Cocktails

Drunken Botanist events in Milwaukee, Miami, and Beyond. Plus, Whiskey.

Why, yes! It’s another week of Drunken Botanist tour dates? Are you out there, Milwaukee people? Miami people? Austin? Phoenix?

Well, if you’re interested, all the tour dates are here, and as always, check with the venue to confirm event details before heading out.

 

April 10 2013 07:00 PM — Boswell Books at Great Lakes Distillery, Milwaukee, WI
Join me and the folks from Boswell Books at Great Lakes Distillery for a free tasting and talk!  Co-sponsored by Boerner Botanical Gardens.

April 11 2013 07:30 PM — Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis, MN
Drunken Botanist book tour

April 12 2013 08:00 PM — Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
Drunken Botanist book tour

April 13 2013 07:00 PM — Books & Books, Grand Cayman
The Drunken Botanist

April 16 2013 07:00 PM — Book People, Austin, TX
Come sample a botanical cocktail from Tito’s Handmade Vodka, mixed with Liber & Co tonic, and learn about cocktail-friendly plants with the folks from Great Outdoors Nursery.

April 17 2013 07:00 PM — Changing Hands Books, Tempe, AZ
Join us for a talk about The Drunken Botanist–and a fabulous cocktail made with Dripping Springs Vodka.

 

 

And now–whiskey!

The Southern Belle Whiskey Garden collection was a tricky one to put together. When I think about the plants that go best with whiskey, I think about peaches, cherries, and oranges–none of which fit in a jumbo six-pack at a garden center. And since it was my job to come up with recipes that used the ingredients in each collection, quite a bit of experimentation took place.

We came up with another mint variety–‘Kentucky Colonel’ this time–which is widely regarded as the best mint julep mint. So that’s a no-brainer. Thyme and tarragon also made a lot of sense–the bold, woodsy flavors stand up well to peaches and other stone fruit that often gets mixed in whiskey drinks. And chamomile? Well, I found a chamomile hot toddy recipe that seemed downright medicinal in nature. Restorative, anyway. So we included that.

So here, then, is your recipe. Get more ideas here, and as always, remember that you can find these plants at Territorial or in garden centers on the West Coast supplied by wholesale nursery Log House Plants.

 

Tarragon Mint Julep

2 oz bourbon (I like Maker’s Mark)

3-4 tablespoons superfine sugar (see note)

Generous handful of fresh spearmint or tarragon, or a mixture of both

Crushed ice

Into a silver julep cup, mason jar, or highball glass, press 2 tablespoons of sugar with a small amount of water to create a paste. Add a layer of fresh mint leaves and crush gently. Top it with a layer of crushed ice. Sprinkle sugar and another layer of mint leaves, then top with another layer of crushed ice. Continue until the glass is full, then pour in bourbon.

Note: Superfine sugar dissolves quickly, but regular sugar is fine too. Don’t use powdered sugar—it contains cornstarch and can gum up a drink.

This Week in Drunken Botanist Tour Dates, and I’m Ready for Some Tequila

And on it goes! All Drunken Botanist tour dates are listed here, but this is what I’ve got going on this week. Please do check details with the venue before heading out. And then–please do head out! I’d love to see you. And you. All of you, really.

 

April 06 2013 05:00 PM — Eureka Theater Book Launch Party, Eureka, CA
5 PM:  Lecture & slide show in the theater.  6-9 PM:  Drinks served, book signing.   The event is free; drink sales benefit the restoration of the historic Eureka Theater.  A partnership with Eureka Books.

April 08 2013 07:00 PM — The Bookstall, Winnetka, IL
Drunken Botanist book tour

April 09 2013 11:30 AM — The Standard Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL
A Lunch & Learn member event in partnership with The Book Stall. 11:30 reception, noon luncheon & discussion.

April 09 2013 07:00 PM — Anderson’s Bookshop, Naperville, IL
A Drunken Botanist party with an assortment of cocktail-friendly plants from  The Growing Place garden center and a tasting of Koval Distillery‘s floral liqueurs and botanical spirits.

April 10 2013 07:00 PM — Boswell Books at Great Lakes Distillery, Milwaukee, WI
Join me and the folks from Boswell Books at Great Lakes Distillery for a free tasting and talk!  Co-sponsored by Boerner Botanical Gardens.

April 11 2013 07:30 PM — Magers & Quinn, Minneapolis, MN

 

And now–tequila? Did someone say tequila?

