Chamomile for Cocktails

Marolo's Grappa & Camomile, an Italian liqueur made by infusing chamomile flowers in Nebbiola-grape grappa, has been around for a while, but it's starting to get some love from good bartenders like Kelley Swenson at Portland, Oregon's Ten 01. His chamomile sour was my first run-in with chamomile mixed in a cocktail. It changed my opinion of the herb, which had always been colored by its role as the oldest, crustiest tea bag leftover in the "mixed herbal tea" sampler. Combined with gin, lemon juice, and honey, the Grappa & Camomile took a simple sour and gave it a twist of earthy, floral flavor. It was an eyeopener to someone who had previously regarded chamomile as tasting like watery dirt.

Chamomile cocktail action has also been spotted at San Francisco's Cask Spirits, in the form of J. Witty Organic Chamomile Liqueur, and at New York City's Death + Company, where Old Overholt Rye is infused with chamomile, then mixed with Campari and St. Germain.