• Still Green…..

    may10Yes, we have a drought. And yes, we have cut our water use (and our water bill) quite a bit. But the Farm is still green…with splashes of color. And we are very, very grateful for the sprinkles of spring rain that keep coming. But if we don’t get more rain this winter, things may not be so green next year.may5

    may2mayMeanwhile, we have plenty of herbs, raspberries (so good we just eat them in the field), strawberries, blueberries, cabbage and a forest of kale. Our Meyer lemon supply seems limitless and we even have a few Eurekas. Lots of lemon-based cocktails this summer….and this spring.

    may4may3may1Sadly, it didn’t get cold enough this winter for many of our stone fruit trees. No cold in winter, no fruit in summer. We may get a few peaches, but no cherries. Such is life. Happily, the farmers markets are teeming with early cherries and peaches. Seems that it did get cold enough in the Central Valley.

    may6may7may9Looking ahead we have tomatoes, spinach, squash and zucchini, eggplant, beans and collard greens on the way. Nothing goes with summer barbecue like collards. Can’t wait for summer…may8

  • MxMo XCVII Cocktail: The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan

    perfect4Time again for Mixology Monday! Let’s get right to the booze. This month’s theme is from our fearless leader, Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut is “I’ll Take Manhattan”. Thanks again to Fred for hosting…here is the breakdown:

    mxmologoTurning to David Wondrich’s Imbibe! for some historical reference, he bandied back and forth about possible creators and locales for this classic’s creation. Perhaps it was created many places and many times, for sweet vermouth was the new hot ingredient of the 1870s and 1880s as St. Germain was in 2007 and 2008 (and arguably even to today). Wondrich quoted from the anonymously penned 1898 Cocktails: How To Make Them, “The addition of Vermouth was the first move toward the blending of cocktails.” In my mind, the Manhattan takes the Old Fashioned one step further. Not only does it replace the sugar with sweet vermouth, but this sweetener ties its herbal notes to those of the bitters and its spice notes to the barrel-aged whiskey (especially rye whiskey) as well as the bitters again. Furthermore, the addition of a hint of fruit and caramel flavoring is a welcome addition to the mix (I will not directly draw any link to the vermouth’s fruit and the cherry garnish though). While there have been a variety of Manhattan variations through the years such as the Preakness and the Brooklyn, most of the twentieth century saw this drink unchanged, in theory that is… However, the last decade or so has seen a renewal in the drink begin made correctly. Moreover, I would point to New York City cerca 2005 as the re-birth of the Manhattan variation with drinks like the Red Hook being born. For this theme, actuate it any way you’d like as long as the drink resembles a Manhattan. Want to take 19th century Manhattan recipes or variations to the test? …Or perhaps subbing out the whiskey or vermouth for another ingredient or adding in a liqueur or other modifier or so to the mix? Awesome, you’re right on track! There are plenty of Manhattan and Manhattan variations out there in the literature, and theres plenty of room to explore and tinker if that’s your thing, too.

    Great theme. The only bummer for us is that we would easily choose the Brooklyn, one of our favorite cocktails, but also one we have blogged about (one of our most popular posts, in fact) and is already in the announcement post. Happily, the Brooklyn itself is a riff on another classic Manhattan variant, the “Perfect Manhattan”.

    perfectperfect1perfect2So what makes it “perfect”? Basically, the Perfect Manhattan adds dry vermouth along with sweet vermouth of the classic Manhattan. And when you use rye whiskey for your Manhattans (and we do prefer rye), the herbal flavors of the dry vermouth lighten the overall taste of the cocktail and compliment the rye’s “spicy” notes. Adding both a dash of Angostura and Orange bitters gives you citrus notes and a dry edge to the finish. Overall, the Perfect Manhattan is the “right” Manhattan to try if you find the classic version a bit heavy and sweet. (It is much less of a “brown drink” as Carolyn would say.)

    The other “perfect” thing about the Perfect Manhattan is that if you like cocktails at all, the recipe uses ingredients that you should have. Rittenhouse rye, sweet and dry vermouth, Angostura bitters and orange bitters are all staples of a good home cocktail “bar”. So if you don’t have any of these ingredients, now is the time to get them!

    perfect3As for the vermouth, you can go with M&R or Dolin for sweet, but we prefer the bolder flavors of Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica. As for dry vermouth, we strongly recommend Dolin and its smooth, herbal flavors.

    perfect5Finally, we suggest you garnish with good quality maraschino cherries, either homemade or Luxardo will do nicely. Nothing makes a Perfect Manhattan more perfect than a few cherries…

    The Perfectly Perfect Manhattan:


    • 2 oz. rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
    • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth (Cocchi)
    • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
    • Angostura bitters
    • Regan’s Orange Bitters
    • Maraschino cherries, for garnish (Luxardo)


    1. Place all the liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé. Garnish with 1 or 2 cherries. Serve.

  • Kohlrabi Slaw With Herb And Avocado Dressing

    kohlWhen we started this blog a few years ago we chose the simple title of “Putney Farm”. And since we have this big garden (we fancy it a “farm”) and we are the Putneys, it made some sense- even if it lacked imagination. But since then, sometimes we wonder if we should have titled the blog “We grew this stuff, now what do we do it”? (And at times the blog could also be titled “You bought this random bottle of booze, now mix it with other hooch and hope for the best….”)

