The phrase “farm-to-table” is familiar to everyone who enjoys fine dining but how about “farm-to-glass”? In his book, Eat Your Drink, author and mixologist, Matthew Biancaniello, shares his experience in creating cocktails that brings new meaning to the term. Believing that his mission is to be constantly finding unusual fruits and herbs that he can use in the creation of new cocktails he explores the markets of Los Angles and creates new drinks that push the boundaries while also embodying the idea of “farm-to-glass” .
The recipes are organized into groups based on the structure of a meal: Amuse-bouche, First course, Second course, Main course, Dessert, and After Dinner. After a brief explanation of the role of the drink, Biancaniello gives directions for creating eight to ten sweet and savory drinks to fill the role. The amuse-bouche offerings, for example include blood orange cheese and cracker, stuffed cherry tomato, oroblanco blowl, and Elderflower Tart. With the goal of getting the juices flowing during the First Course, the author offers his Smoked Persimmon, Bubbly Mary consisting of sparkling rose and strawberry gazpacho, and Kentucky Bubble Bath made with bourbon, cynar (a bitter artichoke infused liqueur), and lavender tea. The offering for the Second Course are more robust in flavor and alcohol, and include drinks that use wild arugula, green zebra tomato, and okra, as well as herbs such as lovage, and sage. The drinks for the main course are meant to make people feel that they are getting a whole meal compressed into a glass and are made of ingredients such as oysters, shitake mushrooms, and pureed sea urchins gonads. For Dessert, Biancaniello delivers cocktails he believes are decadent like the food they accompany and he provides recipes using ingredients from strawberries and balsamic vinegar to candy cap mushrooms and white truffles. To balance the whole meal Biancaniello presents his recipes for after dinner drinks such as Vin de Pamplemousse , Nutty Monk, and Sweet Clover Martini.
Each recipe is introduced by a short paragraph giving anecdotes about the drink and how Biancaniello developed it. A list of ingredients and directions follow with a full color photograph of the finished product. As a mixologist, Biancaniello knows that the appearance of the drink is very important to its success and he makes each one a work of art. The glass he chooses is second only to the garnishes he provides. In addition to the usual martini and shot glasses he uses tea cups, emu eggs, and test tubes. For garnishes he uses a wide variety of plant material including cacao nibs, sunflower petals, and onion sprouts as well as the more familiar borage flowers, dill, and sage. I found the use of a frozen apple instead of ice cubes especially appealing.
This is a book for cocktail aficionado as the ingredients can be daunting and the procedures lengthy to say nothing of the special equipment needed. The fifty-six cocktails require thirty different liquors in addition to sucrose esters, specialty salts, and a variety of bitters. Many of the recipes require infusions that take weeks or months to complete so be ready to plan ahead when preparing a cocktail, but like everything else that is worthwhile, the end result is worth it.
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