A Cocktail for Strawberry Lovers
"The Drunken Botanist" author Amy Stewart shares a favorite seasonal cocktail recipe.
Photo Courtesy of Algonquin Books
When Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, searches through a liquor cabinet, she doesn’t see just clear and amber spirits. Instead, she’s more interested in the plants that make cocktails possible, and she believes you can’t have any liquor without botany first. As she states in her introduction to her latest book, “Every great drink starts with a plant.”
Asked about her favorite drink though, Stewart doesn't play favorites.
“You might be craving Chinese food one night and Italian the next.”
She believes the same holds true with drinks. Instead of trying to pick a favorite, why not start with one that fits your current mood and suits the season?
"I think it's always great when you can use something that's very fresh and seasonal,” says Stewart. One she’s making now incorporates a fruit best eaten fresh from the garden, strawberries.
"I live in California, and we grow a lot of strawberries on the Central Coast.”
The Frézier Affair is named for Amédée-François Frézier, best known for bringing larger and better strawberries from South America to Europe. Although Stewart stresses The Frézier Affair is similar to a true daiquiri, it is ”not that frozen concoction you see coming out of machines, but the real thing, made with fresh ingredients.”
The Frézier Affair
- 1.5 ounces white rum
- .5 ounce yellow Chartreuse
- 3-5 alpine strawberries (or regular strawberries if you can’t find alpine)
- 3-4 lemon verbena leaves (optional)
- 1 lemon wedge
Reserve one small strawberry or a slice for garnish. Squeeze the lemon wedge into a cocktail shaker and add the other ingredients. Gently crush the berries and herbs with a muddler. Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish.
Stewart said if you can’t find yellow Chartreuse, an herbal French liqueur and a nod to Frézier, the drink would taste just as good with St. Germain elderflower liqueur.
“And, as long as we're thinking about variations, it would be lovely with gin or vodka if you're not a fan of rum,” says Stewart.
One thing Stewart won’t skimp upon anymore is quality, and she asserts that good liquor doesn’t need to be expensive. She notes that you can get an excellent bottle of gin, tequila or rum for about thirty dollars.
“One thing that did change as I was writing the book is that I became very picky about using top-quality ingredients, fresh produce, and really good, well-made spirits,” says Stewart, “For instance, I will not buy cheap, artificially flavored triple sec when a lovely orange liqueur like Combier or Grand Marnier is really affordable and good.”
When asked about her favorite botanical liqueur, Stewart says she is a fan of Strega, which is an Italian herbal liqueur. She also likes many of the aperitif wines coming from Europe like Lillet and Cocchi Americano. They are dry white wines infused with herbs and fruit, an old European tradition. She likes them mixed in drinks or even by themselves.
Stewart’s next book, a historical novel, takes her away from Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants and botanical spirits, at least partly. Instead, it follows one of the first female deputies in the United States and is based on a true story.
For more drink recipes and garden ideas, check out the Drunken Botanist website.