    kohl1You see, the problem with gardening is that most of the food comes all at once. You want kale…we got KALE, by the bucket. Pornographic zucchini? Oh yes…more than we can possibly give away (nothing ruins friendships quicker than trying to give away bags of zucchini…we apologize in advance). And there is a touch of pathos hearing your kids say, “please, please, no more eggplant”.

    kohl2So when you walk into our kitchen and see dozens of vegetable-centric cookbooks we have a good reason. We need recipes that truly work and that you can eat multiple times without making you hate whatever vegetable is filling your garden. Happily, we do seem to find recipes that we can all live with, and such is the case with this recipe for our newest vegetable, kohlrabi.

    kohl3kohl4What’s kohlrabi? Well, it’s a funky looking root/tuber/turnip thing that tastes like cabbage. In fact, it is often called a “cabbage turnip”. It is also popular in Germany (any notes on kohlrabi always say that, so we will too). So what do you do a crunchy veggie that tastes like cabbage? Make slaw, of course. And we just happened to find an excellent recipe in Deborah Madison’s book Vegetable Literacy.

    kohl5kohl6The recipe itself starts as a basic slaw, with a creamy, vinegar-tinged base. But the addition of avocado brings a rich, smooth counterbalance to the crispy kohlrabi and the fresh herbs add bright flavors and aromas. Good stuff. And still good after many servings. We used this as a side dish for roast chicken, but also as a topping for hot dogs (awesome, btw). This slaw goes with just about anything, and that is a very good thing, since we still have a few dozen kohlrabi in the fridge….. Continue reading

  • Citrus Cordials (Go Make A Gimlet)

    cordial5One of the great, ongoing arguments of cocktail geekery concerns the classic Gimlet. You see, some folks say a Gimlet is just Rose’s Lime Juice (originally Rose’s Lime Cordial) and gin. Other folks say a gimlet can be gin, fresh lime juice and sugar or maybe gin, Rose’s and then some fresh lime juice. Now this may seem somewhat trivial, but this kind of esoterica gives drinkers “cocktailians” an excuse to have more drinks…all in the name of “research”. Nice trick, huh?

    Regardless of the recipe, the Gimlet is a good cocktail that is also very easy to make. And since gin and Rose’s are available (and shelf stable) all over the world, it is nice to have a cocktail you can enjoy almost anytime/anywhere (joining classics like the gin and tonic and Scotch and soda). And even with Rose’s in the US being pretty artificial (corn syrup and plenty of preservatives and colors), the classic Rose’s and gin Gimlet is still served in plenty of good bars.

    cordialBut the Rose’s ingredient list did get us thinking that we could probably make our own lime cordial, and since we have a bunch of lemons we could make lemon cordial as well. So what is a cordial? Basically, a cordial is a mixture of concentrated citrus juice and sugar, usually also flavored by the citrus zest. Lime is the most popular cordial, but lemon and grapefruit cordials are also quite good.

    cordial1What is the difference between a cordial and a citrus syrup (like sour mix or oleo saccharum)? Most cordials are reduced by half using heat, while most syrups are not reduced or are made using “cold” methods. In general, syrups will have fresher, lighter flavors, while cordials will have a stronger more “candyish” flavor. We like both syrups and cordials in cocktails, but find that a combination of cordial and fresh juice adds extra layers of flavor to cocktails and house-made sodas.

    cordial2As for making citrus cordials, it’s easy (we adapted a recipe from Imbibe). Zest and juice some citrus, heat the juice with sugar, let it reduce by half and then cool, add zest and steep, then strain. From there, you can make gimlets (and a very good riff on the Margarita, btw) with your lime cordial and some fresh juice. With the lemon cordial we suggest you make the best whiskey sour of your life.

    cordial4And if you aren’t feeling boozy, the cordials are an easy base for tasty sparkling limeade / lemonade. We suggest 1 part cordial and 1 part juice to 3-4 parts sparkling water. Regardless, once you make some citrus cordial, it doesn’t seem to stick around very long- there are just too many tasty things you can make.

    The Classic Gimlet:


    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (Rose’s Lime Juice)


    1. Combine gin and cordial in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.


    Modern Gimlet:


    • 2 oz. dry gin
    • 3/4 oz. lime cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice


    1. Combine gin, cordial and juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.


    Putney Farm Whiskey Sour:


    • 2 oz. bourbon
    • 3/4 oz. lemon cordial (homemade, see below)
    • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters


    1. Combine bourbon, cordial, juice and bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well-chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupé, serve.


    Lime Cordial:


    • 12 limes (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 1/2 cup sugar


    1. Zest the limes, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the limes until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.


