Countryside cocktails

We all know about that foraging for food can uncover some interesting finds, from elderflower to funghi. But what about foraging for cocktail ingredients?

Producers are calling ‘countryside cocktails’ the new experience in the drink industry. Consumers are bored with the same old cocktails being placed under their seasoned noses – they want something new! That’s why, lately, more and more Michelin chefs are foraging. It’s the perfect way to show the richness and variety of the wild flavours of the  UK countryside.

Recently, I went to an event hosted by Champagne Devaux, who showed me the ways in which foraged ingredients can transform a cocktail into a run and refreshing experience. They’ve teamed up with food foraging experts Totally Wild, producing six delicious cocktail recipes featuring Devaux’s Oeil de Perdrix Champagne, and ingredients that can be foraged from the UK’s countryside, woodland, seaside and city parks and gardens.

We’re talking raspberries, buckthorn, rose hip and more exciting tastes and colours! These recipes combine with the Champagne to create incredible cocktails which are perfect for enjoying in the garden. Plus, you get all the goodness of freshly foraged ingredients.

How to forage for cocktail ingredients

Many people, especially those who have grown up in rural areas, have experienced foraging of some sort. There will no doubt be a few of you reading this blog who have foraged all your lives. But whatever your foraging expertise, it’s important to remember that you should always collect your ingredients responsibly and sustainably without harming yourself, the natural environment or wildlife.

Elderflower, photo by Hanne Hoogendam

The best way to know what to look for is to research online or use books before you leave the house. You can find plenty of information on British edibles on websites like Woodland Trust or BBC Good Food. Try and take a photo or screenshot of the fruit or herb that you’re looking for, then take that image with you as a reference while you’re foraging.

Think about what flavours you like best, and what might go well in a cocktail, and start from there. If you like a tart flavouring, try wild raspberries, which have a sharper flavour than their cultivated counterparts. If you prefer something more delicate, look for elderflower, which is ready to pick from May to mid-June.

Always research how to use your foraged ingredients. Some plants can be toxic when eaten raw, but cooking removes the toxicity, while others just need a wash. If you manage to find the right ingredients and prepare them correctly, you could be onto something brilliant!

Want to find out more about these foraged cocktail ideas? The recipes will be available online and in-store at Majestic from September.

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