Beauty in the Beast

By Mark Williams


Ingredients:

Japanese knotweed can be a very problematic weed. It can also be a delicious sour component of drinks. Before harvesting any for yourself, please read this article which covers extremely important safety and harvesting information. I called this drink Beauty in the Beast, because it shows off the delightful qualities of much-reviled “monster plant” japanese knotweed. It also pairs this scary triffid-weed with the beauty that is sweet cicely – a sweet, delicate, anise-scented plant in the carrot family. They make a wonderful pair.

  • 25ml The Botanist Gin
  • 25ml Sweet cicely vodka – Made by 2/3rd filling a kilner with chopped sweet cicely leaves, stems, flowers and seeds and steeping for 4 to 8 weeks, or you can speed up the process with rapid infusion
  • 50ml Raw, clarified japanese knotweed juice
  • 15ml Pineappleweed syrup, or other fruity/floral syrup, or simple sugar syrup
  • Sweet cicely tincture in an atomiser spray
  • A shoot of japanese knotweed made into a straw by poking a skewer/chopstick through its length, piercing the inner membranes
  • Some sweet cicely blossoms

Method:

Shake the first four ingredients over ice. Strain into a martini glass. Scatter with sweet cicely blossoms. Add the knotweed straw. Mist with sweet cicely tincture. Be sure to dispose of the straw responsibly, bearing in mind JK can reproduce from small fragments. This means eating it (its nice raw), burning or cooking. Do not throw it in the bin/compost.

Foraging notes

I gathered mine from a remote bit of coast in SW Scotland. I have been harvesting from this location for 3 years now and each year the growth gets weaker. In this respect, I am helping to control a problematic weed. The sweet cicely grows just down the lane from my house. It likes moist hedgerows, riverbanks and wood edges in the North of the UK, and is one of the 22 Islay botanicals in The Botanist Gin.