up , I admit it,I’m a hippy at heart, a granola crunching, raw juicing, compost making , Joni Mitchell loving , Greenpeace member . I’m a child of the sixties, born in 67 a couple of months after the summer of love, raised to respect the land that bore me , I refused to wear shoes on it until school forced me to, shoes in my idealist head represented the “man”, even at the age of four. My fondest childhood memories are scent orientated ,sitting in our back garden breathing in the summer air, my high came from heady tomato plants or sitting under lilac and orange blossom trees after a summer shower. Just like a honey bee I can’t pass by a hedgerow without smelling roses or resist springs first offerings lilly of the valley, hyacinths, bluebells or daffodils,or the Cali phenomenon Night flowering Jasmine which completely intoxicates me , beckoning me like some siren to crash onto the rocks,or in my case the 405, one whiff and am transported to the English country garden in my memory and as Thomas Hardy would say “far from the madding crowd” .
There are other properties that flowers hold too, for eons used for their healing powers, if the scent is not enough to chill you out then consider using their essence suspended in alcohol, yes you knew I would eventually get there, if not in a delicious libation then a la Dr.Bach with his flower remedies, used by many a modern Homeopath to quiet the mind. The Victorian age produced a whole dictionary of flower meanings and symbolism, violets the most often used flowers in scenes symbolizing faithfulness and daisies for innocence.
In Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines both rose and orange flowers are distilled into hydrosols ( a water based solution made by distilling an essence) and used mostly in sweets such as turkish delight or baklava, but also to mask the flavor of high mineral content in drinking water and to purify the hands before tea drinking in Morocco. I carry a spritzer of orange flower water with me to mist on hot days, its reviving and soothing all at the same time. The last few years has seen a resurgence in flowers being used for the making of cordials, the most popular is elderflowers used for St.Germain or Mr.Cooper’s other offering Creme Yvette made from violets. Hibiscus flowers a common ingredient in Latin cuisine, that makes a tart and refreshing agua fresca. Or try Wood sorrel leaves , they look like clover but taste like a grassy citrus, great for making sours.
Like Alice in the garden of live flowers I could easily get lost and wander off intoxicated by scents and stories and never get to the point of this issue, instead am cutting the stem short and presenting you with an edited bouquet of libatious delights perfect for that violet time between day and night, the cocktail hour.
One of the most time consuming classic drinks to make is the Ramos Fizz, it involves copious amounts of shaking to get an almost milk shaky consistency, it consists of gin, cream, egg whites and citrus. Created by Henry C. Ramos in 1888, in his bar in New Orleans, it was originally called a “New Orleans Fizz.” Back before prohibition this drink was very popular, and because labour rates were so cheap, the Ramos brothers would hire a couple dozen “shaker boys” to whip up these drinks . It became so popular that it was difficult for them to keep up with the orders. Over time the idea of a quality drink was replaced by a fast drink and the Ramos Gin Fizz slowly faded away. To me orange flower water is a marriage made in heaven when paired with pistachios, a classic Middle eastern pairing for wedding cookies as well as Baklava. Below is my variation on the fizz using this inspiration plus a slightly Moorish take on a summery sangria-esque highball that also employs the scent of orange blossoms.
2 oz gin ( Ford’s would be my preference but Beefeater is good too)
1 oz egg white
1 1/2 oz pistachio milk ( recipe below in basics)
3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz simple syrup (1:1) ratio
bar spoon of orange flower water
3 drops of vanilla extract
soda water to top off and pistachio nut for grating as garnish
this may not be the classic and correct way of constructing this drink but its the way it works for me to get a good amount of body.
Add all ingredients except for the cream, soda and garnish to your Boston shaker, give a good dry shake without ice for about 20 seconds to get the egg white nice and lively, add your cream and a wee bit of cracked ice, too much will dilute the drink and deflate the egg, you want a 2-3 small pieces to chill the drink enough and then give a good whip shake for about a minute more if you want to thicken the cream more, the idea is that you are whipping air into both the cream and egg white. Strain into your vessel of choice, I am currently obsessed with these 8oz mini milk bottles, add your splash of soda water and grate pistachio on top using a microplane or zester.
