The Drinks Issue

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With this Drinks Issue, Edible East End marks its 10th anniversary. Back then there was some lobbying to call the book Edible Hamptons. (How quaint.) But no; we wanted to celebrate the food and drink culture of our region and the North Fork was the center of wine country. And now it’s so much more.

New laws paved the way for distilleries and breweries, like the 20-year veteran BrickHouse in Patchogue, which are popping up all over the island. What suds did we swill before there were 20 local breweries? (How did we manage!) This year’s Long Island Craft Beer Week, running May 8 through 17 (of which Edible is a proud sponsor), will give beer lovers the chance to keep abreast of this thriving industry.

This rising tide of liquidy libations raises all ships — to mix many metaphors. This beverage boom is great for drinkers, but also for businesses, like the family-run East Coast Wood Barrels in Medford, which started with the knowledge that a market was just at the end of the Long Island Expressway. And they’re not just for wine. Wood barrels are also used to age spirits and beer and pre-mixed cocktails and even small-batch vinegar.

As greenhouses fill with seedlings, potatoes get planted and the first spring greens start to show, we can stir rhubarb-infused vodka with a pickled rhubarb stalk, jump-start the growing season—and drinking season—and set the table for an ample spring.

Does anyone still suggest that caring about the rye in your whiskey is any less relevant than wondering about the beef in your burger? As our beekeeper columnist Laura Klahre notes, the way bees sip nectar from flowers has wondrous similarities to how cocktail aficionados choose their glass, ice cube and the color of their preferred libation. From the botanicals that flavor Long Island Spirits’ new gin, Deepwells, to the garnish that decorates our glass, “Bees are vital to the world of cocktails and hence to the employment of mixologists everywhere.”

This flood of bottled goods washes over our landscape and into our mouths. The celebrated Mosaic in St. James serves cocktails like the Lawn Doctor (arugula-infused vodka, ginger-lemongrass syrup, lemon, black pepper). La Candela Restaurant in Hicksville celebrates its rootedness in the community by sharing chicha morada, an Andean soft drink that pre-dates Columbus made of pineapple and purple—yes, purple—corn. Huntington-based juicery Love Grace Foods delivers ambrosial functional medicine in a bottle. In mid-February, two local culinary school grads opened North Fork Roasting Co. in Southold, a coffee shop/roaster, and the place has been buzzing ever since.

Like our appetite for new crops and dishes, our drinks culture has room to evolve. Natalia de Cuba Romero asks if the horchata that they make at Oaxaca in Huntington could be flavored with local hops. While across the island, each year more wineries are making sparkling, as we learn in an excerpt from Eileen Duffy’s new book Behind the Bottle: The Rise of Wine on Long Island, released by Cider Mill Press in April 2015 and sure to become essential reading in the American wine canon.

As greenhouses fill with seedlings, potatoes get planted and the first spring greens start to show, we can stir rhubarb-infused vodka with a pickled rhubarb stalk, jump-start the growing season—and drinking season—and set the table for an ample spring.

This rising tide of liquidy libations raises all ships — to mix many metaphors. This flood of bottled goods washes over our landscape and into our mouths.

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Brian Halweil, editor in chief

Visit Edible East End to read its Spring Issue

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