Book review – How to make your own drinks

15 August 2011 by
Book review – How to make your own drinks

How To Make Your Own Drinks By Susy Atkins
Octopus Books, £16.99

The preamble to Susy Atkins' new book, How to Make Your Own Drinks, makes a valid point: if you care about using natural, fresh ingredients in your cooking, why would you put up with shop-bought drinks?

Atkins, who is wine editor for Delicious magazine, is clearly aiming this question at amateur cooks and enthusiasts. But it could also apply to restaurants, hotels and pubs that want to offer their customers something a little quirky or different.

Of course, there is quite a lot of work involved. But the author makes a pretty good stab at guiding even total beginners through the process of making their own drinks, starting with a section on growing and sourcing ingredients. There are tips on getting the best produce from farmers' markets and shops, suggestions on how to get inspiration, and guidance on what ingredients are available throughout the year.

Atkins has also provided a comprehensive list of what you need to get started, such as pans, sterilising equipment, measuring jugs and siphons. Then follows a useful section on extra ingredients you may need, like yeast and pectic enzyme, as well as tips on ageing and storing. She has also included a handy guide to troubleshooting the fermentation process.

As for the recipes themselves, they are split into a bewildering array of categories - wild drinks; citrus drinks; orchard drinks; honey and ginger drinks; teas, tisanes and spicy brews, and so on. They range from traditional favourites like elderflower cordial, to slightly more unusual creations including rice and raisin wine, rhubarb wine, and coffee bean vodka.

The high quality photography provides inspiration for ways of presenting the drinks, to wow your guests with an unusual offering.

One thing to bear in mind is that if you brew or distil any alcoholic drinks for sale in your establishment, you will need to hold the correct licence, and alcohol duty will need to be paid. However, because the book is aimed at the enthusiast looking to entertain guests at home, it doesn't offer any guidance on this front.

If you liked this, you'll love these:
Brew Your Own British Real Ale (Camra)
Graham Wheeler
The Home Distiller's Handbook: Make Your Own Whiskey & Bourbon Blends, Infused Spirits and Cordials Matt Teacher

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