The GardenRant Cocktail Hour: Episode 2


Gardenrant cocktail logo
In which Elizabeth gets all dressed up for a gala botanical garden event, while Amy drinks vodka straight out of a mason jar and talks to her chickens. Topics include Champagne, hibiscus flowers in syrup, raspberry-infused vodka, a certain Black & Decker home appliance, and–once again–hyacinths. Special guest appearance by Amy's Buff Orpington, Ladybird.

If you'd like to drink along with us, you'll need:

Champagne doesn't have to be fancy; one very nice option is a sparkling Spanish cava called Segura Viudas that retails for about eight bucks a bottle, making it dangerously affordable as an everyday wine. But Eliz also recommends the not-too-expensive but excellent Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, which is more interesting than many a higher-priced maker (Veuve Cliquot, etc.). She also paid considerably less than the price listed on this link.

Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup, introduced to us by Friend of Rant Mary Ann Newcomer.

And if you'd like to make raspberry-infused vodka, or any sort of fruit-infused vodka, simply fill a clean Mason jar with fresh-picked fruit and pour in any inexpensive vodka. Let it steep for 2-3 days, then strain it and drink.  (The leftover vodka-soaked fruit can be frozen and used in drinks as well.)



  1. Another great episode, ladies! Elizabeth, google “ebay snipe software” or “ebay snipe” for some programs if you want to be the meanie who grabs those Hyacinth vases at the last moment.

    I find if I bid early, other people bid too. If I just place my max bid into one of those snipe programs, it places my bid 2 seconds before closing and I often not only get the item, but I think get it cheaper than if I’d bid early and stirred up the feeling of competition among the other watchers.

    I figured this out after losing a complete set of early British boarding school stories by a particular author to someone called TheQueenBee, like one second before it closed. I sulked for like a week, then finally figured out how she did it.

    On a non-ebay topic, Ladybird is adorable. I’d love a Buff Orpington someday. My chickens love to be right next to me but don’t really like the whole picking up and petting deal.

  2. I must say, I’m more enthralled by listening to the chickens in the background. That’s not an attack on the two humans, just that the chickens are so foreign to me, so like that toy you pull the cord on that says “a chicken goes….”

  3. I love the infused vodka. Do you think it would work with lemon verbena or lemon balm? Your hens, Amy, are delightful…mine aren’t as tame, but I like to pet them.

    My biggest problem with the “girls” is the black kitten who is my newest family member. Bert, the kitten, thinks he should spend time in the cage and tries to sneak in when I’m not looking. He has spent a few nights out there, with his boxers in a bunch because he can’t get out until I find him in the morning.

    What’s on the cocktail menu for next week?

  4. Elizabeth–Here’s the trick, no software needed. Do not bid on the auction. 5 minutes before the auction ends, pull up the eBay page in 2 windows.

    In window #1, type the maximum amount you’re willing to spend. Get everything ready.

    Watch window #2 like a hawk. Keep refreshing it. As the price climbs, update your bid in window #1. It only needs to be a couple cents higher than the other bid.

    2 seconds before the auction ends, hit enter on window #1.

    Bingo. You’ve got your vase.

    Of course, this requires a fast internet connection. Expect to get rude email from the other bidders.

  5. When looking for vases on eBay, be creative in your search. Most people do not realize that the vase they have is for a bulb. Look at “vintage vases” or “blue vases” or “glass vases” or “weird old vase” and you will probably turn up quite a few forcing vases.

    Amy–What’s your favorite vodka for infusions?

  6. Haha, what fun!Really enjoyed the show. If you’re in my neck of the woods, I would introduce you to my berry and cherry ports, which I mix with sparkling wines and waters, and iced tea and lemonade, and vodka 🙂 My sparkler of choice is prosecco, which is generally cheaper than champagne and has tinier bubbles.
    Meanwhile, I’m trying to wrap my mind around 500 plus vases of forced bulbs!

  7. Thanks, everybody! About infused vodkas–buy cheap vodka. It does not matter what kind you use. Vodka is, of course, supposed to be neutral, flavorless, odorless, possessing no distinguishing characteristics whatsoever–but of course vodka drinkers would disagree with this. Regardless–cheap, in this case, is the way to go.

  8. Carpet_bagger, I would be afraid of the rude email. I cannot imagine sending rude email to people I don’t know on ebay. But I will try it anyway. I had heard vaguely about the software–but never really found out about it. I’ll do it because this is not the first time this has happened.

    Compost, I love J. I also like the cremants, from Alsace, I think. They are very inexpensive.

  9. I love J champagne but Schramsberg is the wine of choice from CA. It was the first American sparkling wine served at a Presidential function.
    April 28: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 1969 served at the State dinner “Toast to Peace” hosted by President Richard Nixon for the Premier Chou En-lai in Beijing, China. This is the first time Schramsberg or any American wine is served at any White House or State event, at home or abroad. (From the timeline at the website) Your info as inquiring minds want to know

  10. You guys are the most. I want to hunt you down right now and give you both big hugs. What fun. Amy, I love Ladybird. She reminds me of my Betty, who was the first girl to lay an egg (on my birthday!!!!) of my new flock of 6, and she is the loudest and busiest and most energetic of them all.

    I don’t drink, really, so the whole cocktail part is lost on me. But I used to get bottles of weird homemade wines and cordials — rhubarb, potato, I don’t remember what-all — from my husband’s grandmother when we were first married. I love the idea of infusing anything with flowers, fruits and other plant matter.

    I’m also with you on the techno-gadget. I’m with the ‘just add compost’ person.

    Amy, I just read your first book, From the Ground Up, and I loved it. It reminded me so much of my own first garden, though it was quite a bit longer ago than yours. I made my share of really dumb mistakes — still do, as a matter of fact — but now I can laugh and enjoy the things I have learned in the years since then. I laughed out loud at the chapter on bugs. Thanks for sharing!

    Hmm. Still might have to track you girls down and hug you. 🙂

  11. Amy Stewart, I loved the hen. And the vodka flavoring tip. I have to confess, I’m with commenter, Benjamin in that I was most enthralled with the hen. Cocktail Hour With Ladybird might be a series to consider 😉

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