Cranberry-Basil Margarita with Homegrown Citrus & Herbs

December 8th, 2017 § 4 comments § permalink


Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Tis the season for entertaining, and for many of us, that means welcoming guests with refreshing, festive cocktails. At the moment, I’m planning a Winter Solstice get-together for family. This will be more of a roam-about the room and chat party than a sit-down dinner, so I’m dreaming up tasty libations to set out in punch bowls and pitchers, or perhaps even prepare —at least in part— a day in advance. I’ve been trying out a few different twists on favorite cocktail recipes and this fresh take on a classic Margarita definitely fits the bill.Don’t you just love cranberries? They glow like ruby beads and they’re so willing to wait around in the fridge! As a life-long New Englander, I always make my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving, and an extra batch or two for using on sandwiches, later. While they are in season, I pick up a few extra bags of fresh cranberries whenever I’m at the market. I freeze what I can’t use and thaw them when I need some bright color in the dead of winter.Calamondin Orange in the Kitchen

I’ve always used cranberries in baked goods and savory sauces, but more recently, I’ve been experimenting with them in cocktails. Cranberry juice is one of the most popular mixers, so why not put the whole fruit in your drink? Cranberries combine well with so many things. Citrus —especially oranges and limes— is an obvious choice, but the tart flavor and bright red color of cranberries practically begs for fresh, green herbs as well. Hello windowsill herb garden and potted citrus trees, what do you have on offer today? Basil? Ripe calamondin oranges? OK, lets play.First, I make up a basic cranberry sauce, aka cranberry “jam”, (see recipe, below). This tart, multi-use condiment will keep well, covered in the fridge, for a few days. Obviously, cranberry sauce is great on sandwiches, but it’s also delicious when swirled into plain, Greek yogurt or dabbed atop warm oatmeal with cinnamon and a touch of maple syrup. But wait! Don’t eat it all! You’re gonna love using this jam in cocktails —especially this Cranberry-Basil Margarita!

Cranberry-Basil Margarita

Single recipe serves 1, Pitcher recipe serves 8

Ingredients

Cranberry Sauce

1       12 oz. package of fresh or frozen cranberries

1       cup fresh-squeezed orange juice

½     cup sugar (add more for sweet-tooths, up to 1 cup, to taste)

1        tbs fresh orange zest (optional)

Sugar-Salt 

¼       cup kosher salt

¼       cup granulated sugar

Single Cocktail 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glass (recipe above)

1       calamondin orange or lime wedge

2       fresh basil leaves

1 ½  ounces blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

¾     ounce fresh squeezed calamondin orange or lime juice

½     ounce orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1       ounce cranberry sauce (recipe above)

½     ounce agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ ounce, for sweeter taste

¾     cup of ice cubes (about 6-8 cubes, plus more for glass)

Pitcher of Margaritas 

sugar-salt mixture for rimming glasses (recipe above)

16     fresh basil leaves

½     cup agave syrup (or simple syrup), or ¾ cup for sweeter taste

1       cup cranberry sauce (recipe above)

4       calamondin oranges or 1 lime, cut into wedges

¾     cup fresh calamondin orange or lime juice

½     cup orange liquor, such as Cointreau, or triple sec

1 ½  cups blanco tequila (100% blue agave)

6       cups ice cubes, plus more for glasses

Directions 

For Cranberry Sauce

Heat a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice and stir in ½-¾ cup of sugar on medium-high. When the mixture begins to boil, stir in 12 oz. of cranberries. Continue stirring and allow the mixture to bubble for a minute or two. Lower the heat and simmer for 5-8 minutes. When cranberries begin to pop and juice starts to foam, turn off the heat and crush the berries with a potato masher. The sauce should be chunky, with bits of fruit and some whole berries. Consistency will become more jam-like as it cools. Cover and refrigerate (up to 3 days), until ready for use.

For Sugar-Salt

Combine sugar and salt in a small container with lid. Shake and pour onto a small plate (be sure to choose one wide enough to fit the overturned rim of your cocktail glass).

For Single Margaritas (up to two servings will fit in a standard sized cocktail shaker)

Moisten the rim of an Old Fashioned or Margarita glass with the citrus wedge (a wide-mouth, stemless wineglass will also work). Turn the rim down on the plate of sugar-salt and give it a slight twist while digging into the mixture.

