Cookbooks: Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han

November 10, 2015(updated on August 30, 2021)

Wild Drinks and Cocktails - Food in Jars

When I was very young, my family lived in Los Angeles. There weren’t any kids my age on our block, and so I spent a lot of time on my own, exploring our multi-leveled backyard. I’d gather twigs, unripe plums, leaves from the jade plants, and a bark from the towering eucalyptus, heap them in a little plastic bucket, and steep them in water from the hose. I’d offer my “tea” to my mom, claiming it could cure whatever ailed her.

Wild Drinks Rose Water - Food in Jars

Fast-forward 30 years, and Emily Han and her new book, Wild Drinks and Cocktails, are here to teach us all that with a little bit of knowledge, there is much to be found in the natural world (both in LA and elsewhere) to be turned into a vast array of infusions, syrups, squashes (her creations are superior to my childhood concoctions in every way).

Wild Drinks Citrus Squash - Food in Jars

The book is divided into seven chapters. It starts with an introduction to wildcrafting, and offers insight into being a responsible and safe collector of roots, berries, seeds, nuts, and flowers. That section also includes useful information on how to process, preserve, and protect the things you gather.

Wild Drinks Claret Cup - Food in Jars

From there, the book proceeds into the recipes. In Chapter 2, you’ll find the Teas, Juices, and Lemonades (I’ve got Emily’s recipe for Meyer Lemon and Bay Leaf Syrup marked for my annual meyer lemon extravaganza). Chapter 3 is devoted to Syrups, Squash, and Cordials (Rose Hip Whiskey Smash on page 65!).

In Chapter 4, Emily digs into Oxymels, Shrubs, and Switchels. The unifying force of this section is the balance of sweet and tart, and these recipes are for everyone who wants to start using their collection of exotic vinegars.

Grapefruit and Sage Water Kefir - Food in Jars

All of the Infusions, Bitters, and Liqueurs are in Chapter 5. There’s so much in this section that I want to make, but I think I’m going to start with the Winter Gin on page 115 (the thought occurs that it would make a mighty fine holiday gift for a certain subset of my friends and family).

Chapter 6 is all about Wines and Punches. As the weather cools, there’s nothing like a fortifying mug of Mulled Wine (page 157). And finally arrives Chapter 7, with it’s Fizzy Fermentations (yes, please!). Once my travel schedule quiets down again, I’m going to try to start my own Ginger Bug Soda Starter (page 162).

Wild Drinks and Cocktails Back - Food in Jars

Emily has kindly allowed me to reprint her recipe for Classic Switchel and you’ll find it after the jump. It combines molasses, apple cider vinegar, ginger, and water for a bracing tonic. I like to dilute a little in a mug of hot water when I feel under the weather, but it can also be combined with cold water, fizzy water, or used in a cocktail. It’s a most versatile creation.

Oh, and one last thing. I’ve got one copy of this book to give away. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and share a favorite homemade drink.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, November 14, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, November 15, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only. Void where prohibited.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Fair Winds Press sent me a copy of this book for review purposes, and is also providing the giveaway unit, both at no cost to me. All opinions remain my own. It’s a good book.  

For more about Wild Drinks and Cocktails, as well as her classes, follow Emily Han on social media.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Classic Switchel by Emily Han

Originating in the Caribbean before making its way to New England, the switchel has developed into different versions over the years. My exploration has turned up an array of different ingredients and ratios—but, in general, a switchel was likely to contain the sweet, tangy, and spicy combination of molasses, vinegar, and ginger. Together, these components provide valuable minerals and electrolytes, which means that the humble switchel is a great alternative to commercially made sports drinks. Or, if you want to skip the workout and head straight to the bar, you’ll find that rum is a great partner for this bracing concoction.
Servings: 1 cup (235 ml)


  • 2 tablespoons 40 g molasses (preferably blackstrap)
  • 1 tablespoon 15 ml apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup 235 ml water


  • Combine the molasses, apple cider vinegar, and ginger in a jar or glass and stir to dilute the molasses.
  • Add the water and stir to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day.
  • The longer it steeps, the stronger the ginger flavor will be.
  • Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the solids. Serve over ice.


