Before the fall wine

The Vinter by David Teniers the younger

Cheers little dude

Back in the early 1600’s it proved to be rather popular to move to a city, a trend that continues to this day. It was around this time that people really stopped having such a strong link with the seasons. They were less connected with the countryside that fed them. Up until this point, many would refer to the Autumn simply as, “harvest time”. What did urban dwellers care about harvest time? They didn’t pick fruit or plough fields and instead would whizz about the 17th century in hackney carriages and horse-drawn coaches. They needed a new word and so started using the phrase, “fall of the leaf”. They still had access to trees and so this made sense to them. The word Autumn from the Latin Autumnus, the god of changes, also started to curry favour and one took hold in the States and the latter here in England.

We tend to stay in a little more and perhaps drink a little more during these months. Hibernating and taking stock of the year that has almost passed whilst contemplating the year ahead. For the foraging drink maker it may start to feel that there is less around, but you can always make something.

This year I have been experimenting by using just what I can hold of and have come up with the recipe below. You can freeform a little if using, consider each ingredient as a suggestion rather than a hard a fast part of a whole. The main thing really is to get some kind of diversity in there and to keep adding the sugar until everything becomes balanced. Don’t fret too much about the wine either, I’ve even used wine that has been corked and the rest of the flavour mask it’s imperfection. But do consider using a bold fruity wine such as Malbec or Shiraz, elderberry or blackberry.

The fig leaf idea comes from the guys at the White Lyon bar in Hoxton, London – well from Ally who works there and Abi, the brand ambassador for the Botanist Gin who introduced me to their delights. Fig leaves, it would seem, give up the flavour of figs – remarkable!

Before the Fall wine – The recipe

Think mulled wine when making this, but it is more than that; the walnut adds some depth and a backbone the spices add another layer of complexity, the hogweed comes in at the end with some spice and the fig leaves are well, just rather nice! This becoming a firm Autumn favourite.

Thanks to the old tree in Brighton for the photo

Don’t overheat!

2 bottles of fruity red wine
1 tablespoon hogweed seeds (ensure they are not hemlock or giant hogweed seeds)
One root of herb bennet/clove root – washed and grated.
1 walnut leaf (careful not to use black walnut leaves and do ensure you are using a leaf that is still all green).
4-8 fig leaves depending on size
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
50ml rosehip cordial
50ml brandy or cognac – I used Remy’s 1738 Royal Accord, but you can go cheaper.
about 250g/1 cup brown sugar – more if needed.


Pour the wine into a large saucepan and start to heat. The trick is not to whack the heat on full, don’t even simmer – just getting it so it starts to be warm. The more you heat it the more alcohol you’ll loose and you don’t want that.

Once as warm as a cup of tea that you still might just drink start adding the ingredients one by one, adding the sugar last. I taste as I go along. Some flavours will be given up immediately, other will take a while. Keep stirring.

When it comes to adding the sugar add half and see if you like it as is. If not add the other half. If it is still rather astringent then add more, a tablespoon at a time and keep adding until you like the flavour.

Can be served warm or cold.

Wild cocktails – Bristol Wheelbarrow

Paul Fishman and a Bristol wheelbarrow

Paul Fishman and a Bristol wheelbarrow

The blueprint for many wild cocktails comes from the tried and tested cocktails served up by countless bars across our little planet. Take a Negroni, Daiquiri, Manhattan or Tom Collins; each are highly evocative cocktails for me and I can, with ease, picture where I was and who I was with and what the night was like when I first tasted each of them.  The foraged ingredients that I use for my wild bar, I can remember where I was when I picked each ingredient, I can remember if it was a ball ache or idyllic. In the case of gorse flowers, for instance, it is always a ball ache. The picking of the ingredients for the Bristol Wheelbarrow were both idyllic and a bit of a ball ache as when picking the haw blossom it belted it down and the lime blossoms were picked on a clear blue day in July.

Wild cocktails create a marriage between these two worlds, 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 and 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 contains many ingredients you might find surrounding an English garden or park.

The Bristol wheelbarrow gets it’s 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.

Hawblossom Brandy

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.