In the bottom of a standard-size cocktail shaker, crush the basil leaves with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. When coarsely mashed, add the tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and the agave syrup. Stir. Add ice. Cover and shake for at least 30 seconds. For a rustic cocktail, pour (or, for a more refined cocktail, strain), into the sugar-salt crusted glass and serve immediately with a citrus wedge garnish and/or sprig of fresh basil.

For Pitcher of Margaritas

In the bottom of a large pitcher, crush basil leaves with muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, until coarsely mashed. Add tequila, citrus juice, orange liquor/triple sec, cranberry ‘jam’ and agave syrup. I like to throw in a few decorative wedges of citrus when using a glass pitcher. Cover the pitcher and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until well chilled.

When ready to serve, pour the sugar-salt mixture on a small plate. Rub the rims of 2 Old Fashioned glasses with a citrus wedge (a classic margarita glass or stemless wine glass will also work, in a pinch); dip and twist the rims in sugar/salt mixture.

Stir the pitcher of margarita mix. Fill a cocktail shaker ½ full with ice and pour in 1 cup (plus) of the margarita mixture. Be sure a bit of muddled basil gets in! Shake until chilled and pour (unstrained for a rustic drink or strained for a more refined cocktail) into two of the sugar-salt crusted glasses. Garnish with a citrus wedge and basil leaf. Repeat for remaining guests or servings.

C  H  E  E  R  S   !  ! 


Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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***

A Blueberry Smash in the Moonlight & Cocktail Gardening Gone Wild . . .

July 27th, 2013 § Comments Off on A Blueberry Smash in the Moonlight & Cocktail Gardening Gone Wild . . . § permalink

Blueberry Smash - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Icy, Cool, Blueberry Smash

Have you heard? Cocktail gardening is all the rage these days. Of course, mixing drinks from fresh-picked ingredients has been popular with gardeners for as long as booze and backyards have been around, but it always seems to take mainstream media awhile to catch up, now doesn’t it? Strictly speaking, I’ve never planted a cocktail garden, but I’ll make a drink out of pretty much anything in my potager, or the surrounding forest for that matter. And why not? Just about anything edible —wild or cultivated— can go into a cocktail recipe: cucumber for a Porch Swing/Pimm’s Cup, mint for Mojitos and Juleps, berries, rhubarb, melon and stone fruit for Smashes, Daiquiris and Mimosas, chile peppers and citrus for Margaritas, celery and tomatoes for Bloody Marys, edible flowers for pretty much anything, and the list goes on and on. If it’s growing in your kitchen garden, it’s fair game. But if you’re foraging, just be 100% certain that you know what you’ve gathered in that basket!

Blueberries at Last - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com To Extend the Harvest and Provide Good Pollination, I Grow Three Blueberry Varieties in My Garden: BlueRay, Northland and Jersey. Read More About Blueberry Cultivation Here.

picking blueberries in the garden - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Early Morning Blueberry Picking

blueberries from the garden Turns into a Hot Afternoon Dilemma. Shall I Turn on the Oven to Bake a Pie? Nah…

In high summer —when ripe berries and fresh herbs are plentiful— I love to take in sunset or moonrise on the terrace with an ice cold Cuban Mint Julep, fresh Strawberry-Mint Mojito, Raspberry Daiquiri or Blueberry Smash. At the moment, blueberries are particularly plentiful in my garden —despite the efforts of four local black bear— and when it’s too hot to bake a pie or muffins, I’ll take my blueberries with a bit of mint from the herb garden, fresh squeezed lemon/lime juice, vodka or white rum, a hint of St. Germain, crushed ice and a splash of seltzer, thank you very much!

Unknown The Drunken Botanist, by Amy Stewart

Looking for a little inspiration to help liven up the home bar? Author, gardener and cocktail-lover, Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist is a fine, educational read —as well as cocktail gardening and recipe resource— for the horticultural enthusiast who enjoys the occasional homegrown and hand-crafted drink (or two). Curious about the botanical origins of gin and vodka? Want to learn more about the relationships between the various grains, vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers? Wondering about how to play them against or with one another in a cocktail shaker? Well then, pull up a bar stool. Get ready to kick back a glass or two, and chase it with several chapters of cocktail gardening inspiration. And I have just the drink to whet your whistle . . .

