Episode 005 - Herbal Cocktails

I see the red clover, I see the black locust flowers...I see things, and I want to put them into my body.
— Colleen O'Bryant

Disclaimer: None of the audio or written content hosted here or elsewhere is intended as medical advice. You should always drink in moderation, and always consult a licensed physician before consuming ingredients or substances that are new or unknown to you.

As you may have guessed from the little disclaimer before the intro sequence, this episode involves cocktails and your health.

Now, I may not be chatting with a licensed medical physician, but my guest, Colleen O’Bryant of Wild Roots Apothecary, has a ton of awesome insights on how we can build a healthier relationship with cocktails and alcohol in general.

She’s also an expert herbalist, and this episode is filled with super-fun ways to incorporate herbs into your cocktail creations. Some of the things we cover in our discussion include:

  • Colleen’s journey from office management to spirited herbalist

  • Her fairy cocktail hour

  • The regenerative properties of skunk cabbage, dandelions, and other herbs

  • The arts of scouting and foraging

  • DIY bitters and infused spirits

  • Our favorite herbal liqueurs

  • And much, much more.

I have a feeling that this is going to be one of the most popular episodes of this podcast, so I hope you enjoy my interview with Colleen O’Bryant.


This interview is with Colleen O’Bryant of Wild Roots Apothecary. Their Instagram (@wildroots_apothecary) is here, and their Facebook page is here. Her apothecary shop shares a parking lot with Copper Fox Distillery, and her latest project is with Bar Francis, a new herbal cocktail bar in Sperryville.

Her herbalist background was influenced by Theresa Bordwine of the Green Comfort School of Herbal Medicine in Castleton VA, as well as Rosemary Gladstar.  She is also a supporter of United Plant Savers, an organization dedicated to preserving plants as natural resources.

You can email Colleen at: hello@wildrootsapothecary.com

The cocktail we’re sipping on:

  • 3 oz each of Iced Ginger and Mint Teas
  • 2oz Gin
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • Several Dashes Embitterment Lavender Bitters

The Rules for Colleen’s Fairy Cocktail Hour

  • Everybody is invited
  • Make small cocktails
  • Drink them in moderation
  • Relax, and take a breath
  • Enjoy outside in nature if possible
  • Take pictures and share the beauty

Some of the herbs and natural substances we mention in this episode are:

  • Adrenal Adaptogens, substances that help regulate the body’s hormonal response to stress
  • Motherwort, a bitter flowering plant
  • Dandelion, a flowering weed
  • Cardoon, a relative of the artichoke with a bitter leaf  
  • Elderberry, which may be good for your lungs
  • Hops, used in beer, but also as a calming remedy
  • Rosemary, which is a traditional memory-enhancing remedy
  • Skunk Cabbage (!) - apparently a lymphatic mover (or “spring tonic”)
  • Ginkgo, a tree with purported brain enhancing effects
  • Holy Basil, which comes in three varieties: Rama, Krishna, and Vana


Lightning Round

What is your favorite cocktail, at the moment?

Whiskey or Pisco Sour with farm fresh eggs and a splash of Chartreuse.

Also, here’s the recipe for a Hanky Panky, courtesy of Imbibe Magazine.

What is your favorite spirit?

Gin. With all the herbs and botanicals, gin is an herbalist’s best friend. Both Colleen and I recommend a brand called, as luck would have it, The Botanist.

If you could have a cocktail with any person, past or present, who would it be? What would you drink?

Rosemary Gladstar, an herbalist author, at Zack Woods Herb Farm.

If you could give any piece of advice to a beginning home bartender, what would it be?

  1. Buy Green Chartreuse

  2. Make your own infused spirits! It’s easy. Colleen uses Luksusowa vodka as her base.