Spice & Ice: 60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails, by Kara Newman
wine pixies

Spice & Ice: 60 Tongue-Tingling Cocktails

Cocktails are ever colonizing new territory. I do create my own, mainly because it makes me feel oh-so-clever, but Kara Newman has one-upped me. Spice & Ice really tells it as a title. We already know about the horseradish in the Bloody Mary, but Kara, who writes the “High Spirits” column for Chile Pepper magazine, gives us 60 lavishly illustrated recipes for cocktails that take their potency not only from their spirits, but from fabulously showcased spices. Poblano peppers, wasabi, chipotles, radishes, ginger, Tunisian harissa, peppercorns, cardamom, nutmeg: the list is sizeable. A good solid third of the book involves preparation and method, how to handle spices, spicy cocktail food pairings, and an especially eye-opening (if not eye-watering) section on how to make spice-infused liquors and syrups. “The tricky part is how long to keep the liquor infusing,” she writes, “but after you've finished the process, infused liquor will keep almost indefinitely.”

Kara organizes these drink recipes by season (of the year) with the aim of showcasing fresh, seasonal ingredients. The “Wasabi-Tini” ushers in spring (a caveat: wasabi-ize with the utmost care). Summer's “Watermelon Hot” combines freshly pulsed watermelon with green Thai chilies to allay (or perhaps obliterate) the worst of those dog days. Autumn's “Mule Kick” is a variant of the “Moscow Mule,” using jalapeño-infused Vodka. Winter's “Mexican Hot Chocolate” is a multi-step recipe but evidently worth the trouble: hot chocolate with Kahluá plus a half teaspoon of a “Mexican Spice Mix” composed of chili powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. I am waiting for the chill of winter (and some unsuspecting guests) to give this one a try. In my kitchen I am a confirmed spice-tinkerer, so I already have sufficient raw ingredients for Spice & Ice. The glassware purchase remains.

Verdict: Breaks new ground in the cocktail universe.

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food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award
James Beard Award Nominee Elliot Essman

food writer Elliot Essman James Beard Foundation Journalism Award

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