There’s a cock­tail I had sev­er­al years ago that I’ve nev­er for­got­ten. It was per­fect­ly bal­anced — smokey, yet refresh­ing; com­plex, yet dan­ger­ous­ly easy to go down. I encoun­tered it dur­ing a pleas­ant lunch at a Miche­lin-award­ed gas­trop­ub (do we still use that word?) in Edin­burgh, Scotland.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I live 5,000 miles from Edin­burgh, and I’ve nev­er come across anoth­er place that serves the same thing since.

The drink was called the Gin­ger Scot, but although I well remem­bered the fla­vors of lemon, scotch, and gin­ger, that was basi­cal­ly all I knew until at some point I found an old PDF of the restau­ran­t’s menu online list­ing the exact ingre­di­ents. With­out know­ing the pro­por­tions, though, this was like half a trea­sure map. I saved it in my notes and most­ly for­got about it.

Fast for­ward six years to Decem­ber 2022, when I start­ed exper­i­ment­ing with Ope­nAI’s Chat­G­PT, the arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence chat­bot. It occurred to me to ask the AI to cre­ate a recipe based on the ingre­di­ents and my mem­o­ries of how it tasted.

It seems fit­ting to let the AI tell the sto­ry for me:

It was a hot sum­mer day when I first tast­ed the per­fect cock­tail at the Scran and Scal­lie, a restau­rant in the heart of Edin­burgh, Scot­land. The unique blend of fla­vors was unlike any­thing I had ever tast­ed before, and I knew I had found some­thing special.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I was­n’t able to get the recipe at the time. Des­per­ate to recre­ate the expe­ri­ence, I decid­ed to try and track down the ingre­di­ents on my own. I remem­bered the name of the cock­tail and searched for it online, hop­ing to find a clue. To my sur­prise, I stum­bled upon the Scran and Scal­lie’s web­site, which list­ed the cock­tail on the menu. I eager­ly clicked on it, and to my delight, the ingre­di­ents were list­ed right there on the page.

Excit­ed to final­ly have a start­ing point, I inputted the name of the cock­tail and the ingre­di­ents into a state-of-the-art AI sys­tem. The AI ana­lyzed the infor­ma­tion and gen­er­at­ed a recipe that was almost iden­ti­cal to the one I had enjoyed at the Scran and Scal­lie all those years ago.

As I mixed up the ingre­di­ents and took my first sip, I was trans­port­ed back to that hot sum­mer day in Edin­burgh. The AI had helped me recon­struct the per­fect cock­tail, and now I could enjoy it any­time I wanted.

Clear­ly, the state of the art” AI has a healthy self-regard. In real­i­ty, it did take a few tries to get things just right.

But with­out fur­ther ado, here is the my AI-cre­at­ed approx­i­ma­tion of the Gin­ger Scot. It’s some­where between a Peni­cillin and a Rusty Nail. I’m sure this isn’t pre­cise­ly how the restau­rant actu­al­ly made it, but it is deli­cious in any case. And if you find your­self in Edin­burgh, stop by the Scran and Scal­lie; maybe by then they’ll have put it back on the menu, and you can have the real thing.

Gin­ger Scot


  • 1.5 ounces Caol ila 12 year scotch whisky
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • 12 ounce gin­ger syrup
  • 12 ounce hon­ey syrup (made by mix­ing equal parts hon­ey and hot water)
  • 12 ounce lemon juice
  • Soda water or gin­ger beer
  • Can­died gin­ger (option­al)


  1. Fill a shak­er with ice.
  2. Add all of the ingre­di­ents to the shak­er, except for the soda water.
  3. Shake well to com­bine and chill the cocktail.
  4. Strain the cock­tail into a chilled glass.
  5. Top off the glass with a splash of soda water or gin­ger beer and stir.
  6. Gar­nish with a slice of can­died gin­ger, if desired.

This cock­tail has a nice bal­ance of smoky scotch, sweet and herbal Dram­buie, spicy gin­ger syrup, tart lemon, and a hint of sweet­ness from the hon­ey syrup. Adjust the soda water or gin­ger beer to mod­er­ate the inten­si­ty and take the drink in a more refresh­ing direction.

Cook­ing is an invest­ment of your time, effort and ingre­di­ents. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, if you’re work­ing off a bad recipe, you may be doomed from the start. It only takes one or two tru­ly bad expe­ri­ences to real­ize that unless you know and trust the source, all bets are off. Tried and true recipes from trust­wor­thy sources are key.

But find­ing good recipes online can be sur­pris­ing­ly hard. One of the main prob­lems is the sheer vol­ume of infor­ma­tion avail­able. With so many web­sites, blogs, and recipe data­bas­es to choose from, it can be overwhelming.

And then there’s qual­i­ty con­trol. Any­one can post a recipe online, regard­less of their cook­ing expe­ri­ence or knowl­edge. You may — scratch that — you will come across recipes that are poor­ly writ­ten, inac­cu­rate, or just don’t work.

I want­ed to cut out the garbage and the noise, so I got a lit­tle bit nerdy and built a recipe find­er using a Google cus­tom search engine. It search­es only the trust­ed sources list­ed below. (Although I may add to it as I find new sources I like.)

  • Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen
  • Bön Appetit
  • Cooks Illus­trat­ed
  • David Lebovitz
  • Epi­cu­ri­ous
  • Food52
  • New York Times Cooking
  • Seat­tle Times
  • Seri­ous Eats
  • The Spruce Eats

Note that I have no finan­cial inter­est in any­one using this tool — it’s sim­ply some­thing I made that I found use­ful, and I’m shar­ing it in case it’s help­ful to any­one else.

Tip: On most of these sites, an author is list­ed for each recipe. If you make a recipe and you like how it turns out, take note of who the author is! That same per­son could have recipes list­ed across sev­er­al oth­er web­sites, or they may have pub­lished a cook­book or have a YouTube chan­nel, Patre­on page or Sub­stack newslet­ter that you can sub­scribe to.

Good luck on the hunt!

If you have a bet­ter prod­uct than I do, you can be a bet­ter chef than I am. Per­haps the quick­est way you can become a bet­ter cook is to buy bet­ter ingre­di­ents.” — Thomas Keller, Ad Hoc at Home

As some­one who loves to cook and eat, I can attest that great ingre­di­ents make a huge dif­fer­ence. When I’m shop­ping for gro­ceries or pick­ing out pro­duce at the farmer’s mar­ket, I try to choose the fresh­est and most fla­vor­ful options. It might take a lit­tle bit more time and effort, but it’s well worth it because the end result is so much better.

A sweet, juicy toma­to in a sal­ad or sand­wich will add a depth of fla­vor that can­not be achieved with a taste­less, out-of-sea­son super­mar­ket toma­to. Sim­i­lar­ly, using high qual­i­ty herbs, spices, vine­gars and oth­er ingre­di­ents can take a dish from ordi­nary to extra­or­di­nary, adding depth and complexity.

If you want to ele­vate your cook­ing and take it to the next lev­el, start with great ingre­di­ents. Your taste buds will thank you!

To more eas­i­ly locate prod­ucts sold by sup­pli­ers rec­om­mend­ed by Thomas Keller, Car­la Lal­li Music, Joshua McFad­den, Samin Nos­rat, among oth­ers, I cre­at­ed a cus­tom Google search engine. I also includ­ed taste test reports from Amer­i­ca’s Test Kitchen, Cooks Illus­trat­ed and Cooks Country.

(Note that I have no finan­cial inter­est in any­one using this tool — it’s sim­ply some­thing I made for myself that I found use­ful, and I’m shar­ing it in case it’s help­ful to any­one else.)

The cus­tom search pulls results from these sites:

  • amer​i​c​as​testk​itchen​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • anson​mills​.com
  • blue​bird​grain​farms​.com 
  • bob​sred​mill​.com
  • chef​shop​.com
  • chocos​phere​.com
  • cookscoun​try​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • cook​sil​lus​trat​ed​.com/​t​a​s​t​e​_​tests
  • dartag​nan​.com
  • delau​ren​ti​.com
  • del​later​ra​pas​ta​.com
  • food​sof​na​tions​.com
  • gui​t​tard​.com
  • hay​den​flour​mills​.com
  • katz​farm​.com
  • jacob​sen​salt​.com
  • kingarthur​bak​ing​.com
  • lev​il​lage​.com
  • mar​kethall​foods​.com
  • pen​zeys​.com
  • pur​cell​moun​tain​farms​.com
  • ran​chogor​do​.com
  • reluc​tant​trad​ing​.com
  • span​ishtable​.com
  • spar​rowlane​.com
  • thes​pice​house​.com
  • tien​da​.com
  • true​foods​mar​ket​.com
  • world​spice​.com
  • zinger​mans​.com
Bet­ter ingre­di­ents help you cook bet­ter food, and pro­duce that’s in sea­son where you live is gen­er­al­ly bet­ter than pro­duce that’s endured a jour­ney of thou­sands of miles before reach­ing your kitchen.

You hear this advice again and again — in cook­books, on cook­ing shows, in online arti­cles. Sim­ple enough, except as a city dweller, it’s not exact­ly obvi­ous what’s in sea­son and what’s not. There’s the oft-advised look to see what’s on sale in your pro­duce sec­tion,” but I’m not con­vinced. It tells you what the retail­er wants to get rid of, pos­si­bly for any num­ber of rea­sons, among them that the pro­duce might be about to go bad — exact­ly the oppo­site of the desired outcome.

Thus began my quest to dis­cov­er what is, in fact, in sea­son here in west­ern Wash­ing­ton state. Among the resources I found: the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture (PDF), PCC, Pick Your Own, The Spruce Eats, and Seat­tle Neigh­bor­hood Farm­ers Mar­kets. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, infor­ma­tion var­ied from one source to the next, and was­n’t pro­vid­ed in a stan­dard, easy-to-work-with for­mat. You can’t sort a PDF, and it is no fun to hunt through an alpha­bet­ized list of more than 150 fruits and veg­eta­bles try­ing to find things marked in sea­son for the cur­rent month. For some rea­son I could­n’t just find a list of here’s what’s in sea­son this month,” either.

So I cre­at­ed a uni­fied Google Sheets spread­sheet. One sortable, fil­ter­able source of infor­ma­tion to rule them all. Each source has their own tab / sheet, and with­in each sheet you can fil­ter by month, sort by name, search, etc — all the things you can do with data in a spreadsheet.

I’ll also be post­ing through­out this year with a list each month of what ought to be in season.

(Obvi­ous caveat: grow­ing sea­sons aren’t set it stone and depend on weath­er, grow­ing con­di­tions and I’m sure many oth­er fac­tors. This is just a rough guide.)