Clover Club Cocktail

Clover Club Cocktail
The Clover Club: Dry gin, fresh raspberry syrup, tart lemon juice, and a splash of vermouth.

Yes, this pink, frothy cocktail is perfect for a romantic Valentine’s celebration but don’t let its good looks fool you, the Clover Club is a serious drink. And one originally imbibed exclusively by men – specifically the literary, legal, and financial men who, from 1882 until the 1920’s, met once a month in Philadelphia. The drink, named after their gentlemen’s club, was published in the New York Press in 1901. It called for gin, lemon juice, sugar, raspberry syrup, and egg white. Fast forward to modern times, and it’s also the name of a gorgeous cocktail bar in our old Brooklyn neighborhood. This new Clover Club, the bar, is where we first sampled Clover Club, the drink.

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Thai Basil Gimlet

Thai Basil Gimlet

Thai Basil Gimlet

We’re very fond of our herb garden. A few years ago, we built a step stand on the back deck, and this holds enough aromatic greenery to pinch for the kitchen all summer long. Having herbs so close to hand means that it’s easy to get inspiration for a food or drink recipe. Herb pots are easy to set up, don’t require any digging, and can be positioned wherever you have a sunny spot. A few years ago, in our garden-less apartment in Brooklyn, we’d sneak herb pots out onto the fire escape in defiance of the landlady. When Emily lived in an industrial loft building, the roof was always the sunniest location and where herbs thrived. The pride of our raised bed garden is always late-summer tomatoes, but there’s a hero of the herb garden that brings us delight from early summer onwards. To paraphrase T S Eliot, we can measure out our summer in basil leaves. 

This is about a third of the herbs we’re growing, though the shiso (bottom left) is trying to take over the world.

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Aviation Cocktail with Homemade Violet Syrup

Aviation Cocoktail with Violet Syrup

One thing we should mention upfront, if you haven’t gleaned it already from our occasional disorganized garden posts, is that we’re not really “lawn people”. We do have, behind the house, a stretch of grassed yard, but it’s not flat (so we can’t put tables or chairs out there), it’s kind of public (we live on a busy road with a lot of hiking traffic), it does nothing for the biodiversity of the area, and we hate mowing it. In short, it gets a little neglected. And because of that benign neglect, we have areas that sprout whatever the hell they want to, and luckily for us, in early spring, that’s violets. Lots, and lots, of tiny, pretty, violets.

Violets for Syrup

So in our ongoing quest to rid our garden of weeds — by eating them — we bring you homemade Violet Syrup, possibly the prettiest concoction ever. And we’re using that syrup to create a version of the classic Aviation cocktail, which just happens to be perfect for a celebratory Mother’s Day brunch!

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The French Tart – Grapefruit and Rosemary Cocktail

The French Tart - Grapefruit and Rosemary Cocktail

One of my favorite words of all time is the French word for grapefruit: Pamplemousse.

Say it! Pamplemousse. It’s hilarious, right? It sounds like it should be Liberace’s favorite color. “Why yes, we had the whole living room done in pamplemousse and mauve. It’s divine.”

I also love that it’s a pretty effective insult in French, meaning an annoying, pesky, person who is immature. And of course, it also means boobies. So many uses!

Of course the best use for un pamplemousse, as it is for most citrus in my opinion, is to juice that thang and mix it with some spirits. In this case vodka and elderflower liqueur.

The French Tart - Grapefruit and Rosemary CocktailThe French Tart - Grapefruit and Rosemary Cocktail

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Roll in the Hay: A Valentine’s Day Cocktail with Vodka, Grapefruit, Thyme and Rosé Champagne

Grapefruit and Thyme Cocktail

February, as a rule, is a hard month to love. January, at least, has the benefit of being a FRESH NEW START to the year; we can, if we’re lucky, coast on hopes, and dreams, and the sugar high from Christmas, all the way through to the 31st. And then, the next morning, we wake, mentally done with winter and ready to see the sun again, keeping our eyes closed for a few blissful seconds of ignorance before opening them to find … February. Ugh.

It’s no coincidence that Groundhog Day is right at the beginning of February. If summer is a season of Sundays, February is a month of Februaries. TS Eliot had it wrong: April would only be the cruelest month if it arrived at your door dressed as a spring maiden only to rip off its mask and yell “surprise! April Fool, motherfucker! It’s February again!”.

But it’s not all bad. If you can make it exactly halfway through, to the month’s hump-day, so to speak, you’ll hit Valentine’s Day. (Any sensible editor would absolutely forbid me from using the phrase “hump-day”, but fortunately, this blog doesn’t have one.). We’re not teddy bears and roses kind of people, but we do like a colorful drink with zesty flavors. So that’s what we wanted to blog this year: a good, tasty Valentine’s Day cocktail that you can share with a loved one, or just make for yourself. (Because YOU, my blog-reading friend, are a loved one. Yes you are, and don’t you ever forget it.)

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Strawberry-Basil Martini

Cocktail with strawberries

Strawberry-Basil Martini

It’s berry season, everyone! Sound the trumpets! Blow your kazoo! Get your strawberry costumes cleaned and pressed! 

After a long, cold winter, spring always feels like a greatest hits album of produce, with one favorite coming into season right after another. Asparagus, boom! Ramps, double boom! Green garlic! Morels! Peas! And then, when we’re all warmed up … berries

Just look at this shot of our haul from the Beacon Farmer’s Market last week. I mean, seriously, things are looking up.

Ramps, watermelon radishes, young leeks and pea shoots
Ramps, watermelon radishes, young leeks and pea shoots.

While the berries we’re growing won’t be ready for another week or two, fantastic berries are popping up at the grocery store and farmers market right now and there’s so many things we want to make with them! 

Seriously, you should see my recipe wish-list. It’s one berry dish after another, but this time we decided to kick off the season with a cocktail made with fresh strawberry syrup: a Strawberry-Basil Martini.

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