The Mixology of Spring

Shouldn’t the shoulder season have a drink all its own?

By Phaedra Cook April 7, 2014 Published in the April 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Provisions’ bar manager Lainey Collum

Image: Chuck Cook

Spring’s arrival signals an annual migration in the cocktail world: Strong concoctions served “up” leave our fair city for more northern climes, their place taken by the returning lighter options (think crushed ice and seasonal ingredients). “But wait, winter doesn’t become summer overnight,” thought Lainey Collum, bar manager at Provisions. Shouldn’t the shoulder season have a drink all its own? 

“When I was planning the spring cocktail menu, I considered what happens when the seasons change,” she says. “Houston’s spring showers are often followed by the appearance of ‘fairy rings,’ those circles of mushrooms that crop up overnight.” 

To answer your question, no—Collum’s new cocktail, Down the Rabbit Hole, does not count those mushrooms on your lawn among its ingredients. But they were an inspiration, as was Alice in Wonderland, for a creation based on the Maple Leaf, a classic mix of bourbon, maple syrup, and lemon that is light, herbal, and more complex than most drinks served up. 

Fighting Cock Bourbon and Steen’s Cane Syrup give Collum’s cocktail a nice Southern twist, while a splash of medicinal Fernet Branca adds another layer of flavor without overpowering the drink. For some spring brightness, she throws in peppery Thai basil leaves, a tincture made from sweet candy cap mushrooms, and lemon juice for acidity. Sweetened, dehydrated enoki mushrooms garnish this wildly delicious, if labor-intensive, drink.


Down the Rabbit Hole

  • 1 oz Fighting Cock bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Fernet Branca liqueur 
  • 1/2 oz candy cap mushroom tincture (see below)
  • 1/4 oz Steen’s Cane Syrup
  • 1/4 oz simple syrup
  • Thai basil (four leaves)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • Enoki mushroom garnish (see below) 


  • 2 oz dehydrated candy cap mushrooms, available online
  • 10 oz vodka, 100 proof or higher

Combine mushrooms and vodka in a glass jar. Seal and store in a darkened cabinet for two weeks before use. 


  • 1/2 cup enoki mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar 

Toss the enokis in powdered sugar. Gather into thin clusters. Dry in either a dehydrator or on a silicon mat in a 150-degree oven for about an hour.  


Combine all ingredients except garnish in an ice-filled shaker. Shake for about 15 seconds until well chilled. Strain into a coupe cocktail glass, garnish with enoki, and serve.

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