Han Suk Cho spent her childhood in Korea, where she learned to make sol ip chung (sometimes written as solip-cha), traditional pine needle syrup, from her grandmother. “Chung” refers to the technique of making fruit-based and other types of syrups by packing the key ingredient in sugar and leaving the mixture to gradually ferment; the sugar draws out flavor while liquifying. Though traditional sol ip chung takes six months to brew, Cho has created a quick method that produces pine needle syrup in minutes rather than months. To those keen on foraging, she recommends temperate climate–grown spruce tips as the base, which are at their youthful peak in spring. For those looking for a less seasonally dependent recipe, pine needle tea, which is widely available online, can be subbed in. (See Editor’s Note below.) The syrup is then mixed with sudachi or yuzu juice and sparkling water for a refreshing nonalcoholic cocktail.
- 1 ounce pine needle syrup (see Editor’s Note)
- 3/4 ounce sudachi juice (or yuzu juice)
- 4 ounces sparkling water
- In a highball glass, combine the pine needle syrup and sudachi juice, add ice and briefly stir.
- Top with sparkling water.
Pine Needle Syrup
Pine Needle Syrup
750 grams sugar
500 grams water
50 grams fresh young pine needles
10 grams mint
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, then add the pine needles and mint and cover (so the fragrance does not evaporate). Put the vessel in an ice bath to quickly cool. Once cooled, let sit for 24 hours, then strain out the needles and bottle the syrup. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
NB: To make pine needle syrup without freshly foraged pine needles, steep 80 grams of dried pine needle tea and 15 grams of mint in 200 grams of hot simple syrup for 24 hours, then strain and bottle.