Make This


Posted on Nov 27, 2014 in Make This | Comments Off on Shrubs!

In honor of Thanksgiving, a couple of fabulous shrub recipes from this new book on the subject. We’ll be serving them with soda at our bookstore over the holidays, but shrubs are, of course, also a fantastic cocktail ingredient. This time of year, I’d be splashing them into bourbon and applejack drinks. You really can’t mess up a shrub.  Just combine one part sugar with two parts vinegar (apple, coconut, and rice vinegars are favorites, although red and white wine vinegars, as well as balsamic, all have their place in the world of shrubs) and mix with fruit, vegetables,...

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DIY Bitters? Yes, Indeedy.

Posted on Feb 27, 2013 in Make This | 2 comments

I’m totally in love with these DIY kits for making your own bitters. The problem with making your own bitters is that some of the spices are expensive and difficult to track down. (You cannot get gentian root in the spice section at Safeway.) So this company called Dash Bitters has put kits together with infusion jars, bottles, funnels, cheesecloth, and assorted spices.   You, of course, should feel free to experiment and add your own secret botanical ingredients. I’m particularly intrigued with the 1889 Aromoatic Bitters Kit, and the Orange Hop Bitters Kit. and they sell...

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Shelving for Liquor Bottles, or, How I Got My Drinking Problem Under Control

Posted on Feb 20, 2013 in Make This | 2 comments

So! When one is researching a book on botany and booze, one is required to have at least one example of how every plant might possibly be fermented, distilled, and bottled. Which means that I have quite a few lovely bottles of stuff, and for a long time, I had nowhere to put them. Liquor bottles don’t easily lay flat in racks the way wine bottles do. For one thing, they’re all different sizes. And for another, you tend to open a liquor bottle and not drink it all at once. (at least, I hope you tend to do that.) And if you lay it on its side after it’s opened, it can leak. So...

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Drinking Vinegars: The Other Kind of Shrub

Posted on Feb 13, 2013 in Make This | 2 comments

One day last year, a mysterious courier arrived at my house. (Okay, the courier was not so very mysterious. She was driving plants to my local garden centers from Oregon-based Log House Plants.) Anyway, she had a special delivery for me from Log House’s owner, Alice Doyle. A crazy-cool old leather case filled with drinking vinegars. Otherwise known as shrubs. I was to open the case, pour myself a drink, and call Alice. But first I had to choose my shrub. So drinking vinegars are basically homemade concoctions of vinegar, sugar, and some kind of plant matter. As you can see here, Alice...

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Homemade Vermouth & Ratafia

Posted on Feb 11, 2013 in Make This | 1 comment

Pay attention, class!  We’re making homemade vermouth. (and if you want to do something easier, scroll down for a very quick ratafia recipe) The ingredient list is endless (but I will supply one in a minute)–what we need to cover first is the technique! Start with 2 bottles 750 ml bottle of dry white or rose wine.  (Surprise! Even sweet, red vermouth isn’t made with red wine.) Add something a little boozier.  Brandy, grape eau-de-vie, cognac, grappa, even port or sherry.  Vermouth is usually 16-18% alcohol, so we need something to proof this up. Now, are you using any...

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The Cocktail Garden!

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 in Botany, Make This | 1 comment

So!  Sunset magazine stopped by a few months ago. It was great fun hanging out with a couple of pros all day and watching them work.  (Oh, and there was some mixing of cocktails, too.)  Anyway, you can see the results in the February issue of Sunset, which is just hitting the stands now. And now–I’m delighted to share these charming hand-drawn illustrative plans of the cocktail garden that Susan Morrison of Creative Exteriors Landscape Design designed for me.  Susan is a cocktail aficionado and an expert in small-space gardening:  her book Garden Up! , co-authored with...

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Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 in Make This | 3 comments

Bring 4 cups sugar & 4 cups water to a boil, allow to cool Add 30 clusters of fresh elderflowers Add 2 lemons and 2 oranges, sliced Add 1.75 oz citric acid powder (optional) Let sit for 24 hours, then strain and keep refrigerated. Don’t feel like making your own? Check out St-Germain. Oh, and here’s a video! photo: Proven...

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Homemade Cassis

Posted on Jan 1, 2013 in Make This | Comments Off on Homemade Cassis

Blackcurrants?  Amazing.  Read about how to grow them here. But then what? To make your own cassis, take a pound of black currants, wash well, and seal in a jar with one 750 ml bottle of grappa, grape eau-de-vie, marc, or good vodka.  (I’d choose Ciroc, a vodka distilled from grapes.) Mash the fruit to release the juice, and let it sit for a month, shaking or stirring the jar once a week.  Then strain into a new container and add simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated and allowed to cool) to taste.  One to two cups simple syrup should do it.  Give it a couple more months,...

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Fruit-Infused Vodka

Posted on Jan 1, 2013 in Make This | Comments Off on Fruit-Infused Vodka

Got a bumper crop of raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, or blackberries?  Or, for that matter, any kind of fruit? You can make your own flavored vodka by filling a jar with clean, loosely packed berries and then pouring in as much vodka as the jar will hold. Gently crush them with a wooden spoon to release the juice, then seal and store in a cool dry place for a week. Strain it and use it in your favorite cocktails, or add simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water, heated until the sugar melts and allowed to cool) to taste to make a liqueur. Either way, keep it refrigerated and enjoy it...

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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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