Fire & Smoke © Aaron Cook | AACK Studio
You love them for shade, for climbing, and if you're a squirrel, for their cozy hollows, but trees also have a lot to offer when it comes to cocktails. The roots and bark imbue tinctures with a woody sweetness, the sap lends itself to an aromatic syrup, the leaves infuse spirits with freshness and the buds can be made into a concentrated tree-essence.
At star chef Suzanne Goin's A.O.C. in L.A., lead bartender Christiaan Rollich features a bark-infused drink on his new cocktail menu. The Fire & Smoke gets its heat from a spicy arbol chile tincture, smoky flavor from a mezcal rinse and body from a mix of tequila, fresh blood orange juice, lime juice and an infusion of sweet wood a.k.a. licorice root. Rollich remembered sweet wood from his childhood in the Netherlands, where he chewed on pieces of the root instead of candy (it can have a very sweet flavor with just a hint of anise). To make the infusion, he soaks the wood in vodka for weeks, then strains it through a chinois. The resulting tincture mellows out the spicy-smoky-citrusy cocktail, which is shaken and served over ice with a blood orange twist. Here, more cocktails that make use of roots, sap, bark and buds.