This recipe is reprinted with permission from "Wild Drinks and Cocktails: Handcrafted squashes, shrubs, switches, tonics, and infusions to mix at home" by Emily Han. Published by Fair Winds Press, 2015.

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119 thoughts on "Cookbooks: Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han"

  • Thank you for your lovely review, Marisa! I love the image of you making curative “tea” from your backyard finds.

  • I’ve always been fond of making a simple syrup and adding it to club soda for a ‘homemade soda’ drink. My particular favorite is lemon, lime, and ginger.

  • This book looks great! I love making these types of drinks. My favorite experiments so far have been cranberry bitters, pumpkin pie spice tincture (both excellent in an old fashioned!), and strawberry infused vodka (made from the tops of a huge pile of strawberries I was cutting up to dehydrate – so much flavor in bits that would have gone into the compost!).

  • I think this book would prove to be good for my health! I don’t have a homemade drink, unfortunately. But i do enjoy a tea that a friend makes for me. It’s a cinnamon apple flavored, and infused with cannabis. I add honey to this when I am feeling a cold coming on. I’d love to educate myself with this book!

  • I am so impressed! I can and make everything from scratch, but we just aren’t very interesting when it comes to drinks. I do brew kombucha now and make some wonderful hot cocoa, but nothing this fun!

  • This year I was gifted 2 flats of over ripe organic strawberries. I already had plenty frozen for jam, so I decided on a strawberry syrup sweetened with only honey. The resulting drink was homemade Italian sodas!!! I just bought a bottle of sparkling water and added a few tablespoons of the syrup. So good!

  • Summer before last I infused vodka with my homegrown, organic blackberries. I added sugar and let it sit in the dark until Christmas. I put a few ounces of Blackberry Vodka with sparkling water and ice. I didn’t name it but it’s nice and I grew the berries! I think I need this book!

  • I really like mulled wine in the winter. Its fun to make up the bag of spices to make the wine tasty. There are so many different kinds of spices you can add.

  • Hibiscus tea with ginger and stevia.
    Homemade apple cider
    Hot cider with oranges spices and rum.
    Hot cider with caramel (or caramel vodka)

  • During the summer we drink a ton of hippy arnold palmers – half homemade lemonade and half kombucha from our ever fermenting crock.

  • Since I don’t drink alcohol, my favorite homemade drink has to be my mama’s homemade sweet tea. Even though she taught me how to make it, it NEVER tastes like hers!

  • I made a rhubarb syrup (h/t to Erica at Northwest Edible for the recipe) and used it as a base for a wonderful punch. Just enough tart flavor to balance the sweet.

  • Other than iced tea, the only thing I really make at home is soda syrup, but I’m always up for trying something new.

  • Sadly, after stomach surgery I’m not able to have anything carbonated, so I’m no longer making lovely syrups for soda, so I suppose spiced cider would be my favourite drink to make now…

  • During the summer lots of cold brew tea infused with fruit! Now that the weather is getting chilly hot tea and occasionally hot cocoa. This book sounds like it has so many lovely ideas. I would love to try so many of the ones you mentioned!

  • In the summer, sekanjabin (red wine vinegar and sugar syrup infused with mint) is refreshing with soda water, and I can blackberry shrub in August and grape juice in September so that when we start missing the sun in the gray Portland winter, there’s always a glass of summer at hand. Cold brewed coffee is another favorite

  • This cookbook looks amazing! We are currently drinking “lemon tea”. Fill a small mason jar with thinly sliced lemons and fresh ginger, pour honey over the top, and let sit in the fridge overnight. I scoop the lemons into my mug and the liquid into the kids cups and top with hot water. Yum!

