Monday, March 05, 2012


There's a relatively new restaurant in Toronto called Woodlot. I don't think I can over-recommend it. A small menu of delicious food and excellent drinks.

I went last month and ordered what was essentially a beefed up Gin & Tonic, then ordered another one because it was delicious.

I didn't note all the ingredients, but one that stuck out was orris root. I'd never heard of this before, and ye olde Googles turned up some answers. It's an iris root that's been dried and is commonly used in perfume, although it was once an herbal medicine.

So, not something that shows up in your local grocery store.

But, then I found some store of impossible-to-find herbs and spices not that far from me, and lo they did have this dried root.

Then Absinthetics went and tweeted about ras el hanout, a north African spice mixture that can contain orris root, and this got me thinking back to that drink.

So last night I searched my brain for what else was in that drink of many weeks past, and came up with something, while not the same, still solid, if a bit different.

I put around 1/2 a teaspoon of dried orris root in a tea ball and dropped that in 3.5 oz of good gin (I was running low, so it was a combination of Hendrick's and Tanqueray). The longer you let it steep, the more of a flowery flavour it imparts.  I'd go with lavender, even though the root's been compared to violets (and it's from an iris).  So unless you want to drink a bouquet, don't overdo it.

Along with the teaball of root, I dropped in a slice of lemon, a bay leaf, and a couple dried juniper berries (a la José Andres' gin and tonic, which has caused a not-cheap addiction to buying Fever Tree tonic whenever I pass it). This all sat in the gin while I prepared dinner and the rest of the drink. Perhaps a bit too long.

I put a glass in the freezer for a bit, and when I was ready to finish the drink, I dropped some ice in and poured in a bit of vermouth.  The vermouth as swirled with the ice, and then dumped out, with the ice kept in the glass.

I took out the root, and dumped the rest into the chilled, vermouth-coated glass. I then topped off the glass (about 50%) with some Fentiman's Tonic Water and gave it a quick stir.

The result? A gin and tonic with more depth and complexity. Yes, there was definitely some flowery flavour in there, since I had no idea how well the orris root would work - next time, less time steeping.  But very drinkable, and a nice change of pace.

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