Story by SANDRA S. SORIA Photographs by DAVID ENGELHARDT
TO PHOTOGRAPH THE BOOK, David packed his equipment and hustled o to some of the finest inns and gardens in North America, all of them part of the Relais & Châteaux network of distinct heritage inns. We join him at the Old Edwards Inn in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, a place known for window boxes spilling with the perfect couplings of blooms and vegetable gardens that would make Mr. McGregor drool. Inside, the inn’s blooms are gathered into spectacular and unexpected arrangements—all clipped and coiffed by top oral and garden designer Kirk Moore and set against the inn’s stately backdrops. On this mountaintop property, the blooms are the star players, ready to wow guests, passers-through, and many wide-eyed brides. “The people at Old Edwards Inn are so dedicated it amazed me,” David says. “Just to give you an idea, for a wedding, they will meet with the bride a year out so they can plant the flowers that will go into her arrangements. So it’s not even—‘Oh, what do you want and in what colors and we’ll ship it in for you.’ It’s—‘Here’s your garden plot and it’s growing just for you.’ It’s that cool.”
Still if you think it’s a cakewalk to photograph the finest destinations in North America, think again. There are some thorns along that primrose path. “I was shooting at Las Mañanitas Hotel near Mexico City in Cuernavaca and it was so amazingly beautiful,” he says.
“I began shooting and these incredible four-foot-tall cranes started heading toward me. They apparently weren’t into it because they started pecking at me—then really attacking me. I had to fend them off with my tripod. It was the oddest thing to be so afraid of a couple of birds, but I was ready to fight back. It was them or me.”
Besides the danger posed by feathered foes—and days that start at the first rays of sun and go to the gloaming— there is one more downfall of capturing A-list inns. “I became kind of a hotel snob,” he says. “I mean, even the Hilton just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.”
The Old Edwards Inn signature martini offers an approachable alternative to the traditional dry martini. The cocktail combines sweet elderflower liqueur with The Botanist, an artisanal gin made with a unique blend of 22 botanical varieties.
- 2 ounces gin (preferably The Botanist)
- 1⁄2 ounce elderflower liqueur (preferably St. Germain)
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- ice-cold spring water
In a cocktail shaker 3⁄4 full with ice, combine the gin and liqueur. Add one sprig of rosemary and top with a couple splashes of cold water. Shake well. Strain through a fine sieve into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with another sprig of rosemary.
The Gin and Tonic
The Old Edwards Inn prides itself on using high-quality ingredients from its gardens and greenhouses and carefully sourced local fare—including organic gin from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and juniper berries picked at the peak of freshness from the Inn.
- 2 sprigs juniper berries
- Lime slice
- 1 1⁄2 ounces of gin (preferably Cardinal Gin)
- tonic water (preferably Fever-Tree)
Start with a goblet glass half-filled with ice and add a handful of loose berries from one juniper sprig. Add a lime slice. Top off the glass with additional ice. Pour the gin over the ice and top with tonic. Garnish with the second juniper berry sprig.