SUMMER FORAGING: SUNDOWNER SESSIONS, NATURALLY CRAFTED
The art of foraging isn’t just a stomp in the woods to find nettles for tea, or mushrooms and wild garlic to add to dinner plates. It’s a treasure hunt, an exploration of nature and the gifts it gives freely to those who look close enough. As a species we’ve foraging for hundreds of thousands of years, so you might expect that it should come quite naturally to us.
We’ve come a little undone from our instincts, so if you’re looking for a way to elevate your home cocktail experience and add a unique flair to garnishes and syrups, foraging may help you find your roots.
The simplest way to incorporate foraging into your cocktails is through syrups, garnishes, shrubs and teas. These can create beautiful and subtle flavours, which when paired with soda and your spirit of choice make a delicate spritz unique to you and your discoveries. However, with great foraging comes great responsibility and to keep safe and sustainable, remember these tips:
- Always ensure you can positively identify what you are picking by undertaking plenty of research
- Seek permission from the landowner before foraging
- Only forage from areas plentiful in supply to allow regrowth and enough for the wildlife
- Be sure not to damage habitats
- Never pick a protected species or cause permanent damage
At this time of year, we have a few favourites to go searching for…
If you live around the coast you might be lucky enough to find rock samphire, our star botanical, nestled along the tideline of rocky beaches. A cousin of the carrot, rock samphire gives our gin a savoury note, but also the signature hint of sea air which is all thanks to the lapping tide which leaves a salty trace on its leaves. Create a sea breeze by using it fresh as a Mermaid and Tonic garnish, or go all out and steam it for a perfect seafood accompaniment – it’s high in vitamin C, so a great addition to a meal.
What to look for:
- Found on rocky cliff edges, you’ll need to be near sea!
- The leaves look similar to antlers, which point toward the sky
- It can flower – these are very small and yellow or green in colour, and they are also edible
These delicate bright white flowers bloom in late Spring, adorning wild bushes everywhere and welcoming in the summer sunshine. As another botanical in our gin, Elderflower plays an important role in enhancing the aroma of the spirit which is why we love using it as a cocktail ingredient. To make your own elderflower syrup, combine 500g of sugar, 500g of water, the juice of two lemons and the flowers from 10 heads into a saucepan. Gently heat together for 20 minutes without letting it boil. During this time the sugar will melt and the flowers will infuse into the mixture leaving you with a sweet and fragrant syrup. Allow to cool and filter out the flowers before decanting into a clean vessel.
What to look for:
- Flowers that are a pale yellow and spray out from the stalk. Avoid those that are slightly brown in colour
- The leaves are usually found in groups of 5 with a rough or serated edge
- A gentle floral smell, sometimes described as buttery or summery
- Growing in bushes, not from the ground.
Although not strong in scent or flavour, Mallow flowers are a bright beautiful purple hue, perfect for adding some colour to your cocktail garnishes. All parts of the mallow plant are edible, and its fruit (strangely named ‘cheeses’) has a nutty taste and is perfect to nibble on if you work up an appetite during your search.
What to look for:
- The flowers range from lilac, through pink to white, with 5 petals
- Its leaves are almost circular in shape, with a wavy edge and delicate hairs
- Found often in lawns and gardens, the plant ranges from 10-60cm tall
Good luck on your search and we hope your efforts are fruitful. Share your foraged wonders with us on Instagram using #mermaidsightings, as we’d love to see where nature takes you!