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.
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 a 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.