By Barbara Campbell, Managing Editor of DK Canada
Spring in Canada is a capricious thing, and the perfect time to dive into DK's Mocktails, Punches, and Shrubs for a suitable afternoon drink to be enjoyed in the backyard. And quickly, before the weather changes its mind!
Mocktails, Punches, and Shrubs is a collection of delicious and unusual nonalcoholic recipes created by Vikas Khanna, who runs the Michelin starred restaurant Junoon in New York City. The recipes make use of ingredients and flavours from around the world, and include herbal infusions, elixirs, smoothies and slushies, and sparkling creations.
I decided to try the Saffron and Cinnamon Punch, which is touted as the "perfect summer drink." Sign me up! The first step is to make a simple syrup infused with cinnamon and ginger. Adding a pinch of saffron to the mixture turns the syrup a gorgeous amber colour.
Saffron is the most expensive spice you can buy, due to the labour involved in growing and harvesting the spice. Saffron strands are the stigmas of a species of crocus flower, which are hand-picked during the short annual flowering season. As each flower only produces three stigmas, it takes about 150 flowers to yield one gram of dried saffron. No wonder saffron is so expensive! Luckily you don't need much for cooking—using too much saffron can actually make your food taste bitter. The saffron added to the simple syrup in this recipe imparts an earthy note to the sweet, spicy flavour.
Preparing the drink couldn't be simpler: add a tablespoon of the syrup to a glass, add ice, and top with chilled water and a further sprinkling of saffron strands. The drink's colour is fantastic—a clear, brilliant yellow that glows brightly in the sunshine. The flavour is slightly sweet and somehow both spicy and cooling, making it a great choice for when the weather really does get hot. The recipe makes about a cup of syrup, which can be kept in the fridge until you're ready to mix up the next round. Which means that you can spend very little time in the kitchen mixing drinks and as much time as possible outdoors enjoying the fleeting nice weather!
Barbara Campbell is the Managing Editor of DK Canada. She is responsible for DK titles that need to be adapted for Canada such as The Canadian Encyclopedia of Gardening, Pocket Birds of Canada and the Pregnancy Encyclopedia. Barbara also tries to ensure that as many books in DK's global publishing program as possible have some Canadian content.