Cookbook Review: Wild Drinks & Cocktails

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Wild Drinks and Cocktails

I’m back with my second cookbook review. Last time it was vegan party food with “Thug Kitchen Party Grub,” and this time it’s another thing I really enjoy, “Wild Drinks and Cocktails.” It is a book full of handcrafted squashes, shrubs, switchels, tonics and infusions to mix at home. It focuses on making handcrafted drinks using fresh, foraged ingredients.

Related: Read my review of “Thug Kitchen Party Grub.”

As the name and description imply, there are drinks for syrups, infused beverages, sangria, bases of other drinks both alcoholic and non, and an entire chapter devoted to soda recipes and fizzy drinks.

The range of recipes is incredible, from both the standpoint of ingredients to how long they take to prepare; one drink I made had to ferment for a month. Already a fan of infused vodka (see my instructions on how to infuse vodka) and recently getting into preparing fermented food and drink (think beermaking and canning), this book is calling my name. There are drinks appropriate for every season, so this is a book you can go to year round. Case in point are three drinks I’ve made:

  • Fire Cider: A vinegar tonic that includes horseradish, garlic, ginger, onions and chile peppers. This is full of flavor, but is said to ward off a cold or flu, relieve sinus congestion and warm up on a cold day. It is full of flavor but surprisingly easy drinking.
  • Haymaker’s Punch: Also known as a switchel, becoming the new hip drink. It is full of electrolytes and iron, this is a great drink after a workout or a hot day. It was easy to make with common ingredients and a nice alternative to kombucha. (There’s also a recipe for a Turmeric Switchel, another popular ingredient right now.)
  • Citrus Squash: Not the food, the squash is a base of mixed citrus that is like a concentrate. Add water for juice, add champagne for mimosa or do as I did and add wheat beer for a nice beer cocktails.
Wild drinks and cocktails fire cider | Kale and Ale

Fire cider, the real (healthy) deal.

Enter to win “Wild Drinks and Cocktails”

Enough about what I think of the book and what I’ve had from it. Now it’s your turn to see for yourself. The publishers Quatro Cooks (check out their blog for more great books and recipes) have been kind enough to provide a copy of the book to one lucky reader of Kale and Ale and a recipe from the book for all readers to try. What? I know!

Right below this is the Rafflecopter widget to enter to win a copy of “Wild Drinks and Cocktails” for yourself, and below that read the recipe for the Claret Cup. The giveaway is open worldwide to anyone 18 or older. The contest starts at midnight Wednesday, June 1, 2016, and runs until Tuesday, June 7, 2016, midnight central U.S. time. Winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Claret Cup | Kale and Ale
Claret Cup
Print Recipe
“THE LEAVES AND FLOURES OF BORAGE PUT INTO WINE MAKE MEN AND women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy,” wrote sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard. With its brilliant blue flowers and cucumber-like flavor, borage (Borago officinalis) has enhanced wine for centuries, even millennia. Roman and Celtic warriors drank borage-steeped wine for courage, while the Victorians used borage to garnish the claret cup, a popular punch made with red wine from Bordeaux plus various liqueurs, herbs, fruits, and spices. (Pimm’s Cup, which also traditionally includes borage, may have originated as a variation of the claret cup.) This is my version of a claret cup, and it’s inspired by recipes in historical cookbooks. The first delicious step involves creating a fragrant blend of lemon oil and sugar called oleo-saccharum, a classic technique for adding depth of flavor to punches.
Claret Cup | Kale and Ale
Claret Cup
Print Recipe
“THE LEAVES AND FLOURES OF BORAGE PUT INTO WINE MAKE MEN AND women glad and merry and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy,” wrote sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard. With its brilliant blue flowers and cucumber-like flavor, borage (Borago officinalis) has enhanced wine for centuries, even millennia. Roman and Celtic warriors drank borage-steeped wine for courage, while the Victorians used borage to garnish the claret cup, a popular punch made with red wine from Bordeaux plus various liqueurs, herbs, fruits, and spices. (Pimm’s Cup, which also traditionally includes borage, may have originated as a variation of the claret cup.) This is my version of a claret cup, and it’s inspired by recipes in historical cookbooks. The first delicious step involves creating a fragrant blend of lemon oil and sugar called oleo-saccharum, a classic technique for adding depth of flavor to punches.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Combine the lemon peels and sugar in a bowl. Using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, muddle the lemon peels and sugar until the peels start to release their oils. Let stand for 30 minutes.
  2. Combine the lemon peel and sugar mixture in a clean pitcher with the borage sprig, sherry, and red wine. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids.
  3. To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses and top with club soda. Garnish with borage flowers.
Recipe Notes

Makes 1/2 gallon drink

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Mint chocolate cocoa and tropical Eco Lips balm

I received four complimentary samples of Eco Lips balm to review for my blog. I was already a fan of the company and, as always, opinions are my own. Contains affiliate link.

