It’s almost officially summer, and wild cocktail ingredients are flourishing all around yards, fields, and forests in the northeast. June is a fantastic month for foraging in New Hampshire, and it seems that every day a new plant is popping up around my backyard. Dandelions, violets, plantain, daisies, yarrow, milkweed, wood sorrel, and many more wild edibles are easy to find this time of year, and growing in abundance.
Foraging for cocktail ingredients is really fun and quite easy if you have access to any land not treated with pesticides or other chemicals, but it can be a little harder if you live in a city. So with that in mind, these three cocktail recipes are made with ingredients that are incredibly easy to find, grow, or buy online!
I chose The Botanist gin as my muse for these recipes because it’s a wonderful Scottish (Islay) gin that’s made with 22 locally-sourced, hand foraged botanicals, making it a great match for these summery, plant-focused cocktails.
First up is a simple martini riff that adds a touch of rosewater and chamomile-infused dry vermouth to the classic recipe. I also added some exquisite Grapefruit Mint bitters by Wisecraft Mixology, but you could substitute a basic grapefruit bitter or even orange or lemon, in a pinch. Chamomile is very easy to grow, even indoors, and even easier to locate in your local grocery store. For the infusion, use dried flower blossoms or tea sachets.
Chamomile Rose Martini
2.5 oz The Botanist Gin
.5 oz chamomile-infused dry vermouth (I used Dolin)*
Instructions: Stir first three ingredients with plenty of ice and strain into a chilled martini glass misted with rosewater. Garnish with a lemon twist and a rose petal. To infuse the vermouth, combine about 2 tbsp or 2 tea bags of dried chamomile flowers with 6 oz dry vermouth in a mason jar and let sit for two hours. Strain and store any leftovers in a sealed jar in the fridge. Glass is the Sofia Tall Medium from Fferrone.
Next is an easy gin and tonic with an extra botanical boost. I chose Fever-tree Elderflower Tonic for it’s fantastic bittersweet, floral flavor, and garnished with lime, mint, bee balm leaves, and a tiny rosebud from my garden. Gently ‘spank’ your mint leaves before placing them in the drink to release the oils. Bee balm is an herb in the mint family, and the leaves are known for their oregano-like aroma. I find it more akin to a mix of fresh oregano, mint, and thyme, with a gorgeous complexity that brightens up flavors in many gin-based cocktails. If you can’t source bee balm, try a blend of fresh oregano, mint, and thyme!
Botanical Gin & Tonic
2 oz The Botanist Gin
4-6 oz Fever-Tree Elderflower Tonic Water
Squeeze of lime juice
Bee balm, mint, edible flowers, lime, to garnish
Instructions: Fill a tall glass with ice. Add gin, tonic, and a squeeze of lime juice. Stir gently and garnish with fresh botanicals. If you can’t source bee balm leaves or blossoms, try a mix of fresh oregano, mint, and thyme.
Last is a really fun cocktail that uses one of the easiest to identify and easiest to enjoy wild edibles in the US. Wood sorrel (oxalis) are a group of plants that resemble clover, but have 3 distinct heart-shaped leaves that close in cool weather or rain. They often have small yellow flowers and grow all over yards, driveways, fields, and forest floors. The great thing about wood sorrel is that there are no poisonous plants that resemble it, making it a great introduction to the world of foraging. Wood sorrel has a crisp, lemony flavor, and the flowers, leaves, and stems are all edible and quite tasty. For this riff on a basil gin smash, I grabbed a handful of fresh wood sorrel leaves and flowers from my backyard and muddled them with green apple, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add a little gin and you have a super crisp and summery garden-to-glass cocktail.
Wood Sorrel & Green Apple Gin Smash
2 oz The Botanist Gin
.75 oz lemon juice
.75 oz simple syrup
2 thick slices of green apple
A handful of wood sorrel leaves and flowers (about 1/4 cup)
Instructions: Muddle green apple and wood sorrel vigorously with lemon juice and simple syrup. Add gin and ice and shake until chilled. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice and garnish with an apple fan and wood sorrel. Glass is from Hospitality Brands.