Precious Thyme

April 20th, 2010  |  Published in housemade, liqueur, mixers, recipes, spring, summer  |  5 Comments

The name of the drink may be a pun, but it is an apt description of life lately. When I’m away from the computer and the cocktail shaker, I spend most of my time gardening or cooking. My little empire of dirt takes up most of my time, as I start all my vegetables from seed, and have recently begun trying my hand at other forms of propagation. Any gardener can tell you that seedlings require time and attention, so most of my day is spent in various planting, pruning and fertilizing efforts—efforts which unfortunately are best done in daylight, leaving me little time for photographing cocktails.

Happily, my wee plants are all getting big and strong (at least the ones that can be at this time of the season), so we snipped some fresh thyme from the garden and made use of our delicious fresh batch of homemade limoncello (thanks, Maria!). We found the Precious Thyme in the pages of The Essential Bartender’s Guide, on the hunt for a limoncello cocktail. The drink is a variation on a Negroni put together by Francesco Lafranconi; the limoncello subs for gin and the drink is topped off with club soda for a light, refreshing highball. If you really want to gild the lily a few dashes of lemon or orange bitters would be tasty, and subbing Aperol for the Campari would be a nice variation here too.

1 oz Campari
1¼ oz limoncello
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz club soda
sprig of fresh thyme

Build all ingredients (except thyme) over ice in a highball glass. Stir, garnish with the fresh thyme and a wheel of lemon and orange, and serve.

Though Francesco kept the 1:1:1 proportions of the Negroni in this, we found that the Campari overwhelmed our limoncello. I’d recommend starting with 1 oz and adding more if you find the flavor of the limoncello being drowned out by the bitterness of the Campari. Overall this drink is very pleasant—light, refreshing and bright. I’d recommend bruising the thyme lightly before garnishing the drink to bring out the full aroma, but all together this makes a lovely, easy drink.

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  1. Eric Angle says:

    April 21st, 2010at 9:08 am(#)

    I love negronis, so it’s only a matter of time before I try this one.

    Question about soda siphons: I typically just buy soda water from the store for use in cocktails, but am interested in getting a soda siphon, probably iSi’s–actually, I got one, but want to clear this issue up before I use it. If you’re familiar with these, do you know if there are limitations on the kinds of liquids you can put in an iSi soda siphon (as opposed to an iSi whipper)? The manual says you can only use water and not juice, syrups, alcohol, etc. I ask because there may be instances where you want to add bubbles but not extra water to a cocktail or other beverage. Do you have to use a whipper in order to do this? I guess it doesn’t make sense why one would allow non-water liquids and one wouldn’t, and wonder if this statement in the manual is just a guideline and not to be taken too seriously.

  2. Marleigh says:

    May 6th, 2010at 11:42 am(#)

    Eric—While I would love to own a soda syphon, that is beyond my ken. I buy all my soda water pre-charged in a bottle. I’m sure someone out there knows, though; I’d try eGullet or just Google the iSi to see what other users have to say. Cheers!

  3. Neil - YetAnotherGin says:

    June 5th, 2010at 5:45 am(#)

    Sounds very nice, I’m a real fan of the Negroni, but this looks like something that might not have as much as a ‘kick’, and be great as a long drink. Something you can have more than 2 of without feeling a bit too squiffy!

  4. Bill Connelly says:

    June 6th, 2010at 6:34 pm(#)

    I’m looking forward to trying this. I’ve yet to try a cocktail that really makes the most of an herb, but I live and hope.

  5. Marleigh says:

    June 8th, 2010at 8:04 am(#)

    Neil — It’s pretty mild, making it a nice tall drink with the flavor of a Negroni… but you can have a few without taking the same kind of punishment.

    Bill — I wouldn’t recommend this one as a gem on that score. I find mint to be the easiest to make the most of, whether muddled in a Julep or garnishing a Mai Tai. The aromatic qualities of the thyme are great here, but it should really be steeped in a syrup to extract all it’s potential.

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