To Market To Market
Bogotá has a “mercado de aromáticas” or aromatic herb market that sells almost exclusively medicinal plants. Two nights a week, it stays open all night, as the vendors bring in the cut plants in the chill of the night to prevent wilting. You can smell the market from two blocks before you see it: the pungent grassiness of rue, the sweetness of chamomile, the resinous spice of rosemary. It is one of the most magical places in Bogotá.
I went to the market last week and returned with two amazing ingredients. The first was a lemon-like fruit from Tolima with just a touch of green. Probably some kind of lemon/lime hybrid. Lemons are expensive, imported, and not available consistently in Bogotá, so I was excited to find a similar local variant. The second was a huge bundle of fresh chamomile.
I bought the chamomile into work in a glass jar.
“Me acuerdo de mi abuela,” said one of my coworkers. It reminds me of my grandma.
“A mi también,” said another. Me too.
“Manzanilla de castilla,” said the first. “Ella me hizo beber aromáticas para todo.” German chamomile. She made me drink aromaticas (herbal tea made by infusing fresh herbs or fruit in hot water) for everything.
“Si si si si,” said the second. “Appendicitis? Aromática! Herida de bala? Aromática! Jajajaja!” Yes yes yes. Appendicitis? Herbal tea! Gunshot wound? Herbal tea! Hahaha!
- 1.5 oz | 45ml London Dry gin (Old Tom would also be delicious, I bet)
- .75 oz | 22.5ml lemon-ish juice
- .75 oz | 22.5ml honey syrup infused with chamomile
- .5 oz | 15ml blanc vermouth
- .75 oz | 22.5ml egg white
DirectionsMeasure all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, egg white last. Shake without ice first, add ice, and reshake for 20-30 seconds. (Reverse dry shake works too.) Double strain into a coupe and decorate with fresh chamomile flowers. You can also express a lemon peel over the foam to get rid of the eggy smell.
Honey Chamomile Syrup
- 500ml good-quality pure honey
- 250ml water
- 10g fresh chamomile leaves and flowers
DirectionsPick the flowers and the leaves from fresh chamomile until you have a fistful (about 10g). If you want a grassier flavor, more leaves. If you want floral and sweet, more flowers. I used about 3 parts flowers to 1 part leaves. Cover them with cold water and let sit while you make the honey syrup to reduce astringency.
Take 500ml of pure honey and 250ml hot water and mix until combined.
Strain the chamomile. Add to the honey syrup. Let steep for 3-4 hours.