  • Oh wow…this is right up my alley!!!! I’ve been experimenting with kombucha lately and my favorite so far has been plum and rose geranium.

  • Fresh mint infused tea. Sounds boring, I know. I haven’t begun to venture into this level of fun, but I would surely dive right in!

  • I’ve been using my honey/ lemon/ fresh ginger for a couple winters now. The longer it sits in the back of the frig. the better. Great when feeling under the weather with a sore throat. I also did rhubarb syrup for making skinny margaritas. Both very yummy. Thanks for the great offer !

  • I make switched often but like mine with honey. I’m a tea lover and iced tea with pineapple juice and fresh mint is one of my favorites.

  • i love making simple syrups and adding fresh herbs as well as different peppers depending on the flavors i’m looking for. recently i made a ginger simple syrup and add a tsp of the pulp from my cayenne hot sauce. i then put it in ice trays….pour a shot of bourbon over the ice with a splash of soda….delicious!

  • I have been making Kombucha at home for almost a year. I add juice when bottling (berry and peach are favorites) and have shared SCOBYs with coworkers to start their own batches.
    Also, my husband and I like to make limoncello to give away as Christmas gifts.

  • What a wonderful sounding book – I’ve loved my rhubarb shrub and pomegranate grenadine all summer – would love to learn more!

  • I’m just getting into fermentation (waiting impatiently for my pickle pipes to arrive!), so this book is definitely one I’d love to have. I like to make homemade Irish Cream to give to clients at Christmas.

  • I like a good hot toddy for what ails you – whatever fruit juices are in the fridge (apple, cranberry), lemon juice, hot water, honey and bourbon.

  • I can’t wait to get a copy of “Wild Drinks and Cocktails.” It’s right-up my alley. I’ve been making switchel for years now and here’s one of my recipe.

    Switchel – 2 tablespoons cranberry white wine vinegar (see recipe below), 1 tablespoon honey in a glass of spring water or fruit juice. Add fresh lemon juice and grated ginger root.. Refreshes and balances body PH.

    Cranberry Vinegar Recipe
    1 quart white wine vinegar
    2 cups fresh cranberries
    4 (3″) cinnamon sticks
    1/2 cup honey
    1 orange
    Combine vinegar, 1 cup cranberries, and cinnamon in saucepan. Heat to just below boiling point. Remove from heat; let stand 2 min and then stir in honey. Strain vinegar mixture, discard cranberries. Fill mason jar with remaining 1 cup of cranberries and the peel of 1 orange. Pour vinegar liquid into mason jar. Store in dark, cool place for 2-8 weeks before using to let flavor develop. Strain before using.

  • I am in love with this book already! I have made my own elderflower liquor by steeping the elderflowers in vodka with a little lemon peel and then adding a little sugar to taste. I admit it isn’t quite as good as St. Germaine, but much less expensive.

  • Last summer we had more Canadice grapes than we knew what to do with. So I made shrub-both apple cider and balsamic vinegar varieties. I would love to work with a recipe that allows for more of the fruit flavor to dominate, than the vinegar, and this seems like the perfect guide!

  • We recently discovered kombucha – a local company makes an amazing pomegranate lemon version.
    Now that it’s starting to look like winter here in the PNW, one of my favorite drinks is hot chocolate (a homemade mix) with Fratello (a hazelnut liqueur) and some whole milk or cream in it.

  • I made elderberry syrup for the first time this fall with fruit gleaned responsibly from my neighborhood walks. Combined with a spiced lemon ginger jelly and bourbon, it just the thing for soothing a sore throat.

  • I’d like to make more homemade drinks. The current extent of my favorites are various fruited iced teas, and more laborious strawberry lemonade in large quantities (cutting strawberries to make purée, reaming all the lemons by hand…). Ginger bug has been on my list for a long time!

  • I haven’t made many drinks, other than hot chocolate and cocoa; all the more reason to check out this book. I haven’t even tried making lemonade from scratch!

