Episode 161: Erin Petrey
Jun 02, 2021, Updated Jun 11, 2021
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Erin Petrey, mixologist, cocktail coach, and longtime cocktail and culture writer for www.bourbonbanter.com, started the pandemic sharing how-to videos on Instagram to teach how to make delicious cocktails at home.
She started with the Old Fashioned, a classic, bourbon-based cocktail that is often made incorrectly. Viewers loved her content and Erin kept pumping out videos. Fast forward to today where she has taught over 3,000 people worldwide, including Fortune 100 companies, law firms, universities, associations and more!
Not only does Erin have a background in International Relations and Anthropology, a passport stamped 36 times, which makes her passionate about the culture and history behind every cocktail, she’s equally as driven about making healthy drinks and creating zero waste when it comes to making them.
Everytime Erin learns a new cocktail, she makes sure she learns the history behind it so when she’s teaching, she can pass on that knowledge, including the history behind the name, the spirits, the ingredients, and the techniques. For example, bourbon is a uniquely American spirit because in the 18th century, people were given land grants in early colonial America (now Kentucky). They were given title to the land if they raised 40 acres of corn, which meant an abundance of corn liquor! From there, bourbon as a majority corn liquor caught on.
So what does being a cocktail coach entail? In every class, Erin walks students through every step of the process. Not only can you learn how to make a new cocktail, but you can learn new skills, techniques and how to master your own home bar. Erin strives to educate consumers to be more creative thinkers when it comes to creating their own cocktails. A great way to do this – and reduce waste – is to look in your fridge and say “what can I incorporate into a drink that maybe I don’t normally incorporate?”
More often than not, that’s a fruit or a vegetable!
Did you know that the origin of wine and beer goes all the way back to the Neolithic era? That’s when crops became domesticated and there became a surplus of crops. Extra fruits and vegetables would sit out and attract wild yeast strains, which eat sugar and then excrete alcohol.
Erin also teaches on how to moderate calories and sugar with the alcoholic cocktails you’re drinking. One of her key concepts is teaching how to lengthen a cocktail, which means adding volume. You can do this by adding soda water (like San Pellegrino or Topo Chico). A typically high-calorie, high-sugar cocktail – like a Mojito or Margarita – can be lengthened with soda water so you feel satisfied and get the flavor without all the sugar. Erin’s Margarita uses rich simple syrup, which she makes herself, fresh lime juice and tequila – that’s it! Simple, clean and delicious. She also teaches a “choose-your-own-adventure margarita” that adds all sorts of flavor combinations, like one with fresh watermelon muddled with fresh basil (can be alcohol-free)!
Haven’t made simple syrup before? It’s called simple for a reason! It includes one part sugar to one part water. You can also make a thicker version – called rich simple syrup – by doubling the amount of sugar (two parts sugar to one part water). Something else you can make at home are your own infusions by boiling one cup of water with one or two cups of sugar, adding fresh produce or fresh spices, such as cloves, cinnamon, raspberry, even fennel or bell peppers, letting it simmer for a few minutes and then steeping for 30 minutes after. Infusions are a great, fresh way to add flavor to cocktails, or even iced tea, iced coffee or soda water.
Want to stay away from sugar altogether? Erin says don’t be afraid to make simple syrup out of monk fruit extract, Swerve, Stevia or your other favorite sugar alternative. Plus, if you’re using fresh produce in your cocktails, the added flavor enhancement it brings means you don’t have to rely on needing to sweeten your cocktail too much.
“Drink curious: always try new things. Don’t just drink something because people say you’re supposed to drink it or because of the brand. Keep questioning things, trying new things, and new combinations. You might not like everything you try, but you’ll be glad that you did.” – Erin Petrey (35:31-35:50)
Don’t think having plenty of cocktails means you have to give up your healthy lifestyle. Erin has plenty of ideas on how to incorporate alcohol and cocktails as a part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Keep your drinks healthier by adding fresh berries, fresh citrus and other fresh produce instead of buying pre-mixed mixers which are filled with added preservatives and sugar. Use your ‘ugly’ produce, produce that’s going bad, scraps or peels you were going to throw out to make cocktails, infusions, syrups, ice cubes and garnishes that will reduce waste and give you a delicious treat!
How to get involved
- Join The Produce Moms Group on Facebook and continue the discussion every week!
- Reach out to us – we’d love to hear more about where you are in life and business! Find out more here.
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- Episode 158: Alyson McIntyre-Reiger, Indiana FCCLA State Advisor and President LEAD FCS Education And Dr. Carol Werhan, Clinical Associate Professor At Purdue University and ACTE Vice President of the FCS Division
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