Thailand’s superb year-round climate and rich fertile soil enable local farmers to cultivate an unbelievable rainbow of juicy exotic fruits, crisp crunchy vegetables and fresh aromatic herbs that enliven the country’s dinner tables. These colourful botanicals are nurtured in warm tropical sunshine, instilling pure freshness and vitality. They are harvested and maintain their goodness without the need for additives or preservatives. Eaten fresh, cooked, dried and juiced, these succulent ingredients bring extraordinary taste sensations that contribute to Thailand’s deserved reputation as one of the world’s cuisine capitals. Coconut, pomelo, papaya and durian, flavoured with a hint of mint, lemongrass and ginger, all washed down with guava and lychee juice. Sounds like an exciting recipe to create some gastronomic delight, but these are just a handful of the abundant natural resources utilised in the refreshing elixirs served up in our Thai cocktails.
The exceptional quality of Thai fruits has made the country one of the main global exporters, and the orchard of goodness is astounding. Considered the ‘king of fruits’, with its pervasive aroma, the golden creamy durian is another much sought-after export that is in high demand in the growing Chinese market. The durian is only outsold by the longan fruit, whose sweet translucent flesh makes it the country’s top fresh-fruit export. While most of us know and adore fruits like the tart to sweet flavoured mangoes, and the refreshing red watermelon, less familiar are the fleshy segments of the purple-skinned mangosteen, which is crowned as Thailand’s ‘queen of fruits’. In fact, some fruits are so highly regarded that special annual festivals are held in provinces that yield the finest harvests
Aside from nourishing fruits and vegetables, Thailand is a major exporter of medicinal herbs and spices, earning billions of baht annually through the promotion of botanicals such as penetrating ginger, spicy black pepper, and saccharine sweet stevia, which help fight a variety of ailments. When it comes to unique scents, who can forget their first whiff of a lemongrass burner as it banishes mosquitoes from a garden sala (pavilion), or of pandanus leaves freshening the stuffy interior of a Bangkok taxicab.
The amazing healing properties of Thai herbs are truly staggering. The bitter root, black galingale, is taken as an aphrodisiac by men and was improving vitality long before Viagra came onto the market. Meanwhile, female villagers in rural Thailand have been ingesting the magically rejuvenating kudzu root for centuries as a youth restoring potion that smoothes out wrinkles, improves eyesight, promotes hair growth and generally puts a spring back in the step. And while ‘king of bitters’ tastes exactly as its name suggests, it is known to be a potent and speedy remedy if suffering with the sniffles of a common cold. The dazzling array of Thai botanicals is an inescapable element to daily life in the kingdom.
The curative and preventative effects of the fruit, vegetables, and herbs selected for these special recipes are detailed in the ingredient descriptions. Each botanical is rich in nutrients and the potential capabilities are incredible – bringing vitalisation, building up immune defences, calming the mind, and restoring beauty and well-being. While consumption of certain fruits – especially citrus fruits like tangerines, limes and pineapples – is known to detoxify the body, other botanicals like mulberry reduce cholesterol, and Asiatic pennywort is known to stimulate memory.
While alcohol certainly isn’t the healthiest liquid to fuel the body and mind, by combining it with natural ingredients, the potential negative effects of its consumption are minimised and counter-balanced by nutritious botanical goodness. For hundreds of years, Thais have been instinctively infusing beneficial herbs and roots to white liquor to make the unique tasting medicinal yaa dawng – herbal liquor.
So, when exhausted after a hard week at the office, simply nip into the kitchen and whisk up a couple of these exceptional cocktail recipes, and see how instantly perky and in tune your whole body feels – rejuvenated, energised and ready to embrace whatever life can hurl at it!
Here are a selection of cocktail recipes:
- Roselle-infused Ballentines whiskey 40 ml
- Grand Marnier 10 ml
- Angostura bitter 4-5 drops
- Sugar cube 1
- Orange zest 1 teaspoon
- Soda water 10 ml
In an old-fashioned glass, soak the sugar cube with bitter. Add orange zest and soda, and stir. Add half the Ballentines whiskey, half fill the glass with ice and stir. Add the remaining whiskey and Grand Marnier. Top with ice, stir and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
- Vodka 30 ml
- Absolute Currant 20 ml
- Kaffir lime leaf 1-2
- Lemongrass 2 cm
- Gomme 10 ml
In a mixing glass, muddle lemongrass with gomme. Stir in the remaining ingredients and double strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass.
- Tom yum-infused vodka 30 ml
- Malibu 30 ml
- Lime ½ fruit
- Lemonade top
- Gomme 10 ml
Muddle lime in a mixing glass. Add the remaining ingredients, except lemonade, and fill with ice. Shake sharply, pour into a highball glass and top with lemonade. Garnish with red chilli.