Fennel flower silver sour is a refreshing miniature fancy Silver Sour using a fennel shrub syrup and fennel flower honey syrup, spicy coastal gin with salt bush, foraged fennel and fennel flowers and real free range organic egg white, garnished with fennel pollen and a fennel flower. Fennel flower silver sour is a celebration of the anise flavour of fennel flowers that is a fresh, crisp, bright, spicy, vegetal version of the anise flavour we are familiar with in classic Australian lollies such as liquorice bullets and black jubes. These Australian anise lollies were a favourite of my Grandfather and of my Dad and I find their anise flavour in Australian gin where foraged fennel flowers have been added as a botanical and in fresh fennel flowers. Fresh fennel flowers offer an intense spicy aniseed flavour and an amazing micro form. I have deliberately kept the fennel flower silver sour on a small scale in a mini half size version of the vintage Silver Sour formula so as to best show off the tiny yellow petals and bright yellow pollen of these amazing and delicious fennel flowers with which the cocktail is flavoured and garnished.
What is a Silver Sour?
A Silver Sour is a fancy version of the Sour formula dating to the 1880’s, that calls for egg white for a creamy and luxuriously fancy mouthfeel, along with ice, sugar, water, citrus, and gin. Writing in 1883 Patsy McDonough (1883: 44) provides a Silver Sour formula in his McDonough’s Bar-Keeper’s Guide and Gentleman’s Side-Board Companion and it is to this formula I have referred with help from David Wondrich (2015: 115-119) in Imbibe for the ingredients, measures and method. David Wondrich (2015: 117-8) in Imbibe explains how fancy 1880’s Sours added more than just egg white, some calling for a citrus sugared rim, or a whole egg, along with elaborate seasonal fruit garnishes and fancy footed glassware – for more on the history and evolution of the Sour see my post on Honey rhubarb silver sour or for my other variations on this vintage recipe see Finger lime silver sour and Daalgaal & Ooray silver sour.
How to make a Silver Sour: Shake & Strain
McDonough (1883: 44) explains that to make a Silver Sour add all the ingredients – sugar, water, citrus, gin, egg white along with ice – to a large bar glass then:
“…shake, and strain into small bar glass.”Patsy McDonough (1883: 44). McDonough’s Bar-Keeper’s Guide and Gentleman’s Side-Board Companion. Post-Express Print: New York.
How is the fennel flower silver sour different?
The fennel flower silver sour is a miniature fancy Silver Sour that explores the spicy and refreshing anise flavour of fennel flowers and fennel – the cocktail is flavoured with a fennel flower honey syrup and a fennel shrub syrup made with whole baby fennel bulbs, fennel tops and stalks and fennel seeds. The fennel flower silver sour explores a miniature world of fennel flowers – where the umbrel or umbrella like form of the of the flower seems enormous and the tiny granules of bright yellow pollen fall in a storm over the white, luscious creaminess of savoury salty coastal gin spiced egg white. The fennel flower silver sour uses the whole fennel – the bulb, fronds, flowers, and seeds for intense anise fennel flavour.
1:1 Fennel flower honey syrup
1:1 Fennel flower honey syrup is made by adding equal parts by weight of honey to hot water and stirring or shaking to combine – in this instance fresh fennel flowers are added to infuse fennel’s anise flavour into the honey. Store leftover syrup in a clean glass jar in the fridge, strain before use. The fennel flower honey syrup replaces the sugar and water in the original Silver Sour formula. I used a flavoursome local raw honey from Marrickville available from Pocket City Farm where the fennel flowers and baby fennels are also grown. If you do not wish to use honey you can make the same syrup using equal parts sugar and water infused with fennel flowers.
Fennel shrub syrup
Fennel shrub syrup made with fresh whole baby fennel bulbs along with their stalks, tops and seeds adds a fresh, crisp vegetal fennel flavour to the cocktail and acts as the souring agent instead of citrus – being preserved with coconut vinegar and white balsamic vinegar. I have used the long slow cold maceration process outlined by Michael Dietsch (2016) in his amazing book Shrubs, the use of the whole fennel along with white balsamic and coconut vinegar is my own contribution. Shrub syrups can add amazing depth and complexity to cocktails – see my posts on pineapple fennel shrub margaritas, Daalgaal & Ooray silver sour with a strawberry and blood orange shrub syrup, Honey rhubarb silver sour with a rhubarb shrub syrup.
