Ashley Craft is living the life. The Disney life that is. Craft, who grew up in Anaheim just 15 minutes from Disneyland, was so close to the park that she fell asleep listening to the fireworks at night and knew the park layout so well she didn’t need a map.
“We’d always get passes and we’d go about once or twice a week so that was my life,” says Craft, author of The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book: From LeFou’s Brew to the Jedi Mind Trick, 100+ Magical Disney-Inspired Drinks, the follow up to her first cookbook, The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook, both released by Adams Media, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
But all things Disney didn’t end when she grew up. During college Craft interned at Disney World in Florida two separate times including a stint as a concierge.
She was hooked.
“I couldn’t get Disney out of my life and so I started blogging about Disney just to have it in my life,” says Craft, who now lives in Kansas City far away from Disneyland and Disney World with her husband a radiology physicist and three children as well as a cat and a dog.
But even impediments as living in Kansas City doesn’t stop her deep dive into all things Disney. For those who don’t know, there are numerous Disney focused blogs and Craft not only has her own, http://www.ashleycrafted, but also follows many others as well as makes frequent trips to keep up with the world of Disney parks.
All Things Disney
“I try to keep a pulse on the parks and be in tune with what’s going on today,” she says, noting she is working on other books. “I go to the parks, usually with a rough outline of foods that I am looking for. I don’t want people to be reading about stuff they heard a while ago but what they saw on Instagram yesterday.”
All her recipes are her own creation, developed after tasting the drinks in the park and then trying to replicate them at home through lots of trial and error.
“Everything in the book is from my own kitchen and my own mind, these are not recipes from Disney,” she says, noting that none of the recipes in her book were sanctioned by Disney. This truly is an “unofficial” book.
“I’m not culinary trained” says Craft. “I’m just a home cook with a lot of practice and I’m trying to get as close as I can to the taste of the food, the look of the food as well as keep within a budget and being sure that people can make it with ease. Those are my four pillars of developing these recipes. If I realize that a dirnk has some complicated ingredient or uses some complicated machinery, I don’t try to recreate it. It’s more important to me that people can make it, that’s how my cookbooks evolved.”
Creating the Cookbook
Her book contains 130 recipes culled from divided into libation categories including Coffees and Teas where you’ll find out how to make Frozen Cappuccino from Joffrey’s and Teddy’s Tea from Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar: Fruity Drinks and Slushies such as the Goofy Glacier from Goofy’s Candy Company. There are also Mocktails and Cocktails including the Sparkling No-Jito from the Tambu Lounge and Dessert Drinks such as Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake from 50’s Prime Time Café and the Dole Whip Float from Aloha Isle.
The only one drawback for Craft when it comes to creating recipes for alcohol-based drinks is that she doesn’t consume alcohol. But like her recipe development, it’s all about taste and honesty to what she’s trying to accomplish and that is drinks that help capture the magic of visiting the parks, even for those who can’t be there.
Craft has advice for those first using her book.
“If you’ve been to Disney before, start with a drink you have had there and then branch out,” she says.
As for her own life, she couldn’t be happier. The original run for her first book was 5000.
“They bumped it up to 20,000, and sold out the first day,” she says, noting that she was shocked by those sales numbers. “Now it’s sold about quarter a million of copies. I’m literally living my dream life, I’m so lucky. I eat Disney, drink Disney, go there often for research.”
The following recipes are reproduced courtesy of The Unofficial Disney Parks Drink Recipe Book by Ashley Craft.
Jedi Mind Trick
Oga’s Cantina, Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios
“The grapefruity drink was named after the mystical protectors and practitioners of the Force, whose one great desire was to balance the powers of the galaxy,” writes Craft in her introduction to this recipe.
To Make Jedi Mind Trick:
- 2 ounces grapefruit-rose vodka
- 1 1⁄2 ounces Falernum (see recipe below)
- 1 ounce white grape juice
- 1⁄2 ounce blue curacao
- 1⁄4 ounce lime juice
- 1⁄8 teaspoon grapefruit bitters
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Seal and shake, then strain over crushed ice in a large martini glass.
To Make Falernum:
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 Tablespoons whole cloves
- 2 Tablespoons ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 4 Tablespoons lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
In a small saucepan over medium heat, toast cinnamon stick, cloves, and allspice until aromatic, about 5 minutes. Place in a blender and blend until ground.
In same saucepan over medium-high heat, combine blended spices, nutmeg, lime juice, ginger, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat, strain into a small sealable container, discarding solids, and allow to cool about 1 hour. Once cooled, squeeze through a cheesecloth into a separate medium sealable container.
Add almond extract to mixture. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.
Leaping Horse Libations, Disney’s BoardWalk Villas
“The combination of raspberry and pineapple in this smoothie is a delightful surprise,” writes Craft. “Both are known for their tartness, and blending them together with coconut flavors creates a super-refreshing beverage. Imagine you are sitting next to the incredible Disney’s BoardWalk Inn roller coaster water slide while sipping this drink.”
- 1⁄2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 ounces nonalcoholic pina colada mix
- 2 ounces pineapple juice
- 3 cups crushed ice
- 2 pineapple wedges
Mash raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture just begins to boil, remove from heat. Strain into a small sealable container, discarding solids, and chill 1 hour.
In a blender, combine pina colada mix, pineapple juice, and ice. Blend until slushy. Split between two 16-ounce drinking glasses or plastic cups. Divide raspberry puree evenly between glasses, pouring on top of the pina colada slush. Gently blend with a spoon, while keeping visible swirls, and serve garnished with pineapple wedges.
Dole Whip Float
Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom
“The debate rages on: Dole Whip cup, or Dole Whip Float?” asks Craft. “The only difference is the addition of liquid pineapple juice to the float. Some find this refreshing and an added bonus on a hot day. Others think the juice makes the Dole Whip too sweet, too acidic, or too watered down. Give both a try and see which camp you are going to pitch your tent in.”
For Dole Whip
- 1 cup water
- 1.5 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups chilled pineapple juice
- 1 Tablespoon lime juice
To make Dole Whip: In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine water and sugar. Microwave 1 minute, stir, then microwave 1 more minute and stir to create a syrup. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours up to overnight.
Pour pineapple juice into a medium bowl and add 1⁄2 cup chilled syrup. Refrigerate remaining syrup up to 2 weeks. Add lime juice and stir. Pour into an ice cream machine. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and run about 20 minutes or until creamy.
Scoop mixture into a medium sealable container and chill in freezer about 30 minutes or until slightly firm.
To make Float: Pour pineapple juice into a float glass and top with piped Dole Whip. Serve immediately.