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Drunken Botanist
"The Frezier Affair" (right), photo courtesy of Amy Stewart

There?s no line outside the newest cocktail hot spot. And you don?t have to shell out $15 for a drink that has a jumbo ice cube consuming the majority of the glass.

That?s because it?s your garden. According to Amy Stewart, who wrote the new book The Drunken Botanist, your backyard is a veritable bar filled to the brim with everything you need to make potent, lip-smacking cocktails.

The author of best-selling books such as Wicked Plants, Stewart deftly describes how trees, flowers and herbs are transformed into alcohol: Grapes are the basis for not only wine but also different types of brandy like cognac. Eucalyptus is used in bitters, vermouth and gin. And borage blossoms are an elegant garnish for a Pimm?s Cup.

Stewart clearly did her homework, consulting world-renowned distillers and botanists to unravel the history of each plant and its boozy evolution. Throughout the book she also offers gardening tips and helpful cocktail pointers, such as ?spanking? your herbs (by placing the leaves in the palm of your hand and clapping once or twice) to release their essential oils.

But for us, the recipes for cocktails, syrups and infusions are the main attraction. Since we?re between seasons, we chose to share one made with strawberries, which can grow almost year-round here, called The Frézier Affair:

3 slices ripe strawberry

1½ ounces white rum

½ ounce yellow Chartreuse

Juice of 1 lemon wedge

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 strawberry slices, rum, Chartreuse and lemon juice, crushing the strawberries with a muddler. Shake over ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the remaining strawberry slice.

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