This past week I had 2 occasions to make booze drinks:
1. The Kentucky Derby last Saturday.
2. Warm-up round for my Fiesta Friday’s challenge feature, the Russian Chilled Sorrel Soup Botvinia, which begins with Black Bread Kvas (fermented, yeasted drink).
As you may recall, I don’t drink . . . . so I also don’t make drinks all that often, if ever. But my husband loves the Derby and I wanted to create something in the Derby spirit . . . something I wouldn’t have to cook. Something with a nod to tradition (The Mint Julep — I used mint and bourbon), but simple (no boiling up a “simple syrup”), seasonal (Harry’s Berries at Samo Farmer’s Market right now), and earthy (muddling: partially smashing the fruits & herbs together to release the essential oils and flavor while leaving parts of the fruits and herbs intact). So I made a blackberry mint julep muddle. It was apparently so delicious it flew out of the pitcher. It was gone fast.
Then, in contemplation of my Fiesta Friday challenge maiden voyage recipe, which would need to include yeast and herbs together in one recipe, I went Balkan with Botvinia, and made Step 1 of the 2 part recipe, the Black Bread Kvas. You may have heard of Beet Kvass, a delicious, tart, jewel-toned fermented elixir that has roots in Russia and the Ukraine. Bread Kvas is similar in that it is fermented, but it uses bread, yeast, water and raisins. Many of the recipes I found included mint, too. All of the recipes I found stated that the Kvas is “non alcoholic,” but let me tell you, if you put yeast, raisins, soaked rye bread and water together, you will get in a few days what distinctly smells like the strongest beer you have ever . . . . smelled. Here it is in step by step gallery form and on Friday I will publish the recipe for both the Kvas and the Botvinia.