By: Alyson Brown
Publisher: Globe Pequot
Publication Date: February 1, 2023
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: February 20, 2023
Alyson Brown educates her audience that flowers are far more useful than something pretty to admire and certainly a must ingredient for the quintessential cocktail as she marries the concept with refreshing new takes on beverage mixology in her gorgeously illustrated delivery of The Flower-Infused Cocktail.
Before diving into the art of concocting the penultimate cocktail, Ms. Brown sets the stage with great information such as: Building Your Bar, Glassware (complemented with illustrations and explanations on why this glass for this cocktail), Home Bar Tools, and Edible Flower Awareness. It’s important to note on the last introductory page (Edible Flower Awareness), Brown categorically breaks down how to source edible flowers, grow your own, how to forage, pick and store and the most important factor: safety. This book is a mixologist’s dream come true and the format and layout are well-thought-out. The flow and cadence is quite refreshing in that it is not a pontification of disclaimers. Rather it is logical and rife with sensical words of caution to her audience to do their research before one plucks the lovely pansy from the garden and plops it into the latest concoction of delicious creativity.
Once beyond the informative guidelines, Ms. Brown starts with her first chapter that is devoted to Base Spirit Infusions. "...Infusing base spirits can add unique flavors to your cocktails and is quite simple to do..." Who would have thought an artichoke could be front and center in an alcoholic beverage? Welcome to ‘Late-Night Carousel.’ Brown encourages her reader to think beyond the ‘go-to’ stuffed artichoke recipe and concentrate on the elements of the actual fruit (yes, the artichoke technically is a fruit) once it awakens your tastebuds: "...Have you ever noticed after taking a bite of an artichoke, everything you taste after becomes slightly sweeter? That’s because artichokes contain a natural acid that stimulates your sweet-perceiving taste buds..." Throughout this first chapter, Ms. Brown titles these fantastic concoctions with equally whimsical names such as ‘Scarlett Begonias’ (inspired by the Grateful Dead Song Scarlet Begonias). Ms. Brown continues to break the book down into sections; devoting each new section with taste themes: ‘Bitters and Tinctures, ‘Salt & Sugar,’ ‘Cordials, Liqueurs, Shrubs, & Syrups,’ to name a few; noting that "...For the recipes in this book, a cordial will always contain fruit and will not contain alcohol, a liqueur will have an addition of alcohol, and a syrup will be simply a sugar/water preparation. A shrub is something altogether different and will always contain vinegar!"
It's difficult to sum up the brilliance and beauty delivered in this ‘must have’ read in one’s home or commercial bar setting. Ms. Brown has taken the art of making memorable cocktails to an epic level and complemented the information with exceptional illustrations that are vibrant and alluring. It is clear she spent an admirable amount of time laying out the content as it is akin to reading a memorable novel in that steps are placed logically one in front of the other and throughout, this author shows versus tells. The Flower-Infused Cocktail is tailored to encourage the novice to give home bartending with a flair a ‘go’ as much as it is a resource to have on hand for that bartender who is on a journey to make a name and mark for him/herself as much as the bar where he/she is tending. Well done Ms. Brown. I do believe you have found your calling in ‘how to’ write and deliver an incredibly informative and beautifully illustrated ‘manual’! Cheers!
Quill says: Whether you’re out and about for a night on the town or entertaining guests at home, make sure your bartender knows how to make a ‘Bramble On’!