2 1/2 oz light fruity red wine
1/2 oz luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 oz booze of your choice gin ,vodka,brandy or omit for a less boozie version
1 oz cocchi americano
1/2 oz agave syrup
3/4 lemon juice
barspoon of orange flower water
a couple of turns of ground pink peppercorn
fruit to muddle, such as oranges, kumquats, blueberries, strawbs, ( later in year figs and pomegranite)
dry ginger beer to top off (Fevertree my current flame) and orange slice, peppercorn garnish
Toss everything together in your shaker, add a couple of cubes of ice and whip shake to blend everything well without diluting too much. Strain into a tall ice filled vessel and top with the dry ginger beer and garnish
This should be my nickname, having a tendency to go off on several tangents and then forgetting what my point was like one of your batty aunts, one of my favorite rose scented bevvies comes from Jamie Boudreau, he created the inspirational Rosewater Ricky, a combo of gin, flamed cherries and rosewater amongst other things. However a recent inspiration of mine came from a fellow called Max, one of our prep cooks at work who came up with a refreshing non-boozie lemonade using an unexpected ingredient, you can make it with or without the sauce. This drink also works well as a pitcher
1 1/2 oz pea & mint syrup ( yup peas) recipe below in basics
4-5 fresh mint leaves ( stems are bitter)
2 oz of vodka, gin or aquavit
1 oz lemon
1 oz Dolin blanc vermouth
bar spoon rosewater
4 or 5 slices of lemongrass
Muddle mint and lemongrass with pea syrup and lemon juice, add rest of your ingredients and give a good shake with cracked ice for about 30 seconds in your Boston shaker. Double strain into an ice filled glass using your coco and hawthorn strainers , double straining makes sure you get no bits of mint,pea or lemongrass. Top with a splash of something bubbly , soda , ginger beer or prosecco. Top with mint sprig garnish.
My second rose scented offering also incorporates the very british garden grown ingredient rhubarb, its delicious vegetal subtle pinkness is simply divine darling when paired with a wee bit of rose water, the syrup can be used for a refreshing soda or amazing drizzled on goats milk yogurt or ice cream. The drink is pretty much a version of a boozy pink lemonade, nothing too complicated allowing the ingredients to shine through,I dusted it with little beet powder that adds extra earthy drama.
Inspired by the rose scented delicacy Turkish delight, for a bit of fun I made jello shot jellys to accompany both this drink and the following one, the recipe I adapted from the NY Time’s article written by the wonderfully smart Toby Cecchini.
2 oz gin or vodka
1 1/2 oz rhubarb syrup ( recipe below in basics)
3/4 oz lemon juice
1 oz egg white
1/2 oz cocchi americano
bar spoon of rosewater
toss everything together in your trusty shaker and dry shake without ice for a good 15 seconds or so, add a small amount of ice and whip shake for another 30 seconds, you want the shaker nicely chilled but your contents not too diluted and bruised. Strain into a coupe or small glass , top with some of the remaining egg white foam, garnish with a skewer of berries or if you got adventurous additionally with a rhubarb jelly and a sprinkle of dehydrated beet powder.
The Bramble is more of a new classic, invented somewhere in the 80′s ( nineteen not eighteen), by a fellow Brit bartender, its a cobbler in style, using plump ripe blackberries to fruitify some London dry, my additions here were minimal, a touch of the gentle lady rose water and a couple of crushed rosehips, oh and a splash of strawberry lambic to finish off the English brambled garden theme.
2 oz gin
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz creme Yvette, creme de mure or cassis
barspoon of rosewater
4-5 plump ripe blackberries
2 crushed rosehips ( local herbal store should stock)
splash of Timmermans strawberry lambic ale to top off and lemon twist
In your glass or jelly jar add your berries, rosehips, syrup and lemon juice, give it all a good muddling, top with ice, add gin and rosewater and stir for about 20 seconds, top with the lambic ale, lemon twist and a skewered blackberry.
