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This LA Bar Created 31 Cocktails That Are an Ode to Seeds
By Kelly Magyarics
Growing up in a family of gardening enthusiasts, Tobin Shea recalls devouring the pages of seeds, flowers, fruits and vegetables every time his grandparents received a new issue of the Burpee seed catalog. "I was always fascinated with gardening and being able to enjoy the fruits of one's labor," said the bar director at Redbird, a 120-seat Modern American restaurant in Los Angeles. "I've always felt inspired by the catalog's mission to encourage subscribers to grow their own produce at home."
You might say it was kismet when chefs Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser added a 6,000-square-foot garden to Redbird and the adjacent Vibiana, a former cathedral owned by the couple that they've turned into a performing arts and event space. Designed in a minimalist modern style by L.A.-based landscape designer, horticulturist and certified arborist Kathleen Ferguson and planted on land shared with the Little Tokyo Branch Library, the garden is used to grow seasonal produce, such as passion fruit, Japanese plums and honeynut squash, for the kitchen. It is surrounded by Manzanillo olive trees and uses a sustainable Aquaponics system.
Creating a garden like this was a lifelong dream for the Frasers. To celebrate their first growing season and harvest, they created The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds, a collection of 31 cocktails in a menu designed by Anette Shirinian and illustrated by Erin Elise O'Brien. "Our guests spend a lot of time looking through our menu and choosing cocktails based on the illustrations they like best," said Shea. "Guests even try cocktails with spirits that they wouldn't ordinarily drink because they love the illustrations so much."
The libations also give a nod to the process of distillation. Shea calls this "the original farm-to-table method of preserving produce, allowing you to capture flavors that are sometimes available only two or three months of the year, during their appropriate season."
Obviously, plenty of that garden bounty goes into these drinks, including strawberries, kumquats, mint, lemon, rosemary and passion fruit. One of the most popular drinks is honeysuckle, a variation of an old-fashioned that pairs the sweet corn and vanilla flavors of bourbon with stone fruit notes from the Hungarian sweet wine Tokay. The honey for the drink is procured from urban hives on Redbird's rooftop.
Queen Anne's lace is the white flowers that grow above wild carrots. In liquid form, it becomes a martini riff with gin, akvavit, dry vermouth and mastic liqueur. Carrot eau de vie and carrot bitters (from garden vegetables) lend more of a subtle flavor than carrot juice, which Shea said can be overwhelmingly vegetal.
For the tiki-esque Scotch bonnet — named for the pepper used in jerk and other Jamaican cuisine — the seeds and pulp are blended into a syrup and shaken with two kinds of Scotch whisky, Falernum, lime, grapefruit and a spicy tincture.
Cocktails on The Plain Truth About the Best Seeds menu will be available until the end of summer, just in time for the late-season bumper crop. Shea hopes they will continue to appeal to green-thumbed diners and inspire would-be gardeners. "Fresh ingredients really make a difference and go a long way," he said.
Recipe courtesy of Tobin Shea, bar director at Redbird, LA.
- 2 oz Maker's Mark 46 Bourbon Whiskey½ oz Tokay
- ¼ oz Dimmi
- ¼ oz Honey
- 4 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
- Orange twist, for garnish
1. Combine the first five ingredients in a cocktail glass.
2. Add ice and stir until well chilled.
3. Strain into a double old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube.
4. Garnish with an orange twist.
Recipe courtesy of Tobin Shea, bar director at Redbird, LA.
- 1½ oz Glen Grant 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
- ¼ oz Port Charlotte Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky½ oz Grapefruit juice
- ½ oz Brovo Spirits Lucky Falernum
- ½ oz Lime juice
- ½ oz Liquid Alchemist Passion Fruit Syrup
- 3 dashes Scotch bonnet tincture
- Mint sprig, flower and grapefruit twist, for garnish
1. In a Boston shaker, combine all ingredients, except garnish, with crushed ice.
2. Shake until the sound of ice disappears.
3. Strain into a chilled double old-fashioned glass and top with crushed ice.
4. Garnish with mint, a flower and a grapefruit twist.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Modern Farmer.
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Global Banks, Led by JPMorgan Chase, Invested $1.9 Trillion in Fossil Fuels Since Paris Climate Pact
By Sharon Kelly
A report published Wednesday names the banks that have played the biggest recent role in funding fossil fuel projects, finding that since 2016, immediately following the Paris agreement's adoption, 33 global banks have poured $1.9 trillion into financing climate-changing projects worldwide.
By Patti Lynn
2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."
England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.
By Jessica Corbett
A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.
By Madison Dapcevich
Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.
The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.
The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."
Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.
"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."
Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.
However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.
"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.
Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.
Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.
"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.
Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.