The slow drink movement

Tomato plants

Not what my tomatoes look like...

I am a terrible gardener.  So far this year I have killed two pots of lavender, one of peppermint, one of lemon verbena, three of borage and five of tomatoes.  But in spite of this floricidal rampage, I still feel an affiliation with the ‘grow your own’ school of bartending.

I will now have to rely on farmers markets, foraging, friends and Freecyclers to get fresh, local produce for infusing and home-brewing. It’s lucky then, that the most abundant time of year for foraging is fast approaching. And, serendipitously,  I also came across a new source of recipes and ideas at the Imbibe drinks show last week.

I sat in on a session run by Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown on this very topic. I suspect they were largely preaching to the converted but they did share a few handy tips and recipes, like using young beech leaves to produce a green and nutty tasting liqueur (a new one to me – I look forward to testing this out next spring). A few of the recipes are online at Slow Drinks – it’s a new venture but hopefully they will post more there soon.

The session ended with three bartenders sharing their home-grown ingredients and recipes with the audience, with samples, all of which were imaginative and delicious.

Raspberry Bellini

Mattia Pastori at Imbibe

Mattio Pastori at Imbibe

First up was Mattia Pastori from Milan with a fresh variation on an Italian classic cocktail – the Bellini. Perfect for the hot weekend ahead.

2 pieces of peach
1 tsp lemon verbena sugar
1-2 raspberries
100 ml Prosecco

Muddle the peach, sugar and raspberries in a tall glass. Fill with cracked ice and top up with Prosecco. Gently mix with a long spoon.

Tip: To make the sugar allow some  lemon verbena leaves to dry a little. Place in an airtight jar of sugar and leave for a week, then remove the leaves. For instant use, you could try simmering some leaves in a 2:1 sugar:water mix for ten minutes, then cool before using.

Fruit Cup

John Clay of Shaker Bar School at Imbibe

John Clay at Imbibe

Next was John Clay from Shaker Bar School, with a modern twist on an old school fruit cup. It was herby and, according to my tasting notes, “bloody gorgeous”.

I didn’t get the quantities for this but the ingredients list ran like this:

Beetroot-infused vermouth
Lime leaf

Which would lead you to expect the bibulous equivalent of a school-kids paint palette: so many ingredients you end up with a sludgy mess. But in the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, the result is a deep-pink dose of deliciousness. Then again, I’m biased as I love beetroot…

Hopefully, I will get a chance to recreate this in the next couple of weeks – any success I will share online.

Black Jack

A blurry Robert Wood at Imbibe

Robert Wood at Imbibe

Robert Wood of The Kenilworth finished the demonstration with his own Pimms style cup (unfortunately you’ll need to go to Warwickshire to taste this) and a blackcurrant and liquorice cocktail, reminiscent of a Clover Club, and inspired by Black Jack chews.

I think he got a little muddled here as Black Jacks taste of aniseed and the blackcurrant/ liquorice combination was a boiled sweet with the rather apt sobriquet of ‘Blackcurrant and Liquorice’. But the drink tasted so good, I really shouldn’t quibble.

2 blackcurrant infused Beefeater Gin (containing cloves, lemon, orange peel and sugar)
1 lemon juice
1 liquorice root syrup
Good dash of  egg white

Hard shake ingredients with ice. Strain into a martini glass.


2 thoughts on “The slow drink movement

  1. Slow Grown Fruit Cup


    Only just stumbled upon this piece and thought i’d share the recipe with you.

    25ml Gin (i used Brockmans though really, any Gin will obviously give this drink a different dimension. Beefeater works well, as does Blackwoods, Bloom etc
    5ml Cointreau
    25ml Beetroot-infused vermouth
    (to make the vermouth, take 3 homegrown beetroots, peeled!!, boil whole in 1 pint water for 20 -30mins then add 50 to 70g caster sugar to taste and reduce mixture. Blitz all together in a food processer and fine strain. Add to 2/3 bottle Martini Rosso) nb. it is normally better to boil beets with skins on but this works better for this application.

    I added the following garnishes to the glass, just brushing them loosely to release their aroma, along with some sliced lemons. Though really, fruit cups should be garnished with whatever is in season and the most aromatic at the time of year. You can also switch to brown spirits with more spices for winter.

    2 Lime leaves ripped
    2 -3 slices lemon
    1 Lavender sprig
    1 Rosemary sprig

    I then topped it with Rose lemonade from Fentimans, though ginger ale, gingeer beer, sicilian lemonade all work well.

    The key to the drink is that the freshness of the garnishes are what give it its true character. the beetroot gives colour but provides an eearthiness whihc is needed when working with floral/green aromas.


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