When you are starting with your own wild cocktails it is useful to use the the tried and tested cocktails served up by countless bars across our little planet as a blueprint. Take a Negroni, Daiquiri, Manhattan or Tom Collins; each can be twisted ever so slightly to be given a wild make over. A little chamomile in the syrup of the Tom Collins to make a chamomile Tom Collins, some kelp in the bourbon for seaweed manhattan or straight up swapping the sweet vermouth in a negroni for creme de cassis.
Wild cocktails create a marriage between the cocktail bar and the outdoors. The often isolated world of foraging for ingredients, scratching your fingers with every other handful of gorse flowers or blissfully finding an abundant patch of berries next to a river as a heady sun starts to set is joined with the sociable, jovial world of sharing cocktails with friends. It is this marriage that excites me, this creating of new flavours of new memories and experiences and then sharing them with the outside world.
This weekend I’ll be taking a hen party out across a park in Bristol and I’ll be feeding them a bunch of wild cocktails. Each one will have a story, each one will have been forged in a place somewhere between my imagination and experiences. Often I keep these cocktails secret so as to create unique experiences for everyone who I serve cocktails to but the one below I liked so much I have decided that it needs to go free amongst the world (but don’t forget to credit me world) and I hope that you too can find something magical at the bottom of a glass and, moreover, in the company of great friends.
The Bristol Wheelbarrow
Loosely based on one of my good friend’s Paul Fishman’s favourite cocktails, the Sidecar. Indeed, mention cocktails to Paul and he’ll always bang on about how great the sidecar is, ignoring most other cocktails. I’m sure I mirror him when I bang on about the Negroni.
The Bristol wheelbarrow is named as it was made in the city I currently live in, Bristol and it also contains many ingredients that you might find in a wheelbarrow. Ingredients that grow across English parks and gardens (and in parks and gardens across the world). It does work without the fizz (soda), but I much prefer it as a long drink. As, just like Paul in the photo, you can sit and enjoy it for a bit longer. I also think that there is something about bubbles and the sun that just go well together. Perhaps, it’s the distant memory of a childhood when fizzy pop was the only drink I really wanted or perhaps I just like what they do to my nose.
1 part triple sec (pref Cointreau)
1 part haw blossom brandy (or try rose petal)
1 part rhubarb vodka
1 part Lime blossom syrup
3 parts soda water
Garnish with a lemon.
Stir all the ingredients apart from the soda water over ice. Strain and serve in a highball glass. Top up with soda water as required and garnish with a lemon circle.
On my first ever wild booze walk a mild-mannered bloke and his highly amusing and far from mild-mannered friend joined me. One of them drank everything that his was given with much gusto, whilst the other seemed to be taking notes. Mr Mild Mannered turned out to be Nick Moyle, one half of the Two Thirsty Gardeners and he was busy researching his book, Brew it yourself. He shared with me the delights of Haw blossom brandy, a drink I’d hitherto never come across before. As soon as I got home I made a batch and it was exactly as Nick had described, it tasted of Turkish delight upfront with a warming, brandy aftertaste. It is every bit as delicious as it sounds.
1 litre of haw blooms and leaves
1 litre brandy
Sugar to taste.
Fill a Kilner jar with haw blossoms and leaves about equal amounts of each, but don’t worry too much. Top up with brandy and leave to infuse for three days. Strain and then stir in sugar to taste.