How to make shiso syrup for cocktails, a simple syrup infused with fresh shiso or perilla leaves and use it in cocktails.
Shiso, or perilla is a perennial plant that has a number of culinary applications in Japanese and and Southeast Asian cuisine. The herb belongs to the mint family and is also known as the “beefsteak plant”. The taste of shiso is a cross between mint, basil, and a hint of anise and a distinct peppery note that lends itself well to cocktails.
There are two main types of shiso, perilla frutescens, either green or red in colour, and perilla frutescens var. crispa, with curly purple leaves. Other varietals include shiso perilla britton, a bi-colour herb with dark green leaves and purple on the underside shown in the photo above. The culinary herb is easy to grow in a home garden during the warmer months and it can also be grown as a microgreen and used as a cocktail garnish.
The method for making shiso syrup starts with making a simple syrup then infusing shiso leaves in it for a period of time before it’s fine strained and bottled. In this recipe, we’ve used the shiso britton variety which tends to have larger leaves than the green or red. Simply adjust the number of leaves to your taste.
Shiso Syrup Recipe
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 10-15 large shiso leaves
Wash the shiso leaves thoroughly to remove any dirt. Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of white sugar in a small pan. Bring the boil until fully dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the shiso leaves and leave to infuse for about 4 hours. Strain into a swing top glass bottle and store in the fridge until ready to use. It keeps in the fridge for approximately 2 weeks.
How to Use Shiso Syrup in Cocktails
The flavour of shiso plays well in a variety of spirits. Shiso syrup or shiso leaves can be used in place of mint in a Mojito. The syrup goes equally well in a whisky highball, with blanco tequila, in a gin-based Collins cocktail with cucumber and in a blueberry bourbon smash.