Winemaker Amy LaBelle can now add published author to her resume. She released With a Twist: Classic Cocktails Reimagined, her first of five cookbooks, in December. As the title suggests, the recipes in this cocktail cookbook have the LaBelle Winery “twist.”
“The wine is taking center stage as a cocktail ingredient, which is very unique,” LaBelle said.
Her series of five cookbooks, called The Winemaker’s Kitchen, will be released over the course of a seven-year period, LaBelle said. The series follows the course of a dinner party, with a different cookbook for each course. LaBelle starts her series just as she would start her own dinner party — with cocktails.
“The bottom line for me is I love making wine. I love playing with flavors, developing wines to be interesting and unique … but that love of the flavors of wine for me really stems from a love of good food,” LaBelle said. “I’ve been working on all of the recipes using LaBelle Winery wine since I began the winery eight years ago.”
LaBelle hopes that the second book in the series, Amuse Bouche (which means “an amusement of your mouth”), will be out by next summer. The cookbook will feature starters, and LaBelle is currently working on recipe development.
“It feels great to be able to write these recipes. I literally use these in my everyday life all the time,” she said.
The first book in the series includes photos and recipes for each cocktail as well as tips and tricks, like how to make a vanilla simple syrup. It also features background on how the cocktails were developed. The cocktail cookbook is divided into five sections: classic cocktails and cocktails for each of the four seasons.
“The development of a cocktail recipe sometimes goes hand in hand with a development of a wine,” LaBelle said.
LaBelle said that she came up with her recipe for a cranberry cosmopolitan using cranberry wine even before she made a cranberry wine. Other drinks are re-imagined using wines, like her Gentleman’s Martini — a play on an old-fashioned highball. For the wine cocktail twist, she replaces the bourbon with seyval blanc, which gives the drink lemony notes.
“A highball itself has great flavors, but they’re a little heavy and they’re a little much,” LaBelle said. “It takes all those flavors and brings them up a level of freshness.”
All the classic cocktails are on the menu at LaBelle Winery, and the seasonal cocktails can be found in their corresponding time of year.
The Maple Season is LaBelle’s favorite cocktail of the spring seasonals. It’s made with maple syrup, Granite State apple wine (which is also made with maple syrup) and salted caramel vodka.
“I love it because it really features that great New Hampshire tradition of maple-making, and I love maple syrup,” she said.
Other cocktails include a mint basil mojito made with a riesling, a “Jack-O-Lantern” made with apple wine, pumpkin puree and cream, and a blueberry pie cocktail made with blueberry wine, butterscotch and chocolate vodka served in a martini glass rimmed with caramel and graham cracker crust.
“You can see the trend here. It’s all about playing with great flavors,” LaBelle said.
As seen in the April 17, 2014 issue of the Hippo.