Dickens Punch

Gardenrant cocktail logoIn what has to be our all-time favorite Cocktail Hour to date, Amy invites Gen Schmidt of NorthCoastGardening for a celebrity guest appearance, and Elizabeth tries to set her newly-remodeled kitchen on fire.

First, the recipes:

Elizabeth's Dickensian punch, adapted from Splendid Table's adaptation

Do we really have to give one of those silly warnings explaining the obvious to anyone who attempts this recipe?  That lighting alcohol on fire in your kitchen will result in flames?  Which could, in theory, burn your kitchen down, taking you and your loved ones with it, and possibly spreading to the neighbors and sending you all up in a fiery confligration?

Well, anyway.  Here's the recipe:

In one heavy saucepan

1 cup rum

1/4 American Honey bourbon 

zest of 2 lemons

1/2 cup brown sugar

In a regular saucepan

juice of 2 lemons

2 cups water

Heat the rum mixture and then light it for a few seconds. Stop the flames by putting a cover over the pan. Add the lemon/water mixture and cook a bit more.

Serve in a heatproof punch glass with a slice of lemon. Makes 4 drinks. 

Amy's Pimm's cocktail:

In a Champagne flute, pour:

.75 oz (or more to taste) Pimm's.

Top with good (nonalcoholic) sparkling cider or Reed's Ginger Beer.

Garnish with half a crabapple.

And about those English gardening tools!  They come from Clarington Forge, and yes, we're going to give some away soon!  Stay tuned.

A Lavender Gin and Tonic, and a Honey-Lavender Martini

Badge_CocktailHour When we (Elizabeth and Amy) get together, we rummage through our respective liquor cabinets to see if we have anything new and interesting to drink that we can try out on the other.  But seeing as how we live across the country from each other—Elizabeth in Buffalo, Amy in California—this doesn't actually happen very often.

Except on Skype.  It's actually very pleasant to sit down together with our laptops and our webcams, mix a drink, and have a chat.  There's always plenty to talk about when it comes to GardenRant, and most of it does call for a good stiff drink.

There's just one thing missing from our cyber-cocktail hour, and that's you!  If only you, our readers, could join us for a drink.  Just imagine how perfect that would be.

Well, imagine no longer.  Thanks to this groovy software called VodBurner, we're now recording our Skype drinking sessions so that you can enjoy them, too.  Now, we're still figuring out the technology, so don't get all film school on us.  We'll get it down—and we plan to get out in the garden once in a while. (And who knows!  If you're into Skype, maybe we'll invite you to join us on camera sometime!)

We hope you'll gather some ingredients, mix a drink, and settle in with us.  If you'd like to drink what we're drinking, you'll need:

Lavender-honey simple syrup (recipe below)

G'Vine gin

A lemon

In the case of Amy's drink, Lavender Dry Soda, a lovely, not-too-sweet soda with pure lavender flavor that works great in cocktails.

Lavender sprigs and/or yellow pansies to garnish

(recipes below)

Here, then, is our pilot episode.  In this installment:  Gin and lavender drinks, profanity, and hyacinths.


Amy's Lavender Gin & Tonic

Pour 1-2 oz gin over ice. (a botanical gin like G'vine, or any gin that contains some lavender, is ideal)

Squeeze lemon juice over ice and gin.

Fill glass with Lavender Dry Soda.

Garnish with lavender sprigs.

Sample restaurant's Honey Lavender martini (modified by Eliz)

1 part gin (I also like G'vine.)

1 part honey lavender simple syrup (boil sugar, honey, water (2-1 water to sweet stuff; add a bunch of lavender; let steep an hour; strain)

Juice of 2-3 lemons

Shake with ice, strain, pour into martini glass and garnish with lemon slice studded with a viola blossom. You don't really need a premium gin—Sample does not use one—but I like the way a botanical gin's flavor shines through whatever you blend it with. I have also included a sugar/honey mix, not all honey, which they use, and I find too strong.

Coming soon: drinks with wild hibiscus flowers, bison grass-infused vodka, and more. For the Ball comment we discuss in this video, check this post

Roosevelt Hotel Bar

Here's another painting based on the bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. I just love the way bars are lit–all that beautiful, jewel-colored light coming through the bottles. You'll see more of these in the weeks to come!

This one is 8 x 8 inches on 1/2 inch panel with slots in the back for easy hanging. Click here to bid. Go here to see my other paintings on eBay.

Topless Gardening

Martini Yeah, that headline caught my eye, too. Turns out that’s only what you’ll WANT to do after you imbibe a basil martini, according to the San Diego Union-Trib‘s cocktail writer. This is one of those summer drinks that we can only dream of as the wind howls through the rafters. So, in honor of it almost being Friday, dream away:

Muddle sugar and fresh basil
“Bathe in vodka and sweet-and-sour mix”–no proportions given.  Figure it out.  I’d go heavy on the vodka.
Squirt of lime.

That’s nice, but there are other options.  Cocktail Times lists any number of herb martinis–ever floated a sprig of rosemary or cilantro in that glass?  They leave out lavender, which is suprisingly good in a cold gin martini. 

But my favorite summer cocktail is an adaptation of something I had in a bar once that we’ve since come to call Amy’s Garden Party.  Crush some fresh basil in the bottom of a tall, skinny glass, add ice clubs and slices of fresh jalapeno, and pour a gin and tonic on top of it.  The perfect drink on a hot day.

Now all we need is a hot day.

How to Make a Blogger Very, Very Happy in One Easy Step

Hendricks 1.  Send her free gin.

2.  There is no #2.

Seriously, folks.  It's a one-step, no-brainer, guaranteed  zinger of a promotion idea.

Best of all, I have two blogs, so I got two packages just like this.

A shot of Hendrick's and a cucumber, along with a little card sending me to their website.  (Note to PR people:  witness the lack of a press kit.)  Hendrick's was already one of my two favorite gins (Beefeater being the one most likely to be found in our freezer, and Hendrick's being the one I'm most likely to order when I'm out somewhere), but hey, send enough of it to me for free and it will become my one and only.

I can be plied with booze.

So much so that I'll even link to their blog, The Unusual Times.

So much so that I'll even link to a specific post on their blog and say that Hendricks Cucumber Lemonade sounds awesome, especially considering that two of the three ingredients just arrived in the mail.  Although oddly, the recipe doesn't call for cucumber.  I guess you're just supposed to figure that part out on your own.

Somebody in the horticultural world was recently telling me that they really wanted to send us some swag, but they thought it might taint our relationship, or our ethics, or our editorial standards, or some such thing.  I had to remind them that this is blogging.  It's the Wild West out here.  There aren't any grown-ups standing around telling us what we are and aren't allowed to do. Like refuse all shipments of free booze.  We would never, ever have a policy like that.  Actually, we would never have a policy, period.

So–Any other gin floozies get a little present from Hendrick's today?