Scenes from “A Martini in Paradise:” The incredible flowers of Santa Barbara, California and the martinis and eau de vies that evoke their aromas.
This installment of “Fork on the Road” is part blog post part thank you. I’ll start with the post part first.
It would be truly irresponsible of me not to tell you about St. Germain, one of the most extraordinary eau de vies to hit the aperitif scene in a long while. Open one of these gorgeous bottles and you’ll be rewarded with the subtle, flowery scent of elderberry blossoms and -somehow- the fragrance of the most memorable bouquets of your childhood. You don’t even need to drink it to enjoy it’s perfume. Just to remove the cap and inhale it is like releasing a flowery genie from its bottle.
What exactly is an eau de vie? According to Wikipedia, it is “ is a clear, colorless fruit brandy that is produced by means of fermentation and double distillation. The fruit flavor is typically very light.” And how romantic is this?: St. Germain eau de vie is born from the blossom of elderberry flower gathered at the foot of the French Alps during the height of springime (right around now, actually). It is sublime simply mixed with champagne but if you want to put it in the pink martini hall of fame, try mixing it with a little pear vodka and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Voila, a beautiful, bouquet of a drink brimming with color (see recipe below).
And speaking of bouquets, this brings me to the thank you part of the post. Last week I was lucky enough to visit some very special friends in California. Since I hadn’t been there in over thirty years, they became tour guides extraordinaire sharing with me the sights, smells and tastes (fish tacos anyone?) of their city Santa Barbara. It is truly an urban Eden. In particular I was struck by the explosion of flowering plants everywhere. Being in Santa Barbara is kind of like being stuck smack dab in the middle of one big flower arrangement — gorgeous blooming cactus, roses, trumpet vines, bougainvillea, citrus, hibiscus, and colorful weeds abound (yes, Wendy, even the weeds are beautiful!). But my favorite of the bunch became the traveling geranium which lines curbs and beds throughout the city.
So, this easy-to-shake-up recipe for a fragrant “Traveling Geranium Martini” celebrates that wonderful few days filled with flowers, friends, fun and sunshine in California. Thank you so much Wendy and Chris (and L &I!). Cheers to all of you.
The Traveling Geranium: A Pink Martini from Paradise
This drink was inspired by an elixir we enjoyed at a bar on State Street in Santa Barbara, California. It would be just as at home at a barbecue in Vermont with the lilacs blooming next to the grill as it is being served in a starry, jacaranda filled evening in Santa Barbara. And, considering its country of origin, it would taste just right in France, too.
2 parts Absolut Pear Vodka
1 part St. Germain Liqueur
2 parts fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
Fill a shaker with ice. Add ingredients and shake. Fill a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon or lime twist (or an elderflower blossom!).