Juniperus {a juniper infused mezcal cocktail}

This juniper infused mezcal cocktail brings together blueberry, lime, agave, and herbal aromatics for all desert occasions, paying homage to the rustic beauty of Nevada’s flora. It’s also refreshing and complex.

Juniperus : a juniper infused mezcal cocktail :

We all know juniper’s true calling: to provide the fresh, piney taste and scent to London Dry Gin. Ok, so maybe that’s not its ONLY purpose, but that’s what we booze hounds know it for. Incidentally, the Juniper tree grows everywhere in my native home, Northern Nevada. It is part of a larger ecosystem indigenous to the high desert that includes woodsy and highly aromatic flora bleached out by a white-hot sunlight that seems to quiver with unseen life. I’ve been wanting to develop a cocktail that attempts to capture this. At the height of our current heat wave, I figured now was the time.

Juniperus : a juniper infused mezcal cocktail with blueberries and sage :

I knew I’d have to play with sage and juniper, but I didn’t want to go the route of gin. Don’t get me wrong, gin is my favorite spirit. I just wanted to use something with more of its own character that I could then add juniper to. Mezcal was my first and only choice; its smokiness would work to suggest the aromas of the dry, gnarled shrubs and soft, earthy wood of the Nevada desert. So I crushed up some juniper berries, threw them in some mezcal, and let them go to work for a few days. Now, juniper berries aren’t proper berries; they’re the cone of the juniper tree. They’re just so small and compact that they look like berries. These cones are loaded with the resiny oils and compounds that we associate with pine. They match up perfectly with mezcal. Trust me. I’d drink this stuff by itself.

Juniperus : juniper infused mezcal cocktail :

Dressing up the rest of the cocktail was simple. I just built it with all of the requisite components of a well-balanced cocktail but kept the desert flora theme in mind. For sugar, I went with agave and creme de cassis because both have a raw, rustic, earthy quality to them. For acid, I went with lime because of its slight bitterness and affinity for mezcal and agave. And for the bitters, I stuck with floral and vegetal flavors: lavender and celery. You could really use any berry for the fruit base, but I went with blueberries because they taste amazing this time of year and look just like bloated juniper berries. Finally, if you’ve ever smelled the high desert after a summer rain, you’ll know why I went with fresh sage for the garnish.

Juniperus : juniper infused mezcal cocktail with blueberries :

Touting more than just tangy fruit and booze, this is a summer cocktail with vegetal, floral, and earthy complexity. But it’s still compulsively drinkable and ultra refreshing. Aside from this juniper infused mezcal cocktail, there aren’t many others out there, so I implore you to play with these flavors and taste some truly delicious and unique uses for the juniper infused mezcal. It’s that good.

Juniperus {a juniper infused mezcal cocktail}
Inspired by the smells and flavors of the Nevada high desert, this juniper infused mezcal cocktail tastes and looks great on a warm summer evening.
Serves: 1
  • 8-10 Fresh blueberries
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • ½ ounce Agave Syrup
  • ¾ ounce Fresh Lime Juice
  • A few dashes Celery Bitters
  • A few dashes Lavender Bitters
  • 1½ ounces Juniper Infused Mezcal (recipe below)
  • ¼ Creme de Cassis
  • *Juniper-Infused Mezcal: Use a mortar and pestle (or simply a ziploc bag and meat tenderizer) to crush about 15-20 juniper berries. Add to 1 cup of mezcal bianco. Let rest at least 3 days being sure to shake the mixture every day or so. Strain out juniper berries. Enjoy!
  1. Place blueberries, 2 to 3 sage leaves, agave syrup, lime juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Muddle sage and berries just enough to break the berries apart and crush the sage leaves so they release their oils.
  3. Add juniper infused mezcal and creme de cassis.
  4. Fill up to ⅔ with ice.
  5. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds.
  6. Fine strain over a large ice cube into an old fashioned glass.
  7. Garnish with a fresh sage leaf and a few juniper berries.

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Nicholas Stanton

Bartender/Sales Associate at Craft Wine & Beer
I am strongly rooted in the Reno community. I believe in radically local ethics and the consumer support of micro communities. A large component of this is in the arts to express our realities, outdoor activities to encourage health and a deep care for the environment and food and drink culture to support local producers, farmers, and businesses. When I'm not geeking out and purveying new and exciting products at Craft Wine & Beer, I can be found cycling around town, reading literature of the Americas and dense philosophy and critical theory. Oh yeah, and keeping my two neurotic Border Collies entertained.
Filed under: Cocktail Recipes, Other Cocktail Recipes
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