There are rules and recipes for making all our favorite drinks. So many amazing folks out there endlessly practicing to concoct the perfect glass/cup of whatever you fancy. Balancing each one to perfection is of the moment art to be admired. The first sip can be a revelation. Now, ponder how any drink came to be. The origin stems from necessity, use of available ingredients and some level of preservation. When you think about these guidelines, all you need is in your kitchen even if you're out of "everything".
A couple years ago I was on an agua fresca kick. I was looking to infuse watermelon with a single ingredient other than mint, a little too refreshing and overdone. Initially, I was thinking acidity by adding dried hibiscus flowers, but that tanked hard with way too much astringency. Fortunately, I had chicory come in with the same order. All I did was sprinkle some on pieces of watermelon. It was bittersweet in the best possible way. Describing the flavor play wouldn't do it justice, so just try it.
So if chicory works, why not freshly ground coffee? Cold brewed watermelon coffee was born. So good!
Coffee ice cream is a favorite. Why not chicory, coconut milk & maple syrup? Vegan happens.
Often apple cider is too sweet and needs a touch of acid to make it great. A splash of apple cider vinegar does the trick. Infusing with hibiscus is way better.
If you think about tea as dried leaves with complexity, why not curry leaves in a kombucha? It adds a smoky element without fire. Thickened the fermented liquid as well. Crazy!
If your kombucha SCOBY needs sugar, why not koji, the sweet base for sake? A killer marriage of amazake & tea. Ultimately used to make a wonderful blueberry sauce to compliment a buttermilk umami ice cream.
If you like both coffee and tea, why not combine them? When there's cold brewed coffee in the fridge and garam masala hibiscus syrup around, there is really no choice. I couldn't stop drinking it.
Have you considered using the delicious flesh stuck to mango seeds as the sugar to feed your kombucha? What about infusing it with fresh elderflower you found on a walk and palm sugar that's been sitting in your pantry for a very long time. Perfect for a secondary fermentation. Gotta love natural carbonation.
Coffee or black tea dulce de leche is pretty great. Why not roasted medicinal reishi mushrooms?
Two years later we're still putting stuff on watermelon to tip the balance. No wild mint on the walk, but plenty of sassafras leaves. This definitely needs to be shared with family and friends.
Long story short, your favorite drink originated from experimentation and experience, so why not make a new one that's truly yours?
As always, please share your discoveries to keep the ideas bouncing.