The best tip for perfect sloe gin, elderflower liqueur & other infused drinks

thanks john forage london for the photo

Hands off my botanicals

There is one simple mistake that everyone makes when they first get into making infused drinks like elderflower liqueur and sloe gin. I have to admit that for many years I made the same mistake too. It’s an obvious one when you sit back and give it some thought and that mistake is to use cheap vodka or cheap gin.

The subtle flavours and tastes of whatever botanical you choose to infuse can be lost if with the harsh aromas and flavour compounds of the methanol in cheap spirits. Enough sometimes to totally wipe out any subtle flavours. An example is bramble/blackberry flower liqueur. I made some last year, a tiny amount as there was far too much fiddly picking involved. Fiddly picking that was in vain. There was a taste there, a good one, but it didn’t really come through enough.

Luckily you really don’t have to spend a huge fortune on luxury vodka or gin in order to make great drinks. Indeed, unless you are looking for something that goes particularly well with juniper or some of the other botanicals in gin, I wouldn’t bother to infuse anything with it. Instead, you can filter your booze before making the infusion and rid yourself of most of the harsh flavours. In the case of the bramble vodka the flavour, is exquisite. Something unlike blackberry vodka, sweet, perfumed and lightly complex. It’s almost like an expensive brandy or cognac.

Use a filter

Use a filter, any water filter will do, I use a brita one and have used the same one for a year without any need to change the filter but perhaps I should! Or, for the bushcrafty amongst you, of which I know I have at least one reader, (yes it is you), you can make your own filter using a lump of wood as I have in the video below. Whichever way you use, make sure you filter your spirit at least 6 times, if not 8 and also remember never to use the filter the next morning to filter that first cup of water to quench a hungover thirst. I speak from nasty experience.

What this process does is take out the strong-tasting methanol alcohol and leave you with just ethanol. This also has the added bonus of giving you a far less serve hangover the following morning. There is some sound science behind this, but ironically, I am a little too hungover to wrap my head around the concept. This lot will give you a much better idea of the science of a hangover.


Gin Safari & Wild booze Events in Bristol & Bath 2016

Gin safari, Wild Booze walks and Family soda & Sweet adventures!

Book your Gin Safari. Dates will be announced soon for your Family Soda and Sweet Adventures and the original wild booze walks here! All courses are held in Bristol or Bath unless otherwise stated.

Andy Hamilton, wild man, wild Bristol

Andy Hamilton, wild man, wild Bristol

Before booking please check the cancellation information at the bottom.

Gin Safari – Bristol, Bristol, Saturday 23rd April 1pm – SOLD OUT

Meet Outside the Create Centre Bristol, Tickets cost £30

Gin Safari

(Click to pay)

Over a two-hour stroll I’ll introduce you to a host of new plants and flavours. Giving both anecdotes and tips on how to make your own exquisite drinks and cocktails (gin based and beyond). We’ll drink three gin based cocktails and sample a few shots from my experimental booze cabinet. You’ll return back to our starting point with a fuzzy head full of boozy plant knowledge and hopefully with some new friends too. There will also be a gin based surprise!

Gin Safari – Bath, Sunday 24th April 1pm – Booking ended

We will Meet at the Independent Spirit of Bath and head along the canal. Tickets cost £30

The perfectly picturesque city of Bath again plays host to a Gin Safari amongst its Georgian Splendor. On this walk we may even run into Gin Austin herself. We’ll also find what plants can go in gin (and other drinks), we’ll drink three gin based cocktails and sample a few shots from my experimental booze cabinet. You’ll return back to our starting point with a fuzzy head full of boozy plant knowledge and perhaps even one Jane Austin historical fact, (that may or may not be made up). There will also be a gin based surprise!

Family wild Sweets & Soda Pop Adventures – 2016

Dates announced soon (Summer 2016)

Wild Booze walks 2016

Dates to be announced soon.

Want me to come to you or for your group? Prices Start at £300 for a Gin Safari or Wild Booze walk. Prices are cheaper the closer you are to Bristol. Fill out the form below to see when I’m free.

Cancellation Conditions – The only certainty in life is that it is uncertain and of course despite the best will in the world you may need to cancel. In order to cancel your place please give me at least 2 weeks notice so I can fill the place again. You can pass your place onto a friend or even an enemy if you wish. On one occasion (in the last 10 years) I have had to cancel a walk due to extreme weather conditions.  I also reserve the right to cancel the walk myself and will give a full refund if this is the case. Walks may also be led by other foragers with almost as much charm and knowledge as myself. 

