Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han {book review}

We all know soda/pop/cola doesn’t have a single good thing for you in it, but have you ever looked what was in squash/cordial? Not a lot of good stuff in there either. If it’s no added sugar it’s full of sweeteners and those aren’t any better for us.

There is another option - making your own at home! Wild Drinks and Cocktails covers tea, juice, lemonade, syrups, squash, cordial, infusions, bitters, liqueurs, wines, punches and other things.

Emily Han has been wild crafting around 10 years. She started when she moved to a big city and started looking around at was inspired by the the things that grew in and around the concrete jungle she now called home.

As she learned about all the natural grown things in and around her city she learned a lot of them helped sooth common medical ailments and not just tasted good. Naturally this book comes with a disclaimer:

“You are responsible for educating yourself about food safety and making sure you have correctly identified any wild food before picking or ingesting it.”

The author suggests taking out 3 or more books on the subject of wild crafting as well as consulting an experienced wild crafter in your local area. As different plants and such are different in other areas. There is a basic introduction to wild crafting, but as it’s important to know what you’re ingesting, so please make sure you educate yourself before proceeding with any recipes.

The introduction is very helpful and gives a useful guide to basic ingredients and kitchen tools. The second chapter covers teas, juices, and lemonades. It is the first chapter because as Emily says it’s a great way to get to know a herbs/plants flavor before turning into a soda or liqueur. Herbal Teas have been around for ages and are, as mentioned, a great way to get started.

Syrups, Squashes, and Cordials is the chapter I was most interested in reading. Syrups can transform a cocktail into something special and can be used to coat a cake before frosting. Being an American I have never really took to squash. Some of it tastes really artificial or nothing at all. I would like to attempt making my own squash and after reading this book I didn’t realise how easy it can be to make my own.

Chapter 4 is titled Oxymels, Shrubs, and Switchels and I hope I wasn’t the only thinking “What the heck are those?” Basically they are drinking vinegars. Something that apparently is very popular? Who knew? The chapter gives us a bit of history on how vinegars are made and beneficial to us. I found it very educational. They also make great cocktails!

Infused liqueurs are what I am talking about! As the author states the flavor possibilities are endless when you are infusing flavours into liqueurs. They make great mixers for cocktails. This chapter (5) not only covers infusions, but bitters and liqueurs as well. Chapter 6 continues with Wines and Punches. When infusing wines you don’t need to spend a lot, but don’t go too cheap. It won’t magically make the wine better; the infused flavor should compliment the wine.

The last chapter (7) is titled Fizzy Fermentations, basically sodas. It’s defiantly not something I ever though of making at home. With some practice I think making homemade sodas is a great idea. As I already mentioned most sodas are empty calories and do nothing good for you.

Funny story our friend gave us some Elderflower Fizz and it exploded. Which in the intro to the recipe Emily warns us that it might explode. I found it amusing, perhaps not so much to those reading this.

I have yet to try any recipes from this book, but I did find it very interesting and educational. If you are interested in wildcrafting and creating your own teas, squashes, wines, and fizz then I would recommend giving this book a read. Some of the syrups and infusions are made with things you can easily get in your grocery store or farmers market. No excuse to get started then!

Here are a few of the recipes that caught my eye and inspired me! 

Dandelion and Chicory Chai Tea
Cranberry Mors
Lemon Barley Water
Apple and Mint Syrup
Strawberry Squash
Elderflower Cordial
Rhubarb and Rose Syrup
Fire Cider
Cherry Balsamic Shrub
Raspberry Shrub
Pomegranate Molasses Switchel
Chamomile Whisky Bitters
Elderberry Elixir
Fig and Vanilla Rum
Peach and Pecan Bourbon
Cherry Bounce
Anise Hyssop and Peach Wine
Raspberry Wine
Ginger Ale
Blueberry Soda
Elderflower Fizz

I cannot tell a lie, reading this book is like reading a potions book. I totally felt like a wizard/witch studying for my potions exam!! The resources a the end of the book are for an American audience, however there are plenty of UK online resources to discover on google!

notes: Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han was sent to me by the publishers to review. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are my own. Please see my contact/policy page for further information.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your lovely review, Lisa! Happy New Year! :)


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