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.

 

Make your own evocative Mediterranean tonic water

The Alps

The Alps great spot of foraging

There are places that you visit that can vividly paint themselves into your consciousness; weaving into daily life as a semi-subconscious backdrop to the daily mundanity of life. These special places, you have only experienced for a moment and yet you can always visit them, always imagine yourself back in their loving embrace. Be it the moment you dipped your toes into a most welcome rock pool after your feet were burnt on the sand from a distant tropical beach. Or, in my case, the moment I walked along a mountain path high up in the Alps, a gentle breeze carrying the distant tin bell ringing from a herd of alpine goats. Just me and my Emma on top of the world. The smells of thyme, lavender and rosemary entering the air with each step as we walked.

This most evocative of moments is one that plays on a loop in the back of my mind, not so much my, “happy place”, as my reminder that to have moments like these and, be able to appreciate them, means that I am a very rich man. What’s more, I realised that I could sit back and drink this moment. I could capture the essence in a glass and let my mind revisit it, it was that moment when the recipe for this Mediteraianin tonic water was born. Coupled with some homemade foraged gin, you can combine all the moments that make life a rich one.

The original tonic recipe that I used can be found here in something I wrote for the Guardian a while back. Once I’d made it a few times it was time to tweak it to something I enjoyed further, Mediterranean tonic water! When creating a new recipe it is good to sit back and work out what flavours work together well. This is the same for cooking as it is for drinks making. Much of the time groups will work well, warming spices live cloves, nutmeg and allspice for example or in this case, rosemary, lavender and thyme as they are all Mediterranean herbs. But most of all, I go by instinct, I let my nose and my taste buds be my guide. I hope that you can too, a touch of experimentation and a few tweaks and you could be back on your favourite beach or high on a mountain path once more!

How to make Mediterranean tonic water

The video is one for how to make your own tonic water, it will give you the idea of how it’s done. Use the recipe below it as a guide and when adding herbs and spices use similar measurements. The only essential ingredient is the cinchona bark, the rest can be chopped and change to match your memory.

900ml water
350g sugar
Zest and juice of 2 limes
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
25g Cinchona bark (Don’t use powdered)
28g citric acid
2 sticks of lemongrass
1 sprig Rosemary
3 sprigs Thyme
2 sprigs Lavender (with flowers)
2-4 cardamom pods
10 allspice berries
 
Soda water

Plus:

Accurate small scales
Large saucepan
Wooden spoon
Funnel
Small sieve
Muslin/cheesecloth
A bottle or two

Put all the ingredients except the soda water into your pan and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. Stir to ensure the sugar has fully dissolved.

Allow to cool, then strain the syrup into bottles. It will keep in the fridge for about a month. If you want it to keep a little longer then you could add around 50ml vodka. Although, do try and remember your tonic syrup is alcoholic when working out how pissed (drunk) you want your friends to be or not to be!

When using, dilute at around 4:1 with soda water to make fizzy tonic water.

You can freeze your tonic as ice cubes and use in gin and soda water, making a gin and tonic that slowly becomes more tonic-y, and therefore more refreshing, as it warms. The cubes won’t fully freeze unless using a deep freeze freezer, they will be a little slushy.

Now your can make your own Mediterranean tonic water, I look forward to trying your New York Tonic water, or your Brockwell Park tonic, Willard Lake tonic water, Paris tonic water, ect…

How to make wild spiced mulled apple juice

Wood Avens

Wood avens aka clove root, herb bennet  or Geum urbanum L

Of all the seasons Autumn is the one that evokes more feelings of nostalgia than any other. A whiff of bonfire smoke or the smell of windfall apples fermenting at our feet can evoke long forgotten memories.  The traditional festivals of this season across the planet reflect this as many will involve the dead in some form or other. From day of the dead to all hallow’s eve (Halloween).

It’s the time when the mercury can start to drop and the nights draw in. A time when we are in need of something warming and comforting. A time when we forget drinks with ice and start to warm everything up. A time to start mulling everything and a time when your priority should be to curl up, mulled apple juice in hand, in front of a fire with a good book. 

Mulled apple juice

Andy Hamilton and Tom Heap

Andy Hamilton and Tom Heap about to go foraging

This will work equally well with wine, (hard) cider or dark ales such as porters and stouts.

However, this non alcoholic version can be enjoyed at any time of the day and with all of the family.

The spices involved can be found in many gardens, parks or common ground right across the Northern Hemisphere.

