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First organic food, now organic cocktails

December 29, 2009|By DALIA COLON / St. Petersburg Times

It's the perfect chaser to the organic-foods movement: the organic-drinks movement.

Writer-publicist Paul Abercrombie has compiled 100 eco-friendly cocktail recipes in a new book, "Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis, and Other Totally Green Cocktails" (Harvard Common Press). Illustrated with photos of candy-colored libations, the book details concoctions that Abercrombie, 41, collected from green-minded mixologists around the world.

Many of the beverages, like the Blackberry Mojito and Strawberry-Basil Martini, can be made with or without organic ingredients. But the emphasis is on organic spirits, produce and mixers, with Abercrombie providing tips on buying, making and enjoying the higher-priced elements. The Roasted Red Pepper Julep uses a puree of the vegetable and organic mint, the Jessica Rabbit is a stunner starring organic carrot juice and the Tahitian Coffee plays up organic java.

The book is sprinkled with non-organic ingredients, because some organic elements were not widely available at the time of the writing, Abercrombie says. Now, however, once-rare delicacies like organic bitters have begun popping up in specialty stores. "Organic, Shaken and Stirred" also contains a guide to stocking an eco-friendly bar.

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Q: Your Web site (organicshakenandstirred.com) says you vow to "chronicle the organic-cocktail movement." What's the movement?
A: To me, it's been a logical extension of the whole organic-foods movement. It's jumped from the kitchen into the bar.

Q: It's logical, but at the same time, people drink to indulge. They don't care how many calories it has, so do they necessarily care where it comes from?
A: Yeah, I think so. A glass is just a funny-looking plate. And if you care about what's on your plate, you should probably care about what's in the glass, too. Even if you don't care about the organic, earth-friendly aspects of it, often an organic cocktail just tastes better.

Q: When I think organic alcohol, I think really expensive.
A: In general, it's probably a little bit more expensive to get organic spirits, but not really that much more. It's sort of like (how) people choose organic foods because they're tastier, more healthful and they're generally produced in a way that's kind to the planet, so it's really not that much different to do the same with a cocktail.

Q: Explain what you mean when you say they taste better.
A: You're not using artificial, synthetic pesticides ... There is a lot more care taken with it. Typically, if someone's going to go through the trouble of making something strictly organic, they actually care about it. They want it to be high-quality, really good stuff.

Q: Is there less of a hangover with organic ingredients?
A: There are some studies and some folks who will argue that there is less of a hangover. ... I have found, though, with very rigorous scientific study, that 11 cocktails, organic or otherwise, will pretty much feel roughly the same. ... But the organic will go down a lot nicer.




PURPLE BASIL GIMLET



2 ounces organic gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed organic lime juice
1/2 ounce organic agave nectar
5 organic purple basil leaves

Combine the gin, lime juice, agave nectar and 4 of the basil leaves (reserve the smallest one for garnish) in an ice-cube-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, then strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass. Float the remaining basil leaf on top of the drink.

Serves 1.

- "Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis, and Other Totally Green Cocktails"




BLACKBERRY MOJITO



4 organic blackberries
5 organic mint sprigs
1 organic lime, quartered
1-1/2 ounces organic rum
Splash of organic lemon-lime soda

In a highball glass, muddle the blackberries, 4 of the mint sprigs and 3 of the lime wedges until the berries are mashed. Add ice cubes to fill, then the rum and stir. Top off with the soda. Garnish with the remaining lime wedge set on the rim of the glass and the mint sprig floating atop the drink.

Serves 1.

- "Organic, Shaken and Stirred: Hip Highballs, Modern Martinis, and Other Totally Green Cocktails"

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