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Handcrafted Happy Hour

Handcrafted Happy Hour

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Handcrafted Happy Hour

Summer 2024 issue of American Craft magazine
Author Betsy Nelson
Glassware by Danté Germain Glass

Glassware by Danté Germain Glass. Photos by Paul Nelson.

Sit back and enjoy the pleasures of summer with cool drinks in artist-made glasses. For inspiration, we reached out to artists across the country, who shared the glassware in these pages with us. Betsy Nelson, aka That Food Girl, developed easy drink ideas and recipes to go with them, and her brother, Paul Nelson, photographed the beautiful combinations. We hope you’ll find inspiration to try something new this summer.

Glassware by TakTime Design. Photos by Paul Nelson.
Glassware by TakTime Design.

Herbal elixirs are so refreshing in the heat. A wonderful blend for summer includes dried nettles and mint leaves. Simply steep the herbs (you could also try others, such as lemongrass, lemon verbena, or lemon balm) with hot water and allow to cool. Then strain through a fine sieve or coffee filter. Stir in a little honey or sugar to add sweetness if desired. We’ve served up this mix, garnished with limes and sliced English cucumbers, in Jarrod Futscher’s elegant wine decanter, 8 x 8 x 6 in., and lowball glasses. Futscher, founder of TAKTTIME near Pittsburgh, received an Award of Excellence at ACC’s 2024 American Craft Made Baltimore Marketplace.
/ Decanter: $150. Glasses: $65 each / takttimedesign.com

Nettle Mint Tea
Serves 2–4

½ cup dried nettles
¼ cup dried mint leaves (or try other herbs, such as lemon balm, lemon verbena, tulsi, dandelion leaf, lemongrass)
4 cups boiling water
Honey, if desired for sweetening

In a large, heatproof 4-cup glass measuring pitcher (or a teapot), pour the boiling water over the nettles and mint. Cover and allow to steep for 20 minutes. Strain and cool, adding sweetener if desired. Chill before serving. For a fun garnish, slice English cucumbers lengthwise with a mandoline or a vegetable peeler.

Dried herbs and spices, fruits, roots, and even pine cones can make delicious ingredients for homemade syrups to include in cocktails and mocktails. Here, we’ve made a brûléed strawberry and basil drink syrup with balsamic vinegar and added it to sparkling water. The glassware is by Danté Germain of Danté Germain Glass in Somerset, Wisconsin. In his River Rock series, he uses rocks from four Midwestern rivers to shape four versions of lowball glasses.
/ $80 each / dantegermainglass.com | @dantegermain


Brûléed Strawberry and Basil Drink Syrup with Balsamic Vinegar
Makes 1 cup drink syrup

1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, tops removed, and halved
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup fresh basil leaves, gently crushed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Toss the cut strawberries with the sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes for the berries to release their juices. Preheat the broiler. Arrange strawberries cut side up in a pie plate and pour any juices and sugar over the top. Broil the strawberries until bubbling and beginning to caramelize. Remove from broiler, allow to cool, then mash berries with a potato masher. Toss cooled berries and juices with the basil leaves and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight, to allow flavors to meld. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing to release as much liquid as you can. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and keep refrigerated until ready to serve. This syrup should last for at least a week refrigerated. Add to sparkling water, wine, or lemonade, or drizzle over vanilla gelato.

Glassware by Dante Germain
Glassware by Danté Germain.
Glassware by Nate Cotterman
Glassware by Nate Cotterman.

Many petals are edible and can be used to make delicious floral teas. We’ve made one here with hibiscus and rose petals, cinnamon, honey, pomegranate juice, and carbonated water, and garnished it with fruit and mint leaves. These Sphere Wine Glasses by Nate Cotterman, who lives near Cleveland, are perfect for such teas—or for any drink you don’t want watered down by ice. Cotterman makes glasses in several shapes and sizes, with spheres or cubes fused to the bottom. You just pull them out of the freezer before pouring your drinks, and they’ll stay cool—no ice cubes necessary.
/ $120 each / natecotterman.com | @natecotterman

Hibiscus Flower and Rose Petal Tea
Serves 4–6

2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers or 6 hibiscus tea bags
1 tablespoon dried rose petals
½ cinnamon stick, crushed
2–4 tablespoons honey, to taste
1 cup pomegranate juice
12 ounces carbonated water
Fruit and mint leaves for garnish

In a heat-proof container pour the boiling water over the hibiscus, rose petals, and cinnamon stick. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine tea filter and stir in honey to taste. Mix with the pomegranate juice and chill. Serve in chilled glasses and top with carbonated water.

Single-sourced honeys can be found from all around the world, and each has its own unique flavor profile. They’re lovely to add to fizzy water with a touch of citrus or your favorite cocktail or mocktail recipe. You can substitute honey when simple syrup is called for in a recipe. Here we’ve drizzled chestnut flower honey into the glass, topped it with lemon ginger kombucha, and added a sprig of fresh thyme. You might also try acacia flower, buckwheat, or other honeys from faraway places—or better yet, from right near home.

These Clearly Kinetic Glasses by Cedric Mitchell Design in Los Angeles (the Colorful version is on the cover of this issue) can help you savor the scent of the honey. Designed to be slowly turned, the unusual glasses enhance the aroma of spirits such as cognac or whiskey, and work beautifully for small, fragrant sips of other drinks too.
/ $110 / cedricmitchelldesign.com

How to Make Your Own Syrups
Basic instructions to make a syrup: Simmer roots, fruits, or dried herbs covered with water for 5 minutes and allow to steep for 20 minutes before straining through a fine sieve. Then add the flavorful liquid to a base of simple syrup or your favorite honey or maple syrup. Experiment with the following ingredients to find your favorites.

Roots: Ginger and turmeric root syrup can be made by grating fresh ginger and turmeric roots, simmering and straining them, then adding the resulting liquid to your base. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to add to drinks.

Fruits: Summer is the season of fruits, and there are so many options to explore, such as peaches and melons. Try rhubarb and strawberries in the spring, apples and pears in the fall, and citrus in the winter. Simply simmer, then add the liquid to your base.

Herbs and spices: Turn to your spice cabinet for inspiration. Savory rosemary and thyme, uplifting mint, aromatic cardamom—even celery or fennel seed can be surprising additions to a drink syrup (and aid digestion as well). Simmer, strain, then add the liquid to your base.

Mugolio: For the forager, mugolio is a syrup made with immature pine cones that are chopped coarsely, mixed with sugar, and allowed to “ferment” for several months in a cool, dark space. Find recipes for making your own on Chef Alan Bergo’s foragerchef.com.

Glassware by Cedric Mitchell.
Glassware by Cedric Mitchell.

 

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This article was made possible with support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.

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