Gift Certificate Conditions

As above.

Wild Blackberry Wine

Many older foraging books, and my childhood memories of the 1980’s, insist that blackberries are an autumnal fruit rarely seen before the end of August. These days if you wait until autumn to pick blackberries you will be disappointed. The changing climate now means an early August harvest.

Wild blackberry wine

Blackberry wine photography Roy Hunt

For most, the blackberry is the first (and often only) food that will be foraged. It is my hope that it will become as popular to ferment as it is to turn into a crumble, as Blackberry wine is one of the best homemade wines.

Blackberry wine has a robust, fruity flavour and bouquet, while slipping down a little too easily. And start one now and it will be more than ready for Christmas.

Brambles can be found on wasteground, parks, and in hedges. Picking the fruit is not without its hazards, and the thorns make plastic bags a no-go – one snag of your bag and a day’s pickings are lost to the hedgerow. Indeed, it is the thorns that give blackberries one of their country names, “lawyers”; once they trap you in it is very difficult to get loose.

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries

Andy Hamilton picking blackberries taken by Roy Hunt

Blackberries (or brambles) tend to take over wasteground if left unchecked. They can also be found on the edges of parks, in wooded thickets, by railway lines and cycle paths, at field edges and as undergrowth in forests.

2kg blackberries
Half cup of strong black tea
1.5kg sugar
4 litres water
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp pectolase
Red wine yeast
1 tsp yeast nutrient

To extract more juice from the fruit it helps if you keep the berries in the freezer overnight, then allow them to thaw before using. Ensure they are clean and place into a fermentation bin. Crush with your clean hands or a sterilized stainless steel/plastic potato masher. Pour over 1 litre of boiling water and the sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the further 2.5 litres of cold water then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover, and leave to stand in a warm place for 3 days.

Strain into a demijohn and attach the air lock. Rack after a month and allow to ferment out. Enjoy your blackberry wine with a blue cheesecake.

The Wild Martini

The Wild Martini

The wild Martini

A tin cup is better than no glass in the wild

From its origins sometime in the 18th century the Martini has endured and evolved. It’s a sophisticated cocktail that gets an upgrade every few years. From the Dry Martini in the roaring 1920’s, to James Bonds Vesper Martini in the 1950’s, to the Espresso Martini that seems to be the drink of choice amongst many drinkers here in Bristol. Perhaps right now it is time to add to that list the Wild Martini, a drink that infuses the outdoors into this classic drink.

The Wild Martini is unlike many other cocktails as it can change with the seasons as Each of its botanicals comes in and out of season. It can also change depending on where you live and what wild plants are available. The below ingredients are meant as a suggestion as you should really put your mark on the wild Martini, I’ll refrain from saying “go wild”.

For the gin

Gin is basically a flavoured vodka it’s just that one of the flavourings has to be juniper but other than that one essential botanical you can put anything you like in. These are suggestions and pretty much what I have in season within a few steps from my back door.

1 x 750ml bottle of cheap Vodka filtered 8 times.
30ml of Juniper tincture (infuse 20 juniper berries overnight in 100ml vodka).
1 tbs Wild Rose petals
1 tbs Elderflowers
3 springs of Ground Ivy (ale hoof/ Glechoma hederacea)
1 tsp of Geum urbanum root (herb bennet/wood avens/clove root)
2 tbs of fennel leaves or 1/4 tbs of seeds
1 handful of spruce tips

Pour your juniper tincture into your vodka.

Place the remaining botanicals into the mason jar. Top up with the juniper vodka and leave for a further 36 hours. Alternatively you can rapidly infuse all the ingredients using a Nitrous oxide infuser/cream whipper.

Filter your gin back into the vodka bottle.

For the vermouth

1x bottle of white wine – a cheap Pinot Grigio works or if you want to be even more wild a bottle of homemade country wine. I’m a fan of dandelion or rosehip, courgette hasn’t worked quite so well in the past.
10ml Wormwood infusion – without which it wouldn’t be a vermouth

9 x other infused wild herbs and botanicals. Take your pick, mix and match and experiment. I tend to use small kilner jars filled with herbs and then topped up with vodka. Seal and put into a dark cupboard. As for how long you let everything infuse. 3 days for flowers, 2-3 weeks for herbs and up to three months for nuts. Some final vermouth recipes will be available in my book Wild Booze and hedgerow cocktails. I’ll also custom make you your own bottle if you pledge.

