Borage flowers, according to sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard, "exhilarate and make the minde glad." One look at the vivid, star-shaped blue flowers and I tend to agree. Gerard wrote that a syrup of the flowers could "comforteth the heart" and "purgeth melancholy." It also captures the plant's lovely cucumber flavor.
So we have gorgeous edible flowers, cucumber-flavored syrup ... a cocktail can't be far behind! (Borage is in fact the traditional garnish for Pimm's Cup.) This cocktail is essentially a borage-laced gin fizz; I've tried it with a few different gins and all have been good, although Hendrick's, with its notes of rose and cucumber, is particularly delightful. It can also be served as a pretty and refreshing pitcher drink for warm weather gatherings.
Once essential to the medieval European garden, borage isn't as widespread these days. However, many gardeners still grow it as a companion plant for tomatoes, strawberries, and other plants. Borage can also be found at the farmers' market on occasion. Shear Rock Farms had some at the Echo Park Farmers' Market last week.
Makes 1 drink
1 1/2 ounces borage syrup (see below)
1 1/2 ounces lemon juice
1 1/2 ounces gin (I like Hendrik's for this recipe)
2 ounces club soda
Lemon slice, for garnish
Borage flowers, for garnish
Pour the borage syrup, lemon juice, and gin into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, strain into an ice-filled glass, and top off with soda. Garnish with a lemon slice and borage flowers.
• This can also be served as a pitcher drink, increasing the recipe as desired. Simply stir the borage syrup, lemon juice, gin, and club soda together in pitcher, and garnish. Serve over ice.
Makes about 12 ounces
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (or 1/2 sugar and 1/2 honey)
1/2 cup borage flowers and leaves
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the borage. Let steep for at least 1 hour and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Cover and keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.