You have no items in your shopping cart.
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.
Angelica is a perennial herb with white starburst flowers, widely used for its aromatic and medicinal qualities. The fragrance is often compared to Musk or Juniper berries, and has been used by various Native American tribes as a remedy for colds and respiratory disorders. Angelica stems and seeds, which are much more bitter than the stalks and fruits, have historically been utilized to flavor liquors such as gin, vermouth and Chartreuse.
Dandelions, translated as “lions tooth” in French, are beneficial weeds that generate nutrients, minerals and nitrogen in soil. The weed attracts insects that pollinate other flowers, which in turn releases ethylene gas and helps fruit ripen. Dandelion petals are blanched to remove their bitterness, and the roots can even be roasted to provide deep coffee flavors. Apothecaries have used dandelions as a diuretic and as treatment for infections and liver problems.
Fennel is an aromatic plant with yellow flowers and delicate leaves. The flavor of fennel is sweeter than anise, providing a pleasant licoricey note. Fennel contains a powerful medical compound, anethole, which historically wass used to treat colic and reduce bloating.
Rosemary is an herb with highly aromatic needles and flowers in various colors. Rosemary contains powerful antioxidants, and has also been used as a natural remedy for headaches.
The botanical name for Sage, Salvia, translates from Latin as “to save or to heal. Ancient traditions and recipes dating back to the 5th century B.C. associated sage with immortality, and the praise for sage is not unfounded, it was commonly used as an herbal remedy, as well as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant.
Sumac is a shrub that buds flowers and fruits, called drupes. The plant offers a lemony spice, and the fat of sumac has been used in wax candle fuel and matches to create a smokeless flame. Native tribes used sumac to tan leather, smoke with tobacco, and also vulued sumac for it’s medicinal use as an astringent and antiseptic.
Thyme has a pleasant aroma and sweet herbal flavor, and the herb has historically been used as a preservative and aromatic in cheese, teas, soups and sauces. Thymol, the essential oil of the thyme plant has antiseptic qualities, and has also been utilized for headache releif and as a digestive aid.