  • I just started infusing vodka this year so i’m excited to learn more from Wild Drinks and Cocktails! I made a peach liqueur and have been enjoying that quite a bit lately 🙂

  • I really like making my own flavored simple syrups (rosemary, ginger, etc.) to mix into cocktails at home. Next up is making my own ginger beer!

  • I’ve recently started making shrubs. I have to say so far my home made rhubarb vinegar is winning the taste race. Deep pink, tart but refreshing, I plan on it being an annual staple.

  • “Moonshine”. What started out as a first attempt at Limoncello, has become a habit. I have used up that last bit of fruit from the tree or something that has become just a bit too ripe and added vodka or everclear and let it sit. After adding a simple syrup, I have a drink that, from what I have been told, has been splashed into iced tea, hot tea, coffee and just sipped alone. Since I give most of it to friends, I am ticked that most make sure to return the bottles!

  • We like to brew iced tea using different flavored teas. One of our favorites is Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion and Raspberry Zinger. Peach Melba in a glass!

  • I don’t really have a great homemade drink but I would love to learn how to make shrubs. I used to order them all the time at my favorite cafe but it closed several years ago.

  • This year we got a soda stream for our wedding and we made lemon-rosemary simple-syrup and mixed it with carbonated water and a splash of gin. YUM

  • What an awesome book! Being as I’m from the Mexican border, I recognize that “tuna” on the front – what we call prickly pear fruit. Usually I make jelly from that, but I can imagine it might make a tasty drink.

    My favorite homemade drink I call an Orange Blossom Special. It has orange water, a little St. Germaine, a sugar cube, some lemon juice, a dash of fresh orange juice, and filled up with Champagne. I also make a mean Pimms cup with ruby red grapefruit juice, seltzer, and Pimms. It’s amazing.

    When called upon to make nonalcoholic drinks, I make excellent horchata. It’s a bit of an acquired taste, though. Best in blistering hot weather, I think.

  • The ideas in the book and in the comments all sound great .. I will be trying as many as I can since I don’t really have a favorite homemade drink. Mostly I just do fruit-infused iced waters in the summer and great hot teas when it is cold.

  • i make all kinds of infused liqueurs. i especially like my grand marinier homemade, irish cream, kahluas. would love this book will try the recipe for switchel. thank you

  • My favorite to make is Sangria, all the fruit really linens up the wine. I also love making a good lemonade. Nothing more refreshing on a hot day!

  • I love making floral or herbal simple syrups. My very favorite is lavender syrup thats great in cocktails and excellent with just plain soda water.

  • With this colder weather. I just love really warm milk and a little sugar with brandy. I change up the spices alot. Ginger is bomb with some allspice and nutmeg. Or cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.

  • This time of year I would have to say homemade eggnog, we got elderberries for the first time this year and made a simple syrup with them. Next year we look forward to using the elder flowers.

  • My dad used to talk about drinking switchel when he was a kid. His mother would send him out to the field with a batch when they were haying. My go to when I’m under the weather is mulled grapefruit juice — heavy on the cinnamon and ginger.

  • I made some honey-ginger kumquats last year, but wasn’t really a fan of them – they just had a really strange texture. (squashy on the inside, almost leathery on the outside…blech!)

    Fortunately, the syrup is wonderful, and I have plenty of it! I love a gin and tonic with a couple spoonfuls of the syrup! Slightly orangey, with a nice bit of ginger to go with the floral gin.

  • I’m just getting into making homemade drinks from fresh ingredients. But I make a mean hot chocolate from scratch!

  • I made my very first batch of elderflower champagne this year. What a treat! I’m getting ready to start some rosehip bitters to give as gifts this holiday season.

  • I make homemade limoncello and Crema di Limoncello. I recently found an excellent recipe for chai tea concentrate with lots of suggested variations so I make mine extra spicy.