Posted on Aug 15, 2012 in Botany, Featured | 1 comment

Can you eat any of the plants in this picture?  Really?  How do you know? This post from the always excellent Rowley’s Whiskey Forge got me thinking about this.  He posts a really cool recipe for a liqueur called mistela de chimajá. I couldn’t resist–I had to go look up the plant.  But more about that in a minute. First, some background:  So the foraging/wildcrafting movement has met the craft distilling movement and the result is that people want to go out into the wilderness, or into a vacant lot, or into the woods, and pull a plant out of the ground and drop it into...

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Drink Your Flowers

Posted on Aug 15, 2012 in Botany, Featured, Recipes | 3 comments

Not every flower belongs in a cocktail glass. But these do.  They’re easy to grow and totally worthwhile. Check it out: Borage. People say that borage leaves taste like cucumber, but if that’s the flavor you’re after, why not just eat a cucumber? Use the leaves if you want—some people pick small, young leaves for salads or cook them with other greens—but it’s the flowers I’m interested in.  The dazzling bright blue color isn’t found in many flowers, particularly edibles, and the fact that they hold their color when frozen means that you can do a very elegant little ice...

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Cocktail-Themed Paint Colors

Posted on Aug 1, 2012 in Featured, Make This | 1 comment

So there I was, choosing colors for a cocktail-themed garden I’m building, and as I was looking for paint colors for the fence, I realized that a lot of paint colors are named after iconic cocktails and their ingredients.  You can get a paint color called Whiskey Sour, Negroni, Gimlet, Bloody Mary, or Cosmopolitan.  If you want to mix your own, there are paint colors called Grenadine, Orange Bitters, Rye, Dark Rum, and Lemon Zest. So I lost an entire evening to the creation of a Pinterest board of paint colors with cocktail names.  The combination you see here is Margarita:  Tequila...

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Sweet Potato Syrup? I’m In!

Posted on Jul 31, 2012 in Botany, Featured, Recipes | Comments Off on Sweet Potato Syrup? I’m In!

Oh….this takes some work, but I have a feeling it’s well worth the effort.  From the always clever and enterprising people at CLASS Magazine comes this video on the creation of an Old-Fashioned variation made with sweet potato syrup.  You’ve got to make it ahead, so don’t leave this for the last minute–and have some friends over, because once you’ve made up a batch of the stuff, you’ll want to use it all!   (I suspect it would keep in the freezer, but invite some friends over anyway. Go here to read all about it and watch the DIY video.  (and...

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Stop the Madness!

Posted on Jul 15, 2012 in Featured, Recipes | 5 comments

Let us review the brief and troubled history of the Modern Cocktail. It began in the early nineties, when youngsters realized that a Martini was a nice thing to order in a bar. A few variations on the martini followed, most notably the godawful “dirty Martini” made with excessive amounts of olive brine, and the vodka-based Cosmopolitan, which featured prominently in HBO’s “Sex and the City.” That gets us to about 1999. A few years later, somebody in Brooklyn decided it might be refreshing to order a drink with some whiskey in it, and pretty soon we all remembered about the Manhattan...

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Summer. Punch. That is All.

Posted on Jun 26, 2012 in Featured, Recipes | Comments Off on Summer. Punch. That is All.

So. Summer is here, more or less, and that means that you need to break out the punches. Not that dreadful stuff made with Sprite and sherbet and the worst possible vodka, but a nicely-made, Victorian-style punch, served in that punchbowl you never get to use, or a repurposed pickle jar, or whatever other sort of urn you happen to have around. If you don’t have the matching glasses that once came with your punchbowl, teacups make a weird and elegant substitute, as do Mason jars. I have been in Portland for a couple months for a writer-in-residency sort of affair with Portland State...

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Drinking Oryza Sativa

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 in Distilleries, Featured, Reviews, Travel | 1 comment

Next time you’re in Portland, go west along US-26 and head over to Forest Grove to check out the Saké One brewery. It’s not the kind of brewery you think of when you think of the Pacific Northwest, but there’s really every reason for saké to be a West Coast thing. Japanese culture has deep roots here, there’s the whole Pacific Rim culinary tradition, and the rice itself is grow here. Saké One prefers Calrose, a strain of rice from central California. There’s a tasting room at Saké One, but before you get too far into that, you’ll want to take a tour of...

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DIY Chartreuse. Or Something Like That.

Posted on Apr 16, 2012 in Distilleries, Featured, Make This, Recipes, Travel | 5 comments

The directions from Lyon to the Chartreuse distillery go something like this:  Exit the parking garage while trying to fire up your GPS. As it searches listlessly for a satellite (shouting “Look up!” or pointing it at the sky does not help), drive across the river with the vague feeling that the freeway might be in that direction. Eventually, a crisp Scottish voice will come to life and guide you to Quai Bellevue and from there you will find the ramp to Marseille/Genève/Grenoble/Porta de Croix Luizet/Périphérique Est, the pronounciation of which your Scottish guide will mangle in that...

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Herbs. Now.

Posted on Mar 13, 2012 in Botany, Featured | Comments Off on Herbs. Now.

Buying herbs at the grocery store is a sign of defeat.  Not defeat, even, because defeat would suggest that you tried and failed. It’s more like inertia.  Because really, if you can’t grow a few herbs, you have just given up on having any kind of interaction with the plant kingdom or the parcel of soil around your home. This is the year to change that, and the reason to make that change is because there are so many very nice cocktails that just require a pinch of some herb or another. A cocktail should be an impulsive decision, one that doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store. If...

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A Summer Drink in February. Because I Refuse to Wait.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 in Featured, Recipes | 4 comments

Frozen berries. Mint.  Lime.  Rum.  Not exactly a February drink.  And yet I could not resist. I told my cousin Helen that I’d make a special drink for her birthday when I was in Texas last week. But as it happened, she couldn’t make the drive from Austin to Dallas, which is understandable, what with her having a job and responsibilities and all.  So Helen, this is the drink I didn’t make for your birthday.  I should have just gone ahead and made the drink for the rest of the family, but time was short and I just didn’t get around to the liquor store and the...

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