A friend told me last week that she gives her cut flowers a shot of vodka every now and then. She said it really pepped up the blooms. I just smiled and assumed she had been sampling her plant food. But one unavoidable fact kept nagging at me. She has the freshest looking flowers of anyone I know.

I decided to run her unorthodox technique past a local florist. “You know, I actually heard someone say she gives her flowers a jigger of vodka,” I told him. “That is ridiculous isn’t it?”
“Yes,” he said, “it really is. I don’t think vodka works well at all. I recommend gin. Gin really makes those blooms stand straight up.”

“You’re kidding,’ I said.
“You know how tulips start drooping and bending?” he explained. “Give them some gin and watch what happens.”
At this point I was really curious. I wanted to know just how he decided his tulips needed a stiff drink.

“A customer told me,” he confided. “I’ve tried several kinds of liquor. Gin is the very best.”

By then, I decided I had to give it a try. I have to admit I was desperate. The tulips on my dining room table were already drooping out of their vase. I headed for the liquor store and stood staring at the display case for several minutes.

‘What kind of gin are you looking for?” the clerk asked. I couldn’t say exactly. I wasn’t sure what was appropriate for yellow tulips. After all, do you give them the same quality gin you serve your guests or can you get by with something less expensive?

“I know this is going to sound outrageous,” I confessed, “but I’m buying this for my tulips.”

I waited for his jaw to drop, but instead, he told me he has a close friend who’s in the flower business. “Tulips aren’t very discriminating,” he said. “I don’t know this for a fact, of course, but I understand it’s different with roses. I have two good customers who insist you need a high proof vodka for roses.’”

I took the gin home and poured a healthy shot into the tulip vase. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Those flowers already looked terrible. I left the room and didn’t return for about half an hour. When I walked into the room, I could hardly believe what I saw. The flowers were standing straight and tall.

I was ecstatic. I poured another shot and contemplated offering my cut chrysanthemums a gin and tonic. I finally served the gin straight. Twenty minutes later, they never looked perkier. I had to share my results with a man who runs a plant care service. We met two years ago when he made a house can to treat my ailing areca palm.
“Is this floral cocktail hour getting terribly trendy?” I asked.

He said he was afraid it was. One of his customers, he told me, even pours leftover wine into the soil of his rhododendron. He said he thought that was silly. While gin or vodka might keep cut flowers fresh, no alcoholic beverage should have an effect on a live plant. But he said his customer did not agree. He swore wine was making the plant grow.

“Well, I absolutely refuse to put in a wine cellar for my Swedish ivy,” I told him. “An occasional Bloody Mary for the philodendron – OK. But enough is enough.”
“Look,” he said. “We’re talking about flowers. Just give your fresh blooms an aspirin. That keeps them fresh too.”

That’s an idea I can appreciate. Now my flowers will truly be pampered. And even if the aspirin doesn’t keep my tulips fresh, at least they won’t have to suffer through a hangover.