Foraging seems be to still rather ‘on trend’. In truth it’s something we used to do when I was a kid. We’d hop in the car to head up to visit my nan, and at some point grab buckets and tubs, and head out across fields, and hedgerows. Blackberries, elder, cob nuts – whatever could be gathered for free by grownup or child, would be picked.
Of course, as a kid a it was one-blackberry-for-me-one-for-the-tub but I’m a little more restrained now I’m older. One of the reasons I run down by the canal in Stretford is the oodles of elder, rosehips and brambles. As I run, I can look out for particularly lush spots and come back later with my big basket, and help myself.
So it’s no surprise that foraging has made it onto drinks menus. It’s an easy way to get a little creative, costs nothing (save your time) and you can create some really tasty treats from it. This year I’ll be making elderflower gin, might make myself some rowan berry syrup and all those blackberries are going to come in useful for puddings.
Franklin & Sons are the latest to come up with ideas for you to get your drink on through foraging. I first came across their soft drinks through Gin Explorer last year, and it’s safe to say, that there are often a couple of bottles in the fridge at home just in case. They’ve recently expanded their range to include a Cola, Ginger Beer, and a Sicllian Lemonade & Elderflower with Crushed Juniper.
Yes, even I goggled at the last one.
Oh and some instructions to get foraging.
The first, I didn’t even have to leave home for! With elderflower syrup from last year, and mint from my windowsill, this was a very easy one to start with. Elderflower syrup is super easy to make (here is a how to), but the season for them is creeping to an end already, so don’t worry if you miss them, you can pick up elderflower cordial in supermarkets, which is very similar.
50ml Ogilvy Vodka
125ml Franklin & Sons Ginger Beer
10ml Elderflower syrup
7 mint leaves
Add the mint leaves and syrup to the glass and gently muddle (you want to bash them a bit, but not pulverise as they’ll turn bitter). Then add the ice, vodka and top with ginger beer. Garnish with a sprig of mint if you’re feeling fancy.
Refreshing, spicy, and a little bit moreish.
The next two couldn’t be more different.
Into the Wilderness:
50ml Old J Spiced Rum
150ml Franklin & Sons Cola
1 Small green chilli, sliced
2 Fennel flower stems
Add the rum, chilli and fennel stems to a shaker with some ice, and shake. Once the outer of the tin is so cold you can’t hold it anymore, strain the contents into a glass over ice and top with the Cola. Garnish with slices of chilli and fennel flower stems.
Now immediately I had problems. Fennel flowers in the middle of Stretford are not easy to come by – and I couldn’t find any. Not foraged, supermarket, nor raiding my dad’s allotment helped (sorry dad). I couldn’t even find a fennel bulb, so I could snip off some fronds.
So, we compromised and worked with the chilli alone. Simply slicing it, adding it to the glass with ice, Old J and topping with the Cola. And it works. Works really well. The chilli doesn’t really impart any heat, but gives it a spicy freshness, that cuts through the sweetness of the Old J, and the deep notes of the Cola. It was so good, I couldn’t actually wrestle it back from Mr GFB.
So I busied myself with the next.
50ml Forest Gin
1 Sprig of rosemary
2 Fresh blackberries
Franklin & Sons Tonic Water to taste
This is a straightforward build your own. Add ice, gin, the blackberries and rosemary to the glass. Top with tonic.
I admit, the blackberries aren’t ripe enough by the canal, so I had to visit the supermarket, and the rosemary might be from my dad’s allotment (again, sorry dad, it was from the freezer, I do have it stashed away, I didn’t visit with scissors, honest.), but the result was just what I needed after a day in the office.
The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed there’s one soft drink left. Now, whilst there is a recipe for this (below), this recipe requires dandelion.
I have no issue with foraging for dandelion, however, it should be noted that the dandelion near to me, tends to me on areas where the local population take their pets to give it a watering. So, I’ve skipped over this one. If you have an alternative source, then I would absolutely recommend sampling this one, as the mixer is a little unusual.
The Rambler’s Martini:
50ml Forest Gin
50ml Franklin & Sons Sicillian Lemonade & English Elderflower with Crushed Juniper
10ml Fresh lemon juice
5ml Sugar Syrup
15 Dandelion leaves
3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Muddle the dandelion leaves with the sugar syrup and strain into a shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake. Strain into a Martini glass, and garnish with a dandelion flower.
As for me? I’m skipping the dandelion and will be pouring it into some gin tonight.