By the time the spruce shoots are ready, I know that there is real respite from the cold and that spring is truly here. The shoots emerge from their brown, papery casings into lime green buds that appear on the tips of the spruce trees as the air begins to warm. As the days grow warmer, these shoots fan out and form dark green spikey needles, so you need to be on the lookout and pick them when they’re just shooting. Their lemony, citrusy, slightly earthy flavors are just the thing needed to ring in spring.
Spruce shoot cocktails
2 ounces gin
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce St Germain
1 ounce spruce shoot simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 slice lemon
Spruce shoot for garnish
In a cocktail shaker combine the gin, lemon juice, spruce shoot syrup, slice of lemon with ice and shake. Pour into a cocktail glass, add ice if you want and garnish with a spruce shoot and slice of lemon.
Spruce shoot syrup
2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups fresh or frozen spruce shoots.
2 tablespoons lemon juice
In a saucepan combine bring water, sugar, spruce shoots and lemon over a medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to steep and cool for at least an hour. Strain through cheesecloth and pour into a sterilized glass jar. The syrup will keep in the fridge for 2-3 months.