Celebrate the last few weeks of summer with a fresh-from-the-garden cocktail! We have the perfect recipe right here…
There are few things as glorious as a New England summer. Sun-dappled back roads entice with the promise of yet-to-be-discovered swimming holes, hazy afternoons in a hammock turn into star-lit evenings beside a campfire with s’mores and something strong to drink in hand. And the smell… the smell! There’s nothing like it. Sweet chamomile, age-old mouldering pine forests, briny clam flats at low tide… each one a harbinger of these few glorious months that come after winter, a season best described as harrowing, especially in Maine (where I’m from). This is to where I escape at least a few times a year and, if I’m lucky, more than once when summer rolls around. A few weeks ago I hopped in my car and left city life in the dust, making the nine-and-a-half hour journey north for a few days of quiet. There are several pit-stops I almost always make along the way — the North Shore of Massachusetts to see soul friends, the New Hampshire border to stock up on campfire supplies — but the one I most look forward to is in the small New Hampshire town of Tamworth, where the Tamworth Lyceum and the now-open-to-the-public Tamworth Distilling can be found.
A lot has happened in the seven months following this post, and I was excited to see how the space has transformed. In a building that formerly offered just a hint at its future use, shelves now line the walls, stocked with every dried herb and flower you can imagine and bottles full of Tamworth’s own white whiskeys, gins and garden infusions. But there was one bottle in particular, one adorned with gorgeous illustrations, that spiked my curiosity: the Good Reverend’s Universal Spirit.
The Universal Spirit knows no bounds; high proof and neutral, it can be customized for any season and take on the flavor and form of whatever you happen to plunk into it (in a pinch, it can even be used to clean your countertops, though I’m not sure why you’d want to waste even a drop). There’s magic in this bottle, which is reflected in the illustrations that adorn the label. On this particular visit, I worked with my dear friend Jamie once again to create the perfect seasonal drink using dried lemon peels, fresh lemon thyme from the garden out back, a squeeze or two of the fruit itself and a heaping portion of raw honey from the state next door. This drink is the perfect reflection of what summer is all about in the Northeast – simplicity, a handful or two of what’s in the garden and not much more. Grab some ingredients and a few friends, and whip this up this weekend to savor these last few weeks of summer.
The Good Reverend’s Good Thyme
Universal Spirit (or any plain spirit you can get locally, though a visit is recommended)
Fresh or dried lemon peel
Fresh lemon thyme
Seltzer or tonic, optional and to taste
To infuse the entire bottle, place a small handful of thyme, the peel from one lemon and Universal Spirit in a large jar, seal, and allow to sit. For best results, seal on a new moon and strain on the following full moon.
In a pinch, which is the method we followed as there were no new moons to be found, place lemon peel and thyme at the bottom of each glass, pour a couple finger’s worth of Universal Spirit over it and allow to sit for a few hours. To speed up the process, use a muddler to break up the peel and thyme. Once it’s been given a few hours to come together, add a heaping tablespoon of raw honey and a squeeze of fresh lemon per glass and stir. Strain into a new glass and add seltzer or tonic if desired (I recommend it), a sprig of fresh thyme, and serve. Enjoy!