Axel, or Aki is a well-known person in the bar scene. Working as brand-ambassador for Absolut Vodka, he has already created, seen and tasted some drinks. Originally, he comes (just like us) from the Ruhrgebiet, to be precisely, from Essen, where he once worked in the legendary Fcuk Yoga Bar. Today, he will tell us about his favorite herb.
The lemon verbena (also called South American verbena) actually has a truly dramatic story. In 1700, the herb has come from Uruguay and Argentina to Europe by sea, but was never taken up concretely in the botanical literature. The French botanist Joseph Dombey explored the plant again in South America in 1778. But in 1780 he found himself in the middle of the Peruvian civil war. After surviving the chaotic circumstances of a war, a cholera epidemic hit him and his ship became a shipwreck (yes, it was not Joseph’s best year). Anyways, he managed to get to Spain with his pocketbook and his collection of herbs. All of his encounters and reports on plants were then confiscated by police and became more and more rotten in the police warehouse in Cadiz. Only a few herbs managed to overcome these circumstances; one of them was the lemon verbena. This time Joseph’s botanist colleagues became aware of the aromatic, robust herb and so it was properly identified and described. Joseph’s Odysse continued: At his next expedition to Guadaloupe he was arrested, then relegated off the island. The ship on which he was sailing was capsized directly and he had to return to prison on the nearby island Montserat, where he died in 1796. That was the exciting life of the botanist Joseph Dombey. Also a botanist can experience some adventures on his travels!
The herb has a very high concentration of essential oils. The leaves dry quickly and are therefore very durable. It retains a surprisingly long time the delicious lemon drop flavor. In my opinion the best herbal tea ever. Slightly invigorating for the mind, it calms the stomach and is has always a delicious lemon herb flavoring. Gladly infuse this tea even 2-3 times. It grows like weeds over the entire year. It loves (as we did) the vigorous sun in the garden, not the shadows. Through this it has a significant less flavor. It´s better to store it in the basement over the winter. For me, the plant has kept very well just outside without something to do. It means the verbena is not resistent to frost very well.
Smell: fresh, lemony, lemon grass, pleasant, spicy
Taste: fruity, fresh, lemon drop, sweet, bright, herbaceous
Fits: Vodka, chartreuse green, lemon, lime, pineapple, ginger
My Garden Tip:
Order the finished plant from Kräuter und Duftpflanzen for € 5.20 per unit, plant it in the garden with enough distance to the neighboring plant (and the neighbor), it needs not a lot care, harvest the herb every 2-3 months, then dry it and store it at room temperature.
I created a drink in honor of the botanist Joseph Dombey. The ingredients that I used are combined from regions, which Joseph has traveled to in order to collect his herbs.
For this you must first create a vodka infusion:
20 leaves lemon verbena (fresh), half a vanilla pod, 2 tablespoons honey, lime zest of a lime, 1 thumb thick piece of ginger, 150 g of fresh pineapple, 2 stalks lemongrass crushed, 1 Liter Absolut Vodka. Either vacuuming and heat for 20 minutes at 65 ° C in sous-vide machine, then cool quickly, sieve and store in a cold place. Or store all the ingredients within 1 week in a closed vessel, then filter and store it at cool temperature.
5 cl lemon verbena infused vodka (see above)
2 cl fresh lime juice
2 cl cane syrups
1 cl Chartreuse green
Add all ingredients in a shaker, shake and strain it into a tumbler with ice. Top it with a splash of soda water and serve it with fresh lemon verbena and lemon grass one. Voila!
I hope you enjoy this drink in summer on the terrace or in the winter with a delicious verbena tea on the couch. Joseph Dombey would be happy. So am I.
Brand Ambassador Absolut Vodka Germany