There’s always something appealing about a cocktail. Colourful, often beautifully dressed and served in a fancy glass, they shout fun and party time. It’s a style that seems at odds with the idea of healthy living but, as Lottie Muir shows in her new book, Wild Mocktails and Healthy Cocktails, that needn’t be so.
Of course, it was inevitable that the current drive for healthy eating and, in particular, a move away from sugar-packed drinks, would eventually invade the cocktail bar. Since Lottie’s first book, Wild Cocktails, things have, she says “moved on a bit”.
“But if the line between cocktails and healthy diets is becoming increasingly blurred, I’d say we’re on to a winner,” says Lottie, who works as a gardener and runs the Midnight Apothecary rooftop bar in London.
Working with other tastes, such as bitter or umami, rather than just relying on sweet, she has devised a series of cocktails and mocktails that deliver what she believes is the essential “mouth-feel and va va voom” of a good drink.
The book, which has a foreword by ‘Queen of Herbs’ Jekka McVicar, covers healthy alternatives to refined sugar, basic ingredients, essential equipment and even what glasses to serve your drinks in.
Recipes range from tea-based drinks, such as ‘Lemongrass, Jasmine Green Tea, and Sake Punch’, and mocktails, including ‘Lilac and Nettle’ and ‘Sea Buckthorn and Fermented Birch Sap’, to alcoholic drinks such as ‘Toasted Kumquat and Amaretto Sour’.
Many of the ingredients can be home-grown or foraged, although the recipes suggest shop-bought alternatives and there is a list of firms that will supply hard-to-source ingredients, such as Cinchona bark, needed to provide the quinine in tonic water.
Other ingredients can be foraged and, if the idea of combining hedonistic cocktails with the back-to-nature style of foraging seems strange, the book features people who just that.
One such forager is Becky Wynn Griffiths, who owns the wonderfully named Mother’s Ruin Gin Palace in London. The book includes her recipe for Pear, Quince and Apple Windfall Bitters, which creates a spiced bitters that can be used in many cocktails.
The only downside with this – and many of the other recipes – is the time they take; the bitters is a six-week process. These are not instant gratification drinks, unless you’ve already built up a store cupboard of tonics, syrups, cordials and shrubs, or vinegars. Granted, once made they will keep for some time but a certain amount of forward planning is needed.
Like the very best cocktails, Wild Mocktails and Healthy Cocktails, scores highly for looks. Beautiful Instragram worthy photos by Kim Lightbody and a clear, modern layout make it a visual delight.
• Wild Mocktails and Healthy Cocktails is priced at £16.99.
• Review copy supplied by CICO Books. Images excerpted from Wild Mocktails and Healthy Cocktails by Lottie Muir. Photography by Kim Lightbody. Published by CICO Books. Copyright 2018. Reprinted with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
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