Inti Inca Energy Drink

IntiIncaW1Energy beverages have a long history in the soft drink industry, despite their recent incarnation as the drink of choice among the young, the urban, the hip. Coca Cola is the most obvious example, as its original formulation contained both coca leaves and kola nuts, sources of the stimulants cocaine and caffeine.

Perhaps if you are an Incan descendent living in Peru, you might still be able to make an energy drink from coca leaves. For the rest of us, there’s always yerba maté, the national drink of several South American countries.

Yerba maté itself is a deeply entrenched cultural phenomenon in much of South America, where it is consumed both privately and socially in a way similar to that of coffee in North America. Like coffee, it contains both caffeine and antioxidants, giving it a reputation as both a natural stimulant and an herbal medicine. Guarana is another traditional South American beverage ingredient. With about twice the caffeine as an equivalent amount of coffee, guarana seed powder is often found in popular soft drinks in the region.

Both yerba maté and guarana are, however, fairly bitter in taste. To increase their palatability in a drink containing enough of them to have a significant stimulating effect, they are often mixed with sugar and other spices. Inti Inca Energy Drink adds Inca and Maqui berries, lemon juice and zest together with a bit of chai spice to round out its complex flavor.

Inti the Inca Sun God

Inti the Inca Sun God

It will not give you the jolt of commercial high-strength energy drinks, which compete on how much caffeine they can put in a serving. If you want that, you could use Inti Inca to wash down a couple of No-Doz tablets. But as the days grow longer, and Inti the Inca sun god rises earlier, this drink will get you through the day and well into the planting season with plenty of energy to spare.

Tamarango: Tamarind Mango Soda

In addition to the creative factor in selecting beverage ingredients for their flavor balance, it’s interesting to add an overall theme to the selection process. The following recipes establish a thematic spectrum that develops the “idea” or state of mind that the beverage expresses. Tamarango suggests a trip to the Tropics, where all of its ingredients are well-established culinary items.

The tamarind fruit is a common beverage ingredient there. It is actually a legume, not a berry. Tamarind trees originated in North Africa, but because of their value as food and a provider of building materials, cultivation has spread throughout the tropical regions. South Asia and Mexico are the two areas where tamarind is most popular as a food item; there it provides a sweet but tangy contribution to sauces, curries and beverages. It also forms an important part of the flavor of Worcestershire and steak sauces said to have originated in India.

The pulp inside the tamarind fruit is the edible part, but most types are very sour. A variety of tamarind has been developed in Thailand, however, that is quite sweet, and used for snacking right out of the pod. It is this variety that goes into Tamarango.
Sweet tamarind
Mango provides the second most prominent flavor component in the beverage. Indeed, it can be found sold as dried slices mixed with tamarind paste and dusted with sugar to make a sweet and sour confection.

The mango puree in this recipe is from the Ataulfo variety discovered in the Chiapas state of southern Mexico. They are seasonally available in Western supermarkets, and can be identified by their moderate size, lozenge shape and golden-yellow skin. While any well-ripened variety will work, this one is known for its exceptional sweetness (15-18 percent sugar), and lack of fibrous interior. Ataulfo mangoes are also quite aromatic. The larger Sindhi mango would be another excellent choice.

Galangal is a spicier relative of ginger, featured in many examples of Thai and Indian cooking. Galangal and lime juice tonic is well known in parts of Southeast Asia.
The wild herb epazote is a nod to the popularity of tamarind in Mexico. This weed is quite common throughout Mexico and the American Southwest, and adds a peppery, minty flavor to Tamarango.

Clockwise from top left: Tulsi Krishna, Tulsi Rama, Epazote

Clockwise from top left: Tulsi Krishna, Tulsi Rama, Epazote

Tulsi, sometimes known as Holy Basil, is a plant held sacred in Hinduism. It is known in Auvedic medicine for its ability to protect against the effects of stress on the body. The recipe calls for two varieties of tulsi, purple-leafed Krishna, with a peppery crisp taste, and Rama, with a mellower, minty flavor.

Top it off with a twist of lemon peel. Fantastic.

Triple Twichell

TripTwichWInspired by the type of strong Belgian brews known as “Dubbels” and “Tripels”, Triple Twichell takes the idea of a Mandarin/Seville orange soda and multiplies the amount of ingredients–except the water–by three.

As with the original Orange Twichell recipe, this drink blends two kinds of orange juice, and two kinds of orange zest with raw cane juice, ginger, Veronica spicata, and Sedona juniper berries.

The result is an intense, yet well-balanced soft drink that is bursting with flavor and orange aroma. The drink is made with a fruit syrup and herb infusion, finished with sparkling mineral water. It will improve noticably with an aging period of several weeks in the refrigerator. Aging allows the fruit pulp to settle out, and this can be suspended again with gentle agitation. Alternately, the drink can be carefully decanted off the settled pulp to provide a clear, golden yellow beverage.