Danny Bonvissuto, HGTV Gardens Contributor

Danny Bonvissuto

That's right, we said kale. In a cocktail.

"Most customers are a little scared of a kale cocktail, but once they try it they usually like it, especially if they like a Negroni or other bitter cocktails," says Jackson Holland, beverage director of The Cocktail Club in Charleston, S.C. "I wanted to make a cocktail that was green, but also had a unique flavor. Bitter greens aren't used in cocktails often, but bitters are, so I thought it was a natural progression." 

Holland says the drink has nice earthy and vegetal tones from the kale, bitterness from the Cynar, an Italian artichoke liqueur, and spice from the smoked salt and pink peppercorn rim.

"I've never used kale syrup before, but I have created many cocktails with herbal syrups like thyme, mint and basil," he says. "Now that I've made a drink with greens, I can't wait to make one with collards, since I am a good Southern boy."

Kale Cocktail

  • 1.5 ounces gin (gin with minimal juniper works best)
  • .5 ounce Cynar (Italian artichoke liqueur)
  • .25 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1.5 ounces kale syrup*
  • 3-4 dashes orange bitters
  • Smoked salt and pink peppercorn rim (recipe to follow)

Add all ingredients (except salt and pepper) to a large shaker. Add ice, shake and strain into coupe or martini glass.

Kale Syrup

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Kale leaves, large handful

Boil water and stir sugar to dissolve, then remove from heat. Add large handful of kale leaves. Let steep 5 minutes. Add to blender or food processor. Blend thoroughly, then strain into a clean sealable container. Should last 1 week in fridge.

Smoked Salt and Pink Peppercorn Rim

Using spice grinder or mortar and pestle, crush smoked sea salt and pink peppercorns to a very fine consistency. Use lime wedge to wet rim of glass and dip in the salt/pepper mixture.

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