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A&E >  Food

‘Quench’ infused with inspired beverage tips

Quick look: Satisfy your thirst with more than 100 handcrafted beverages in this charming and inspiring volume, full of infusions, sodas, shrubs and teas.

What’s inside: “We thirst and must have our thirst quenched, with regularity, to go about our lives, enjoying all the other lovely aspects of being alive,” North Carolina-based Ashley English writes in the introduction to her 204-page, hardbound book, in which beverages are the stars.

English makes the case for homemade, handcrafted beverages in the beginning of her book. They’re healthier, personal, produce less waste, and often cost less and taste better, she writes. Another plus: most are surprisingly simple to make.

Recipes are divided into two parts: soft drinks and hard drinks. Each section is further broken down under headings such as refreshing, invigorating, comforting, spirited and festive.

Beverages are hot and cold and sparkling with fresh fruit, coffee, herbs and spices. Look for lavender, ginger and blueberry lemonades, rose and cardamom soda, blood orange shrub, mint iced tea, almond milk and chai. Alcoholic beverages include basil vodka, vanilla vodka, elderflower liqueur, limoncello, citrus bitters, mulled wine, mead, hard cider, sangria, eggnog, and grapefruit and rosemary punch.

Each recipe is topped with a short vignette, praising the seasonal ingredients or describing scenarios in which particular beverages have been enjoyed. Photographs by Jen Altman possess an ethereal quality; they have a way of making you even more thirsty.

What’s not: This collection includes a little bit of a lot of drinks but doesn’t delve too deeply into any one kind of beverage. There are entire books written about DIY bitters and sodas, for example. This book offers an introduction to all sorts of libations.

Lavender Lemonade

From “Quench” by Ashley English

14 cups cold water, divided

1 1/2 to 2 cups sugar (depending on desired sweetness)

2 tablespoons lavender buds (fresh or dried)

1 2/3 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 6 to 8 lemons, depending on size)

Ice, to serve

Combine 4 cups of water, sugar and lavender buds in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and strain the syrup through a fine-mesh-sieve. Compost the solids.

Combine the lavender syrup with 10 cups of cold water and the lemon juice. Stir to fully blend. Store in a lidded container. Serve in individual glasses with ice.

Yield: 1 gallon

Ginger Brew

From “Quench” by Ashley English

2 cups water

1 cup pineapple juice

1/2 cup Turnbinado sugar

1/4 pound fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

6 allspice berries

One 2-inch cinnamon stick

6 whole cloves

3 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Sparkling water and ice, to serve

Combine the water, pineapple juice, sugar, ginger, allspice, cinnamon and cloves in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Whisk in the honey, lime juice and lemon juice. Cover and steep until cooled to room temperature. Strain the concentrate through a fine-mesh sieve placed atop a quart-size container. Compost the solids.

Transfer strained concentrate to a lidded container, and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, pour about ¼ cup into a 12-ounce glass. Add ice and top off with sparkling water. Store any unused portion in the refrigerator, and use within 2 to 3 weeks.

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