Equipment

small saucepan
wooden spoon

Ingredients

1L/2 pints apple juice
Two cloves roots/wood avens roots (washed)
4-5 juniper berries
1 sprig of spruce tips or small handful pine needles
pinch of hogweed seed
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

Put all the ingredients into your saucepan and heat until it is gently simmering. Stir and keep simmering for about ten minutes. Taste a spoon full and ensure that you are happy with your flavour, remember you can always add more or less of something if you are not.

Serve your mulled apple juice in china tea cups and don’t forget the trick to good mulling is to simmer and not to boil.

Elderflower Sherbet Lemon & Elderflower Syrup

Elderflower Sherbet lemon drink and elderflower syrup

elderflower

elderflower

This year thus far has been a year of travel and I can safely say that I have seen elderflower in bloom from Scotland to Brighton. Such a delightful sight from the train window as shocks of white flash across our hedgerows. A few years ago I remember walking around the alps and finding elderflower growing across the mountain paths, there was something about the smell of the elder perfume and the fresh mountain air that made picking an ethereal business. Far better than picking elder that smells of cat pee from a supermarket car park in the rain!

For years I’ve made elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne but this year I’ve been experimenting a little with many of my older drinks in the days before we could just inject drinks with Co2 people would use a reaction with bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda, sodium bicarbonate) and an acid to make fizz. This is exactly what this recipe does. I advise drinking it fairly quickly to keep the fizz!

First you need to make elderflower syrup.

Elderflower Syrup

200g sugar (double if making for coffee)
210ml water
1 tablespoon of dried elderflowers or 2 tablespoons of fresh
1 tablespoon of vodka

Pick your elderflowers first thing in the morning. Remove from the stem and ensure that you don’t have any green bits, just flowers.

Heat the water in a saucepan over a medium high heat and be careful not to boil. Stir in the sugar until you can’t feel a crunch on the bottom of the saucepan. Take off the heat, add your elderflowers and stir. Allow to cool, add your vodka and decant into a glass bottle.

Elderflower sherbet lemon

The lemons that I used for this recipe were hand picked by my 2 year old son from his Aunty Susan’s house in Portugal. There is a huge difference in flavour and the amount of juice that you get from her lemons than you would from a supermarket lemon. It isn’t always possible to get Aunty Susan’s lemons so I try to source some good organic ones, ones that are big, fat and full of flavour. Not the tiny waxed things that pass for lemons in most supermarkets. You’ll pay a lot more, but it is worth it. Here in Bristol good independent grocers like Earthbound, Gaines and Dig in are great places to get lemons.

There are a number of cocktails that go really well with this recipe, think gin! You’ll be able to find many of them in my crowd sourced book – Wild booze and hedgerow cocktails.

2 parts rich elderflower syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 part freshly squeezed Lemon juice (juice from half a big lemon)
4 parts water to top up, less to make a richer drink
Ice and lemon wedge

Add the elderflower syrup and lemon juice to a tall Collins glass or half pint glass. Top up with water and stir in the bicarbonate of soda. You may want to do this over a sink as it has a habit of fizzing right up and over the glass. Drop in the ice and add a slice of lemon and sip in the sun or if you live in Glasgow, sit looking at a picture of the sun.

 

Mid Summer in Glasgow

Mid Summer in Glasgow

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.

 

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!

Ingredients

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

Method

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!

What is the Nitrous Oxide/C02 infuser?

The No2 infuser

The No2 infuser

What is the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser?

Just a month ago I got a new bit of kit, a Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) infuser. It uses both Co2 and Nitrous Oxide canisters and it makes infusions in minutes rather than days or even months. Imagine, sloe gin in 300 seconds!  It has been a bit of godsend considering I’m currently experimenting with wild cocktails. Not to mention the fact that it ensures a ready supply of tasty booze for my wild booze walks.

I was first alerted to the infuser by fellow forager and taste explorer Mark Williams.  Mark, like myself is also making wild booze cocktails and so needs a ready supply of infused booze. The infuser itself came from Creamsupplies.co.uk and for the sake of transparency I have to admit that I didn’t pay for it. I’d also like to add that I don’t make any money from any that they sell.

What is the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser?

The infuser is a stainless steel airtight container capable of withstanding high pressures. The top screws on and then a chamber screws into the top. The chamber is capable of housing and administering Carbon dioxide or Nitrous oxide canisters into the contianer.

How does the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser infuse?

You put your fruit or herb inside the container, then pour in whatever liquid you want to infuse. Next you screw on the top, creating a sealed environment. Then you screw in the gas canister releasing the gas inside chamber.

When the gas is fired into the chamber it creates pressure. This forces whatever liquid you have put in it into the herbs, spices or fruit that are inside the chamber. When the gas is released the liquid rushes out, infused with whatever flavour it has picked up. If using CO2 this means you will also have a carbonated drink, but if using Nitrous Oxide you won’t but you will have flavoured it.

