Month: April 2021

Sakura Spritz

Springtime in Washington, DC, in a glass.

Tidal Basin, WDC. Photo: Sarah Rosner

The White House, Washington

April 7, 1909

Thank you very much for your suggestion about the cherry trees. I have taken the matter up and am promised the trees, but I thought perhaps it would be best to make an avenue of them, extending down to the turn in the road, as the other part is still too rough to do any planting. Of course, they could not reflect in the water, but the effect would be very lovely of the long avenue. Let me know what you think about this.

Sincerely yours,

Helen H. Taft

Info: Spring in Washington, DC is all about the Cherry Blossoms. In 1912, over 3,000 flowering cherry trees, or “Sakura” were given “as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan.” Researching this I learned that “in a gesture of gratitude for the cherry trees, in 1915 President Taft sent a gift of flowering dogwood trees to the people of Japan.” DC, my neighborhood (Dupont) especially, presents a solid Dogwood game as well. The biggest hurtle to enjoying the blossoms is the amount of study/gamble/shear luck it takes to plan a trip that catches those unpredictable and illusive 3-5 days of peak bloom, or any blooms. My mother is yet to experience the blossoms, as she has miscalculated three separate trips. Unlike most Washingtonians, I have not missed at least one short visit to the Tidal Basin in the 20 Springs I have spent in the District. I am never disappointed. Until I see someone shake a branch, then I shake my fist while muttering, hopefully quietly.

Sakura Spritz

The Sakura Spritz is my serenade to Spring in Washington, DC. Suntory’s Roku Gin is the base spirit for many reasons. Roku means 6 in Japanese: representing the 6 main “botanicals cultivated over four seasons” in this citrus forward gin (Spring: Sakura Flowers and leaves/Summer: Sencha and Gyokuro teas/Fall: Sansho pepper/Winter: Yuzu peels. Plus juniper berries, coriander, angelica seed and root, cinnamon, cardamom, bitter orange and lemon peel). The cocktail is sweetened with local raw honey, balanced with Yuzu (a Japanese Citrus), tarted up with a local Virginia cherry blossom vinegar (I will call it shrub on a menu. Vinegar still reads too harsh to the American pallet) from Lindera Farms, and brightened with cold soda water.

Glass: Chilled G&T or large wine glass

Garnish: long lemon peel, cherry blossoms


  • 75 oz raw honey syrup (1:1)
  • .5 oz Lindera Farms Cherry Blossom Vinegar
  • .5 oz Yuzu juice
  • 2 oz Roku Gin
  • Top with cold soda water

Build: Lightly shake everything except soda water, strain into cold glass over ice, top with soda, lightly swizzle, garnish and serve.

“That’s What She Said”

2021 Kosher for Passover Cocktail

Each Spring my Cousin-in-law, Richard, hides the whiskey and selects that Pesach’s kosher for Passover* spirit for the holiday. This year we both went with grape-distilled spirits. Richard chose a French Cognac. I went with my new favorite Peruvian Pisco-Pisco Caravedo Puro Torontel. Since I did not have a Seder to attend I decided to make and share my own Seder plate, but in cocktail form. 

*Basic kosher for Passover spirit rules: No leavened or fermented grains, as in wheat, barley and rye. Corn, rice and buckwheat are considered legumes but are also not kosher. Sugar, fruits (i.e. grapes, apples, plums, agave etc.) and potatoes can be converted into Pesach-approved alcohol as well. Rum or Whisey barrel-aged spirits are a no go too, so keep an eye out.

Photo: Anthony Gibson.

Info: Kosher for Passover Seder plate inspired Pisco Sour variation. Most ingredients you should be able to pull from your Seder plate supplies. Cocktail includes all the elements on a seder plate except the lamb shank….hence the name.

Glass: Chilled coupe or double rocks

Garnish: Seder Plate


  • 1 egg white
  • 1 small fresh dill sprig
  • 1 small pinch Hawaiian black sea salt
  • ½ tsp Horseradish (I used 1 tsp Wasabi leftover from my kind neighbor’s sushi delivery)
  • 1 squirt Copper & Kings Alembic Red Cocktail Bitters 
  • .25 oz Raw Honey Syrup (1:1)
  • .75 oz Haroset Infused Orange Liqueur** 
  • .75 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice 
  • 2 oz Pisco Caravedo Puro Torontel

Build: All ingredients in tin, dry shake, wet shake, strain into chilled coupe. 

