The Jaw Breaker – an Anise Mocktail

A mocktail, a hammer and a bowl of star anise on dark slate tiles
Hard day smashing the patriarchy? You deserve a mocktail!

Does anyone besides me remember the big black jaw breakers that had an anise seed in the middle? It would take forever to suck that thing down, through all the different coloured layers, to get to the seed (if you did’t choke on the jaw breaker trying).

Star anise and seed anise are apparently two different things, but they both have that fresh liquorice -y taste. One of my grandmothers used to put star anise in her chicken soup, and I still like it that way.

For this simple mocktail I do a light syrup with sugar, because it brings out the flavour, but as always you can skip the sugar in the first step and add agave or honey to the infusion before pouring (just make sure to stir very well).

The Jaw Breaker Recipe

  • 4 oz anise syrup (see below)
  • 6 oz or so tonic water
  • 2 dashes grapefruit bitters

Recipe makes 2 mocktails, but you can scale up or down. In a mixing pitcher, pour the cold anise syrup over ice, add the tonic slowly, and 2 dashes grapefruit bitters, stir gently (unless you want a foamy drink). Strain into martini glass. Garnish with a star anise or grapefruit twist. If you’re substituting I wouldn’t use an orange bitters (bitter?), as it overpowers the anise here…

Anise Syrup Recipe:

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Tbsp of anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Put the water and anise seeds in a small pot, bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes – the infusion should reduce to by half (to about a 1 cup) Remove from heat, let cool. Strain through sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Refrigerate. Makes 8 oz of anise syrup. Keeps for a couple of days in the fridge, so go ahead and double the batch.

picture of anise seeds and star anise, as well as a cute dog because I didn't take enough pictures.
This is what happens when you don’t take enough pictures. You have to use cute dogs instead. Luckily I have a couple of those..

The Slow Burn – Pepper for the People

Scene with a glass of dark rust coloured pepper cocktail on ice, surrounded by a little bowl of black peppercorns, and an enamal dish.

Need some energy to get over hump day? This pepper based mocktail will put a nice little fire in your belly. It’s not actually spicy, but has an invigorating depth and warmth. It’s simple to make, with stuff you probably have at home or can easily get near by. No grapefruit bitters? You could do a nice sized twist of grapefruit zest instead.

The Slow Burn Recipe:

  • 4 oz black pepper infusion
  • 6 oz tonic water
  • 6 dashes grapefruit bitters
  • Garnish with freshly ground black pepper or grapefruit twist

Recipe makes 2 mocktails. For each: pour 2 oz cold black pepper infusion over ice, add 3 oz tonic slowly, add 3 dashes grapefruit bitters, stir. Garnish with a grind of black pepper or grapefruit twist.

Black Pepper Infusion:

  • 2 cup water
  • 4 Tbsp whole black dried peppercorns

Slightly crush the peppercorns ( they’re hard little things, no need to go crazy; no one will die if you use mostly whole peppercorns plus a few twists of your pepper grinder on coarse). Put water and peppercorns in small pot, bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes – the infusion should reduce to by half (to 1 cup) Remove from heat, let cool. Strain through sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Refrigerate. Makes 8 oz of pepper infusion, enough for 4 drinks.

4 images showing each step of making The Slow Burn, a pepper based cocktail.