Does it work?

I’ve found some mixed results. It does infuse flavour, but sometimes these are weaker than others. I didn’t find it to handle granulated sugar very well, leaving much of the sugar undissolved. There is a get around, and I’ve started using agave syrup or making a sugar solution. It wasn’t great with thicker skinned fruits like apples or plums. Again a work around was needed and putting the fruit in the freezer overnight, then thawing really helped. This is exactly how I make sloe gin infusions anyway so there was no real difference there.

The Nitrous Oxide works on herbs very well, just two sage leaves in one litre of water gave a rather pronounced taste. Wine infusions were great using this method too and you could really taste the herbs.

Having poked around to see what others were doing I thought I’d have a go at making cocktails bitters using the infuser. They sort of worked, but I think the barks and roots didn’t take as well at they could and the medley of bitterness you are after just wasn’t there. Again, it’s obvious why, the harder the outside of the thing you are infusing the harder it will be to release the aromatics.

Conclusion

I certainly enjoy using this bit of kit and I think it will come into its own next year as there will be more flowers and herbs to play with than in the depths of winter. The CO2 infusions are fun and it’s a great way to make quick fizzy drinks from herbs and edible flowers. The Nitrous Oxide infusions are certainly quick and they often have a slight sweet taste from the nitrous oxide. They might not be quite as strong as the age old method of pouring booze over a herb/fruit in a jar and waiting but they are a close enough approximation. I’m sure, given time, that there will be work arounds. Just like any new tool you need to get to know how to use it and that is exactly what I intend to do. Watch this space!

Over to you

Have you been making infusions with one of these? If so then please do post your results, especially if they are contradictory to mine!

How to identify Sloes to make sloe gin etc

How to identify Sloes

How to identify sloes

Botanical drawing can be one way of how to identify sloes

Before you can make your sloe gin, sloe wine or sloe anything then really you have to to know how to identify Sloes.

There was a point when I didn’t know how to identify sloes. In fact I remember picking a bunch of Ivy berrries instead. It was before the days of Youtube and so who know’s how I learned anything! I only wish there had been a friendly forager like myself to hand.

In the UK, across some of Northern Europe and as I descover in this youtube clip even down to South West France (near the Dordogne) you will find the Sloe. There are more rare in the States but they do grow. They were one of the plants used to mark boundries after the enclosures act and so you’ll often find them on the edges of fields or to mark other land borders. In France they were in abundance, often on the outskirts of what looked like dissused and overgrown farmland.

The sloe grows on the blackthorn bush. These are easily identifiable due to their inch long black thorns. They are a wild form of plum and so expect the bush to look like a miniture plum tree. They will have slightly serated leaves. But don’t be fooled, sometimes the thorns are hard to find. Also, to confuse matters further you might find something bigger than a sloe, a bullace or a damson. Cut it open and look for a pip that looks like a plum. Follow this up with an image search.

Expect to find blossom in the spring and the fruit from around July/August onwards, green at first then turning black. They can hang around on the bush right up to the blossom comes out.

You could also nip down to your local botanical garden. In fact this is what I do when I really want to nail what a plant looks like. Most major cities will have one, some are as part of parks and some of the bigger ones are gardens in their own right. Kew gardens is one of the best examples in my opinion and if you haven’t been, you should get yourself down there and have a wander. It helps to know the latin name in the case of the Sloe this is Prunus spinosa.

When to pick sloes?

As soon as they are black. Wack them in the freezer then stick them in your gin!

 Still don’t know how to identify sloes?

Please feel free to comment below if you still don’t know how to identify a sloe berry and I’ll see if I can help.

Wild Festival cocktails

Roberto Bava - making a martini

Roberto Bava, the Vermouth God – Fixing a Martini

As I write midsummer has just passed and that means one thing, we are right in the middle of festival season, wild festival cocktail season! Dolly might have wowed the crowds at Glastonbury and for some that signals the end of festival season. Don’t be that person, there are still many more festival weekends to go.

And if like myself, you are slowly becoming an old fart then you might just want to sit at home drinking your wild festival cocktails pretending that you are at a festival*. Wherever you might be drinking, here are a few ideas for drinking to enjoy under canvas. * I lie slightly here as I will be performing at Camp Bestival in August. Well, if I get round to signing the contract they have sent.

Wild festival cocktail 1 – Spruced up Gin and Tonics

A gin and tonic is a perfect drink to sip whilst the sun sets. This time of year it is very easy to add something a little extra to really spruce them up…. (Pardon the dad joke).