The trick really is to load up a few bitter flavours and some aromatics. Just ensure that you are not imbibing anything poisonous.

200ml Caramel syrup

Pour the above in a large jug and stir until fully mixed

Andy Hamilton Cocktail glass


For the Wild Martini

There is no greater debate in cocktail circles than the best ratio for a Martini, I’m going to put my next out and suggest that you should make it just how you like and stuff everyone else. Personally, I like to have 3-4 parts vermouth to 1 part gin. However, most will say this should be the other way around.

It should be served in a chilled cocktails glass (also mistakenly called a Martini glass), with three pitted olives on a cocktail stick. It should be stirred and not shaken, although there has been some research to suggest that, despite making the cocktails cloudy, shaking will release more antioxidants! I guess this means a shaken Wild Martini is almost a super food.


Andy’s wild booze walks – Bristol and Bath

Andy’s Wild Booze walks – New dates and venues added

Andy hamilton on the iplayer

As seen on Radio 4 Food Program (Click to listen)

When you take a sip of a Martini you could be imbibing hundreds of wild plants as both vermouth and gin can be made from any number of plants. Some of these plants can be fairly exotic, others may be growing in your back garden and it is very possible to make your own wild infusions that will taste every bit as amazing as your favourite gin or vermouth.

On my wild booze walks I take a group of people out and introduce them to the plants that grow at our feet. Plants that all have a secret history. It’s also a bloody good laugh going out with a group of people and having a drink outdoors.

Twice this year I’ve had to add new dates to my wild booze walks due to demand and below are dates that still have spaces available. I’ve decided too to travel further afield this year and take my booze walks to new place. Ok, just Bath right now but watch this space for dates to be added in other UK venues around the country (well perhaps one nearish to Manchester). If you would like me to come to you then please do let me know by filling in the form at the bottom of this page.

Andy’s Wild booze walk Bristol

Andy Hamilton clifton bridge squareWhat could be better than a stroll along aside the gentle flow of the river Avon. Along through the beautiful Avon gorge and under Brunel’s masterful suspension bridge. With a group of like-minded people for company and a best selling booze author pointing out some of the wonderful plants that can be turned into great drinks? Well doing all that with a drink in your hand of course!
WEDNESDAY 22nd JULY 2015, 2.30pm. Currently taking booking for Andy’s wild book walks through Eventsbrite

Andy’s Wild booze walk Bath

A stroll along aside the gentle flow of Kennet and Avon canal as narrow boats chug past and the hazy autumn sun sets across this world heritage city.
FRIDAY 2nd October 2015, 5.00pm Currently taking booking for Andy’s wild book walks through Eventsbrite

Praise for Andy’s wild booze walk in Bath

Along the Kennet and avon canal

Along the Kennet and Avon canal

“I recently organised a stag night and having listened to Andy on radio 4 thought a booze walk would be a good idea. Andy took eight of us along the canal in bath, educated us on the intricacies of making booze from the hedgerows and the history of artisan drinks. Peppered with anecdotes, facts and fable Andy’s engaging and relaxed approached fitted well with the banter of the rest of the group. Andy’s samples of wild booze along the way eased us in to a night of excess. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and highly recommended to small groups interested in making and sampling some of the stranger drinks in life”.  Alasdair Dawson

Praise for Andy’s Bristol Walk

“A delightfully green and pleasant, yet truly educational, walk, a few minutes from the city  centre, punctuated with varied and delicious, mostly alcoholic, refreshment, provided and indeed created by our most congenial host.  A charming group of people who somehow became ever more affable as the walk went on!” Roger Greenhalgh

Private bookings

Currently taking booking for private walks, including less raucous Stag and Hen dos, small weddings, birthday’s ect. Date’s available in 2016 and a handful of weekday dates are available in 2015. Please use the form below to contact me.


Wild booze and Hedgerow cocktails – The Bitter May Queen Cocktail

Hedgerow cocktails

Photo – by my mate Roy Hunt

Over the last year or so my attentions have been rather more focused on creating infusions and cocktails. Thus, I decided to start work on a book WILD BOOZE & Hedgerow Cocktails.

