Raise a Glass: ‘Slow drinks’ enter the fast lane
Posted on August 15, 2023 by John Saccenti - Community
The Farm and Fisherman Tavern uses everything New Jersey has to offer for unique drinks using locally sourced ingredients (read on for a great cocktail recipe!)
Danny Childs emphasizes taking foraged and farmed botanical ingredients from the region and using traditional methods of making wines, beers, ciders, spirits, meads, sodas, shrubs, syrups and tinctures. Photos courtesy of Danny Childs
The Slow Food Movement was started in Italy in the late 1980s as a cultural antidote to the rise of fast food, but also to highlight and celebrate local and traditional growing and making. When Danny Childs created the name Slow Drinks for his media presence, it was not prompted by brashness but by the passionate application of many of the tenets of the food movement toward creating delicious things to drink.
Childs emphasizes taking foraged and farmed botanical ingredients from the region and using traditional methods of making wines, beers, ciders, spirits, meads, sodas, shrubs, syrups and tinctures. He also emphasizes seasonal craft-level production based on what nature provides. “I want to run out of ingredients and use up whatever the land provided me in any given season.”
One only needs to visit The Farm and Fisherman Tavern in Cherry Hill to get a better understanding of the cornucopia of what New Jersey provides Childs in this regard, packing an already well-chosen drinks menu with his creations and flourishes. He holds the title of bar manager there, but his business card may as well say “Grand Wizard.”
Pine cones and other herbs flavor this smoked Amaro.
With about half the ingredients farmed and the other half foraged, his concoctions can show up prismatically in the likes of celery soda, beet and rye kvass, blueberry vermouth, spruce beer, and black walnut liqueur. But it’s the sampler of four housemade amari that may be the best expressions of the segue of the seasons since Vivaldi. While Vivaldi composed with musical notes, Childs composes with ingredients and flavors.
As Childs puts it, the restaurant gave him the platform to display a passion that started with an interest in high school and then WWOOFing on farms in South America with his now wife Katie after they met at the University of Delaware, where he studied anthropology and ethnobotany. (WWOOFing is working volunteer gigs on farms through the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms global organization.) It was in trying his hand at making ginger beer that launched him on this slow drinks journey.
A Pine Barrens Negroni.
The concepts and the influences though are not recent — both sides of his family made things like dandelion wine and root beer. Often though, with beverage trends, what is old is new again. Childs himself did not know of the family traditions until he started his own brewing.
Since before his nine years at the Farm and Fisherman, Childs has been endlessly searching and sourcing for ingredients and researching and experimenting with recipes and complementary combinations. He also has been collecting sources of information and inspiration from people like Nate Kleinman of the Experimental Farm Network in Philadelphia, and also collecting farm partner suppliers like Rose Robson of Robson’s Farm in Wrightstown, who provides Childs with pawpaws when his own backyard trees did not yield enough of them.
His greatest influences and partners are his wife Katie and his two young sons. “I love sharing the growing experience with the boys, having them get their hands dirty.” It may seem as if Childs is fulfilling a mission one drink at a time, but Katie, who has been side by side with Childs since the beginning, also has a significant role in a new project that is likely to spread the good works of Slow Drinks more widely.
Pawpaws are sought after for their delicious, sweet taste.
She has taken truly spectacular photos for his social media and now they will be featured in Childs’ “Slow Drinks,” his first cocktail book, scheduled for release in September. The book follows Childs’ seasonal approach and will be an excellent outline and inspiration for anyone, from home cooks to industry pros, interested in botanics-based drink making.
While many Americans are paying closer attention to the quality and sourcing of what they eat, there is still a greater divide with the attention given to what they drink. Childs is out to change that, as well as remind people that we are the Garden State. “The more people find out, the more they get interested. I also have an opportunity to flip misconceptions with this book. Jersey gets a bad rap but there is a bounty of riches growing here.”
Cheers to that!
With about half the ingredients farmed and the other half foraged, Danny Childs’s concoctions can show up prismatically in the likes of celery soda, beet and rye kvass, blueberry vermouth, spruce beer, and black walnut liqueur.
Drink Spotlight: Violet Beauregard
You can go to The Farm and The Fisherman in Cherry Hill and try one of Danny Childs’ “slow drinks” but if you fancy yourself a fine amateur mixologist and can’t wait for the book release in September, Childs has provided us with this recipe.
Violet Beauregard in his words is a “really simple but delicious” sour recipe, made with late spring/early summer snow peas. One need not be nearly as ambitious as the Roald Dahl character for which the drink is named to whip this up at home. If you can’t find the purple variety, don’t worry; your friends will still be green with envy after one sip even if you substitute the more traditional snow peas in the syrup recipe.
A Violet Beauregard.
(Makes one cocktail)
2 oz. London dry gin
1.25 oz. purple snow pea syrup (Childs recommends the Beauregard snow pea from Row 7 seeds, though any other green or purple snow pea works as well)
.75 oz. lime juice
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker and vigorously shake for 10 seconds. Strain over a large cube and garnish with a purple snow pea.
Purple Snow Pea Syrup
(Makes approximately two cups purple snow pea syrup)
1 cup purple snow peas with stems removed
1.5 cups simple syrup
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high. Strain out solids and store in an airtight container. Will keep for two weeks in the refrigerator.
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
ΔDrink Spotlight: Violet BeauregardPurple Snow Pea Syrup