I share with you another of the plant collections I put together with Log House Plants and Territorial Seed Company. Territorial sells the plants and seeds online, and Log House, a wholesale grower, ships them to garden centers on the West Coast.

This was an easy one to put together–the Heart of Agave Tequila Garden. We included sage, pepper, watermelon, rosemary, and mint–and this time we chose a mint called ‘Margarita.’ But wait–margaritas don’t have mint in them! Don’t let that stop you. It’s a very pretty, lemony mint that is not as aggressive as most mints (your mileage may vary) and worth growing.

Read about the whole collection here, but meanwhile, here’s a tequila cocktail to get you through the week.

 

Agave Piña

1.5 oz 100% agave tequila

2 oz pineapple juice (fresh if possible)

.5 oz agave nectar or simple syrup

2-3 fresh jalapeño slices

2-3 sage leaves

½ small lime

Optional: Club soda or lemon-lime soda

Squeeze lime into cocktail shaker and add other ingredients. Muddle sage leaves and peppers to release the flavors. Shake well over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Optional variation: Pour into a tall, skinny Collins glass over ice and top with soda to taste.

Drunken Botanist Pacific Northwest Tour Dates, And a Rum Cocktail for You!

If you’re in Portland, Seattle, or Bellingham, I’d love to see you this week. All the tour dates are online here, but this week’s stops include:

 

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.

March 28 2013 07:00 PM — Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, Seattle, WA
A talk about The Drunken Botanist, plus cocktail-friendly plants from Molbak’s Garden & Home.

March 29 2013 07:00 PM — Village Books, Bellingham, WA
A talk about The Drunken Botanist accompanied by cocktail-friendly plants from Christianson’s Nursery.

April 06 2013 05:00 PM — Eureka Theater Book Launch Party, Eureka, CA
5 PM:  Lecture & slide show in the theater.  6-9 PM:  Drinks served, book signing.   The event is free; drink sales benefit the restoration of the historic Eureka Theater.  A partnership with Eureka Books.

 

As always, check with the venue before heading out to confirm dates/times.

 

And now! This week in cocktail gardening–rum! Funny story–when the nice people at Log House Plants and I were trying to figure out what to call a collection of plants that mix well with rum, the first idea that came to my mind was to call it the Old Havana Rum Garden. Every word sounded so perfect–Havana. Rum. Old. Garden. Yeeeeesssssssss.

But there was one problem! One of the plants in the collection was going to be lemongrass, and a few people thought lemongrass didn’t sound very Cuban and the name should be rejected on that basis.

Well, you know I’m always up for a fact-checking challenge. So I dove into newspaper archives and came up with interviews with actual Cuban farmers in which they named lemongrass as one of the crops they grew.

Done! On that basis, the name stayed. So in addition to lemongrass, the other plants are strawberry, ‘Mojito’ mint, and lemon verbena.

You’re probably thinking, “What about citrus? Where’s the lime?” Good question! One of the tricky bits about putting these collections together is that we were assembling jumbo six-packs, not gallon pots. So everything had to (a) work with a particular spirit, and (b) grow well in a six-pack. So yeah, no citrus.

There’s an interesting story about the mint, as told by the wonderful plant nursery Richters here. This is the actual strain of spearmint grown in Cuba for mojitos, and the only reason it’s available now in the nursery trade is that intrepid Canadian tourists pulled the sprigs out of their mojitos and stuck them in their pockets. Now you, too, can grow actual Havana mint. (Territorial’s got it here, and it’s in garden centers).

 

Okay! Your rum cocktail is:

 

Lemongrass Mojito

 

Lemongrass Mojito

1.5 oz white rum

.5 oz lemongrass simple syrup

¼ lime

3-4 sprigs ‘Mojito’ mint or another spearmint

1 stick lemongrass

4-6 oz club soda

Crushed ice

 

Reserve one sprig of mint for garnish. Make simple syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar melts, then add the lemongrass allow to cool and steep for one hour.

Combine rum, simple syrup, mint, and lemongrass in a cocktail shaker, then squeeze lime juice into shaker and drop the lime in. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, gently crush all ingredients to release the flavors. Add ice and shake thoroughly, then strain into a glass of crushed ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint.

 

Drunken Botanist West Coast Tour Dates, Plus – Vodka Week!

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.

