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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Drink With Me: Drinking in Danger with Kykeon

(Welcome to Drinking in Danger, Part Two of our Fermented Beverage Series, go here to read Part One, Mead All About It. I'll be writing a follow-up to that as we check on our bees and their survival during Winter Storm 2017.) 

Where is your favorite watering hole for innovative cocktails? 

Artisanal cocktails?

And what about house-distilled spirits?

Do you like a bit of  ......  danger shaken and stirred in? 

Such cocktails (without any danger) are a raging big business, witness Dandelyan Wyld Tea in London, with Elderflower Compressed Cucumber, Burnt Herb Cream, Rocket Sandwiches. 

And then there's Green Russell in Denver with their Johnny Two Fingers cocktail which mixes Russell’s 10 year bourbon, aperol, leopold bros blackberry, mint, lemon, and salted green tea.

Surely there is a similar bar near you. Where do you like to go? 

Such botanical cocktails are a delicious and actually an ancient notion, that combines, or can convince herbs, twigs, and sticks into fermenting and bubbling, to bring about an atmosphere of conviviality. 

Enter Kykeon, our ancient cocktail, which in Greek means to stir or to mix. 

Kykeon was connected to ancient rites of Persephone and Demeter at Eleusis. This held a certain je nais se quois of danger, intrigue, and elusive preparations. The preparations of Kykeon was shrouded in secrecy and participants were sworn under penalty of death to not reveal the result of participating in such symposiums where the purpose was beyond the mere imbibing of alcohol. 

What happens at Eleusis stays at Eleusis. 

(Please don't twist my mint leaves. I am not saying London or Denver's well known establishments are producing dangerous cocktails.)  

Kykeon, could be called a cocktail of wine, honey, onion, grated goat cheese, and mainly fermented barley water. This concoction is described by Homer in the Iliad. Kykeon is an elixir cloaked in mystery, the Eleusinan Mysteries, to be specific. I mentioned this to my friend and one-time neighbor, Colbey Emmerson Reid, the CIC Director at Poole College at NC State, partner in cocktail-ing, and co-writer of a book about cocktails and religion, called Fallen Angel. She and I got together to bring Kykeon out of the mists of time, and into the kitchen at C'est si Bon! 

(Click on the link in the caption to read more about Dr. Reid's work.) 

 

Colbey Emmerson Reid, Creating a Kykeon Cocktail. 

Kykeon Cocktail with Mint and Tarragon

Muddling About with Herbs

Colbey and her co-author, Shannon McRae, are working on a book called Fallen Angel: The Consumption of Religion in American Cocktail Culture. An article of that same name was published in Material Religions: The Journal of Art, Objects, and Belief.  

Here is a link to a PDF and HTML copy of the article.

However, please be warned, we did not use grated goat cheese in any of our Kykeon cocktails. Yet.  


The recipes take a few steps and days to create, so before you cocktail, sprout the grain and then ferment the resulting sprouted grain into your fizzy elixir called rejuvelac. 

Sprouting the grain.
In a 1 quart jar place 1/2 cup of grain and cover with water. Soak for 12 hours and rinse and drain, turning the jar on its side. Keep up this rinsing and draining and turning  for about 3 days or until you see the white sprout emerge. When the sprout is the same size as the grain itself, its ready to make into the fermented grain water.  

Make the fermented grain water called Rejuvelac. 
Place a handful of the sprouted grain in another clean quart jar, and fill with water. Cover with either another screened sprouting lid or a rubber-banded piece of cheesecloth, and let sit at room temperature. The fermentation will benefit from the wild yeasts in your kitchen, which will be there in abundance if you are a bread baker! In winter it can take some time to ferment, but in warmer days it can happen in as little as 6-8 hours. I myself have never had any problems with sprouting and food-borne illness, but do take precautions - this is not the kind of danger you should be feeling when creating this cocktail!

(Use the rest of the sprouted grain in another recipe. As a note, the sprouted grain can be used in the Whole 30 diet because it is considered a vegetable not a grain!)

Kykeon Cocktails

Fermented Red Fife Water with Mint and Tarragon
For this recipe you can use whole wheat berries, hulled barley, or hull-less barley, all of which are whole grains still containing the germ. I sprouted a special variety of wheat called red fife for this ancient version of the drink. Grown in upstate New York, it was as authentic as I could then find. But I do believe I have seen locally grown wheat and milled flour at the Carrboro Farmer's Market. 

makes about 1 quart of fermented wheat, red fife variety, water

1 cup red fife wheat, sprouted
8 cups water
1 cup fresh yellow flowering tarragon
1 bunch fresh mint
Japanese buckwheat honey, to taste

Strain the water from the grain into a large bowl. Reserve the sprouted wheat for another use. 

Put the tarragon and mint in the mortar and pestle. Bruise the mint and tarragon leaves by mashing them with wooden spoon or a cocktail muddler. This will bring out the flavorful herb oils. Put the bruised leaves in the wheat water, pushing them under as best you can and allow it to steep for about five minutes. Taste and if you want it the herb flavor to be stronger, let the leaves steep longer.

Strain the wheat water into a pitcher, and add Japanese buckwheat honey to taste, stirring until it dissolves completely. then chill in the refrigerator for several hours until completely cold. 

Serve over ice, with a yellow tarragon flower to garnish.


Red Fife Wheat in a jar with water

Red Fife Wheat in a jar with water

Red Fife Wheat, Hard Red Spring Berries from 
Champlain Valley Milling in Westport, NY



Kykeon with Orange and Bay Leaves
makes about 1 quart

We changed the original recipe from christopher hirsheimer and melissa hamilton, because they cook the barley – but for kykeon you cannot make the cocktail without fermented barley water from the sprouted barley. Ain't no bones about it, it’s the very reason that Kykeon exists! 

Be sure that your lavender, fennel, oranges and lemons are all organic.The raw sugar gives a different flavor than the honey in the previous cocktail. Save the sprouted wheat for another use, salads or breads.

1 cup red fife wheat, sprouted and covered with 8 cups water
6 oranges
2 lemons
1 tablespoon raw sugar
1 sprig flowering lavender
2 fronds of fresh fennel
3 bay leaves

Use a vegetable peeler to thinly peel just the colored part of the rind from three of the oranges and one of the lemons. Please, no white pith, it's is bitter. If you find some strips of rind with pith, scrape it off with a knife. Next, juice all of the fruit.

Muddle the lavender and fennel and bay leaves.

Strain the fermented wheat water into a pitcher. Add the citrus rinds and the fruit juice, and the muddled herbs to the pitcher and stir. taste the barley water to see if it needs any sugar. depending on how sweet your oranges are, it may not.

Add raw sugar to taste and stir with a long spoon until it is completely dissolved. chill the pitcher in the refrigerator for several hours until it is completely cold. serve over ice accompanied by a slice of orange.

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