Saffron Cooler

Daniel Orr first served this drink in the '90s at La Grenouille, a fixture in Midtown Manhattan. It's an infinitely more complex and food-friendly alternative to the wine spritzer.

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  • Servings: makes 2 quarts

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  • 1 quart water
  • 1 bottle dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves

How to make this recipe

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water with the wine, honey, ginger, cardamom, allspice, cinnamon, star anise, lemongrass, saffron, peppercorns, fennel seeds, hot sauce and half of the lemon slices and bring to a boil. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.

  2. In a large pitcher, lightly crush the mint with a wooden spoon. Add the chilled mixture and stir. Strain the cooler before serving. Garnish with the remaining lemon slices and serve.

Make Ahead

The cooler can be refrigerated after straining for up to 2 days.


Saffron is the world's most expensive spice, but luckily, a little goes a long way. Why is it so expensive? Saffron comes from the crocus flower, which produces only three bright red saffron threads. Since they are so delicate, they must be picked by hand.

Before adding saffron to a recipe, lightly crumble the threads between your fingers to release its oils. Saffron is very sensitive to light and moisture and absorbs other flavors and odors easily; store it away from light in an airtight container.

Contributed By Photo © James Baigrie Published July 2004

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