Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han: A Review
by Molly Sams
As I’ve been studying herbalism it’s been surprising to see men and woman my age falling in love with things like kombucha and kefir. While these are things that still make my spine shudder a little – still not having gotten over my pre-school fears from watching my mother and aunt brewing them - I’m glad to see recipes for shrubs, switchels, and oxymels have made a delicious comeback.
But these drinks are not just something you pay almost $10 for at a fancy gardening expo or vegan café, Han has made recipes for these tasty concoctions that are simple and easily customizable for anyone with possible diet restrictions.
Many of you have made plenty of fortified wines and tasty vinegars, and I’m sure others could use some introduction courses. Han explains what each drink is and a bit of history on it before elaborating on different tastes and recipes. She also explains the importance of cleanliness when making your drinks.
One example was kefir. I had no idea that when you are making multiple batches they must be several feet away from each other or even in different rooms so they do not cross contaminate. Depending on the recipe you may also want to avoid using glass containers. For sodas they may burst under pressure from all the bubbles, plastic is often best to avoid any messes or glass shards in your kitchen.
I was happy to learn from Han’s example and not from mopping my kitchen three times.
Switchels, Shrubs, Squashes, and More!
Han has both classic recipes and modern ones she has created on her own. A few of them are old favorites while others I cannot wait to try this holiday season.
Cranberry Mors looks like a perfect nonalcoholic drink for Thanksgiving this year. Mors, as Han says, was first published in a Russian Homemaking book. To make cranberry Mors you mix cranberry with water, mash, and then add lemon juice and honey. Chilled or hot with mulling spices can be a perfect beverage.
Han also has the perfect recipe for when you’re not feeling too hot. A fire cider Hot Toddy is perfect to add some heat to your toddy when you have a cold or flu. By combining hot water, liquor, fire cider and honey together you can have a comforting beverage that can warm you up and tuck you into bed so you wake up feeling refreshed and nourished.
Ginger Bug Soda Starter
Mixing fresh ginger, sugar and water you can make the perfect carbonation for homemade tasty sodas by mixing these ingredients in a plastic pint glass covered with a cloth and secured with a rubber band.
These descriptions are not exact recipes for the beverages discussed. To get more precise recipes you can buy the book from her website.
While there are plenty of wonderful ideas for beverages on the Internet (Heavens, just look at our Pinterest) this book gives you plenty of valuable tidbits of advice that cannot be found on any board, pin, or link. The love and experience Han put into Wild Drinks and Cocktails gives her reader’s the confidence and know-how to create truly unique recipes and duplicate classics to find ways to make them perfect for their friends and family. So go forth and mix!