The variety of ways to combine flavors in food and drink has long fascinated me. During our recent visit to Chicago, my wife and I discovered what may be the most intriguing example to date.

On our way back from dinner at Mercadito, we stopped for a nightcap at the Café des Architectes Bar at the Hotel Sofitel Water Tower. Management at this upscale watering hole encourages its bartenders to experiment and develop cocktails that are unique.

As one who prefers savory over sweet, one drink in particular caught my eye. I don’t remember what the bar called it, but it is essentially a Rosemary Martini. It’s made from gin, St. Germain (an elderflower liqueur that has a taste similar to lychee nuts), freshly squeezed lime juice, and rosemary. Shaken martini-style, it was then poured into a chilled martini glass that had been rinsed with Absinthe.

It was definitely different: tart but flavorful. However, because I didn’t care for the licorice notes the Absinthe brought to this particular party, I experimented at home and came up with something more to my liking. Perhaps it will be yours, too. Here’s the recipe:

Carl’s Rosemary Martini

In a bar glass, muddle 10 (or more) fresh rosemary leaves in one part fresh squeezed lime juice (fresh off the plant is best, followed by rosemary from those plastic clam-shell packages. It’s the oil you’re after. If all you have is dried rosemary, wait until you can get the fresh stuff).

One part St. Germain
1-1/4 part gin
A dash of sugar syrup

Shake as you would a martini, then double strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

While this is a drink that may not stand the test of time (depending partially on how entrenched St. Germain becomes), it is certainly interesting and refreshing. It also goes to show that fresh ingredients make better, if more expensive, drinks than relying on bottled mixes. 

Finally it shows that, when it comes to food and drink, there are still have many delightful flavor combinations to discover.
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