It’s a book that you can help create and really be part of as it is being crowd funded.  Rather than just ask for money I’m offering a whole bunch of rewards. These rewards include having a cocktail named after you or a loved one, a collectable cloth-bound edition of Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails, a personalised wild booze walk for you and a bunch of mates and many more.

For more details then do please have a look just here. Everyone who helps this book will have their name proudly printed in the back of the book and of course my gratitude.

To give you a taster here is a recipe from the book. For a bigger synopsis, some more recipes and a video of me explaining more about the book please visit

The Bitter May Queen

English garden cocktail

Photo by my mate Roy Hunt

When people first drink a Negroni they are often unsure, it takes a glass or two before you fall in love. The same is often true about beer, olives and many other bitter flavours. The Bitter May Queen is much like that too, you may not be sure of the bitterness and you may even outright hate The Bitter May Queen on the first go but, if you persevere you will be rewarded. Oh how you will be rewarded! The first sip is intensely bitter thanks to the Campari and cocktail bitters, but these bitter flavours mean that the  delicate Turkish delight taste of the haw blossom brandy and the rich chocolate liqueur will linger for longer than they would just on their own.


1 part Haw blossom brandy
1 part Campari
1 part Chocolate liquor
Orange or chocolate bitters


Build in a glass over ice and stir. Lovers of orange should add four drops of Orange bitters and this will help to enhance the orange in the Campari whilst chocolate lovers should opt for four drops of chocolate bitters.

Recipes for both the Orange and Chocolate bitters will be found in Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails in a chapter dedicated to making cocktail bitters.

What were we drinking in 1935 and 1915

What were we drinking 1935 and 1915?

Continuing the countdown to the magna carta was signed I’m looking at 800 years of boozing. So What were we drinking in 1935 and 1915?

1935 The Bellini

Drunkenness of Noah bellini

Pissed up Noah by Bellini

When in 1931 Giuseppe Cipriani was given 50,000 lire ($25,000) for a drink he soon put it to good use and opened Harry’s Bar in Venice. The money was a thank you gift from Harry Pikering, a wealthy Bostonian, whom Giuseppe had loaned 10,000 lire to two years previously. Hence, Harry’s bar a place that was to be frequented by the likes of Hemmingway, Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Wells and my girlfriend.

It was here, at Harry’s bar, during a long drinking session with Harry Pikering that peach puree and Prosecco was first drunk. Of course if ever you drink a Bellini you’ll be struck just how much the colour looks like the pink/orange colours favoured by the renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini. Indeed, I think that Giuseppe was having a sly dig at the church with this drink as there is a painting called the drunkenness of Noah where a passed out Noah is barely wearing a Bellini coloured toga.

The Bellini

2 ripe peaches


Puree the peaches until smooth, best done in a blender if you have one. Spoon your mixture to fill a third of a champagne flute and top up with Prosecco.


If you were a German living in 1935 you may have been drinking Jagermeister as during this year if was first marketed to the German people. As with many digestives Jagermeister was initially invented as a health drink. It’s inventor Wilhlem Mast. Wilhelm reported that it helped digestion and could be used to treat coughs and colds. Some of it’s known herbal ingredients, such as ginger and chamomile do indeed aid digestion and the liquorice will help sort out a sore throat. Which means that next time you are downing Jager bombs at 4am wearing nothing but a sock you can be rest assured that you are being kind to your body.

1915 – French 75 Cocktail invented

It being wartime in Europe the French 75 cocktail has a wartime link, it is said it has such a kick it is like being shot by a French 75mm machine gun. Talking of big guns, two of the big guns in the cocktail world differ their opinion on the base spirit of a French 75. David Embury who wrote the seminal Fine art of Mixing drinks states Congac whilst the highly respected Savoy Cocktail book state gin. Both work in my opinion, so – Vive la différence.


1 part Lemon Juice
1 part Simple syrup
2 parts Gin or Congac
6 Parts Champagne
Lemon twist

Pour the Lemon Juice, simple Syrup and gin into an ice filled shaker, shake vigorously. Strain into a champagne flute and top up with Champagne. Garnish with a twist of Lemon.

