Cocktail culture has come back into vogue, but this time with a twist. Instead of relying strictly on booze out of a bottle and commercially made mixes, some drink mixologists are going “garden to bar” by combining fresh ingredients like herbs and fruits into classic cocktails such as martinis and mojitos. That’s the subject of a new drink cookbook, Shake, Stir, Pour–Fresh Homegrown Cocktails by Katie Loeb.
Katie takes you through the whole process from stocking your bar to creating syrups, and is extremely comprehensive. For example, her book contains sections dedicated to the different types of liquors, bar tools and glassware. Then she goes into garnishes and kitchen tools and staples. Next is a section just on making syrups – simple syrups, which everything is based on, and then flavored syrups of all varieties such as Thai basil (great for lemonade), mint syrup for mojitos and juleps, rosemary syrup and more.
Next, Shake, Stir, Pour–Fresh Homegrown Cocktails covers syrups made from spices like ginger and cardamom and then covers fruit and vegetable based ones like rhubarb and celery syrups. The possibilities are endless ounce you try out the basic technique. Finally, about half of the spiral-bound 160 page cookbook, covers cocktail mixes – 50 recipes in all – and features unusual ones like a Blackberry Shrub to the more common Bloody Mary.
What I like about Katie’s book is that you can control what goes into your cocktail. (Many recipes can be made into mocktails as well.) This is great for anyone with food sensitivities or allergies, or just those wanting their indulgences free of high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavorings or colorings.
Shake, Stir, Pour–Fresh Homegrown Cocktails is a delightful book, filled with gorgeous finished cocktail shots as well as how to pictures, and should provide plenty of mixology inspiration for your next party or gathering. It’s available on Amazon for $16.49 or $13.74 on Kindle.
How about trying these three recipes to make Mint Juleps at your next outdoor grilling party? It seems like a lot of work, but you’ll find that using fresh ingredients and taking the time to do it yourself is worth it. I personally recommend making this with either Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace bourbon. But if you sneak some Gentleman Jack or Jack Daniels in your mint julep – they’re sipping whiskeys after all – I won’t tell a soul.
- 4 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- Optional: 1 once 100 proof vodka for preservation
- Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir or whisk gently until the sugar dissolves.
- Simmer for one more minute once combined.
- Remove pan from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Add optional vodka, if using.
- Transfer to a clean bottle or container. Simple Syrup keeps refrigerated for up to a month, longer in the colder back area of your fridge.
Yield: Approximately 2 cups
- 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, removed from stems
- 2 cups simmering simple syrup
- Rinse mint leaves in cool running water. Shake off excess water and add to simple syrup.
- Blanch leaves in syrup for a minute or two and then turn off the heat and cool slightly.
- Puree syrup and leaves through the blender and allow to cool overnight in the fridge.
- Strain carefully through a fine-mesh strainer the next day, stirring and pressing down on the solids with a spoon to get all the syrup strained away from the leaf puree. Mint syrup keeps refrigerated for about 1 week.
Yield: One drink
- 1 ounce Mint Syrup
- 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
- Crushed ice
- Mint sprig for garnish
- Stir Mint Syrup and bourbon together in shaker.
- Pack crushed ice in a silver julep cup or rocks glass until mounded slightly over the top.
- Pour mint and bourbon mixture over the crushed ice.
- Garnish with a large sprig of mint that has been “spanked” or clapped between your palms to release the fragrant oils.
Recipes by Katie Loeb and photography by Steve Legato. Used with permission.
Disclosure: Amazon links are affiliate links. A commission may be earned from a referred sale to their website.