Monday, September 5, 2011

There's a garden in my drink

I remember way back in the day when I fell in love with gin and the Gin & Tonic.  I wasn't a big vodka fan (that came later) and G&Ts were perfect for a hot day and I was living in Texas so there were plenty of those.  Made well a Gin & Tonic is light and crisp not too sweet and not too heavy like even sometimes the most everyday pilsner can be (for me anyway).  It seems like for a long time there was quality gin and rotgut both more or less mass produced and that was pretty much about it.  At least here in the US.  Anyone doing anything close to micro batches or anything with a bolder botanical profile was likely making it in their bathtub or perhaps a distillery like they had on the tv show M.A.S.H.!

Enter gins like Hendrick's from Scotland and a little closer to home Death's Door from Wisconsin.  There's a great list here of different brands of gin, their flavor profile and where they are crafted if you really want to see the variety.

Cut to about a month ago when M sent me a link for a Gin Martini made with cucumber, mint, and tarragon.  We were doing a lot with cucumber and tarragon - those popsicle recipes - and I believe her comment was, "this looks great!  we should try it out!"
Cut to last Wednesday when I was cruising  at the farmers' market and they had all kinds of great herbs.  Everything except my tried and true cilantro, but there was mint, tarragon, dill, four varieties of basil and lastly the lovely shiso.  Completely intrigued by shiso (up until this point I had only seen shiso in the few Japanese grocery stores I frequent and it's always highly guarded under a thick layer of plastic wrap and styrofoam - I think it is where Fresh Direct got their idea about produce delivery - such a waste, but anyway...) I gave it a sniff and for 2 bucks I was in.  It's part of the mint family and it did have that, but there was also some pepper going on and it was grassy and delicate.  The wheels start turning.  I look in my bag and see that I've already purchased a gazillion kirby cucumbers, tarragon - check, mint - check (and just in case), the shiso and M's birthday is coming up on the weekend.  I start to have visions of cute antique jars, gifting this über botanical mixer and serving my friend a fancy cucumber tarragon martini to toast her!

The link to the recipe is above and here.  I replaced the mint with shiso leaves.  Depending on the size of the leaves use 2 - 4.  The cocktail is strong and herbaceous.  The St. Germaine gives it just enough sweet to round everything out.

Happy Birthday M!  


The leaves sticking out of the top of the jar was supposed to look like a sophisticated and subtle hint about the ingredients - a card of sorts.  I can't help, but think of a mullet when I look at this picture - business up front and a party in the back.  Next time I'll remind myself "less is more".

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