Good Grit's Reading List: Garden to Glass
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Words by Emma Harchanko
Photos Pulled From: Garden to Glass: Grow Your Drinks from the Ground Up
You’ve heard of farm-to-table, so let us introduce the newest industry buzzword , garden to glass. Michael Wolf, drink connoisseur, is guiding us through this new trend with the coolest new read, Garden to Glass: Grow Your Drinks from the Ground Up.
Michael Wolf opened and established the bar program at Husk in Nashville, Tennessee and spent the next five years developing a hyper-seasonal and dynamic style of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks, utilizing on-site gardens, the bounty of Middle Tennessee and a home garden where he grew upwards of 30 different varieties of herbs and vegetables all for the purpose of making cocktails and elixirs. His drinks have been featured in Imbibe Magazine, The Local Palate, the Tennessean, Foodable TV Network and more. He is the co-owner of Nashville tiki bar Chopper, which opened in 2019. This is his first book.
From the mint in mojitos to the wild botanicals in regional styles of gin, Garden to Glass explores how we are re-shaping the way drinks are developed, presented, and consumed. Wolf’s thoughtful approach encourages home drinkers to grow their own herbs and vegetables and harvest these to make teas, tinctures, cordials, bitters, and elixirs of all kinds, all while outlining the basics of making delicious drinks.
Following a foreword by Chef Sean Brock, with whom Wolf worked alongside at Husk Nashville, Wolf outlines the foundations of a home garden with tips and tricks broken down by space, season, and climate. Inspired by his time running some of the most innovative cocktail programs in Nashville, Wolf’s recipes in the book span from cold-weather creations like The Jungle Negroni and Forest Toddy to light, bright options like Strawberry Dandelion Spritz and Spring Rhubarb Collins, which utilize both familiar and lesser-known herbs, fruits, and vegetables for flavor and depth.
Insightful interviews with beverage and farming experts such as Chris Bennet (referred to as Foragerman) and Barefoot Farmer provide a deeper dive into the world of ingredient-sourcing and how this translates to the home garden.
And, we’ve got your exclusive sneak peek recipe for his hot sage-buttered rum…
Hot Sage-Buttered Rum
1/2 cup water
8 to 10 sage leaves, plus some sage “trees” for garnish
5 dashes angostura or other aromatic bitters, divided
6 tablespoons Kerrygold salted butter, or any good European-style butter, softened
1 black tea bag or a homemade bouquet garni of dried herbs
1 lemon, at room temperature
1 tablespoon honey syrup (2 parts honey to 1 part water)
1 teaspoon St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram or other Allspice Liqueur
1 to 2 ounces good Jamaican rum (like Appleton Estate 12 year)
Star anise pods, for garnish
At least 4 hours ahead:
“In a medium saucepan, combine the water with 4 dashes of the bitters and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Add the sage leaves and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until it’s nice and fragrant, being careful not to let all the liquid evaporate. Remove from the heat and let your sage “tea” cool down for 15 minutes. Strain out the cooked sage leaves through a tea strainer or cheesecloth and discard.
Combine the sage tea and butter in a mixing bowl and mix, by hand using a wooden spoon or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until incorporated. Set out a sheet of plastic wrap on your counter and use a spatula to carefully transfer the butter mix onto the wrap. After you’ve gotten every bit of that delicious, aromatic butter out of the mixing bowl, roll and shape it into the shape of a stick of butter. Place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to firm back up a little, to make it easy to slice into your hot-buttered rum.
When ready to drink: In a teapot, boil enough water for two drinks. While your water is boiling, get the sage butter out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature to soften a bit. Fill up your mug with the freshly boiled water and place a plate on top to seal in the heat. After a few minutes, discard the tempering water and fill the mug a little more than halfway with more of the freshly boiled water. Add the tea bag or herbs, and put the plate back on top of the mug to seal in the heat and get a nice infusion going. While the tea is infusing, cut some wedges of lemon, removing the seeds. After 3 minutes, remove the tea bag and lift the plate off your mug and squeeze in about 1/2 ounce of lemon juice. Add the honey syrup, allspice liqueur, the remaining dash of bitters, and the rum to taste, depending on how strong you like your drink. Warm a spoon under the faucet and stir all the ingredients together in the mug. Slice 2 small pats of sage butter and add them to your drink, slowly stirring to incorporate the butter (I know you’re thirsty, but don’t spill your precious creation by stirring too aggressively!). Garnish with a big sprig of sage, and star anise pods and use the sprig to stir in the butter as needed. Be warm, be merry—you are enjoying a drink so delicious, it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside.”