There comes a time in every Bookish Diva’s life that she wants to indulge her drunken inner sorcerer. And Wild Cocktails from The Midnight Apothecary by Lottie Muir (Ryland Peters & Small, 2015) was sent from Bacchus himself to grant this Bookish Diva’s wishes. To the unsuspecting, this may seem like a mere book of cocktail recipes. Do not be deceived. This tome would impress the most stern of potion masters.
To understand the greatness of this potent potable primer, we need to cross the pond and visit a little town you may know as London. On a roof garden there exists a lovely cocktail bar called Midnight Apothecary (shocking, I know). Alcoholic concoctions infused with herbs and flowers foraged nearby or grown in their garden flow endlessly… Well not endlessly. Midnight Apothecary is a pop-up bar that pops up on Saturdays in the summer. Proprietor Lottie Muir gathered the tastiest recipes and Wild Cocktails is the result.
Between infusing liquors with garden herbs and garnishing libations with candied flower petals, Muir teaches botanical masterclasses and still makes time to work with the Royal Horticultural Society, creating seasonal cocktails. Within Wild Cocktails, the Bookish Diva was pleased to find both gardening and mixology tips. A certain magical herbology professor would be captivated with the breadth of botanical knowledge contained within the pages of this tome.
This Bookish Diva was disappointed to find Wild Cocktails missing a recipe for Veritaserum. However, this delectable drink makes up for it.
Chelsea Fringe Collins by Lottie Muir
In spring 2013 I was asked to design a cocktail for The Chelsea Fringe, the alternative to the more famous Chelsea Flower Show—the annual spectacle of English eccentricity, passion and obsession with plants and gardening. My Chelsea Fringe Collins was designed to look, taste and smell like “summer in a glass.” I wanted to capture the very intense aroma of summer evenings—and that meant jasmine, which had to permeate the gin. Essence of jasmine does the job better than I could with the amount of blossoms I would realistically have to infuse in the gin. The Rose Petal Syrup adds to the summer scent, and no English summer is complete without elderflower. The lemon juice cuts through their sweetness, while the orange bitters provides the final seasoning.
2oz (60ml) jasmine-infused Jensen Old Tom Gin
1⁄2oz (15ml) Elderflower Liqueur
1⁄2oz (15ml) Rose Petal Syrup
Dash of orange bitters
3⁄4oz (22ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Dash of cassis (optional)
Tools: Cocktail shaker with strainer
Garnish: Borage flowers, wild strawberries, wild fennel fronds, lavender sprig, dianthus petals, lemon twist
Fill the glass with ice. Tuck some wild strawberries, fennel fronds, the lavender sprig, borage flowers, and a few dianthus petals in among the ice cubes, sandwiched against the glass, for maximum visual impact. Save a few borage flowers for the final garnish.
Add the gin, Elderflower Liqueur, Rose Petal Syrup, orange bitters, and lemon juice to the cocktail shaker. Fill it two-thirds full with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain the mixture into the chilled glass over the ice.
Garnish with the lemon twist and remaining flowers, using the tweezers or small tongs, then top with the soda water (it is important to add the garnish before the soda water, otherwise you will push the soda water out of the glass.)
Use a pipette or the top of a bar spoon to drop the cassis to the bottom of the glass to create a color contrast (optional).
Edible flower essences are expensive but you need only a few drops per bottle of spirit. For Jasmine Gin, add 5 drops of edible-grade essence of jasmine for every 24oz (700ml) of gin.
The visuals of this cocktail are just as important as the ingredients. Use a tall, thin glass, so you can wedge the flower garnishes between the ice and the side of the glass.
Photography by Kim Lightbody