As you may have noticed Spiritsfully’s focus is on the educated and moderate side of the drinking culture. It is a space for understanding the making of fine liquors in order to enable better spirits assessment.
And of course, better spirits enjoyment. So indeed, Spiritsfully is all about the senses. It’s been a while now since we have been curious about non alcoholic spirits, and this curiosity has finally brought us to the new extracts being made by Stephanie Custance, or Upsi, as she calls herself these days. This chosen name arose from a series of creative explorations she dedicated to healing, ranging from mixing these non alcoholic concoctions to dancing.
Stephanie tended bar for seven years at Redwood where she made alcohol free cocktails a menu staple by the end of her time at the establishment. Her focus is on simplicity and taste, which is perhaps easy when using alcohol. There is something very special about this substance in both its roundness and its kick as the ethanol reaches our senses. In her drinks, distinctive flavors and aromas are woven together to create a new impression. No wonder Stephanie has a former education in weaving. Her cocktails present layers of sensations, both with or without the help of alcohol. Now we’ve been lucky enough to taste the premiere of her latest experiment, extracts which facilitate flavourful cocktails without the mask of alcohol. Here the taste makers (herbs, flowers and spices) are soaked in glycerin rather than high proof alcohol (traditional extraction method). What is glycerin though? Glycerin is an odorless, sweet-tasting, syrup-like liquid derived from triglyceride-rich vegetable fats (coconut, soybeans) when heated under pressure or it can be synthetically produced. It is safe to consume in small amounts (she uses 10-15 mL per drink) and is used in packaged foods to help maintain their moisture, such as pre-cooked pasta and breakfast cereal.
Let us return to our primary concern though: the sense of taste. Upsi’s glycerin based extracts are created for pleasure. More specifically responsible pleasure, which can be understood as long lasting or sustainable pleasure. They are the foundation for a drink you want to sip and enjoy slowly. A drink full of the goodness of herbs and spices. These are definitely adult drinks.
We tried three extract combinations:
Anti-inflammatory – cinnamon, clove, ginger, turmeric, sage
Digestive – coriander seed, pink peppercorn, caraway
Refresh – lemon, orange zest
What we liked about them? The depth of the taste, the way each flavour is being softly replaced by another layer, their subtleties, the balance between spices (no overpowering ones) and the kick the spices gives. We tried also the New Way cocktail, which features the anti-inflammatory extract shaken with a malt coffee of organic barley, chicory, rye and figs, slightly sweetened with sugar beet syrup and spiced with smoked paprika. This was definitely one of the most interesting cocktail I have tried lately. It was not sugary yet very flavorful, well balanced and it had real length. This is what we need from an adult alcohol free cocktail, no juice but gustatory pleasure.
So far Upsi’s extracts can only be found in Berlin. She has begun a cooperation with Prinzessinnengarten committing to local herbs and spices she herself will help grow. Her presence over there is not by chance.
Both the founders of Prinzessinnengarten and Upsi are gearing towards the most mindful consumption!