You know that friend who goes to a bar and orders hot water and lemon on a Friday night? No? Me either. Obvi.
But I’m sure someone must. I’m here today to tell you that shit just got less lame my friends. That friend can still have her hot water and lemon, but with a shot of fire cider and a dash (or 3) of tequila, poor-man’s tea suddenly becomes hot damn ahhhh-mazing. And totally nourishing.
My friends, I’d like to introduce you to Los Angeles-based forager, wildcrafter, drink maker, history lover, herbalist, educator and general badass, Emily Han.
You know you’ve found a kindred spirit when the first words out of someone’s mouth are “when I pour myself a glass of elderflower cordial… ”
Be still my beating heart. Thump thump. Thump thump. Thump thump.
Now I know you dig this kind of thing too. And you know I not only write about fresh, locally seasonal dishes and drinks here but I also have a cocktail column with Edible Vancouver that focuses on farm fresh ingredients and coming next fall, my own cookbook focused entirely on seasonal, boozy cooking. So you can imagine my utter elation (and the drool-fest that ensued) when Emily shared her new book with me, titled Wild Drinks and Cocktails.
She’s channeled the inspiration she finds from seasonal ingredients – and bottles and jars – into drinks. In book form. Now that’s something we can get down with, amiright?
Thus Emily harvested Wild Drinks and Cocktails, 100 Handcrafted Squashes, Shrubs, Switchels, Tonics and Infusions To Mix At Home.
Wild Drinks and Cocktails is, in a word: Stimulating. From the tantalizing recipes, to the simple yet beautiful photography, to the mindful guidance on wildcrafting, you will be left completely and utterly titillated. Inspired. And thirsty.
Emily describes Wildcrafting as “the practice of gathering medicine or food from wild plants and it encompasses not just the act of harvesting, but ethical considerations so you’re caring for the plant and its ecosystem.”
And isn’t that the very way we should be eating and drinking?
Of course, not everyone feels comfortable rummaging through back alleys and along public sidewalks for their next drink so Han encourages us to look to our local farmers markets, CSAs and own gardens for ingredients.
Like medicinal remedies, her drinks are nuanced. Personal. Complex. And unique. She asks us to experiment, taste, experience and explore the recipes in the book, gently coaxing us to find something we love and make it our own.
I won’t lie, usually I prefer a firmer hand when being told what to do (ow ow!), but in the case of Wild Drinks & Cocktails, gentle will do just fine. The book is approachable, lush and most importantly, usable. I have multiple recipes dogeared (yes, I dog ear my books – what of it?) and I full intend on making them all.
Many of the tonics in her book have their “roots” (I told you she’s clever!) in the communal, medicinal history of wildcrafting which is why I’m so thrilled to share her Fire Cider Hot Toddy recipe with you. It truly encompass this history and at the same time, marries it with booze.
Um, hells yeah.
So next time that friend orders hot water and lemon at happy hour you can just pull your mason jar of fire cider out of your bag, order her a shot (or 3) of tequila and make one of these bad boys. She’ll thank you. I know I would.
That’s why we’re buddies.
(excerpt from Wild Drinks and Cocktails)
Horseradish, garlic, ginger, onions and chile peppers form the basis of this vinegar tonic, and I admit it: the combination sounds pretty frightening! In fact, it took me years to work up the courage to try it—but now, a shot of Fire Cider is one of the first things I reach for to ward off a cold or flu, relieve sinus congestion, and warm up on a cold day. Hot, pungent, sour, and sweet, Fire Cider was formulated by herbalist Rosemary Gladstar as a robust immune enhancer that anyone can make in his or her own kitchen. Gladstar has encouraged people to adapt Fire Cider to their own tastes, and by sharing this recipe, I hope you will do the same. I usually add turmeric and citrus to Gladstar’s core recipe, plus wild chiles pequíns that my mother forages in her Texas backyard. Depending on my mood and on what’s in season, I sometimes throw in a chopped beet, a handful of parsley, or some rose hips.
About the Hot Toddy
(excerpt from Wild Drinks and Cocktails)
Although it’s primarily a health tonic, fire cider can add plenty of kick to your cocktails, too. The savory, vinegar-based concoction is a natural addition to a Bloody Mary and pairs well with the spice in a rye whiskey, or the smokiness in mezcal or tequila reposado. You can use Fire Cider by the dash, like bitters, or, for serious spice lovers, by the shot. When you’re making this Fire Cider Hot Toddy, you may want to play around with the proportions a bit, depending upon how sweet your Fire Cider is. One thing’s for sure, though: it’s as good as an extra blanket on a cold night!
- 1/4 ounce (7 g) honey (or more, to taste)
- 3/4 ounce (23 ml) Fire Cider
- 1 1/2 ounces (45 ml) rye whiskey, mezcal, or tequila reposado
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) hot water
- Lemon slice
- 1/2 cup (75 g) peeled, finely chopped garlic (about 10 cloves)
- 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces, or 112 g) peeled, finely chopped horseradish
- 1/2 cup (80 g) peeled, finely chopped onion (about 1 medium)
- 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces, or 56 g) peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup (about 2 ounces, or 56 g) peeled, finely chopped fresh turmeric or 1 heaping tablespoon (7 g) ground turmeric
- 1 small orange (preferably a blood orange), quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 habanero chile, or 2 chiles pequíns, or 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 to 3 cups (470 to 705 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup (40 to 170 g) honey, to taste
- Combine the honey, Fire Cider, and liquor in a mug. Top with hot water and stir. Garnish with a lemon slice.
- Combine the garlic, horseradish, onion, ginger, turmeric, orange, lemon, chile, and peppercorns in a sterilized quart (1 L) jar. Pour the vinegar into the jar, stirring with a chopstick to release air bubbles. Leave 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) of headspace and make sure the ingredients are submerged.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth. Cover the jar with a nonreactive lid.
- Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking it daily and ensuring that the ingredients stay submerged.
- Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
- Whisk in the honey to taste; I usually like about 2 tablespoons (40 g), but some folks like as much as 1/2 cup (170 g). Transfer to a sterilized bottle with a nonreactive lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.
- Taking heed Emily's suggestion to make her recipes our own, I added a cinnamon stick, a couple pink peppercorns and a sprig of rosemary to serve my version.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Quarto Group Inc. DID provide me a review copy at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend, giveaway or share products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions, words and information here are entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and were not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products or companies. Opinions and views are my own. Because that’s how I roll, yo. I’ve never been one to shut my mouth – I’m not going to start now.