Posted by the Cake Shop
This week we’re thinking about drinking. There’s a cultural assumption – especially around this time of year – that a drink means alcohol. We’d like to put up a bit of gentle opposition to this, and think about other ways that a drink could be indulgent, festive and satisfying.
What does a girl drink over Christmas once she’s gotten sober?
I was so fond of the long slow booze-infused days of Christmas merriment. I loved being the life of the party – both cook and celebrant – and adopted wholeheartedly the long slow boozy rhythm of English Christmas. Bucks fizz for breakfast and gin sipped throughout the turkey preparations, a lubricant for deep philosophical conversations over hours of peeling and chopping veggies.
That’s the rose-colored view – in fact, I find Christmas both a pleasure and a curse. For many people, myself included, it can be a trigger to past pain. When things gets too overwhelming and dark, alcohol can be a relief, but it can also intensify feelings of loss and loneliness. It’s also so deeply rooted in the way we celebrate that it can feel impossible to avoid – or like a huge absence for those who decide not to partake.
It’s taken time: to get my mind around it, and to create new neural pathways to pleasure. I’ve been finding deep satisfaction in making my own syrups, brews and ferments – full of joyful sweetness and fizz – and my own botanical tinctures and herbal tonics, which provide deep bitter notes.
The drinks I put together with these elements have exactly the right feeling of indulgence – an indulgence that comes from complexity and contrast. I love layering sweet fizzy ferments with intensely moody shrubs, or dressing up cold brewed tea with fruit and bitters for something rounded and sophisticated. These drinks are both delicious and nurturing, alleviating stomach pain and enhancing your mood.
My favourite concoctions this year are turmeric and orange syrup with blood orange, ginger beer and kombucha: tart, earthy and fizzy, both rooted and uplifting; or a combination of smokey cold tea (a lapsang works well) with oak bitters and a slice of orange – bitter, mellow, and rich. I’m also a fan of kombucha with pineapple and ginger, as a bright and spicy afternoon accompaniment to rye and jam savoury cookies.”
We’re serving up some festive indulgence in the form of our home-brewed drinks in the Cake Shop this week – or if you’re not able to get to Bury Place yourself right now, scroll to the bottom of this email for Terry’s Make Your Own Shrub Simple Syrup recipe.
Make Your own Shrub Simple Syrup
This keeps in the refrigerator for at least a month.
Juice of 12 limes
5 pieces fresh turmeric root
15 cm fresh ginger root
400g caster sugar
120 ml organic cider vinegar
Juice the limes. Grate the roots after scraping off the skin with a spoon. Combine with sugar + vinegar. Warm over a low heat until dissolved – be patient! Let the mixture cool, then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for one day, then strain and store.