Juniper doesn’t deserve its maligned reputation in the cocktail world. “People associate juniper with gin — with the things that they dislike about gin — and that’s too bad,” says Keith Mrotek, bar manager at P.S. Steak in Minneapolis. “Because when it’s in balance, juniper is delicate, super-floral and super-pretty. Mix it with citrus, and it’s so refreshing.”
As it sneaks its way into bar programs all over the Twin Cities, remember this about juniper: moderation is the key.
“It’s a very strong flavor, like thyme or rosemary,” says Jessi Pollak, bar manager at Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis. “It’s so aromatic that it can overpower other ingredients. But that resin-ey bitterness can also add complexity.”
Although Mrotek has created his own juniper extract (“It’s a difficult ingredient to work with,” he says), he recommends buying Mugolio, an imported syrup fashioned from foraged Italian mugo pine buds. “It’s a great way to amplify the juniper notes and tap into that coniferous flavor profile,” he says.
Try these 3 juniper cocktails:
Spoon and Stable, spoonandstable.com
Bar manager Jessi Pollak offers a half-dozen spirit-free cocktails at this North Loop mixology hot spot, including a chilled tea that she brews after blending dried hibiscus flowers with coriander, cardamom, honey and juniper berries.
Mary of the Fall
Eat Street Social, eatstreetsocial.com
Juniper-seasoned salt is one of two secret weapons of this golden beauty; the other is allspice. A Wisconsin-made aquavit provides both its fall-leaves color and its spice-drawer flavor notes of caraway, coriander and star anise.
Marvel Bar, marvelbar.com
“One of my favorite juniper bombs is to make our Dry Martini with Lawless’ Juniper Gin, a gin that toes the line with how much single-note juniper can be present in a spirit and still be called ‘gin,’ ” says General Manager Peder Schweigert.