"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.
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"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.