Vodka week? Isn’t every week vodka week?
Yeah, well. I’m still hanging out on the West Coast, so if you’re in the neighborhood, I hope you’ll drop by. Complete list of tour dates can be found here, and please do check with the venue before heading out in case of last-minute changes.
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
March 25 2013 07:00 PM — Vroman’s, Pasadena, CA
March 27 2013 07:30 PM — Powell’s (Burnside location), Portland, OR
With a special appearance by House Spirits Distillery‘s Christian Krogstad, who will talk about the botanical nature of his delightful Aviation Gin, and a selection of cocktail-friendly plants from Cornell Farm.
And now — vodka week! So, to continue with what I suppose is becoming a multi-part series on this Drunken Botanist Plant Collection thing I’ve got going with Territorial and Log House Plants, (Territorial selling the plants online and Log House shipping them to garden centers and grocery stores on the West Coast), I present to you our Farmers Market Vodka Garden.
Coming up with names for these collections was one challenge. Some were immediately obvious (as you’ll see in coming weeks) and some were a bit more tricky. There’s something about the word “vodka” that just doesn’t go with gardens. But as I was thinking about it, I realized that vodka is really the farmer’s best friend. You can make vodka out of anything–not just potatoes, but also corn, wheat, barley, grapes, apples–basically, anything that contains starch or sugar. It’s a pretty efficient way to use up the surplus crop.
And–what mixes with vodka? Everything! If you can buy it at the farmer’s market, you can mix it with vodka and have a pretty nice drink.
The collection includes tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, and celery. Go here to read all about it. I just want to say a word about the celery–It would never have occurred to me to plant celery in my garden. I just don’t use it that much. But once I tried it, I found out that I’d been crazy not grow it before. I used it in everything: soups, salads, all kinds of dishes that could be improved by celery if only I had some on hand. I rarely bother to go buy one of those jumbo bundles of enormous green celery at the grocery store (because I know I won’t use it all), but having a little on hand that I could snip whenever I wanted it? Amazing. And of course, I used it in drinks.
The celery I have fallen in love with is ‘Redventure,’ a cross between an heirloom strain called ‘Giant Red’ and a popular commercial variety called ‘Ventura.’ Crossing those two resulted in a celery with slender red stems about the diameter of a pencil—perfect for swizzle sticks. And it’s got a rich, strong celery flavor that’s bold enough for cocktails. I love the color, I love the flavor, and I love that it’s a total year-round crop here in California. They do bolt after a year or so, so you have to cut down the flowering central stalk and eventually replant them, but it’s totally worth it.
Okay! So here’s a drink.
The Farmers Market
1.5 oz vodka (Try Glacier Potato Vodka from Idaho)
2-3 ‘Mexican Sour Gherkin’ cucumbers
1-2 stalks ‘Red Venture’ celery
2-3 sprigs cilantro
2-3 slices small spicy or mild peppers
6 cherry tomatoes or 1-2 slices large tomato
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (try Annie’s for a vegetarian version)
Reserve a celery stalk, cherry tomato, or cucumber for garnish. Combine all ingredients except the tonic water in a cocktail shaker and gently crush the vegetables and herbs, making sure to release the tomato juice. Shake with ice and strain into a tumbler filled with ice. Top with tonic water and add garnish.