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“Do you want the tops?” the woman at the Rhinebeck farmers market asked us. It was last Sunday and we had bought fennel for one of Suzen’s classes at Cooking by the Book. The fennel bulb was destined to be shaved thinly and used in a salad. But the tops? Those sprawling tops that seem like dry seaweed? What would you do with those.

“You know,” the woman added, “you can make a great cocktail with these.”

“Really,” I said. “Tell me how.”

She did.

You need to make fennel simple syrup, let it cool, then make your beverage.

To make the syrup, into a saucepan put 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of water. Turn the heat to high and start stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar is dissolved, keep the heat up and let the syrup mixture come to a boil.

Reduce the heat to simmer. Take a handful of the fennel tops, and put it in the saucepan. The fennel tops make look spindly, but they are tough. So, use that spoon again to stir the tops down and under the surface of the syrup.

Let the syrup simmer for 5 minutes, removed from the heat, allow to cool to room temperature and then strain into a glass container. You want to strain out all the fennel top and, being quite sturdy, it will have remained as one solid cluster. You won’t have too many little fennel pieces to worry about.

Refrigerate your container of fennel simple syrup until ready to use.

To make the cocktail, put 1 ounces of the fennel syrup, 2 ounces of gin, and the juice of 1 medium lemon into a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake, pour into an ice-filled glass.

You can adjust the proportion, use lime or grapefruit juice instead, or change from gin to whatever fits your fancy: rum, pisco, cachaça, … There’s plenty of variety. The fennel syrup does NOT taste like licorice. It hard to describe, not too sweet, a tad intense, and lovely to sip.

Source: Brian O’Rourke and that nice lady at the market

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2500