sarsaparilla 
There are contemporary drinks, throwback drinks, retro drinks, vintage drinks… and then there’s sarsaparilla. Until a few weeks ago, I had only heard sarsaparilla mentioned in cowboy movies.  However, at a recent visit to Tilth (Oprah voice: amaaaaazing) I saw it on the menu and had to try it out.  It is refreshing, herbal, lightly carbonated and (to my surprise) non-alcoholic.  Maria Hines, the lovely and talented chef/owner of Tilth was generous enough to share her recipe, which I’ve adapted below. 

Total kitchen time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 liters

Shopping list:

  • 3 cups organic brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups cut sarsaparilla root (available from online sources)
  • 1 liter club soda
  • Special equipment: French press
  1. Add the sugar and water to a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Remove the lid and strainer from your French press and add the sarsaparilla root.  Fill with the hot simple syrup (sugar water) and let steep for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Reattach the strainer and top of the French press and, well, press.  Pour the liquid into a container (glass iced tea bottles work great).  Refrigerate until ready to serve, or store cold for up to 2 weeks.
  3. When ready to serve, combine 1 part sarsaparilla syrup with one part club soda over ice. 

This is a really delicious, refreshing afternoon drink.  Plus, there’s no high-fructose corn syrup – just good ‘ol fashioned brown sugar and water.  At Tilth, the drink is served with a beautiful shard of ice in lieu of ice cubes, which we all know are totally played out.  To make your own ice shard, freeze a small Tupperware container full of water, then go all Psycho on it with a screwdriver and mallet. 

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white wine sangria Red wine sangria is great and all, but on warm summer evenings, nothing beats it’s lighter, crisper counterpart. As an added bonus (aren’t I generous?) the fruit makes a tasty desert when the booze runs out!

Makes: 3/4 gallon
Total kitchen time: 15 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 cheap bottle of chardonnay or white zinfandel, sweet
  • 1/2 lieter tonic water
  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pear, cored and sliced (bosc or d’anjou work well)
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ice
  1. Add the sliced fruit, sugar and 2 cups of ice to large pitcher. Muddle with a muddler or the back of a big wooden spoon. You aren’t trying to make a fruit smoothie (and the presentation is much nicer if the fruit are shapely) so just try to get some of the fruit oils released.
  2. Add the wine and brandy. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to server. Add the tonic water and top the pitcher with more ice. Pour into tall glasses or wine goblets, letting some of the fruit fall into the glass.

This drink is to yuppies what the mint julep is to Southern, aristocratic tobacco farmers. Serve along side a polo shirt and a heightened sense of worth.

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cream soda This recipe is to creme soda what the “oatmeal cookie” shot is to it’s namesake: a striking resemblance that arouses both nostalgic excitement and alcoholic predispositions.

Makes: you drunk
Total bar time: 1 min

  • 1/2 cup root beer
  • 1 fl oz (single shot) Brandy
  1. Combine ingredients and drink

This drink goes down smooth so it’s not recommended for weddings, corporate functions or anywhere else that requires pants and modesty.

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