You’ll be rushing to restock your bar and reinstate cocktail time after reading Savory Cocktails by Greg Henry.
If you don’t know Greg Henry already, he is the blogger behind Sippity Sup, cohost of “The Table Set” Podcast and the author of Savory Pies — and, Savory Cocktails is his newest book. The cocktails in his latest book are creative combinations filled with unique flavors. These cocktails will appeal to the serious food lover with a sophisticated palate as much as to the novice mixologist curious to expand his or her repertoire of party drinks. I instantly was drawn in by the inviting photos, interesting origins and innovative ingredients. First on the list to try are the Autumn Ash, Sungold Zinger and Tartufo (recipe below). If you have friends or family who enjoy cocktail time I suggest you consider adding this book to your list of holiday and hostess gifts for the upcoming holiday season!
Greg was kind enough to take the time to stop by and answer some questions about book writing and cocktail making, share a recipe from the book and offer you all a chance to win a copy! Welcome Greg.
1. What inspired you to write a book about cocktails?
I called my blog Sippity Sup partly because I was interested in writing about both food and beverages– particularly how they pair together. I regular do a wine pairings with with my recipes and try to give thoughtful information about why I think a particular wine goes with the food I present. This naturally evolved into an interest in cocktails. Because as my blog evolved so did my tastes. Alcohol is a very important part of a sophisticated palate in my mind and I wanted to stretch that part of my culinary knowledge. In the process I began to enjoy the art of the cocktail. To me a drink needs to be more than just a good stiff belt. Cocktails have a glamorous allure, but must be impeccably made to keep from becoming brutes.
2. Why savory cocktails? What does that mean?
It’s a bit hard to say exactly what a savory cocktail is. I struggled with a definition as I was testing recipes for this book. It’s much more complex than merely the opposite of sweet. Because no matter how savory the cocktail is, most well-made drinks require a sweet element for real balance. The challenge with this book came in presenting complex flavors in a simple format. In then end I decided to use culinary vocabulary because as a food writer I was much more comfortable with that kind of language. That’s how I came to call the book Savory Cocktails: Sour. Spicy. Herbal. Umami. Bitter. Smoky. Rich. Strong.
To me savory cocktails are part of the trend towards more complex cocktails in general. Today’s bartenders are reaching for unexpected ingredients and employing culinary techniques like infusions and purees to expand and sometimes challenge the palate. Herbs and spices are moving from the kitchen to the bar as more and more bartenders develop cocktails with a ‘from scratch’ approach– utilizing innovative ingredients and modern techniques to create a new category of beverages that I chose to call Savory Cocktails. However, I could have easily called the book Culinary Cocktails.
Some of the drinks in this book are bold in their definition of savory. There’s a Salad Bowl Gin and Tonic that has enough vegetables in it to drink like a meal. But savory touches need not be as dramatic. Subtle influences can nudge many classic cocktails towards the savory end of the scale. In the book I present a cocktail I call Tartufo. It’s got a touch of truffle infused honey which gives it the thinnest veil of something dark and earthy. In other cocktails in the book a pinch of salt rounds out flavors much the way it does in cooking. Perhaps the most subtle way to build a savory drink involves combining some of the more naturally savory spirits such as medicinal aquavit and malty genever with interesting liqueurs like artichoke Cynar, cumin-laced kümmel and allspice dram. These drinks can be challenging to the palate and are typically very alcohol forward, but when sipped slowly there can be no denying their savory complexity.
3. What was the writing process like?
I approached the process of creating both of my books (Savory Pies and Savory Cocktails) the same way I approach my blog. I develop the recipe first. It can be a long process especially with cocktails. I’m not a fast drinker. But once I get a recipe that works for me I turn to the photography. I was a professional photographer in the entertainment industry for many years. I don’t have too much trouble with that aspect of blogging and cookbook writing. Besides I am very specific about what I like in a food photograph. It must be simple. I don’t like a lot of props. They feel like crutches to me. Rusty forks and burlap napkins may add photographic texture, they may even help create mood, but they tell me nothing about the experience. I want to see the food or drink and understand something about its taste or texture just by looking at the photo. Once I have an image I like I look at that image for inspiration about what I want to say about the recipe. So I sit down at the computer and start pecking. I basically just turn on the tap and see what comes out. After that I edit like crazy and hope I’m left with something I can use. It’s the reason both books are sprinkled with stories from my life as much as they are recipes or techniques for getting good results from those recipes.
4. What’s the number one thing people get wrong when making cocktails at home?
I see too many cocktail recipes that try to cover up the flavor of the alcohol. Good booze is made by artisans and it should be appreciated.
5. Name some of your guest’s favorite cocktails you’ve served at a party you’ve thrown.
A good martini is hands down the best cocktail to start a dinner party with. It has a crisp, herbaceous pungency that really opens the palate for the meal to come. But at bigger parties I like like lighter drinks. So I usually put together a punch or a few drinks by the pitcherful. I’ve included some of my favorites in the book like Green Tea Gimlet and The Grazers Edge.
6. Are there any recent trends in mixology that you’re excited about or that you find particularly annoying?
Let’s go with annoying. I find stupidly expensive booze annoying. I recently saw a $149.00 bottle of vodka. Anyone who would pay $149.00 for a bottle of vodka is not the sorta person I want to drink with. Sure, I bet that vodka is smooth, but I’s also bet it’s so filtered that it has absolutely no taste. A good cocktail should not be a status symbol.
7. What tools would you recommend to a serious home bartender?
A clean towel. A Boston shaker. A long handled spoon. A measuring device that you’re comfortable using. A fine mesh sieve. Good glassware.
THANKS TO GREG I HAVE A COPY OF SAVORY COCKTAILS TO GIVEAWAY TO ONE LUCKY READER!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED – The winner is Stacy from Wicked Good Kitchen. Congrats Stacy and cheers!
HOW TO ENTER:
Required Entry: For a chance to win leave a comment below, whatever you’d like. Tell us what your favorite cocktail is for example. (The required entry must be done otherwise any extra entries will not count.)
WANT MORE CHANCES TO WIN?
PLEASE REMEMBER: Leave a separate comment for EACH of your entries (for a total of three possible entries) or only one entry will be counted. *If you already follow me or Greg on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest let me know as well, since this counts as an entry.
Giveaway starts on 10/6/2013 and will run until 10/20/2013 at 11:59 pm PST. Open to US residents only.
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