"I'm trying to bridge the gap between the backwoods, radical herbalists who dig up roots and modern Americans," says Jovial King, the Vermont-based founder of Urban Moonshine, a line of bitters and tonics. Her fascination with herbal remedies started when she was a kid, living off the grid with hippie parents. She still relies on home remedies: a chamomile tonic to settle an upset stomach, rose-lavender honey to soothe frazzled nerves. "People get scared of herbal supplements, but we all cook with herbs," she says. F&W's Marcia Kiesel was inspired by King's concoctions to create a bracing cucumber cocktail spiked with chamomile tonic and bite-size yogurt-stuffed peppers drizzled with floral honey. Like Urban Moonshine, Marcia's recipes are more modern than backwoods.
"A lot of cultures start meals with an aperitif or end with a digestif," says Jovial King. "Having a bitter drink before or after a meal is just a way to slow down, which is always great for digestion." Her chamomile tonic, with vodka and dandelion greens, is delicious in Marcia Kiesel's refreshing, unsweetened cocktail.
"Honey is an incredible anti-everything," says Jovial King. "It's antibacterial, antiviral and great for combating allergies, as long as it's raw." Marcia uses King's flower-infused honey in savory dishes, like these yogurt-stuffed peppers.
"Infusing olive oil is a great way to add more herbs to your life," says King. (Herbs are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.) In this main-course salad, Marcia rubs the oil on duck breasts and shallots before grilling them and also uses it in a vinaigrette.