Dear Nicole, as a mother of two small children, former Art Consultant and Event Manager, you are now working as a Catering Consultant and have recently published your book “The New Drinking Culture – accompanying food perfectly without alcohol”. Besides that, you are a member of Slowfood and claim you cannot cook well by following recipes. Please tell us how this book came about and what tips you can give to pregnant women and nursing mothers who do not want to give up part of their lifestyle or miss out on the celebrations.
1. Why did you decide to focus on the topic of non-alcoholic drinks? What inspired you?
My book was born out of dissatisfaction: even in the most demanding sectors of gastronomy there are hardly any alcohol-free drinks available that appropriately accompany food. In addition, thanks to my Japanese genes, I do not have the best tolerance for alcoholic drinks. When I was pregnant with my first child and the sommelier recommended the right wine choice to everyone at the table and offered me flat or sparkling water, or perhaps a sparkling apple juice, I began to research the topic of alcohol-free drinks. I spoke with producers of juices, mineral waters and farmers about this concept. Ofcourse, it must be said that my training at the German Wine and Sommelier School also helped me out a lot.
2. Where are your alcohol-free drinks used and what do people think?
I often do a workshop with restaurateurs and their kitchen- and bar teams. Together we develop tasty and feasible drink recipes that compliment selected foods. After this initial workshop, I either continue to accompany the team or their ambition is awakened, and they develop new drinks on their own. But sometimes it’s also clients like Stokke whose target group – pregnant and breastfeeding women – requires a sensitive approach to alcohol. Many women simply grow tired of apple juice or lemonade in the long run. These drinks are available everywhere; they are a boring and uncreative fallback. Therefore, anyone who does not wish to consume alcohol is pleasantly surprised when they sip on a drink for grown-ups that just happens to be without alcohol.
3. How complicated is preparation and the organization of the ingredients?
That depends on the drink. For example, if a drink contains kombucha – a tea fungus, you may need a heads-up of 14 days. Drinks with water kefir need about 2 – 3 days and a Shrub, a refreshing summer drink with apple cider vinegar and fruits, needs a good week of prep.
In my book I focused on ingredients that are available in every supermarket. It is always important to me to have good quality ingredients, if possible organic, especially if the peel is used, for example in flavored water (just a few hours before serving, fresh herbs, slices of citrus fruit or cucumber and ginger are added to still water, then the water is chilled in the fridge.)
4. What should you always have in stock at home?
These diverse ingredients delightfully accompany you and your taste buds through pregnancy:
- Fresh herbs and fruits –during the summer you should definitely have some fresh herbs (such as basil, peppermint, rosemary, thyme) and citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit) in the house. These ingredients can come together to create a refreshing, tasty “infused water” in a flash.
- High-quality tea – also called cold brew or iced brew.
- Whole leaf teas – teas of a good quality level can be recognized by the fact that they consist of mostly rolled leaves, which expand to their full size during infusion. The cheap tea in the teabag from the supermarket consists primarily of the lowest quality level – if you’ve ever opened a teabag, you’ve probably encountered dark powder. In tea jargon, this quality is called “dust”.
- In summer, it is advisable to fill a carafe with water and green tea. Place the carafe in the fridge overnight. This preparation method is called “cold brew”. Very fruity nuances in the tea emerge, yet bitterness hardly develops.
For particularly hot days, an iced brew also does the trick:
- Place 2 – 3 ice cubes with a teaspoon of sencha (green tea from Japan) in a glass of water. Let the tea steep for 2 hours at room temperature, stirring occasionally. The result is a fruity pick-me-up. If you prefer something with reduced caffeine content, Houjicha is a great option: a roasted green tea, which consists mainly of the tea stems and was roasted briefly in an iron pan, rendering most of the caffeine ineffective.
- High-quality fresh juice is a must in every alcohol-free house bar
A fresh juice of high quality (for example apple juices by Thomas Kohl from South Tyrol, who not only offers varietal apple juices, but also cuvées from mountain apple juice with elderflower, hops or blueberry) should be a staple in every alcohol-free bar.
- Alcohol-free spirit and sparkling wine
For some time now, there has been a non-alcoholic spirit that, together with tonic and ice, makes for a really good adult and, above all, not sweet drink: Seedlip. Fortunately, it is now also available in Germany via Lifestyle Drinks.
Sparkling tea from Denmark is a good alternative for sparkling wine fans who are not so fond of non-alcoholic sparkling wines. This is a really well-made drink that combines different teas (green, white, black and herbal), rounded off with grape juice and organic lemon juice. This sparkling alternative can be enjoyed by itself or can be topped off with elderflower syrup and garnished with a slice of lime.
- A quick and tasty non-alcoholic cocktail:
- Add desired amount of ice into a glass
- 5 cl Seedlip
- A swig of bitter orange syrup
- 2 cl grapefruit juice
- Fill up with Sparkling Tea
5. How would you like to toast to the 2018 World Cup? Could you tell us your fastest favorite recipe?
My World Cup Drink 2018: Basil Lemonade
For lovers of fresh herbal sodas, I always recommend having a bottle of homemade basil syrup in the fridge: the amount of ingredients isn’t overwhelming and preparation only requires a purifier or blender.
- 10 stems of organic basil (I like to use the small-leaved version here: Ocimum basilicum, which is even more aromatic than its big-leaved cousin)
- Juice of 2 organic lemons and 1 organic lime, and a little zest from the peel to taste
- 150 ml maple syrup or rice syrup
- 100 ml water
- For a sharp twist: add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
- Puree everything well!
When making ice cubes, place a few slices of basil or a small-leaved mint in the ice cube trays before filling the trays with water. Rose petals or dill also work. After all, you also eat with your eyes.
Put the ice cubes in a tumbler, add the syrup, finally add cold mineral water to taste and drop in a basil stalk.
Cheers to both soccer- and alcohol-free goals!
Thirsty for more drink inspiration? Check out Nicole’s website: www.neuetrinkkultur.de