W.C. Fields once said, “I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.” Lifetime subscribers to the perpetual drink-in-hand philosophy, we’re also believers in adding food to our drinks. The guys over at food and drink design firm W & P (also authors of Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails) are doing just that—crafting entire cocktails from their farmer’s market pulls.
In the first installment of Drinker’s Market, W & P’s founders Eric Prum and Josh Williams spent time making the most of summer’s ephemeral harvest along a spectrum of spicy, sour, savory and sweet, just like you might in the kitchen. “We believe wholeheartedly that, just as it applies to cooking, the idea of using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients should also apply to cocktails,” says Prum.
The two are regulars at their local farmer’s markets in Brooklyn and Manhattan, so, when browsing, they search for ingredients at season’s peak. “We can appreciate a drink that features obscure bottled liqueurs, esoteric bitters and complex tinctures, but these ingredients can be expensive for a home bartender,” says Williams. “Instead of breaking the bank and starting a small museum of dusty bottles, we apply the theory of modern American cooking to making cocktails.” Each ingredient becomes the focal point and inspiration for a drink, around which a spirit and supporting ingredients are matched to compliment—rather than dominate—the fruit or vegetable’s flavor.
Classic drinks remain the blueprints for these seasonal riffs. The Garden Star builds on the traditional Gimlet formula, adding crisp, aromatic cucumbers and mint to gin (Prum and Williams make their own). The tartness of sour cherries is underscored with crisp lager and lime juice in a classic shandy. Piquant jalapeños and avocado become the backbone of a summer Margarita, and ripe berries turn lemonade into a near cobbler-style cocktail (vodka optional).