Thomas Jefferson was a man of many achievements — a Founding Father, a speaker of five languages, third president of the United States and one heck of a horticulturist. (He reportedly obsessed more about his Monticello garden than about writing the Declaration of Independence).
Jefferson’s foremost botanical adviser was Bernard McMahon, a horticulturist who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1796 and published the country’s first seed list, which caught the eye of its botanically predisposed president. This lead to a longtime correspondence during which McMahon became Jefferson’s friend and gardening mentor.
After dispatching Lewis and Clark to explore the continent, it was McMahon, whom Jefferson tasked with growing and chronicling the 130 plants discovered on their expedition, resuling in the book “Flora Americae.” In a time when the Founding Fathers were consumed with distancing themselves from traditional English gardens, McMahon’s book was a godsend,giving men like Jefferson the resources to create stunning and productive gardens based on plants native to the New World.
In those days, it was customary for the gentry to make their own garden spirits. Each family’s was different, reflecting both their tastes and the output of the local soil. For our fourth Art in the Age libation, we thought it would be interesting to create a refreshing “garden gin” using some of the esculent botanicals chronicled by McMahon in his publications and grown by Jefferson at his Monticello gardens.
The result is sippable and fascinating, swirling with the grace and elegance of a post-colonial, pre-industrial America. With an intoxicating aroma and woodsy, herbaceous flavor, SAGE mixes deliciously in both savory and sweet cocktails. Instilled with organic American botanicals including thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel and, of course sage, it calls to mind an earlier, more verdant world, when nature was more abundant and adventures more frequent. Please join us in our revival of craft cocktails from simpler times.