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Cloveroot liqueur

By Mark Williams

16th November 2015

Cloveroot is another name for the common woodland plant wood avens (geum urbanum), also widely known as herb bennet. You can learn all about it on my "Drinker's Guide to Woods Avens".

Like many of the best discoveries, I stumbled on how to make this drink almost by accident. I'd been making cloveroot syrup, which is an excellent, warming, bass-note sweetener for foraged cocktails and amari. Having drained the aromatic syrup from the roots, I noticed they still held a lot of clove flavour. So I poured a bottle of cheap vodka over them and forgot about them for a couple of months. When I came back to the kilner, the rich brown liquid tasted great - deeply warming clove aromatics, plus some tannic properties. It was an instant hit on my guided walks, like liquid Oddfellows - the old fashioned aromatic British sweet, and made everone want to cosy up by a fire and sip a bottle.

It is possible to infuse the roots direct into neutral spirit and sweeten after, but my experiments have shown that maceration in sugar beforehand extracts more flavour and makes for a more rounded finished tipple. Its possible to make syrup, candied cloveroot and the liqueur all from the same process - 3 for 1, which more than compensates for the fiddly picking and cleaning of the roots. Both the syrup and the liqueur work well as  sweet  bass-notes in more elaborate Botanist cocktails. Once powdered and passed through a fine sieve, the candied roots can be dusted around the lips of glasses.


Enough cleaned cloveroots to loosely fill a 1 litre kilner - obviously the more you pick, the stronger the flavour will be

500g Organic white sugar

250 ml Water

750ml Vodka


Place the roots in a pan with the water

Heat until nearly boiling then turn down the heat and leave to infuse

Allow the pan to cool then mix in the sugar and heat until nearly boiling again, stirring to dissolve the sugar

Leave to cool then pour syrup and roots into the kilner

Leave to infuse for 2 weeks

Drain off the syrup, not too thoroughly, allowing a fair amount to remain on the roots

Set aside your cloveroot syrup in sterilised jars. It is a strong syrup, so should keep quite well, but a small glug of vodka will hugely increase its keeping properties

At this stage you can remove some of the syrup-covered roots and dry them in a dehydrator or very low fan oven. They can then be finely ground and sieved to make cloveroot sugar

Pour the vodka over the remaining syrup-coated roots in the kilner

Leave to infuse for at least 1 month

Strain out the liqueur and sweeten to taste with the cloveroot syrup before bottling.



Foraging Notes

Wood avens roots can be harvested year-round but are at their most flavoursome between November and March.

Harvest mindfully: you should have the landowner's permission before uprooting any plant. It is possible to pull up the plant, remove up to 1/3rd of the roots then replant for minimum impact. See The Drinker's Guide to Wood Avens for more information.



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