Balcombe coastal dry gin
Balcombe coastal dry gin is an Australian gin produced on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria with local ingredients – it has a spicy, salty flavour from salt bush and notes of anise from wild foraged fennel and fennel flowers. This savoury spicy coastal dry gin pairs wonderfully with the vegetal fennel shrub syrup and the anise of the fennel flower honey syrup.
Real free range organic egg white
I have used real free range organic egg white in the fennel flower silver sour for a more sustainable cocktail. If you prefer you can substitute the egg white with the same amount of aquafaba – the water used to cook chickpeas – and it will produce a similar creamy mouthfeel and frothy head.
How to make a fennel flower sour: Reverse Dry Shake
I have used the ‘reverse dry shake’ method described by Tristan Stephenson (2016: 194) in The Curious Bartender – the drink is first shaken with ice and then strained to remove the ice, then shaken again dry with no ice, for a creamier and frothier cocktail.
Styling the fennel flower sour: Micro fennel flower world, pollen, fennel flowers, vintage glassware
I have styled the fennel flower silver sour as a mini cocktail representing the micro world of beautiful fennel flowers – so it’s possible to really appreciate the small delicate yellow petals and tiny filaments of bright yellow pollen with which the drink is garnished. In the spirit of 1880’s fanciness I have used a small footed vintage cocktail glass for the fennel flour silver sour that perfectly holds this mini cocktail. Mini cocktails are all about flavour rather than volume – in this case the delicate nature of the fennel flowers and their ethereal beauty comes to centre stage in a smaller vessel that celebrates these beautiful yellow anise flavoured flowers. Finishing the fennel flower silver sour with a tiny yellow fennel flower offers the perfect clean rush of crisp anise flavour.
Fennel flower silver sour: Mini gin cocktailPrint Recipe
- 1:1 fennel flower honey syrup: 1 tablespoon Giulio + Natasha’s Raw Honey, 2 tablespoons hot water, 3 small fennel flowers with stalks
- Fennel shrub syrup: 2 whole bulbs baby fennel (small bulbs including the green leafy heads and stalks), well washed and chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup low GI cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 100mls coconut vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, I used Lirrah white balsamic vinegar
- Fennel flower silver sour cocktail: 1/8 shot 1:1 fennel flower honey syrup
- ¼ shot fennel shrub syrup
- 1 shot Balcombe coastal gin
- ½ shot egg white (approximately ½ an egg white)
- Handful of ice to shake
- Glassware: vintage footed cocktail glass
- Garnish: fennel flower pollen, fennel flower
1:1 fennel flower honey syrup: Combine honey, hot water, and fennel flowers – heat to combine and infuse flavour.
Add to a small glass jar, allow to cool and store in the fridge, strain before using.
Fennel shrub syrup: Place the washed and chopped fennel and fennel seeds in a non-reactive container along with the sugar
Seal the lid and shake the container to evenly distribute the sugar throughout
Remove from the fridge after a few hours and muddle with a muddling stick, seal lid and shake again to redistribute sugar more evenly
Place in the refrigerator overnight to allow to macerate or until a thick syrup has formed
Meanwhile sterilise your jar. Wash jar and lid with warm soapy water, rise well, place jar on cookie sheet in 110 C oven for 15 minutes or until completely dry, add the lid to a pot of boiling water on the stove and boil for 5 minutes, allow to air dry - for more information see Resources
Strain the fennel pieces and seeds out using a fine mesh sieve
Retain the syrup and measure the syrup yield – mine was ½ a cup – check that your total vinegar measure matches the syrup yield, if not adjust so they are the same 1:1 syrup to vinegar
Add vinegar to syrup, decant into sterilised jar and store in the fridge
Fennel flower silver sour cocktail: Measure fennel flower honey syrup, fennel shrub syrup, gin into cocktail tin
Crack your egg, and separate into a separate clean container, measure ½ shot egg white into your cocktail tin
Add ice, seal shaker tins, and shake with ice for 30 seconds
Strain to remove ice, discard ice, shake dry
Strain into fancy vintage footed cocktail glass
Garnish with fennel flower pollen by holding the fennel flower umbrel over the cocktail and gently tapping with the fingers of your other hand to shake loose some pollen, add a small fennel flower to the centre of the cocktail
Michael Dietsch (2016). Shrubs: An Old Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Second Edition. Countryman Press: New York.
Patsy McDonough (1883). McDonough’s Bar-Keeper’s Guide and Gentleman’s Side-Board Companion. Post-Express Print: New York.
Tristan Stephenson (2016). The Curious Bartender: The artistry and alchemy of creating the perfect cocktail. Ryland, Peters & Small: London & New York.
David Wondrich (2015). Imbibe. Perigree: New York.