When finding spruce tips make sure you know your trees and are not picking from the poisonous yew tree.

For the spruce tip syrup

500ml water
500ml sugar
A pint glass full of spruce tips
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method
Mix the sugar and water and heat, stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved. You won’t need to bring it up to the boil. Combine the spruce tips with this sugar solution along with the lemon juice and leave to steep overnight.

In the morning strain into a bottle through a clean pair of tights, before serving just a few teaspoons of the resulting spruce syrup to your Gin and tonic.

Wild festival cocktail 2- The bloodiest Mary

I don’t want to be one to advocate drinking the morning after. In a strange macabre sense I believe that the hangover should be you punishment that you have to endure. Which is why I always admire those who take their hair of the dog seriously. It really should bite you! My bloodiest Mary certainly delivers on that front. It’s made in two stages, first you have to make a bit of bastard vodka, a two to three day process. Followed by the drink itself.

Andy Hamilton with a drink

Cheers from Andy Hamilton

Ingredients for bastard vodka
10-15 Scotch bonnet chillies
Half a horseradish root chopped into chunks Vodka

Method
Wash and thinly slice the chillies and cut the horseradish into chip sized chunks and put them into a jar. Top up with vodka and leave for at least 2 days, up to 10 if you have the patience. Then decant back into the vodka bottle.

For the Bloody Mary

60ml bastard vodka
Juice of half a lemon
6-8 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce (optional as it will be pretty hot already)
150ml Tomato juice Seasoning

Method If you have ice put that into a tall glass. Pour in the vodka with lemon juice and add all the other ingredients bar the salt and pepper. Season to taste.

Wild festival cocktail 3 – Andy’s perfect sloe gin cocktail

left over Sloe and damsonsOk, so you have waited since the autumn and you can’t bear it any longer, you simply have to use the sloe gin even though you are supposed to wait another 6 months. It’s probally best you do it some justice, here is my perfect sloe gin cocktail. Remember too, a few dashes of vanilla essence to your sloe gin and it will give the illusion that its a bit older, it’s a great cheat!

Ingredients

1 part Cocci Americano
1 part Oude Jenever
1 part Sloe Gin
3 parts Ginger Beer
A twist of orange peel (de pithed)

Method

Rub a cocktail glass with the orange peel. Pour the vermouth, oude Jenever and sloe gin over ice in a cocktail shaker and stir rapidly for half a minute. Top up with the ginger beer.

Wild festival cocktail 4 (ok not quite a cocktail) – Thyme to save the wine

I hate seeing bottles of wine go to waste but sometimes the wine has turned or its just far too bloody awful to consider drinking (unless you are 5 drinks in and there is nothing else left). This is when you have to reach for the herbs.  Although most herbs can be infused in wine my favourites include rosemary, thyme or mint.

Ingredients

1 bottle (or half a bottle) of White wine
a few springs of rosemary, thyme or mint zest of a lemon

Method

Poke all the ingredients into the bottle and leave overnight. Strain and serve.

Cleavers Juice – A recipe from Booze for Free

Not every recipe in Booze for Free is for booze, there are a number of soft drinks there too and here is one of them Cleavers Juice. I thought I might even add a little video just show how easy it is to make the stuff.


Cleavers can be found growing in areas where the soil has been disturbed. Often on the edges of paths in public places, woodland edges, fields and on allotments. They love full sun or partial shade so won’t be found in areas where cover is dense. Cleavers will grow to a height of about 1.5m/5ft often sprawling at the base of trees and smothering the other plants.

Cleavers Juice 1

cleaversThis recipe is more of a cleavers infusion and requires the smallest amount of effort for a great spring tonic.
Ingredients
A good two handfuls of cleavers
1 litre of water

Equipment

Large jug
Muslin/cheese cloth

Method

Put the cleavers into a jug and pour over the cold water. Leave overnight to infuse, giving the cleaver a little squeeze whenever you walk past them.

Strain through a muslin cloth/cheese cloth into bottles and store in the fridge. It is ready to drink immediately and will stay fresh for a week. Take three of four wine glasses full a day.

Cleavers Juice 2

For a stronger spring tonic try this recipe. It can be used by the health conscious in place of grass drinks as a lymph cleanser. It is certainly an acquired taste and can be mixed with other juices to give a more appealing flavour.

Ingredients
A good two handfuls of cleavers
1 litre of water
Equipment

Blender
Muslin/cheese cloth

Method
Using the freshest, greenest parts of the plant chop up and put in blender. Add the water and blend until the water and cleavers are cut into very small pieces. Strain and serve immediately for maximum benefit. It can be refrigerated and used throughout the day but you may need to shake before use as it will separate.