Barefoot in the Grass
This drink is an ode to my good friend Paddy, who takes all of my gorgeous shots here, recently he told me he’s quite fond of whiskey sours, I came up with this drink a version of a classic Boston whiskey sour for St.Patrick’s day and used Irish whiskey, the elderflower based liqueur St.germain and at the suggestion of one our fantastic chefs, foraged wood sorrel , which happens to look like a little lucky charm with its clover shaped self. You can also use sorrel leaves, I find them at the Farmer’s market and from time to time at WF’s.The lemony sourness of sisters sorrel and wood sorrel once wazzed in the blender with some cold water can be used as the sour element of your drink instead of citrus juice and add a fragrant grassy note to your drinks.
1 1/2 oz Irish whiskey
1 oz wood sorrel juice
3/4 oz St.Germain
1/4 oz fresh yuzu juice ( sub lemon if you cant find, I get at a Japanese market)
1/4 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio sugar to water)
3/4 Floc de Gascogne ( a vin d’aperitif, use Lillet blanc in a pinch)
1 oz egg white
Dry shake your ingredients together for about 15 seconds, add wee bit of ice and shake again for further 30 seconds, again the trick is not to over shake and kill the flavors but get the drink chilled and nicely frisky.
strain into a coupe or sour glass and top with a sprig of something herbal, I had fennel handy.
12 stalks of rhubarb ( or thereabouts) washed and chopped into half inch width bits
2 cups of organic cane sugar ( not brown sugar, the molasses will kill the flavor)
1 cup of cold water
1 large metal bowl
1 large pot that the bowl will sit on without touching the bottom of the pan
throw rhubarb, water and sugar into the bowl, cover with a couple of layers of plastic wrap, in meantime fill large pan about half way full of water and set onto high heat. Once the water starts to simmer place the plastic wrapped bowl onto pan and turn down heat to medium, the steam from the hot water will start to cook the rhubarb and make it release its juices. Leave it for about an hour and a half until the rhubarb has gotten soft but not totally broken down, if you leave it too long the syrup will be less consomme like, which is what you’re after and more muddy, the taste won’t be much different but the look will. Once ready take the bowl off the pan and using a second bowl and a chinoise strainer, strain off the liquid, don’t push the solids through but agitate it enough that all the precious liquid drains out. When you have most of the liquid separated set it aside to cool, the solids left from the rhubarb you can use for pie filling, compote , jam or ice cream topping.
Pea & mint syrup
1 bag of frozen peas
a generous handful of fresh mint leaves only, no stems
a cup of simple syrup ( 1:1 ratio sugar to hot water, cool before using)
in a blender add your ingredients and wazz on high for about 30 seconds
strain through a chinoise strainer adding a touch of water if needed to thin out.
add to lemon juice and soda water for a refreshing lemonade.
2 cups of rough chopped sorrel leaves
1 cup cold water ( warm will blanch it and make the leaves yellow)
add both to your blender and wazz on high for about 15 seconds, strain and store the liquid in an airtight container, this oxides quite fast so use within a day.
2 cups raw shelled pistachios
2 cups warm water
2 cups distilled water
in a mason jar add your pistachio nuts and warm water, allow to sit for about an house so the nuts soften, strain out liquid then add nuts and distilled water to a blender, blitz nuts for about 30 seconds and throw everything back into a clean lidded jar, allow to sit for about 4-5 hours, shake the jar every so often to agitate. Strain out liquid, double strain if needed, this is your nut milk, store in the fridge for a couple of days at max.
1 packet knox unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup of rhubarb syrup warmed through on stove
1/4 cup of cocchi americano
1/4 oz rose water
add the gelatin powder to the warm syrup, stir to dissolve powder, add the cocchi and rosewater and stir again, transfer to an airtight flat bottomed container and tsore in fridge for 3-4 hours till set. Carve up how you so choose if they get as far as a drink well done, mine got gobbled up pretty fast.
Next up….Thai one on