Meet Julia Bainbridge. She’s the author of Good Drinks, one of our go-to books for non-alcoholic recipes - and a fellow verjus lover. She’s also one of Food & Wine’s 25 first-annual Game Changers for her "pivotal voice in normalizing not drinking alcohol." We caught up to chat more about our shared obsession with verjus, what makes a good non-alcoholic drink, and to get her recipe for a verjus spritz.
When did you first come across verjus?
In culinary school, in 2006. I think it was an Alsatian instructor who liked to use it to finish dishes sometimes, or for a salad dressing.
What do you love about it as an ingredient?
The soft acidity of white verjus; there's just something elegant and grown-up about the flavor. This is not your Welch's grape juice!
What’s the biggest misconception when it comes to verjus?
I'm not sure there is one—because so many people have never heard of it! There's not enough room yet for misconceptions to be made, I think.
What makes a good N/A drink in general? Do you have “rules” you like to follow?
Well, what makes a good drink, in general? We could talk about the balance of sweet and salty and bring in some discussion of technique, but the bottom line is that a good drink makes us slow down and appreciate it. A good drink has balance, yes, but it's also inspired. It makes you feel cared for.
And what's good also depends on your particular craving and mood and the setting, right? That's why I broke down the book in the way that I did, splitting it into times of day. This addresses something obvious but rarely talked about: The reasons you reach for an n/a drink are just as diverse as the reasons you reach for an alcoholic drink, and should be given the same attention. Sometimes you drink to relax, to connect, to let loose, to toast the end of the day.
What are you sipping right now?
The dry, subtly funky, and even a little bitter aperitivo-appropriate “Napoli” Vignette from Figment in Athens, Georgia.
We’re excited to share this Verjus Spritz recipe from Good Drinks. You can’t really go wrong with the classic pairing of verjus, bubbles, and citrus. We like that this drink uses both soda and tonic, so you still get the slight bitter taste you expect from a spritz.
Makes one 6-oz serving.
Combine the verjus, soda water, and tonic water in a wine or spritz glass filled with ice. Garnish with the lemon twist.
Reprinted with permission from Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography copyright: © 2020 Alex Lau.