Blueberry Smash Ingredients - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com How ‘Bout an Ice Cold Blueberry Smash . . .

Blueberry Smashes on the Terrace - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Now That’s More Like It. Now, Cue Up the Moon . . .

The Blueberry Smash

Ingredients for one cocktail*

1 1/2 oz of Vodka (or White Rum)

1/2 oz St. Germain or Cointreau (and/or 1/2 oz simple syrup)

1/4 cup Fresh Blueberries

Juice of 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime (or a mix of the two)

Slices of Lemon or Lime for garnish

1/8 cup Fresh Mint Leaves, loosely packed, plus a sprig for garnish

Chilled Seltzer Water (optional, for a long version)

Crushed Ice

Method

Reserve a few mint leaves and berries for garnish and place the remaining amount in a cocktail shaker cup and smash with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon until the blueberries are pulpy and the mint leaves are crushed. Fill the cup near to the top with ice. Add citrus juice (and if you like it sweet, optional simple syrup) and spirits and place the cover on your cup. Shake, shake, shake until well mixed. Set aside. Place a couple of the reserved mint leaves at the bottom of a highball or goblet and crush them with a muddler. Fill the glass with ice. Strain the mixture into the glass and, if you prefer a longer, less-potent tasting drink, top off with chilled seltzer. Add a few fresh blueberries, a sprig of mint and/or lemon/lime slices, then serve. This recipe may be adapted and modified in a variety of ways for various berry/herb/citrus combinations**.

Cheers!

*For pitcher sized portions of this cocktail, see John Derian’s version at Bon Appetit, here.

**Find more of my favorite libations in a collection of archived cocktail posts, here.

**For more garden-fresh cocktails as well as recipes for homemade bitters, simple syrups and a shot of good wit, check out Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist Blog, here.

Thunder Moonrise through Halesia tetraptera - michaela medina harlow - thegardenerseden.com Blueberry Blue Sky & Moonlight, through the Carolina Silverbell Leaves (Halesia tetraptera)

Photography & Text ⓒ Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Seduced by Autumn’s Alluring Scent …

September 25th, 2011 § Comments Off on Seduced by Autumn’s Alluring Scent … § permalink

Deep Within the Secret Garden, the Delightful Scent of Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ and ‘Brunette’ aka Cimicifuga racemosa) Perfumes the Air, Luring Me Down the Dim, Winding Path. (Other plants here: Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’, Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’, Viburum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, and beside the Actaea simplex: glowing, chartreuse Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’)

There are many things to love about Autumn, not the least of which is her enviable wardrobe of fine perfume. Earthy notes of musk, moss and damp leaves play against heady florals to create a most alluring bouquet. Just outside my studio door, Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata, aka C. terniflora) scents the damp morning breeze with a cloud of fragrant white blossoms. Nearby —along the edge of the stone terrace— swoon-inducing Damask Roses (Hardy Portland Damask cultivar, Rosa ‘De Rescht’) fill the air with their unmistakably rich scent as they come into a second wave of seasonal bloom; mingling with the nearby vanilla of Henry Eilers Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’). Further down the garden path —luring me into the shadows— the slightly-fruity fragrance Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex cvs ‘Hillside Black Beauty’ and ‘Brunette’) swirls about, blending at the edge of the damp walls with base notes of moss and fern to balance the sweetness …

One of the lofty delights of fall, Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata, aka C. terniflora) twines about my studio entry door. Here in my zone 4/5 garden, this old-time favorite produces clouds of fragrant, white blossoms throughout the month of September and often into early October. Sweet Autumn Clematis is hardy in zones 4-8 and can reach a height of 30′ or more (easily contained and kept tidy by vigorous spring pruning, as this clematis blooms on new wood)

The old roses, particularly Damasks, are well known for their exquisite perfume. In early autumn —and often straight through the first frost— this Portland Damask Rose known as Rosa ‘De Rescht’ (the right rose, in German), is particularly sweet. Read more about this hardy cultivar and find a Vintage Rose Cocktail recipe by clicking here.