**Haroset Infused Orange Liqueur:

  • 2 tbsp Haroset (I made a quick one with muddled red apples, cashews, cinnamon, Manischewitz)
  • Splash Manischewitz 
  • 6 oz Pierre Ferrand Orange Curacao (Grand Marneir and Cointreau are great too)

-Shake, seal and let sit out for at least a half-hour to 3hrs, shaking randomly. Fine strain before using or storing.

Jitterbug Perfume

The Revivalist Spirits “Naked Chef” DC Campaign Cocktail

Info: This cocktail is inspired by Tom Robbins’ 1984 novel Jitterbug Perfume. The clever, fun and free-spirited writing of Tom Robbins “rejects convention” as does Revival Spirits. Jitterbug Perfume is a playful, wild and sexy book about memory, perfumes, Pan, searching for immortality, what is really important in life and beets. A good vibe for a fun tastefully naked charity photo shoot. What is sexier than a beet or more immortal than a photo. Perfume is central to the novel. Smell is key to taste and strongly connected to memory. Perfume and distillation are connected as well. Life is about stories. Avery Gilberg, a Sensory psychologist specializing in olfaction, summarizes the novel well and in context of this cocktail in his blog First Smell: TAKING A SCIENTIFIC SNIFF AT THE CULTURE OF SMELL:

“The story takes place in present-day Seattle, New Orleans and Paris, but also follows the adventures of Alobar, a fourth- or fifth-century Bohemian tribal king, as he defies death and aging and wanders the globe in search of the secret of eternal life which involves creating the perfect perfume. Alobar is followed on travels by Pan, the invisible, goaty-smelling and ever more enfeebled Greek deity. In a nutshell, Robbins’ theme is that life is extended by laughter and a light heart, and that perfume is a bridge to the infinite.”

The perfume they finally create to cover Pan’s offensively robust pheromones contains 1 part beet pollen, 20 parts jasmine oil, and 20 parts citron essence.” My ode to this odor uses a base of Yellow Chartreuse (“the original recipe was named the “Elixir of Long Life.” This manuscript was probably the work of a 16th century alchemist with a great knowledge of herbs and with the skill to blend, infuse, macerate the 130 of them to form a perfect balanced tonic. Today, this “Elixir of Long Life” is still made only by the Chartreuse monks following that ancient recipe, and is called Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse. Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter than green, has a lower ABV, Chamomile and honey are the dominant flavors”) which is then consciously infused with Jasmine (unfortunately not “Jamaican jasmine supplied by a mysterious man with the helmet of swarming bees, Bingo Pajama.”), bee pollen and raw honey instead of beet pollen because of availability, their earthy funk, and this quote: 

“honey squared, royal jelly cubed, nectar raised to the nth power; the intensified secretions of the Earth’s apiarian gland, reeking of ancient bridal chambers and intimacies half as old as time.” 

Lemon juice for the citron essence, Peychaud’s bitters to honor the New Orleans connection in the novel and beet juice. Earthy and sexy beets are essential to both the novel and cocktail known by the same name. The opening lines of the novel speak to the nature of the beet, 

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious….

….Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets….

…..The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…

…..The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.” 

Tom Robbins, 1984

Prep: Take a few big deep breaths and shake it out. Put on uplifting funky music (I have a Spotify playlist “Jitterbug Perfume” started for you), put it on loud. Light some incense. Adorn yourself with your power jewels. Apply bright, joyful makeup, dress up or down, just feel it. Put your personal style and emotion into your libation creation situation. 

Glass: Chilled coupe

Garnish: Small beet leaf clipped, stem inside glass, flat as possible with a mini clothespin, sprinkle bee pollen on leaf and gold luster dust on leaf and in glass as desired.


  • 1.5 oz Revivalist Harvest Gin
  • 1 oz K23 infused Yellow Chartreuse*
  • 1 oz Fresh Raw Beet Juice
  • .5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice (strained)
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Build: in tin, shake, strain into chilled coupe. Garnish.
*Also, delicious with the addition of an egg white.

*K23 infused Yellow Chartreuse

  • 10 oz Yellow Chartreuse
  • 1 tbsp Raw Honey (I used Big Island Bees Raw Lehua Honey, local honey is always best)
  • 1 tbsp Pure Jasmine Tea (I used Jasmine Pearl from Teaism DC- “Highgrade jasmine leaves hand-rolled into tiny pearls”)
  • 1/2 tbsp Bee Pollen (I used Beekeeper’s Naturals from Whole Foods)

-Incorporate all ingredients in a glass jar, seal and lightly shake. Let sit at room temp for at least a few hours(or to preference), remembering to lightly stir often. Fine strain, seal and store in a sexy blue glass vessel.

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