic ingredients." She will be serving May Flowers through the end of the summer.
1310 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-861-1310. www.firefly-dc.com