If you’re in Portland, Seattle, or Bellingham, I’d love to see you this week. All the tour dates are online here, but this week’s stops include:
March 27 2013 07:30 PM — Powell’s (Burnside location), Portland, OR
With a special appearance by House Spirits Distillery‘s Christian Krogstad, who will talk about the botanical nature of his delightful Aviation Gin, and a selection of cocktail-friendly plants from Cornell Farm.
April 06 2013 05:00 PM — Eureka Theater Book Launch Party, Eureka, CA
5 PM: Lecture & slide show in the theater. 6-9 PM: Drinks served, book signing. The event is free; drink sales benefit the restoration of the historic Eureka Theater. A partnership with Eureka Books.
As always, check with the venue before heading out to confirm dates/times.
And now! This week in cocktail gardening–rum! Funny story–when the nice people at Log House Plants and I were trying to figure out what to call a collection of plants that mix well with rum, the first idea that came to my mind was to call it the Old Havana Rum Garden. Every word sounded so perfect–Havana. Rum. Old. Garden. Yeeeeesssssssss.
But there was one problem! One of the plants in the collection was going to be lemongrass, and a few people thought lemongrass didn’t sound very Cuban and the name should be rejected on that basis.
Well, you know I’m always up for a fact-checking challenge. So I dove into newspaper archives and came up with interviews with actual Cuban farmers in which they named lemongrass as one of the crops they grew.
Done! On that basis, the name stayed. So in addition to lemongrass, the other plants are strawberry, ‘Mojito’ mint, and lemon verbena.
You’re probably thinking, “What about citrus? Where’s the lime?” Good question! One of the tricky bits about putting these collections together is that we were assembling jumbo six-packs, not gallon pots. So everything had to (a) work with a particular spirit, and (b) grow well in a six-pack. So yeah, no citrus.
There’s an interesting story about the mint, as told by the wonderful plant nursery Richters here. This is the actual strain of spearmint grown in Cuba for mojitos, and the only reason it’s available now in the nursery trade is that intrepid Canadian tourists pulled the sprigs out of their mojitos and stuck them in their pockets. Now you, too, can grow actual Havana mint. (Territorial’s got it here, and this whole plant collection is in West Coast garden centers).
Okay! Your rum cocktail is:
1.5 oz white rum
.5 oz lemongrass simple syrup
3-4 sprigs ‘Mojito’ mint or another spearmint
1 stick lemongrass
4-6 oz club soda
Reserve one sprig of mint for garnish. Make simple syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar melts, then add the lemongrass allow to cool and steep for one hour.
Combine rum, simple syrup, mint, and lemongrass in a cocktail shaker, then squeeze lime juice into shaker and drop the lime in. Using a muddler or a wooden spoon, gently crush all ingredients to release the flavors. Add ice and shake thoroughly, then strain into a glass of crushed ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint.