I have been given two tantalising books to review. Both are recipe books of DIY drinks, using fruit, flowers and herbs foraged from the hedgerow or garden, and sometimes requiring a more exotic ingredient or two.
Oh! How reading about ‘experimenting’ with alcohol brings back long forgotten, but suddenly very vivid, memories. Just reading the word Tequila, Absinthe, or Cachaca… Well, let’s not go there.
So, to the books!
They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but with Brew It Yourself and Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary there’s a very distinct male-female thing going on.
Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary is a decidedly female book… I know! I know! A lot of men like cocktails too. But what I’m trying to say is that the recipes are considered, sometimes delicate and very much thought through in the details. Lottie Muir (also known as The Cocktail Gardener) is obviously a bit of an artist, as well as clever, to have started one of the World’s Best Bars (at the Brunel Museum) based on her imaginative concoctions. Her recipes are complex and multi-layered. They have a touch of forbidden magic about them. They seem very seductive but could be hard work. A bit tricky perhaps? There’s a definite feminine side to these recipes.
Contrast this with Brew it Yourself. Just the title makes me want to say it in a gruff, deep tone. N’owt wrong with that I hear you reply. I’m just saying…. decidedly male. I know that the authors, Two Thirsty Gardeners, are also creative, being designers and desktop publishers. But their recipes are more straight forward, down to earth and ‘to the point’. There’s no frills. There’s not nearly as many ingredients or layers. These drinks need to be made and drunk, sooner than later, without too much fuss. Male.
Now, although these two books are both very different, they are also very similar, in that they are encouraging us to rummage deeper into our creative potion-making potential, beyond the 1970s DIY wine kit, or the ready-made cans of Mojito. They both have an appeal to people who like to ‘whip things up’ themselves. And who like to get their unusual glassware out and dust it off every once in a while.
Quite a few recipes overlap… Personally, I think “Brew” should have left “Wild” to be the cocktail queen, and just concentrate on the home-made wines, ciders, and beers, which they are obviously very adept at making. But there is no harm in buying both books for the top of your drinks cabinet. Or perhaps as a “His ‘n’ Hers” gift for a couple?
If you want to choose one, and need a quick comparison, here’s the ingredients list to make Limoncello from both books, to help you decide which one suits you:
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My sincere thanks (although my liver might think otherwise) to both CICO Books and Nourish Books for providing me with copies of these two books.