Drink this now: Maibowle at Affäre (for a limited time)

Now that spring is in full swing, plenty of local bars and restaurants are taking advantage of the expanded seasonal offerings. Every so often here on the blog, we’ll be highlighting a few of the more interesting concoctions. This week: Affäre‘s take on the traditional German May punch, or maibowle. 

“Maibowle is essentially a white wine infused with sweet woodruff and mint, topped off with sparkling wine,” co-owner Katrin Heuser tells me. “Woodruff is a forest herb that grows in the spring, but needs to be used before it goes to bloom. In Germany, everybody is drinking this right now. It’s seasonal, it’s like the Spring wedding beverage.”

There are plenty of variations on the recipe, Heuser says. She used a dry Moscato as her base wine, but she adds that almost any dry, crisp white would work as well. Or you can make it non-alcoholic – “But why would you do that?” Heuser adds with a laugh.

“Woodruff is a little forest green that grows and gets used a lot for medicinal purposes – there’s something in it called coumarin that takes headaches away,” Heuser continues. She gets the woodruff locally from Prairie Birthday Farm, which specializes in wild herbs.

“The plant looks really cute – tiny little green leaves that flower, but we use them before they flower,” she says. “We bunched them up and soaked them in the Moscato with some mint, and left it in there for about half an hour to 45 minutes.”

The infusion sits in a large glass jar at the bar. It’s a deep golden color, and Heuser pours it into a coupe glass. She tops it off with a splash of cava and floats a fresh strawberry slice in it, then slides the glass across the bar. The presentation is simple, and it looks deceivingly like a regular glass of wine, but the woodruff gives the drink some elegant spice and floral notes. If spring were a drink, it would be this one, you guys. 

The single jar on the bar – probably enough for between 20 and 30 servings, if I had to guess – is all the maibowle Heuser has at the moment, though she plans to continue making it as long as she can get the woodruff in (though, she adds, that won’t be for long, either). I am staring down a wine-soaked strawberry when I ask Heuser how much a glass of her May punch goes for. 

“It’s just $6,” she tells me. “Do you want another?” 

Yes. Yes, I do. 

Affäre is located at 1911 Main Street. More info here

Categories: Music