Forsythia is putting on an especially flashy display right now, exploding in front yards, backyards and in a gauntlet of gold along the Meadowbrook Parkway. This sunshiny bloom is one of spring’s first signals that winter is behind us, but it’s also fleeting: The bloom comes and goes in the span of a week or so.
Forsythia blossom can have staying power though: Its tiny flowers are edible — used medicinally in some cultures as an anti-inflammatory — and have a gently vegetal flavor you can use to infuse tea or honey. A forsythia simple syrup is easy to make and can serve as a base for gimlets, martinis and other uncomplicated cocktails that won’t smother its subtleties.
This year’s convergence of the forsythia bloom and Easter, the ultimate holiday of renewal, opens the door for one of the springiest of spring drinks: A French 75, a slender concoction of gin, sugar, lemon juice and sparkling wine with winning sweet-tart ways, even more so when you use a floral forsythia syrup and a few blossoms as a garnish.
French 75s were likely born around World War I, with origin stories tracing back to, alternatively, the British Army or a Paris bar (Harry’s New York Bar), and it is likely named for a piece of French artillery, the 75 mm gun. In the booze-soaked film “Casablanca,” Yvonne orders one — and while she probably received the finest Champagne, prosecco does just fine.
FORSYTHIA-SPIKED FRENCH 75
For the syrup: Pick 2 cups of forsythia blossoms and rinse under cool water. Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup white sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir until sugar dissolves. Add forsythia and stir; immediately turn off heat and let steep for several hours or overnight. Strain into a jar.
For the cocktail: In a cocktail shaker or pint glass, combine 1/2 ounce forsythia syrup, 2 ounces of gin and 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice; add ice cubes and stir until frosty. Strain into a chilled champagne flute and top with prosecco; garnish with a few forsythia blossoms and a curl of lemon peel.