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The jocular Brian Patton is a YouTube cooking sensation with an impressive resume: he’s currently the Executive Chef at food delivery service Vegin’ Out, author of The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude, and if that’s not enough, he’s also releasing a second cookbook—about happy hour.
While Happy Hour at Home: Small Plates, Big Flavors, & Potent Cocktails won’t be out until June, you can and should pre-order it now—with summer on the horizon, you’ll want to get the book as soon as it’s available to begin planning your post-work festivities. With menus entitled Holy Stromboli; Be Still, My Hearts of Palm; Papadilla, Don’t Preach; and Satay-day Night Fever, you know you’re in for a good time.
Q: How did you decide to follow The Sexy Vegan Cookbook with a happy hour-themed cook book?
A: I was sitting at my computer one day and got an email from my editor at New World Library. As I remember it, she said something to the effect of, “your first book is selling really well, and we project that it will continue to sell…and we love you better than all of our other authors, and you’re the best at everything, oh, and do you have any ideas for another book?” My then-girlfriend/now-wife and I had recently started a tradition of doing a little “happy hour” on our balcony, just some tapas and adult beverages. I presented this idea to the editors and presto! Happy Hour at Home was created! Well, it was a little more work than “presto,” but that’s the gist of it.
Q: Are the small plates paired with suggested cocktails or are the food and drinks separate sections? Which is your favorite small plate and which is your favorite drink?
A: Each menu comes with “libation recommendations.” Some go great with beer, some with wine, and others get a cocktail. I have a chapter of unique cocktails that I created to accompany the menus in the book. Picking a favorite dish is tough. I make some sliders called Little Macs, which, obviously, are tiny versions of a Big Mac that are pretty killer. My favorite cocktail is definitely the tequila and tomatillo juice-based Bloody Vulcan. A Bloody Mary is made with tomato juice, so the Bloody Vulcan is made with tomatillo juice (to anyone who actually HAS a life: vulcan blood is green).
Q: Did you use any particularly interesting or unique ingredients in these recipes? Which one is most inventive?
A: Probably the most unique ingredient I use is jackfruit. It’s a sweet fruit when ripe, but when prepared from its “young” or “green” state, can take on the texture of pulled pork or shredded chicken or crab meat. I use it to make mini “crab” rolls that get served with old bay carrot fries and seasoned oyster crackers. I think the rigatoni poppers are pretty inventive. They are par-cooked rigatoni, filled with cashew ricotta, then breaded and deep fried. Also the banger and mash rolls are a fun hand-held version of the British standard.
Q: Do any of these recipes have stories attached to them? Tell us one!
The Starburst is a cocktail I invented in college. It was originally V8 Splash, 7up, and berry flavored vodka. My roommates and I made it often as a little pre-party cocktail before we had to endure a night of whatever horrible “Ice” beer was on sale that night. The only problem was we had trouble naming it. Then, late one night, I was zoned out in front of the TV watching bootlegged Pearl Jam concert videos, and decided to whip one up. I took one sip and it hit me: “Starburst! This tastes like a Starburst!” I was so excited that I had finally named our favorite cocktail that I had to wake everyone up and inform them of my revelation…fortunately they were passed out on the couch next to me with N64 controllers in their hands, so I didn’t actually have to get up. Everyone rejoiced. I updated the recipe with some more wholesome ingredients for the book.
Q: We predict that your delectable selections will inspire a few post-work parties. What are some tips for being a good vegan host or hostess?
A: First, you have to keep it simple. You don’t want to be chained to the kitchen while your friends are getting tipsy out on the patio. That’s how I designed the recipes for the book, which also contains efficiency tips to help you work faster in the kitchen. Also having a theme is a cool idea, whether it is a country, a movie, or music. It makes the night memorable, and gives you direction when coming up with a menu.
Make a show of your happy hour. Keep the windows open, so your guests can smell the aromas as they approach your abode. Let them see you in a dirty apron expertly mincing fresh herbs. And don’t finalize your dishes until they’ve settled in with their first beverage. Any operation involving large flames and/or careful, delicate garnishing would be ideal to save for the grand finale.
Q: Is your next book going to be about brunch? How else will we manage the hangovers resulting from Happy Hour at Home?
A: Ha! Yes. That would be most logical. But I always want to do something that fills a hole. With vegan brunch books already on the market, I would go in a different direction. I’ve definitely got ideas for more books, but they are double top secret.