Booze & Botany

Things are  growing on the balcony, not as much as I would like but at least my mint and my basil has become big enough to actually use. Feels like a miracle considering the cold and rainy weather we’ve been having of late.  In addition I brought some freshly cut herbs from the cottage; some to freeze and a handful to make what I often refer to as “garden syrup”.


The recipe originally came from The Drunken botanist by Amy Stewart. It’s a wonderful book that contains competent gardening advice, some very good cocktail recipes and loads of fun anecdotes about herbs, spices and other cocktail ingredients; their history and other uses, that sort of thing (which I very much like). Stewart knows her stuff, I’ve learned plenty from this although mostly about gardening and that sort of annoying little tidbits of information that I insist of telling everyone at the most inappropriate time.

As I make this, it is a handful of herbs that’s added when making a syrup giving you a fresh and flavorful sweetener to your cocktails. Most herbs are good but I basically go with a combination of mint,basil and a little thyme. Makes for a good partner with gin, blanco tequila and if adding some fruit or berries* too, light rum. But you can experiment and find your own cool mix that works with what you want to make. I often add a bit to a G&T (I’m basic) or some kind of sour (not only basic but also a lazy mixologist in summer). Terrific added to a bit of prosecco. Also a very handy thing for non-alcoholic drinks, mixed with soda and some citrus juice.

It’s easy to make, and easy to use. I’ve poured this stuff on fruitsaladf (to be fair I’ve poured most kinds of syrups over fruit and it usually works. Ginger syrup is especially good, as is green jasmin tea syrup. Very sophisticated that last one if I might say so myself but not necessarily for everyone (pour it over lychees I tell you)).

Garden syrup; last about 2-3 weeks in the fridge. Best made in many small batches.

2,5 dl of water

2,5 dl of caster sugar

a handful of herbs (about 1,5 dl loosely packed).

  1. On medium heat add the sugar to the water and stir gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the herbs and let simmer for about 7-10 minutes.
  3. Sieve it and then let cool before transferring to a bottle. Keep in the fridge.

*strawberries, blackberries or melon are particularly good. Makes sure to muddle those with the syrup so the flavours properly blend.

Also check out;

The drunken botanist 



Books about cocktails about books

img_3093Another Shakespeare-related thing I bought this year was the Shakespeare,not stirred cocktail book in the picture. I had high hopes,alas it didn’t deliver. The women behind this book know their Bard well, but they don’t seem to be as comfortable behind the bar. I don’t know drama  but I do know a lot about drinks. Too many of the cocktails are basically “drinkable puns” which just isn’t good enough for me; add a few errors in the making of the drinks and a messy layout? I’ve let it stay on the shelf just for reference but feel it takes up space that can be devoted to something I like.

Tequila mockingbird  by Tim Federle did the “drinkable puns” first (on a big scale at least) and then we really don’t need more of that. It’s bad for literature and cocktails alike. I personally don’t like that book  but I understand why others do and if you are not a nerd it is very reasonable.

Let’s bring back  by Lesley M.M Blume isn’t a cocktail book with a literary twist primarily(more about vintage cocktails) but there is a lot of that in there and it is very good: user friendly, good layout. In fact it’s a good novice cocktail book full stop.

The person that has taken the “books and booze” the furthest is Philip Greene with his To have and have another-a Hemingway drinking companion; a book full of recipes, stories about Hemingway,cocktail lore and cocktails facts. A very good read and I say that as someone who doesn’t like Hemingway’s books all that much ( except A moveable feast) but is fascinated by the man and in awe of all the cocktails he created. On that impressive list of drinks I think The Hemingway Daiquiri to be the best one(or maybe he did’t create it but it was created for him. Still qualifies). You can find instruction here.

So there; a small orientation in cocktail books for book nerds. I have not mentioned The complete imbiber as it is a vintage thing that is hard to find and also I haven’t used or read it much so I’m unsure of the quality. There is an awful lot of stuff about wine in there; of which I only know that I really like champagne.