Little or no booze in the UK

1915 was a crap year for booze jockeys, Russia had prohibited Vodka, Absinthe was banned in France and well-known kill joy and then prime minister David Lloyd George was waging war on booze in Britain.

DLG and co

David Lloyd George and his mates not talking as there isn’t any booze to get the conversation going

Prime minister David (it’s in the name you see), really was the Beeching of the pub, it was him that really started the rot of the boozer and not the smoking ban. Dave continued with a series of bitter blows to aimed at the pub and drinkers. Not content with sending off the men who drank in the pubs to their certain death he curtailed drinking hours, instead of pubs being allowed to open from 5am to Midnight they were only allowed to open for a maximum of 6 hours a day.

He continued his onslaught of fun, giving a speech in March 1915 stating, “We are fighting Germany, Austria and drink; and as far as I can see, the greatest of these deadly foes is drink”. On a propaganda war of his own he even convinced the King to give up the booze. It was a sad state of affairs pubs closing at 9pm in many places and people getting arrested for public drunkenness.

Prime minister party pooper David continued throughout the war and raised the tax on spirits, then in 1916 he made it illegal to buy your round. You were not even allowed to lend someone some money to get a beer in, run up a slate or pull a beer that was even a smidgen over a pint. If you did you’d be fined £100 (about £10,000/$15,000 in today’s money) and 6 months hard labour.

Perhaps Britain did have a drinking problem at the time which needed to be addressed. But the problems had more to do with condemning a generation to live with the horrors of war.

Elderflower Liquor and The Elderflower Tom Collins

Elderflowers are generally in bloom when the warmer weather decides to stay. Their delicate scent drifting in the gentle spring morning breeze and lightly perfuming the air. I wonder if this is why we go so made for anything to do with this the most perfect of our native trees?

The Elderflower Tom Collins

Elderflower Tom Collins

Elderflower Tom Collins

Although the Elderflower Tom Collins is nothing new I can see it becoming very popular this summer as it marries an element of the homemade with the wild.

I drank a few Elderflower Tom Collins’ last night and whilst sipping on them during a dark January night, I felt transported back to the Spring morning I spent picking. That is the beauty of foraged cocktails, they are sunshine in a glass.

despite having a few of them I can report the hangover is too rotten either!


60ml Cotswold dry Gin*
20 ml Elderflower Liquor (see below)
30ml Lemon Juice
5ml Sugar syrup
Top up with Soda water.

Extras – Wedge of Lemon, Ice


Put the Gin, Elderflower, Lemon Juice, Sugar Syrup and ice into a Boston shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a high ball glass over ice and top up with soda water.

* Or any dry gin

How to make Elderflower Liquor the traditional way

For me the gold standard of Elderflower vodka is Chase. To emulate it I’d suggest using fresh elderflowers picked in the morning. Do not wash your elderflower as this will wash off the pollen. Instead leave on newspaper to allow the insects to move house on their own terms.

Pull off the blooms with a fork leaving as much of the bitter green stems behind. Around 4 tablespoons of flowers into 500ml (1 pint) of Vodka  is perfect, if your elderflowers are not that strong or you are in love with elderflowers beyond belief then increase this.

Stir and place in mason jar and leave for 3 weeks.

Add a 50/50 sugar syrup to taste. Chase is rather gloopy and sweet so add around 50ml-100ml sugar syrup per 500ml of elderflower vodka.

To make the syrup simply boil 500ml (1pint) of water and add 500g sugar. Stir repeatedly until it has dissolved. Allow to cool before using.

Keep refrigerated and use in about two weeks (the sugar syrup that is, the vodka last forever).

How to make Rapidly infused elderflower liquor

In this recipe my preference is for Agave syrup as I find it fairly neutral, this extenuating the elderflowers. Some prefer honey, although if using I’d suggest favoring more delicately flavoured honey.

500ml Vodka
2 tablespoons of Dried Elderflower (twice as many if using fresh)
2 Tablespoons of Agave syrup/honey/sugar syrup
2 x Nitrous Oxide canister

Place the vodka, elderflower and Agave syrup/honey into your infuser and charge with one of the canisters. Wait for 1 minute before charging the next one and shaking your infuser/whipper for 1 minute.

Release the gas and strain the contents. Drink neat or use in the above Elderflower Tom Collins!