AlcoHOLidays | Mother’s Day | Lavender Lovely



I do apologize for missing last week’s AlcoHOLidays installment. It was a combination of an expected sponsored post falling through and me falling ill Thursday afternoon. It was, however, Cinco de Mayo last Sunday and I trust I’ve “trained” you well enough to know margaritas were in order, yes? Good!

This weekend, however, we are celebrating dear old (or not so old) Mom, as this Sunday, May 12, is the US observance of Mother’s Day.

While the Mother’s Day that is celebrated as a formal holiday the second Sunday in May was started by Anna Jarvis in 1909, there was another Mother’s Day that never really got off the ground. Back in 1870, after the American Civil War, Julia Ward Howe tried to start a Mother’s Day for Peace on June 2, though it was more about stopping the wars that were robbing mothers of their husbands and sons and promoting pacifism than it was honoring the institution of motherhood.

They say Jarvis was rather disgusted by the commercialism of Mother’s Day by the time the 1920s came around. Frankly, I can see her point. I will be glad when this weekend is over so that the incessant ads for flowers, cards, jewelry, dinners out, and anything else that could remotely please a mom. Do you know that Mother’s Day is the busiest restaurant day of the year? The automatic assumption is that Mom shouldn’t have to cook on Mother’s Day and heaven forbid someone else take her place in the kitchen.

But I digress…

The funny (read as: coincidental) thing about the post-Civil War Mother’s Day is that my favorite literary mother is Ellen O’Hara, from Gone with the Wind. And indelibly printing on my memory, just as it was Scarlett’s, is that she always smelled of Lemon Verbena.

Now, as I first read GWTW  when I was very young, possibly single digits-young, (and way before the Internet was commonplace in business, much less the home) my mind figured that lemon verbena must be some sort of perfume combining the scent of lemons and whateverthehell verbena was–probably a flower of some sort, I reasoned, and lavender somehow made it’s way into my mental estimation of the scent. Now, of course, I know that lemon verbena is a stand-alone plant in it’s own right, and that it smells like lemon and is used for its lemony oils, can be found in some teas, and does actually have small purple and white flowers.

Which is a very roundabout way of explaining the inspiration that went into today’s cocktail: lemon and lavender and all things lovely. Lemon and lavender are not exactly strangers to cocktails, as I’ve had a wonderful martini with those notes in the past. But I wanted less of a sweet, syrupy martini and more of a refreshing tall drink, one that would be at home on the back porch with a picnic or barbecue spread. Something that tasted like spring, and renewal–but without the bugs and dirt.

Lavender Lovely

3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 barspoon dried Lavender
1 tsp Rosewater
1 oz Pisco
6 oz Sparkling Lemon Soda

In the bottom of a tall glass, muddle the syrup and lavender–you don’t need to crush the flowers into oblivion, you just want them to release some of their heady oils. Add the rosewater, Pisco, and enough ice to make the glass 3/4 full and give it a few stirs with the aforementioned barspoon, then stir in the lemon soda until chilled. Because the lavender will float on the top of the drink, I suggest serving this one with a straw!

I was debating base spirits on this one between rum and vodka, briefly considered cachaca for something a little different before I was reminded of the wonderful floral notes in KAPPA Pisco and there was suddenly no more deliberating! Pisco was the perfect choice for this cocktail but for those mom’s who are still expecting, I’m willing to bet that just using a bit more of the lemon soda (mine was California Juice Company Sparkling Meyer Lemon from Cost Plus/World Market) to make up for the missing Pisco would result in a lovely, all-ages sipper. If you’re short of sparkling lemon soda, I’d say some Lemon Perrier, the juice of one lemon, and a little extra simple syrup would do the trick.

Granted, I won’t be serving this to my own mother this weekend as she doesn’t drink any alcohol and overly-floral things give her a headache. Our tradition over the last several years has been to tour the local Parade of Homes on the Saturday before Mother’s Day and then go for a late lunch/early supper somewhere. It works for us.


Random Appetites: Pittypat’s Porch


So, last week I raved about Trader Vic’s and their famous Mai Tai cocktail.

This is not that kind of post.

PItty Pat’s Porch, in Atlanta, Georgia, is more gimmick than gourmet, and not necessarily in a good way. For those who don’t get the reference, Pittypat was the Aunt of Charles Hamilton, Scarlett’s first husband from “Gone With the Wind”, and in whose home she stayed during the War before running home to Tara as Atlanta burned. Anyway, the place is memorabilia central and I have to give them credit for the overwhelming theming: the tables are set with pewter goblets and chargers, the chairs have cane seats, there’s china everywhere and the menus are actually wooden-handled church fans. Not bad.

Unfortunately, the food was mostly underwhelming. We started with drinks. I ordered Pittypat’s Pitch which was eh on taste and whose garnish was a sloppy orange slice and maraschino cherry, the pith of the former souring the drink a bit. Todd had Melanie’s Lemonade which was actually pretty good. The drinks are pricey but you get to take the glass home, so keep that in mind. The Pitch came in a small mason-jar with handle but the Julep glass from the Lemonade is very curvy.

The Sideboard is their version of the Salad bar featuring a mix of greens with various dressing and then half a dozen or more prepared salads. There was a very tasty macaroni salad with sausage (and maybe barbecue sauce? hard to tell) along with an awesome cucumber/green pea salad and some watermelon rind pickles. Honestly, the sideboard was the best thing about the dinner and you can order it only. If I went here again, that’s what I’d do.

For appetizers we had the Hot Crab Dip (Todd) which was pretty good and the Pecan Crusted Catfish Fingers (Jenn) which was recommended as one of the best things on the menu. See, he set it up too much because not only were the fingers kinda scrawny, they were over-fried. The plus side was that you could really taste that it was honest-to-goodness catfish but the crust was too dark (sign of frying too long) and almost a singed taste. They were also dry so thank heavens for the remoulade… but a sauce should compliment–not save–a dish.

Dinner was the Fried Chicken for Todd which he reported to be a bit dry but at least the mashed potatoes were tasty. My Beef Tenderloin on a Spit was smothered in some goopy mushroom sauce and topped with julienned red and green bell peppers that tasted like they hadn’t completely thawed in the skillet. The rice was strictly “Uncle Ben”-style. And then there were the sides served family style: greens and black-eyed peas. Now, normally I’d be all over that except they were both a little bland for my liking, and not just in the needing a smidgen more salt way. It was just off. The cornbread was on the dry, unsweetened side (not my preference, but I know that some people prefer it that way), a very hard biscuit and a chocolate chip mini-muffin. Yeah, I know… not really sure about that one either. We skipped dessert.

For the quality of the food, I think the overall experience was over-priced and over-hyped, but if you like GWtW stuff and prepared salads, go and have a look, have a bite, and then head up the street to the Mexican restaurant that smelled oh so good on our walk back to the hotel 😉

Now, since I wasn’t truly fond of my own drink, how about we close with a class Southern cocktail:

The Mint Julep

7 sprigs of mint
1/2 oz. simple syrup
3 oz. bourbon

Crush 6 mint sprigs into the bottom of a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. Pour in the simple syrup and bourbon. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with the remaining mint sprig and serve with two short straws. Sometimes a splash of club soda is added.

–from Hemingway & Bailey’s Bartending Guide to Great American Writers