Despite the buzz about soft drinks over the last couple of years (they now serve them at Noma) it’s still a struggle to get one in a restaurant. But you can make delicious ones of your own as an excellent new book by winewriter Susy Atkins shows.
With the ‘does what it says on the tin’ title of ‘How to make your own drinks’ Susy has produced a beginners guide that is equally reassuring and inspiring. As someone who would be scared that my kitchen would be full of randomly exploding bottles or rancid concoctions that might land my friends in A & E, it’s good to have pages of hand-holding tips along with ideas for drinks so alluring you feel you must shoot out to the shops (or garden) for ingredients right away.
Lavender lemonade sounds just gorgeous as does pink grapefruit and pomegranate cordial and red grape juice - apparently a great hit with children who want to pretend they’re drinking wine. (And not a bad idea for us adults who could do with taking a break occasionally.)
Most recipes includes food and wine matching suggestions and ideas for cocktails. Particularly useful are drinks that go with spicy food such as mandarin and lime cordial (vegetarian stir fries, mildly spiced prawns), lime, ginger and lemongrass cordial (Thai chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes) and cumin lassi. There are also really good quick reference pages on matching drinks with food and matching drinks to the occasion.
The book also includes alcoholic drinks: quince vodka which looks gorgeous and parsnip wine which sounds less so but I’m taking Susy’s word for it that it’s a good match for cold chicken or a cheeseboard. Black pepper vodka and red chilli sherry (both good additions to Bloody Marys, apparently), coffee bean vodka (a great match for dark and ginger chocolate) and cinnamon schnapps would make thoughtful gifts. Cucumber gin (mix with elderflower cordial and tonic, says Susy), a lovely drink to share on a summer's evening at home.
It’s not often you find a book which really opens your eyes to a whole range of new possibilities in the kitchen so this is definitely one to snap up.