P1130068

 

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)

3-4 oz Q or Fever Tree tonic water

 

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.

 

Drunken Botanist California Tour Dates, Plus Your Weekly Cocktail

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.

 

Lavandula Intoxicataea

1 – 1.5 oz Dry Fly Gin, Aviation Gin, or Hendricks’ Gin. (see note)

1 quarter fresh lemon

4 oz DRY Soda, lavender flavor

A dash of Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters or Bar Keep Lavender Spice bitters

Garnish options: Fresh lavender sprig, Johnny jump-up (viola), pansy, borage blossom, or lemon twist

Ice

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.

The Drunken Botanist Plant Collection

Okay, it’s the middle of winter, but we can dream, right?  This year, the nice people at Territorial Seeds and Log House Plants asked me to pick out a few of my favorite cocktail-friendly plants.  We got a little carried away, and the result is the Drunken Botanist Plant Collection.  We gathered up all the herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that a mixologist’s garden would require. I’ll be posting recipes, videos, photos, and growing advice in the months to come as well.  (You can also find more of all things cocktail garden-ish at DrunkenBotanist.com.)

You’ll find the plant collections in West Coast garden centers supplied by Log House Plants as well.  (check their site for a list of participating retailers.)  We had a lot of fun putting them together: in addition to offering the plants individually, we gathered them into collections by spirit.  We came up with great titles like the Old Havana Rum Garden and the Heart of Agave Tequila Garden, then put together some plants and recipes to match. So we’ve got collections organized around rum, tequila, gin, vodka, and whiskey, and a sixth collection designed just for making botanical simple syrups.

Territorial’s taking orders now, and seed shipments can go out over the winter, but live plants will be shipped later.  Check their website for shipping details.  The garden centers supplied by Log House will have the collections for sale starting in April.

Okay!  Have fun with that.  There’s not much growing in anyone’s garden right now, but here’s a mid-winter drink you can make with dried chamomile while you wait for the fresh stuff to bloom.

Chamomile Hot Toddy

1-2 oz whiskey
1-2 oz honey-chamomile syrup (see note)
Lemon wedge
6-8 cloves

Note: Make honey-chamomile syrup by combining equal parts honey and hot water. Add fresh (or dried) chamomile blossoms and allow to steep for 1 hour, then strain.

Pour hot water into a heat-proof glass. While you wait for it to heat the glass, press cloves into the rind of the lemon wedge and set aside. Empty the glass and coat the inside with syrup, then add the whiskey and top with hot water. Squeeze the lemon into the drink and drop it into the glass.

Psssst! Available for Pre-Order!

 

Hey, guess what?  The Drunken Botanist is officially available for pre-order.  Here are a bunch of ways you can do it:

Ask your local independent bookstore to order a copy for you.

Pre-order at Barnes & Noble.

Pre-order at Amazon.

Stop by this page in February and pre-order a signed copy from me. (Sorry, we can’t take pre-orders for signed copies this far in advance, but we’ll be up and running in February!)

Drunken Botanist: The Website

Drunken botanist screen capture

It'll be at least a year-possibly more–before my new book is actually printed and in my hands.  But it's never too soon for a website, right?  So here it is:  TheDrunkenBotanist.com, named after my forthcoming book of the same title, which is due out in 2013, probably in spring.

I do hope you'll bookmark the site, subscribe to the RSS feed, give it a link-back now and then, etc.  And if you've got any booze + plant news, ideas, questions, recipes, etc you'd like to share–well, you'll know where to find me.

Cheers!

Do You Deserve a Toddy?

Apple hot toddy

Here's the latest in a series of columns I'm writing for the North Coast Journal. The column is called The Drunken Botanist; my book of the same title will be out next year.

A friend of mine has been on a grueling book tour to promote her new novel. One night in early December, after she’d been on the road for weeks, she posted a note on Facebook that she’d developed a scratchy throat on the road and had done the only sensible thing: called room service and asked them to send up a pot of hot water, lemons, honey, and a shot of Jack Daniel’s.

For just a minute, I think we were all jealous of the many comforts her slight discomfort entitled her to. Room service. Hot toddy. The other luxuries of hotel living: an enormous clean bed, an unrestricted thermostat, a tub that fills endlessly with hot water, and a telephone that will be answered, at any hour, by a person whose only job is to ensure that you have a pleasant evening.