Hot cocoa Eco Lips Kale and AleI’m a dry person. When we are talking wine or humor, it’s enjoyable. When we mean my skin and lips in a Minnesota winter, it’s anything but enjoyable. And with the high this week hovering around zero degrees, having chapped skin is a real concern.

As I get older and have moved back to a climate lower in humidity, I’m spending more time, resources and thought into my skincare routine. This includes avoiding dry lips.

I’m always hesitant of new lotions and balms, as many dry out my already cracked skin. I need something super hydrating yet not seeming too medical. I’m becoming more mindful of what I’m using, and being natural is important to me. Eco Lips fills all these needs, and then some.

Eco Lips Kale and AleThe company is based in my hometown of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I had the opportunity to stop in and talk with them a few years ago, and I love that what drives and motivates the company is their passion for good quality products. According to its website, Eco Lips has been first to market with several innovative organic lip care products and packages. It doesn’t test its products on animals and offers clearly marked vegan lip balms. A fun feature is that anyone can create his or her own lip balm at My Eco Lips.

The vegan lip balms go on smooth and stay put for a while, which is great because I always want to feel balm on my lips. The flavors are fun, consisting of lemon-lime, superfruit, mint and unscented. All flavors taste and smell real, like the flavorings and ingredients are real, taking me to a warmer climate (until I bundle up to step outside). I’m really happy with the products, their commitment to a quality item and supporting a hometown company. Purchase Eco Lips.

To compliment the tropical flavors of the balm while warming up in the winter, a great mint hot chocolate pairs well to stay warm but drift away to a warmer place.Hot cocoa ingredients Kale and Ale

Mint chocolate cocoa
Print Recipe
The addition to mint (real or in schnapps form) is a nod to a warmer location while warming up in the cold winter months.
Servings
1 person
Servings
1 person
Mint chocolate cocoa
Print Recipe
The addition to mint (real or in schnapps form) is a nod to a warmer location while warming up in the cold winter months.
Servings
1 person
Servings
1 person
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar I used a sugar substitute to save calories, amount to sub will be listed on package
  • pinch Salt
  • 6 leaves mint torn in half or bruised
  • 1 cup milk I used coconut (which makes it vegan), use any style you prefer
Optional
Servings: person
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients except milk (and any optional items) into a sauce pan and mix. Slowly add milk while stirring to make sure there are no clumps.
  2. Heat over medium, stirring, until hot.
  3. Take out mint leaves. Pour the hot chocolate into a mug and add any optional ingredients, if using.
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Healthy blended fruit drink

If today isn’t the perfect day in Minnesota for a relaxing, healthy frozen cocktail, I don’t know what kind of day is. Summer is here, and it’s perfect. Just the right amount of breeze, warm, sun beating down. This is the one day of the year I’m waiting for.

And if this day is perfect in Minnesota, this frozen blended drink is needed all points south, asap! I love how simple this is to make, how it’s so basic in a whole foods kind of way, and how refreshing and satisfying it is.

Healthy blended fruit drink | KaleAndAle.com

Healthy blended fruit drink

For the base, I used a frozen fruit blend of mango. pineapple and strawberries, but you can use whatever you like or have around. And the coconut water keeps it refreshing and beachy without weighing it down with calories or density. Just these two ingredients, plus rum, equal a light, healthy blended fruit drink. The recipe below makes one drink.

Healthy blended fruit drink

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups frozen fruit
  • 3 ounces rum
  • 8 ounces coconut water

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Spring tequila cocktails

Spring has finally arrived just this weekend in Minneapolis, and I couldn’t be happier. Outdoor running weather and dry, green grass are here! What a great way to celebrate Earth Day than enjoying Mother Nature.