    Lemon Cordial:


    • 8-10 lemons (or enough for 1 1/2 cups of juice)
    • 1 cup sugar


    1. Zest the lemons, set zest aside.
    2. Juice the lemons until you have 1 1/2 cups of juice. Add juice to a saucepan and then add sugar. Bring juice and sugar to a low simmer and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Once reduced by half, take off heat and cool for 10 minutes.
    3. Add the zest to the pan, stir and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the cordial, removing all zest, into a sterilized glass container. Will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.
  • The Cask-Strength Bourbon Old Fashioned

    ofA funny thing often happens when you “go deep” into a subject, you often find yourself back at the beginning. And that is certainly true when you get into cocktails. You may play with tiki, sours, endless Martini and Manhattan variants, molecular mixology, shims, cobblers, smashes, etc. But in the end, you will most likely find yourself a fan of the original cocktail; spirits, sugar, bitters and water. These days, most people call that drink an Old Fashioned.

    of3of4And even at its most basic, you can still play around with Old Fashioneds. They work with different spirits (beyond whiskey, aged rum or brandy Old Fashioneds are a delight), sweeteners and bitters, and experimentation will yield very tasty results. But the one area we suggest is going back even more to the source, and try using high-proof, “cask-strength” spirits. And we don’t mean “bonded” spirits at 100 proof (although they are great in cocktails) we mean the hard stuff, 110 proof -140 proof. Yup, serious booze.

    of5Now you may say, “whoa, that will be way to strong”. But part of the magic of cocktails is dilution with water; not enough- the drink is too hot, too much- the drink is watery and bland. But if you get it just right, the drink sings. And with cask-strength spirits, the drink not only sings, but changes in the glass as you slowly sip at your cocktail (and we do recommend a slow pace).

    of6of7of8Now purists may say that we should use rye instead of bourbon and that you shouldn’t add anything other than water to quality, cask-strength bourbon. And while we understand these arguments, we can say that we prefer bourbon (and there are more cask-strength options available) and that you need to try the Cask-Strength Bourbon Old-Fashioned before you judge it. This drink is true alchemy, always changing over time, but with deep caramel, wood, spice and balanced sweetness throughout. Just try it… Continue reading

  • Mixology Monday XCVI Cocktail: The Five Dollar Milkshake


    Well, we are back…just in time for Mixology Monday. Seeing as how it is 4/20 we might have expected that the theme would be “herbal”….  In any event, Whitney of the Tipicular Fixin’s blog came up with the excellent theme of “Drink of Shame”. So here is the breakdown:mxmologo

    So, you’re a certified, mixologist, craft-tender, bar chef, or fine spirit enthusiast…now. But, there was a time when you only ordered Long Island Iced Tea. Or, maybe you always made the Jello shots for your frat? Perhaps you’re the reason that your local had an Island Oasis machine for so long? Rye & Ginger? Vodka Seven? Someone was ordering these things. Your street cred would be ruined if you ordered or (gasp) served one now, but don’t you miss it, just a little? Wouldn’t you love to have one more Jolly Rancher? A chance to drink a mudslide without shame? We all made questionable drink choices in our past, the popular drinks from 1970 to the year 2000 were a cheap, sugary mess. Now is the time to resurrect your favourite drink from the time before modern Mixology. Give a new life to the drink… maybe you need to use fresh ingredients, or you can try elevating the spirits. Make everything from scratch or remove an offending ingredient. Do whatever you can to bring back and legitimize a drink you used to love.

    Oh my, but that theme does dredge up some interesting memories. And since we started our drinking “endeavors” (careers?) in the 1980’s we have plenty of truly shameful drinks to consider. Along with the aforementioned Mudslides and Long Island Iced Teas we have Woo-woo’s, Sex-on-Beaches, Kamikazes, 501-9s (don’t ask), Jager shots and “Gin Rickeys” that may have had gin…or Everclear….umm, whatever. And these are just a few of the rogues gallery of our wayward youth we could consider.



    But it didn’t take long to find a truly shameful drink to reinvent. You see, I had a serious sweet tooth in my college days. And one of my favorite drinks was Bailey’s, Kahlua and Bourbon (any bourbon, whatever swill was in the well) on the rocks. At the time I loved it- not only was it super-sweet, but boozy and fattening as well (perhaps a harbinger of overindulgence to come).



    We recently tried my old favorite for reference and it was horrific pretty bad. The only flavor was overwhelming, yet bland, sweetness. No coffee flavor came through and the only redeeming quality was that it resembled a boozy milkshake. At least that is a decent place to start…who doesn’t like booze in a milkshake? (What? You have never tried booze in a milkshake? We suggest you correct this oversight.)

    bailey2Happily, we could easily improve on my old favorite and add some real flavor. We kept the Baileys, used St. Georges’ NOLA coffee liqueur for real coffee flavor and used decent bourbon- and more of it. Then we added spice with Allspice Dram and Amargo Chuncho (Peruvian bitters that add spice, herbal and extra coffee notes). What did we get? A very tasty, boozy “milkshake”, with clear bourbon, cream and coffee notes, along with spice and even a hint of chocolate flavor. It is still a ridiculously fattening, sugary and strong drink…but at least it’s good.

    bailey3As for the name, it is a riff on a great scene from the movie “Pulp Fiction”. Yes Vincent Vega, this is truly a “Five Dollar Milkshake”. Continue reading