Foraging has been a burgeoning trend. While there's an ever-growing list of books designed to help identify wild edibles, not all include recipes to use said foods, and those that do tend to focus on just that -- edibles.
Along comes Emily Han, a master food preserver, herbalist, and expert forager, who combines her skills to showcase the use of wild plants in beverages. Her debut book, Wild Drinks & Cocktails, serves forth a comprehensive menu of concoctions using a kaleidoscopic array of foraged herbs, fruits, roots, flowers, and more. The book kicks off with a useful treatise on the art of crafting wild drinks, from best practices in foraging, to tips and tools, and basic techniques. From there, Han employs wild foods in escalatingly intense uses, from refreshing tisanes and lemonades through to high-octane infusions.
Within the tea section, one of the more interesting items was a technique for creating rose water. While not used much as a tea on its own, it's a popular ingredient in Persian cuisine, and makes a showing in a few of her other creations, such as a quince sharbât and a rhubarb-rose syrup. The sharbât touches on another strength of the book: It has remarkable breadth of lesser-known beverages with global roots, such as oxymels, shrubs, switchels, and the obscure Persian sekanjabin, a minted honey shrub.
Then, of course, we get to the good stuff: Infusions, liqueurs, elixirs, and other boozy projects. From workhorse items like gin (summer and winter variants) and vermouth (dry and sweet, natch), Han also offers bitters, liqueurs, and a wealth of wines, most notably two projects for the long haul: Nocino, put up in summer to enjoy in winter, and vin d'orange, put up with winter's oranges to enjoy chilled on hot summer days. (See Han's vin d'orange recipe here.)
While the book focuses on foraged ingredients, the recipes could be reproduced with purchased ingredients, albeit often specialized ones. Still, it makes a handy addition to the avid cocktailian's bookshelf.
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