Formerly known under the name of the dragon’s and snake’s herb, it’s name today is actually quite unspectacular. The flavour, the herb was lucky enough to maintain is far away from that and an interesting cocktail ingredient at the same time. Fountain of Flavour on a dragon hunt…
Fountain of Tarragon:
The tarragon you can buy in a local grocery store over here comes directly from Germany, the balkan countries, the Netherlands or the South of Italiy. Orignally, it was first cultivated in Asia, then discovered by some knights while on crusades and thus brought over to Europe. The rough type called ‚russian tarragon’ grows all over Sibiria’s landscapes at an average annual temperature of only 32° Fahrenheit. It’s mystic name is said to derive from the ancient superstition to fight dragons with tarragon and to use it as antidote against snake bites. It was not until french cooks first started to discover it’s culinary value (e.g. Sauce Bernaise) that tarragon became more and more common. Meanwhile, tarragon is also known for it’s use within the cocktail culture. Botanically, tarragon can be classified as a composite plant, relative of the wormwood. It’s tendency to alcohol though might run the family.
Flavour of Tarragon:
The snake herb’s flavour differs from it’s variation. Talking about german or french tarragon, it’s flavour comes mostly from the aromatic substances of Anethol and Estragol. Anethol is the main flavoring of anise and fennel and Estragol, molecular component of basil and chervil works quite well with each other. In terms of the cultivation area and the climatic conditions, several additional flavours develop to a varying extend. Among those, fresh-stringy, citrus and pine, velvet and rose. The russian tarragon has most of the resinous flavour but can culinarily never be compared to the german and french tarragon due to it’s bitter aroma.
Function of Tarragon:
To extract tarragon’s precious flavour we recommend to use alcoholic substances or fat as a solvent since most of the aroma can only be dissolved this way. In the cuisine we often use fat, in the bar instead we highly prefer it’s maceration in alcohol at room temperature. One could as well put tarragon into the shaker but one would therby lose it’s bitter substances. Even storing it in a fridge, tarragon can show significant loss of quality after 1-2 days. We therfore advise to conserve it in a spirit or vinegar. Speaking of pairing options, fresh fruits like pineapple, apple, mild fruits like banana or several citrus fruits can be used. Yet, herbs and spices make up a good partner as well. Either anise or fennel – with Anethol carrying the same molecular component, or mustard, laurel, muscat, basil and chervil do well.
Formula of Tarragon:
Today’s recipe features a light and herb but as well fresh Gin-Cocktail that works quite well with tarragon. The lightly bitter flavour of tarragon is attacked by the the pineapple-juice but the floral and fresh scents of the herb are supported by the juice.
20ml freshly squeezed lemon-juice
10ml sugar syrup
Put all ingredients into a shaker and give it a good shake. Strain it into a pre-cooled glas and garnish with grated nutmeg and some pineapple leaves.
*Take 15gr. of tarragon and 0,7l of gin. Let it sit for 48 hours at room temperature. Strain the tarragon out of the gin.