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Happy hours in the garden: Grow your own cocktails

DEAN FOSDICK
The Associated Press
Modified: March 26, 2013 at 5:38 pm •  Published: March 26, 2013
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"A lot of young people are looking to do cooler things in their gardens like grow their own cocktail ingredients," Russell said. "We're hoping this will draw them further into gardening."

The average liquor bottle contains a great deal more than straight alcohol, Stewart writes.

"Once a spirit leaves the still, it is subject to endless experimentation with herbs, spices, fruits, nuts, bark, roots and flowers," she said. "Some distillers claim to use over a hundred different botanicals in their secret recipes."

So if distillers are continuing to experiment, why not gardeners?

Stewart's garden-themed recipes can be the foundation for:

— Infused vodkas. Fill a clean jar with fruit, herbs or spices and then add vodka. Seal, store and sample until your taste buds tell you it's ready to drink.

— Homemade grenadine. Peel a half-dozen pomegranates, leaving the seeds and membranes intact. Squeeze and filter until you've made about two cups of juice. Pour that into a saucepan, add 1 to 2 cups of sugar, simmer and stir in an ounce of vodka, which acts as a preservative. The syrup should be good for about a month.

— Maraschino cherries. Clean and pit a small batch of fresh, sour cherries. Loosely fill a Mason jar with the cherries and cover with brandy or bourbon. Seal the jar and refrigerate. Use them in drinks or over ice cream.

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