This is why hot toddies were invented: as a consolation prize to life’s small, wintery difficulties. They cure nothing—they certainly don’t cure colds—but they offer such warm solace that you almost want to suffer through something so that you might deserve one. For instance, it would be worth getting lost on a mountain ridge (for, say, half an hour), or trudging (a few blocks) through the snow, or having to run out in a storm to throw a tarp over that thing you were hoping wouldn’t get rained on, just to get something hot and boozy at the end of it.

And that is why, after a warm, sunny December that made Eureka look like Santa Barbara, it’s almost a relief to finally descend into the gloom and misery of a winter on the North Coast. Now, at last, we have earned our hot toddies. Just living in Humboldt during January and February entitles you to one of these. (Those of you who are escaping to Mexico or Hawaii this month don’t get one. Go drink your daiquiris, send us one of your cheery postcards, and post those blurry sunset cell phone photos to Facebook, which we will obligingly “like”—but leave the toddies to us. It’s all we have.)

A toddy is a very old drink; cocktail historian David Wondrich, in his wonderful book Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl, finds evidence that Scottish and Irish drinkers were dipping into hot bowls of whiskey and water and sugar and lemon in the mid-1700s and calling it a toddy. Our first recipe—the classic hot toddy—is just that.  

Hot Toddy  

1.5 oz whiskey

1 sugar cube or dollop of honey

1 lemon wedge

5 cloves  

Fill a heat-proof glass or mug with boiling hot water to warm it; set it aside while you gather your ingredients. Cut a generous wedge of lemon and push the cloves into the rind. (Punching holes with a toothpick helps.) Pour out the water, drop in your whiskey and sweetener, and fill the glass with more hot water. Stir well. Squeeze a little lemon juice on top and drop the wedge in the glass.

Warning: Some members of my tasting panel thought this drink tasted like Theraflu. There is no point in explaining that Theraflu is intended to taste like a hot toddy. The bottom line is that if this is too medicine-like for you, drink something else.

Using an orange instead of a lemon is a nice variation, and a splash of honey liqueur, such as the delightful German Barenjager, will dress it up a little. Jack Daniel’s makes a whiskey blended with honey liqueur called Tennessee Honey. I haven’t tried it yet, but you could. You might also try maple syrup for the sweetener, or perhaps even a maple syrup liqueur. (Yes, Virginia, there is a maple syrup liqueur. The one I have comes from Quebec and is called Sortilege. If it is your lifelong dream to combine your love of maple syrup with your love of booze, look no further.)  

So a basic hot toddy is easy enough, right? But somehow, it is not universally available in this form. Don’t ever walk into a bar and simply order a hot toddy. You risk wasting eight bucks on a beastly concoction of artificial syrups and instant flavorings in little packets. Instead, ask your server how the bartender makes a hot toddy. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, just lean over the bar, issue the above instructions quietly and pleasantly, and get something worth drinking.

That’s not all there is to a hot toddy, though. We live in apple country, so you owe it to yourself to make at least one nice, warm apple toddy this winter.    

Hot Apple Toddy  

1.5 oz applejack, apple brandy, or calvados

1 cup hot apple cider (unfiltered apple juice)

1 orange wedge

1 cinnamon stick

1 apple slice for garnish  

Fill a heat-proof glass with hot water. Empty it and refill it with brandy and cider. Squeeze the orange over the drink, drop it in, and stir with the cinnamon stick. Garnish with an apple slice.

This, too, could be dressed up with a spicy liqueur like Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, or St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram.  

You’re getting the idea, right? Okay, now check this out. It’s a recipe I adapted from Imbibe magazine, a fine publication celebrating the art of drinking that you should all subscribe to.  

Chai Rum Toddy  

1.5 oz dark rum

1 cup hot chai tea

1-2 sugar cubes or 1-2 tsp honey

1 wedge of orange or tangerine

Star anise or cinnamon stick for garnish  

You know what to do.  

So there you have it: the warm and rewarding toddy. A serving of liquor, a cupful of a nice hot beverage, some sugar, some spice, some citrus. A splash of sweet or spicy liqueur if you want to jazz it up. Use these recipes as a template and invent your own combinations.

Now, just remember: you have to deserve a toddy. Let’s all hope for a big, dramatic storm, the kind you get caught in but not for too long, the kind that makes the lights flicker but not quite go out, the kind that makes the windows rattle and the cats run under the couch. If we have one of those, congratulations. You get a toddy.