July 6, 2009

The Martha Stewart Culinary Herb Garden at the NYBG and My Favorite Summer Cocktails

Last weekend, I attended the opening of the Edible Garden at the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York. Last winter, Gregory Long, who runs the NYBG, asked me if I would be interested in being a part of this project. I, of course, told him to count me in and said I would be very pleased to create a Culinary Herb Garden. I enlisted my team of garden experts and we set out to redesign the NYBG's historic Nancy Bryan Luce Herb Garden, which had previously been planted with mostly medicinal herbs. Our new design includes more than 50 types of culinary herbs from around the world, including French tarragon, sorrel, English thyme, Italian parsley, Mexican cilantro, Greek oregano, and Japanese saltwort. All of these wonderful herbs were donated by my friend, Sal Glibertie, who is the largest herb plant grower in the country.

It was a fun-filled day with talks from experts in the local and sustainable food movement and demonstrations by world-renowned chefs. I took part in a panel discussion and then made some of my favorite summer cocktails with an herbal theme.

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Here's a nice overview of the Culinary Herb Garden.

PURPLE-BASIL MOJITO

Look for purple basil (opal basil) at gourmet or farmers' markets

1 lime wedge

2 sprigs of purple basil

Fill tumbler with ice and add

2 tablespoons light rum

1 tablespoon simple syrup

SIMPLE SYRUP (Makes 3 ½ cups)

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil. Let cool completely. Syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 month

MARTHA-TINI

Pour into a large pitcher of ice:

¾ bottle Hendricks Gin or Imperia Vodka

2 cups simple syrup

2 cups fresh limejuice

1 cup St. Germain Elderflower liqueur

1/8 cup pomegranate extract