NRN Featured Beverage: Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda

NRN Featured Beverage: Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda

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"We just went through a seasonal change," said Tim Lacey about the nonalcoholic beverage menu of Green Zebra in Chicago.

Lacey is bar manager/beverage director for Spring Restaurant group, which also manages Spring Restaurant and Custom House in Chicago.

The Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda starts off with toasted spices, such as cloves, all spice, cardamom, star anise and pink peppercorn. Those are added to a simple syrup and allowed to steep. Thyme is added later, and the concoction is steeped a bit more. The syrup then is strained and mixed with club soda to serve.

Lacey explained that the spices get a little bit of a head start to pull out the flavors, further adding that thyme does not stand up well to being steeped for too long.

The Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda will remain on the menu at Green Zebra along with the Maple Pecan Soda and the Housemade Rootbeer. Peach Ginger soda is a recent addition, and other new items will include Watermelon Lassi and Charentais Melon. All nonalcoholic cocktails at Green Zebra are $5.

Lacey said he tries to keep the menu fresh, explaining that the Maple Pecan Soda has "good, darker flavors" for heading into fall. In addition, he noted, drinks might change even though they remain on the menu. For example, the Pink Peppercorn Thyme Soda later could be made with black peppercorns, depending on availability of the pink peppercorns.

Lacey added, "Recently I was in Green Zebra for lunch and ordered the peppercorn soda and tasted it for the first time in a while and realized I need to tweak it a little bit. The spices we used were a little heavier. I might change that so the thyme can come out a little more."

Lacey said that part of the reason Green Zebra has more nonalcoholic than alcoholic beverages is because of the bar's space, which cannot accommodate a wide variety of spirits and ingredients for the creation of cocktails.

"It's a tiny bar; the bar itself is about 6 feet long. It's not a whole lot of space ... of the three restaurants, we think of Green Zebra as the bistro and try to keep it stripped down."