In this series, we spotlight the boundless potential of a single ingredient.
Brooklyn-based writer and podcaster (subscribe to The Lonely Hour), Julia Bainbridge has curated a non-alcoholic cocktail with shiso leaves, which was crafted by Victor Gainor of Vicia. In Julia’s book Good Drinks, she spent five months in her car, driving around the country to find the best beverages. While the recipes belong to a plethora of bartenders, Julia tested each multiple times in her home kitchen to make sure others could make them.
For her Plant Potential recipe, she used Shiso leaves, which are rich in calcium and iron, have anti-inflammatory properties as well as antioxidants. The pigment in the red variety of shiso leaves comes from flavonoids called anthocyanins, which are also found in cranberries, blackberries, and red cabbage. They also help protect the body’s nervous and circulatory systems.
Chef: Julia Bainbridge
3 go-to ingredients that double as immunity: Citrus fruits, ginger, and Greek yogurt (or some other kind of yogurt with live and active cultures).
Must-have ingredient that delivers an energy boost: Boring answer, but coffee!
Ultimate comfort food: Dim sum, especially turnip cakes.
Favorite healing ingredient: Kimchi, kraut, any fermented vegetable, really. A few years ago, my gut broke down due to stress. I wasn’t properly absorbing nutrients from my food, my hair was falling out, and fermented foods were key to repairing.
Beauty mantra: Moisture, exfoliation, and sex.
Curated by Julia, craftd by Victor Gainor of Vicia, St. Louis, Missouri
“This drink’s vaguely menthol, vaguely citrus flavor comes from a mixture of green and red (sometimes labeled as purple) shiso, both of which you should be able to find fresh at your local Asian grocers—but the recipe will work with just red shiso, too. At Vicia, the bar team mixes a syrup made from melon rinds into this drink, but the tonic adds enough sweetness for me. Use plain tonic water and a small squeeze of lemon juice (about 1⁄4 teaspoon) if you can’t find citrus tonic. The shiso tea is a light pinkish-brown before you add the citric acid and then, like magic, it becomes full-on magenta.”
2 1⁄2 oz chilled Shiso Tea (recipe below)
2 1⁄2 oz citrus tonic, such as Fever-Tree
shiso leaf, for garnish (optional)
Place 2 or 3 ice cubes in a wine glass. Add the tea, then the tonic water. Garnish with a shiso leaf, if using.
Makes about 1 ¾ cups, enough for just over 4 drinks
1 1⁄3 cups packed fresh red shiso leaves
2⁄3 cup packed fresh green shiso leaves
4 large fresh basil leaves
10 fresh mint leaves
Pour 2 cups water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the red and green shiso leaves, the basil leaves, and the mint leaves, stir to sub- merge the herbs, decrease the heat, and gently simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the tea, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids. Let the tea cool to room temperature, then chill thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.