Disclosure: This book was sent to me to review by the publisher
I follow the cocktail scene closely in several cities around the world. Los Angeles is one of those cities. I’ve been following Matthew Biancaniello and the innovative cocktails he has been creating for quite some time. Biancaniello started mixing drinks at the Library Bar, located in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and now consults on cocktail programs for many restaurants and bars. He has just realeased his book based on years of experience, Eat Your Drink: Culinary Cocktails
Eat Your Drink is set up in courses, starting with the amuse-bouche and ending with the after dinner drinks for a total of six chapters fusing “artisanal alcohol and foods.” Some of them I could definitely get behind, like gin-based Chai Iced Tea (but would also like to see it made as a vodka drink), the Mexican Apple Pie (tequila based) and Vin de Pamplemousse (a grapefruit liqueur made with white wine and tequila). A few of them stopped in my tracks, like the tequila based cocktail with uni puree (sea urchin) and cumin. There was also the okra infused cachaca (a sugarcane based liquor.) I prefer my uni as sushi and my okra fried, but that’s my taste preferences.
I do love some of the ideas for cocktails in the book, but I am unlikely to infuse an entire bottle of spirits to mix drinks one time. Most weekend bartenders are the same way. Instead of infusing 750ml at a time, I create infusions in very small quantities (pints). There is also the issue of availability. While I live in the Charlotte, NC, area, a booming region, we still have a long way to catch up on what is being sold in our liquor stores, as well as what is being offered by our state licensing agencies. (Our alcohol and food laws are somewhat archaic at best.)
Even without the availability of many of the ingredients in the book (fingerlimes for example) I am able to make substitutions. Like using the applewood smoked sea salt I already have sitting in my pantry for rubs. I also experimented with infusing some, but on a very small scale (just the amount required to make the cocktail and a much shorter time).
One recipe I haven’t made, but am going to try over the coming weeks is the candy cap bourbon ice cream. I’m only going to infuse 1 cup of bourbon with dried candy cap mushrooms instead of 750mil. I have been experimenting with savory ice creams over the past summer at home, so this is great inspiration. After all, mushrooms pull what is the new holy grail of taste, umami. It’s a savory taste that comes from glutamate in food. I’m always seeking umami, the flavor found most often in Japanese cuisine.
For the truly adventurous foodie and cocktail lover, Eat Your Drink is an investment that will make your bar a culinary delight.
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