I’ve been craving the light, refreshing and awakening flavors of spring. So when I had the opportunity to sample Casa Noble Tequila, certified organic in 2009 (perfect for Earth Day), I knew I wanted to make drinks that would be perfect for a spring awakening and earthy flavors.

To be honest, my experience with tequila is—like many people, I’m guessing—limited to margaritas. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But I wanted to move beyond that.

Casa Noble Anejo KaleAndAle.com

Casa Noble Anejo aged in French White Oak Barrels for two years, with homemade guac and blue corn chips. Great snack!

So I cracked open the añejo. And I smelled right away that not all tequilas are created equal. Not that this is a shock, as I’ve sampled rum on a tour, tasting different aged rums, and enjoy aged whiskey. But I’ve never known enough about tequila to plop down money for a quality bottle. So I decided this would be a sipping tequila. I didn’t want to mix it with anything to hide the flavor. It is smooth and caramel-y, yet had a smooth, distinctly tequila taste. But it is tequila, after all, so I sipped it along a homemade guacamole and blue corn chips.

Rhubarb spritzer cocktail with reposado tequila. So easy and refreshing.

Rhubarb spritzer cocktail with reposado tequila. So easy and refreshing.

For the reposado, the middle of the three tequilas, I wanted to balance the smooth and citrus with my take on a springtime margarita. I made a simple syrup (cut two stalks rhubarb into 1-inch long pieces and simmered them in one cup sugar and one cup water for about 20 minutes until it was a syrup) and rimmed the glass with the syrup, then dipped it in sugar. For the drink, mix 2 ounces each syrup and tequila in a glass with ice. Top with a splash of club soda. So refreshing and a simple rhubarb cocktail that is both. sweet and tart.

Casa Noble Crystal KaleAndAle.com

My take on a tequila mojito.

I wanted to bring out the citrus of the unaged crystal tequila, so I featured lemon and mint—kind of a tequila mojito—in this one, with great results. The type of tequila I’m used to drinking worked well. I juiced a lemon into a glass, added almost a teaspoon of sugar (more or less to taste and cut the tartness), tore up about four mint leaves into large pieces, put in ice and poured 2 ounces of tequila and stirred.

All in all, I got to experience different types of cocktails and celebrate spring. What are your favorite tequila drinks, or what great spring drinks have you been enjoying?

Disclaimer: Casa Noble provided me with tequila to sample and a gift card from Whole Foods to buy ingredients, but all opinions and recipes in this post are my own.

Blueberry shandy

Blueberry shandy KaleAndAle.com

Blueberry shandy

As the last official weekend of summer gets underway (which is great news for those in South Florida who are tired of the extended heat and humidity), I present you with my drink of the weekend: my take on the Shandy beer cocktail. And this being dubbed the “summer of shandy” means if you are going to partake, now is the time!

somersault

New Belgium Somersault

I’m usually downing a ton of water during the day, but I like to take a break in the summer and mix it up with lemonade. I love the pulpy tart kind of lemonade. It pairs so well with a light, refreshing summer beer. I picked the New Belgium Somersault since it’s new to Florida and a 22 ounce bomber would be the right amount of shandy. The beer is fruity with a little ginger, which brings me to variations of the drink.

A shandy by nature is a mix of beer and another drink, usually lemonade, ginger beer or ginger ale or lemon-lime drink. The reason there are different mixers is because both Germany and the U.K. claim the drink (though in Germany it’s called a radler). Either way, it’s a tasty, light and refreshing summer drink.

My version includes blueberries because I love the lemon-blueberry mixture and this is about as “fruit beer” as I will get. The blueberries create another layer to the tart fizz of the drink, but you could easily leave them out. It’s a great, light way to enjoy beer during the day or a hot summer evening, and you can have a few without feeling too dehydrated or carby with the heat.

Blueberry shandy

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 10 blueberries, plus a few for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 12 ounces light beer (I used New Belgium Somersault)

Directions

  1. Mash the blueberries with a fork, removing the skin.
  2. Mix the sugar into the water until it’s dissolved. Add the lemon juice and blueberries and stir. until mixed.
  3. Pour into the bottom of a cold pint glass.
  4. Top with the beer, the extra blueberries and a lemon wedge.