It is a verdant moment here, with lots of garden plants and weeds flowering, and the trees and ferns in full leaf, which means there is blatant opportunity for seasonal foraged garnishes. I made half a dozen pretty, small, gin and tonics, for the sake of taking some pictures last night. Same gin, same tonic, same ice tray, just different decorations. But by the time they had been sitting for an hour while I fussed about with the images they were almost like different drinks.
I had to keep sampling them all, of course, in the interests of science…
There was one plant I had picked a couple of days ago on the shore because I wanted to eat it in a salad – yellow sea radish flowers on wirey stalks. The others I grabbed fresh in a quick whip around the lawn and lane – pineapple weed, feral blackcurrant leaf, white clover, rose, the top of some rosebay willow herb shoots. I also picked a couple I didn’t use in the end – some horsetail because it is such a cool looking and historical plant, I thought I could make a cocktail umbrella out of it, or a stirrer. And a frond of rowan also because it looked good next to the other plants, but in the end I restricted myself to one thing per glass so I could really see what it was adding.
Clover I knew I loved (you might notice there’s not much of that one left in the picture above…) The flower heads are fun bobbing in the top of your glass, and if you pick 8 or 10 of them you get a good noseful when you go to drink. They are fantastically floral, and smell of honey, no wonder the bees love them. But they added a subtle grass-green taste to the liquid too. Clover is in the pea family and there was that freshness there, the longer it sat the more even like cucumber it became.
It’s an enjoyable experience having roses as garnish; you get the perfume when you go to drink (mine was like lychee) and the texture of petals against your lip. But they didn’t affect the flavour at all for me.
With the sea radish, I wound the stalks around the glass. It’s a brassica like kale and broccoli and rocket so you get the four petalled flowers set like a cross fluttering about. I hadn’t ever noticed before that the flowers had a scent, I normally just eat them, or use them to decorate a salad, where they add a rocket-like small punch. But when they are all around the top of the glass like that, the smell is really noticeable – sweet like pot pourri, but also quite earthy, or very faintly of the seashore. I think they definitely added some salinity and a kind of vegetable lift to the contents of the glass too. I will definitely be using them on a gin and tonic again. On a brine-y martini they’d be amazing too.