In Gardening for Cocktails, Life of a Distiller

Several of the folks here at the distillery are gardeners. Some of us grow flowers, many of us grow vegetables and herbs for eating (and drinking), and one of us even grows hops for homebrewing.  I really enjoy spending some time in the dirt, and find gardening a great way to unwind and clear my mind.  You have to focus on those pesky weeds if you want to get them outta there, after all!

This year, I’ll be chronicling my gardening adventures, especially as it relates to what we are growing for our cocktail program here at the distillery.

Barrel GardenHerbs, Herbs, Herbs!

Outside our front door here at our tasting room, we have two half-barrel planters.  We had a barrel that wasn’t usable for whiskey, so we decided to cut it in half and put some dirt in it awhile back.  One of them is in the shade, so I filled it with shade loving annuals.  The other is in sun, so I grow a range of herbs for use in our cocktails.  We love picking fresh herbs for drinks – the aromatics are incredible, and the flavors are rich and pure.

This year, I am growing the following at the distillery:

  • Mint – Kentucky Colonel Mint, to be precise, which is the ideal mint for a mint julep, supposedly (I learned this on a recent trip to Louisville) – planted 5/15
  • Honeydew Melon Sage – this one really does smell like a melon when you rub the leaves, and I am super excited about garnishing some great drinks with it this summer – planted 5/15
  • Cuban Oregano – this one’s leaves are thick, it almost seems like it’s a succulent.  I’m excited to see how it plays in simple syrup and as a garnish – planted 5/15
  • Herb TagsCrimson King Basil – a nice variation on this great herb, which is one of my favorites for drink making.  It is a bit more delicate and sensitive to cold, so I just planted that one this week -planted 5/22 and have to keep an eye on the temps.
  • Rosemary – the classic upright version, another cocktail favorite – planted 5/22

At my home garden, I am also growing:

  • Fernleaf Dill – planted 5/22
  • Chives – returned from last year
  • Cucumbers – planted from seed on 5/10, and just starting to sprout (I sure do love seeing the sprouts!)
  • Bell Peppers & Hot Peppers – planted on 5/12 and covered when it was cold last week
  • Tomatoes – three types (Roma, Yellow Pear and an heirloom variety) – two of them planted on 5/12 and covered when it was cold last week, and one added on 5/22

I will report back on what happens as the growing season progresses, as well as the great drinks we make with these!

PS, I also planted some flowers out front that I hope will attract hummingbird moths.  We had them visit the tasting room flower pots last year, and they were super cool – hopefully they will return!  Here’s a picture of what they looked like – apparently they like pale flowers with long trumpets, so that’s what I planted.Hummingbird Moth

Fingers crossed for a good growing season for all our gardener friends!