I’ve many a reference book on my shelves, ranging from brand specific, to cocktail ideas, to category overviews. It’s odd to admit then that despite the numerous titles, I don’t sit down, open one up and flick through. I do know why. I get incredibly frustrated if I come across an inspiring idea, or a cocktail that I would love to re-create and experience. I haven’t got the bar, the arena to show these new-found ideas off. Well, not yet anyway. But until that day when I sign on the dotted line, I keep my nose firmly out of a good book for my own sanity. My only outburst of this shall we say is the goal of Drinks Enthusiast and this very website that you are browsing. This site, this drinks directory more than anything, is my outlet, my ‘sneak peak’ as I stride towards experiencing as much as I can in view of what I believe will be a ground-breaking concept for a bar. To some, this whole paragraph may sound confusing, spacial maybe. Odd perhaps. But I invite you to my bar in the future and I promise it will all become clear.
However I’m contradicting myself a little. I’m not a blogger who rambles on about their ideas. No, never have been, but I believe an explanation was due as this feature looks at the one aspect of my life I try to avoid. This feature looks at a category I have never once reviewed, and starts with a book entitled ‘Artisan Drinks’.
The cover may look familiar to some as the author Lindy Wildsmith released this back at the latter end of last year. And I’ll hold my hands up, I’m late into the party when I promised to take a look at this. The aforementioned reason perhaps, as essentially I’ll be raking in some ideas that Lindy has published, and wishing I could recreate for the crowds in Manchester. Intrigue has got the better of me though as the aspect of DIY liquids has become a hot topic in the last few years between both bartenders and customers.
So lets take a look.
Lindy herself runs a venue named ‘The Chef’s Room’ in Wales, specialising in British country cooking and Italian regional food, a passion she picked up after living in Rome for several years. This sentence alone sets the tone of the recipes and ideas. Italy is seen as on of the countries that originates the combination of herbs, elixirs and fruits, while Britain gives the simplicity to the recipes which make them stand out for all to re-create. Take her ideas for cordials and soft drinks. The first recipe is a ‘Italian lime siroppo‘, a modern take on a 1696 idea, and is essentially 5 limes, and a 2:1 ratio of water to sugar. You couldn’t start with a simpler Italian/British combination! Grenadine, ginger, lemon barley and spiced blackberry are all covered, as are some of the more intriguing bases including raspberry vinegar, rosehip syrup and syrop de menthe (mint).
It’s not just your usual syrups that Lindy covers though. she dives into the likes of beer, cider and perry, wine, digestifs, punches and cocktails, as well as dabbling with non alcohol versions of sparkling, soft drinks and elegant mocktails. Her mocktails, for example, utilise her previous recipes, including one for a ‘Prohibition’ cocktail. Home-made apple juice combines with syrop de menthe and egg for a truly unique drink for an evening. I’m sure there’s no better feeling when you blend two home-made creations to make one truly artisan drink!
it’s not just your usual fruits and herbs that get a shoe-in within the book though. The last chapter dives into the teas, tisanes and spicy brews, something that has grown with fascination these last few years. Examples include ‘herb garden tisanes‘ using thyme, sweet cicely and borage amongst others, or ‘hot tangerine and nutmeg chocolate’ that will surely blow away your usual supermarket mix. While flicking through though, you can’t help but notice some stunning photography skills which really make each recipe hit with impact. Photographer Kevin Summers is a 20 year veteran, working with the likes of Delia Smith and Nigel Slater, and has produced some amazing shots of all aspects of recipe production.
I’m glad I plucked up the courage to open up and have a read. A recipe book essentially, and one that has now filled me with ideas for that opening night. The recipes are simple and I’m sure incredibly effective, and it seems that there is a finished product that would work for just about any palate. Variation is key these days, and Lindy has got it spot on. Grab a copy and take a look for yourself. I suppose though that I can only guess at the moment that her recipes will stand up to others who have come before her.
Give it a year and I’ll let you know.
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