Stacie is the face behind the popular cocktail Instagram and blog, Garden Cocktails. She is an NYC mixologist and proud owner of a rooftop garden full of natural herbs, flowers, and botanical things. By day, Stacie is the dog-crazed head of content at Bark, and by night, she creates beautiful craft cocktails with intricate garnishes. This talented blogger and "serial hobbyist" from Indiana enjoys exploring New York bars, spending time with her husband and pup, Pimm (short for Persimmon), and creating one-of-a-kind concoctions.
Harney & Sons had the opportunity to talk to Stacie about her cocktail garden and recipes. Check out the Q&A below!
Harney: How and why did you get started as a cocktail connoisseur & mixologist?
Stacie: In 2012 I moved from Indiana to NYC with my best friend. That first year in the city we shared a 250-square-foot apartment with my (now) husband and completed a self-guided crash course in all the cheap and dweeby delights that New York City has to offer to starry-eyed Midwesterners. My favorite exploration activity quickly became visiting the innovative bars that have come to define New York’s reigning spot in cocktail history and culture. Because all those tinkly evenings in dark speakeasies don’t come cheap, I started taking the DIY approach to booze by making cocktails in my kitchen. A hobby grew out of frugality and I started posting some of my cocktail creations on Instagram in the beginning of 2016!
Harney: How many cocktails do you make in a week, and what’s your typical cocktail creation process?
Stacie: I'll usually make 3 or 4 cocktails per week, depending on the week. My typical creation process involves thinking about the seasons, finding fresh ingredients, and playing around and mixing those flavors to see what surprising flavor combinations can come out of an ingredient. I love to use this book called “The Flavor Bible” because it forces me to think about new cocktails to invent and develop! It’s a bit like a thesaurus in the way that you can look up a single ingredient and find a big list of other flavors and ingredients that pair well with your first ingredient. I also love going to the local farmer's market for things like ground cherries and cucamelons.
Harney: In the warmer months, what do you grow in your balcony garden? How do you use fresh herbs and flowers from your garden to make each cocktail unique?
Stacie: Each summer, I'll always have a baseline of as many herbs as I can find. I always grow basil, sage, oregano, thyme, dill, cilantro, and tarragon. I also love to grow edible flowers and am always expanding the flowers I grow. This past summer I had marigolds, pansies, scarlet runner bean blossoms, and nasturtium. It's so nice being able to go on the balcony to find a garnish or an herb that will add an extra dimension of flavor or aesthetic magic to a drink. Making cocktails is a good excuse to go a bit overboard on the edible flowers!
Harney: Please share your top cocktail-making tips.
Stacie: My best cocktail-making tip is to read, experiment, and have fun! I also wrote out my cocktails and cocktail-making tips on the big guide on how to invent cocktails on my site!
Harney: Let’s talk garnishes and drinkware. How do you decide which ones are just right for each drink?
Stacie: Usually, I'll follow whatever a recipe recommends or whatever sounds fun at the moment! Over the years I've collected a lot of vintage glassware from thrift and antique shops, and it's so fun to choose which one matches the vibe or spirit of a drink. I also have a collection of handmade tiki mugs that I made in my local pottery class. I try to use those whenever possible because they're just fun and silly.
Harney: What are your top 2-3 favorite cocktails or drinks?
Stacie: My favorite drink ever is a drink I found in the book “Shake” called the Rosemary Maple Bourbon Sour. My husband and I served it as our signature cocktail at our wedding in 2015. I also love playing with variations on margaritas or gin and tonics. It never gets old.
Harney: Where do you find inspiration for new cocktail variations?
Stacie: Usually I'll get inspired to make up a new cocktail when I find an ingredient in the grocery, at the farmer's market, or in my foraging books that sounds like fun. Then I'll think about what that ingredient feels similar to my known list of ingredients and riff on a new variation that way! After experimenting with different cocktails for over a year, I realized that cocktail inventing is not that different from writing or sewing or photography or gardening—the things that I’ve loved all my life. You need to learn some of the basic building blocks, but after you learn those you can start to improvise and tinker with new ideas.
Harney: Have you ever incorporated tea into your cocktails? If yes, how so?
Stacie: I have! Whenever I use tea in a cocktail, I'm usually infusing a tea into a spirit to create a flavor that's different from a classic cocktail. Here is an example of a gimlet I made with green tea and matcha, and here's an example of one I made with chai tea!
Harney: What do you think would pair well cocktail-wise with a tea from Harney & Sons?
Stacie: I think the Organic Passion Plum could be such a unique infusion to try with rum for a tiki cocktail! Or the Cranberry Autumn could be a fun way to make a gin gimlet taste more appropriate to these fall months. And matcha goes with anything citrus!
Harney: What do you hope your followers learn or take away from Garden Cocktails?
Stacie: That making cocktails shouldn't be intimidating—it's all about experimenting and having fun!
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us and share your story, Stacie! To learn more about Stacie and her cocktail recipes, check out her Instagram or gardencocktails.co. All photography in this post has been provided by Stacie Grissom.