Okay, folks! Your devoted correspondent is on a book tour for the next couple of months. I’d love to stay and chat, but instead I’m going to furnish you with a list of tour dates and ask you to come out and fill a seat, badger your friends into filling seats, pester your neighbors, and so on. And if you’re not in the neighborhood, well, I’ve got a drink and some drink-ish, garden-ish, stuff for you.
First, the coming week’s tour dates. Get the whole schedule here, and please do check with the venue before heading out in case of last-minute changes.
March 17 2013 04:00 PM — Mrs. Dalloway’s, Berkeley, CA
A talk about The Drunken Botanist, with cocktails! We’ll also be giving away plants from the Drunken Botanist Plant Collection, so don’t miss it.
March 20 2013 07:00 PM — Copperfield’s Books at h2hotel, Healdsburg, CA
A special Copperfield’s event at Spoonbar at h2hotel on 219 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA. The event is free and open to the public, but priority seating goes to those who purchase an advance ticket for $30 that includes a discounted copy of the book with one specialty cocktail. Tickets available at Copperfield’s Books in Healdsburg or online at www.copperfieldsbooks.com. Additional drink tickets sold at $10 each during the event. Non alcoholic options also available.
March 21 2013 07:30 PM — Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA
March 22 2013 07:00 PM — Rakestraw Books, Danville, CA
March 23 2013 10:45 AM — San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, San Mateo, CA
March 24 2013 05:30 PM — Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA
And now for your drink! As you may know, the people at Territorial Seed Company and Log House Plants let me go through their inventory and pick out my favorite cocktail-friendly plants for a collection they put together called (naturally) The Drunken Botanist Plant Collection. Territorial is selling the plants (and seeds) online, and Log House, a wholesale grower, is shipping them to garden centers and a few gourmet grocery stores on the West Coast.
One of the collections we put together is called Mixologist’s Simple Syrups. It consists of agastache, lavender, scented geranium, orange mint, angelica, and Thai basil. Go here to read all about the collection and see what I’m doing with those plants. I’ve also listed some liqueurs, spirits, and bitters that contain those plants, so if you don’t feel like growing them, you can always just pick up a bottle.
So there’s a lot you can do with an herbal simple syrup. The recipe is simply equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar melts and then allowed to cool. As soon as you turn the heat off, throw in a handful of herbs and let them steep while the mixture cools. Then strain it into a bottle (removing the herbs) and keep it in the fridge. Use it up within a few weeks–if you want to keep it longer, add a splash of vodka as a preservative, but it still won’t keep forever. The flavors just aren’t stable enough, and sugar water does attract bacteria after a while. So do small quantities and use it quickly.
I actually prefer lavender in dry drinks–I don’t think it needs all the sweetness of sugar. I like this version of a gin and tonic using lavender-flavored Dry Soda, but if you don’t have that, use regular soda water and just muddle the gin with lavender buds before pouring. Or use lavender simple syrup for a sweeter drink. Adding a sprig of fresh lavender as a garnish really brings up the flavor, especially in a fizzy drink like this one.
1 quarter fresh lemon
Garnish options: Fresh lavender sprig, Johnny jump-up (viola), pansy, borage blossom, or lemon twist
In a tall, skinny Collins glass or a short tumbler filled with ice, pour gin over ice. Squeeze one lemon wedge over ice and drop into glass. Top with Dry Lavender Soda and a dash of Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters. Garnish.
Note: 1.5 oz is a serving of gin, but if you’d like to make this drink a little less boozy, it tastes fine with only 1 ounce.