An unusually fragrant rudbeckia, Henry Eilers Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’), lightly perfumes the air with the subtle scent of vanilla, when planted en masse

The Fruity Scent of Fairy Candles (Actaea simplex ‘Brunette’) Wafts Up from the Stone Walls Along the Secret Garden Path. Read more about this Autumn blooming beauty by clicking here.

Late-blooming flowers are not only attractive, but vitally important to the support of pollinators as well. As sunlight fades in the September garden, I often find drunken bees and butterflies lingering about the Fairy Candles and other blossoms, long past the sunset. And can you blame them? With all the voluptuous fragrances of fall —and many more yet to come— a stroll through the Autumn garden can be a deliciously intoxicating experience …

Find the recipe for this Vintage Rose Cocktail and read about my favorite Autumn Damask Rose, ‘Rosa De Rescht’ by clicking here

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Fresh Picked Raspberry-Mint Daiquiris And Hazy Summer Reflections …

July 25th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Fresh-Picked Raspberry-Mint Daiquiri

An Afternoon Swim

Favorite Old Summertime Slides

Truth: I’m suffering from a bit of vacation envy this week. Months have passed since I’ve had a whole day to myself, and to be honest, I really need one. It’s been terribly hot, and I’ve been doing projects back-to-back. I try to “make hay while the sun shines”, as the saying goes, and during the growing season, taking time off work always feels impossible. But summer days pass quickly —at the speed of light, really— and it’s important to savor their sweetness. My nephew will soon be two years old, and I can’t remember the last time my toes touched sand. I miss my friends. I miss my family. It’s time to slow things down a little and plan a mini-vacation: pick some wild berries, kick off shoes, float in the lake and mix a cocktail or two …

Fresh-Picked Raspberries and Mint

Hazy Green Mountains at Sunset

Savoring a Bit of Summer

Never one for frozen-cocktails, I prefer my libations lightly chilled and shaken with hand-cracked ice. The classic daiquiri (made with lime juice, white rum and gomme syrup) wasn’t originally a blender drink; though on a hot day, many prefer to serve it that way. There are so many variations on the basic recipe, but in mid-summer, is there anything tastier than a cocktail made with freshly picked, juicy fruit? The heavenly fragrance of raspberries and mint, the glow of saturated, backlit color; why it’s just summertime in a glass …

Old Fashioned Raspberry-Mint Daiquiri

Ingredients (one cocktail, multiply to suit any number of companions)

1         handful fresh picked raspberries (about 20 juicy, plump berries)

6         fresh picked mint leaves, slightly crushed

1 2/3  oz Puerto Rican White Rum

2/3     oz fresh squeezed lime juice

extra mint and raspberries for garnish and nibbles

hand cracked ice

*dash of gomme or simple syrup (*optional if berries are tart)

Method: 

Place raspberries and mint in a cocktail shaker and lightly mash (*if berries seem tart, add a dash of gomme/simple syrup to sweeten the drink). Add cracked ice to the cup an pour in the rum and lime juice. Let it all sit for a minute, then cover and shake it all up. Set aside. Add a sprig of mint with three raspberries to a double cocktail glass. Strain contents of shaker into the glass, walk out to the deck, kick off your shoes, sit down and sip. Repeat as necessary.

 Cheers! Here’s to Summer!

Red Sky at Night – A Glowing, Raspberry Sunset

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, articles and content on this site, (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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A Sparkling 4th of July Celebration …

July 4th, 2011 § Comments Off on A Sparkling 4th of July Celebration … § permalink

I love fireworks. Those colorful, explosive displays have always reminded me of neon flowers; great big daisies, electric dahlias and sparkly spider flowers in the night sky. Beautiful! And is there anything more romantic than stretching out on a blanket to take in a delightful show of pyrotechnics on a warm summer’s eve?

wishing  you  a  very  sparkly  fourth  of  july …

To see More Pyrotechnic/Flower Photos & Find a Recipe for Strawberry-Mint Mojitos, Click Here!

Words & Photographs ⓒ Michaela Medina – The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reused, reposted or reproduced in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help keep this site going by shopping through affiliate links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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