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The Anytime Botanical Garden: Ketel One Botanical Collection

Deep into the thick of Autumn and butting heads with the crowning of Winter, I dare you to find some fresh grown outside foliage.  The once green leaves have gone from ochre and maize to trampled and decaying and have since left our illustrious lawns and walkways to be bagged and tagged for the seasonal mulch.  The flowers have withered and passed on with their petals going back to the dust and their stems aging dry and ashen.   Green goes to grey as the cold weather pulls out the colors that got us through the Spring and Summer and replaces it with end of life hues.  Although a different kind of beautiful altogether, some take more inspiration from the kaleidoscopic solstices than the melancholy equinoxes.  While I am one of those who can appreciate the the wabi-sabi beauty of the cold and the gnarled, I secretly long to keep the spirit of the Spring and Summer alive if not by foliage then through the drink.

While mulled wines, toddies and festive nogs reign supreme right now, I admire a spirit that can keep me warm, since it's that season, but take my mind to wear I'd rather be.  Enter the amazingly alive trio of vodkas from the Ketel One Botanical Collection.  I say alive since Ketel One remains that premier family-owned vodka brand imported from Holland and is so clean that you almost think you're drinking a crisp mineral water.  The amazing ushers in as this new collection just harnesses the flavors of real fresh botanicals to a well-distilled tee.  From the moment you open the bottles the aromas rush and fill the air with their sweet familiar and exciting fragrances.  The Peach & Orange Blossom delivers that juiciness of a ripened peach with the herbal softness of the orange blossom.  The Grapefruit & Rose gives the light aromatic goodness of a rose together with the tart citrusy sweetness of pink grapefruit.  Then the Cucumber & Mint walks you into a garden with the therapeutic and relaxing mint coupled with the hydrated verdant freshness of the cucumber.  

Add to this sensory experience, the piece of mind of there being no carbs, sugars or artificial sweeteners or flavors in this collection.  The Ketel One Botanical Collection is so amazing that I was almost too perplexed to play bartender with it.  Each one stands very well alone, over ice or with little to no garnish.  However, cocktails are an experience so I couldn't let this moment pass without showing how much more special this Botanical Collection could get.  So check out the three cocktail recipes below that I drafted up to give me a solstice peace of mind in the midst of these equinoxes:

Winter Impeachmint 

3 ounces           Ketel One Botanical Peach & Orange Blossom 
1 ounce            Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 ounce         St. Germain Liqueur 
1/2 ounce         The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters 
2 ounces           Prosecco 
1 wedge            Fresh peach

Into a cocktail shaker place about one cup of ice, vodka, orange juice and St. Germain.  Slightly bruise and crush the peach wedge under a cocktail spoon then add to shaker.  Shake for about 15-20 seconds then strain the cocktail over fresh ice into a white wine glass.  Add bitters (I chose that brand for the warm summery aroma and flavor it had) then lightly stir with a cocktail spoon.  Finally top off with the prosecco then add a few julienned slivers of peach and a corkscrewed orange rind.

The bold flavor of the peach shines and the floral notes of the orange blossom and the St. Germain complement the drink nicely.  The bitters and the orange juice add a nice layer of fragrance and depth while the prosecco creates a pleasant effervescence to complete this cocktail. 

Pink & Petals

4 ounces          Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose 
1 1/2 ounces    Carpano Dry Vermouth
1 cup               Ice
1                      Pink Rose
1                      Red Rose
1                      Grapefruit rind

Into a cocktail shaker place the ice, vodka and vermouth.  Lightly shake the mixture then pour it into a martini glass.  Given the flavors of this drink, the olives are optional, but since they are classic you can skewer them or let them nestle at the bottom of the glass.  I chose to do the cocktail sans olives.  Let one pink and one red rose petal rest atop one another and float at the center of the drink.  Finally place a corkscrewed grapefruit rind on the petals.

This is a very pleasant and potent cocktail as most martinis are.  However, the sweet & tart combination makes for a very balanced cocktail with the floral rose accented nicely by the vermouth and the citrusy grapefruit still standing out with a commanding presence.

The Garden Nymph

4 ounces           Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint 
6 ounces           Fever-Tree Premium Club Soda 
1/2 ounce         Lemon Juice
1 ounce            Simple Syrup
7                       Mint Ice Cubes

Pre-prep the night before:  Pour water into an ice try and place a mint leaf in each cube tray.  Let that come to a full freeze before serving.  

Place mint ice cubes into a mason mug.  Pour vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup and add the club soda.  Stir lightly with a cocktail spoon then garnish with a lemon and a cucumber wheel.

This is light a very naughty light Spring salad.  There is a nice herbal freshness and a soothing sweet and salty/mineral balance from the syrup and soda.  That familiar cucumber essence and that calming note of the mint receive an uplifting effervescence from the lively soda bubbles.  What's nice about the melting cubes is that the mint flavor will slowly build in the cocktail to balance out the potency and enhance the natural vodka flavor.

So it would seem that with the beautiful escapes offered from the Ketel One Botanical Collection, there's no need to dwell in the Winter doldrums.  The garden fruity freshness is always and only a cocktail away.  The wonderful Ketel One Botanical Collection is available now at your finer winer, alcohol and spirit retailers.

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