This fall I wrapped up an apprenticeship in herbalism and if you’ve been reading around here for a while you know that I also love experimenting with syrups, shrubs, and boozy infusions. Emily does a beautiful job of marrying plants and sweet sips in Wild Drinks and Cocktails.
I had the joy of taking a class with Emily at the Traditions of Western Herbalism Conference she gave us free reign to mix and play with a lot of the recipes in the book. I combined her rose syrup and winter gin (both of those are in the book) with lemon juice and schisandra tincture, and garnished it with thyme for a seriously beautiful and delicious cocktail.
What I appreciated most about Wild Drinks and Cocktails is that it’s a book about well-made drinks with high-quality ingredients that is still super accessible. You’ll see this below, but Emily does a great job of talking about potentially lesser-known ingredients, like hawthorn berries, and conveying what they are and why they’re worth knowing!
I made my annual batch of plum gin this year using some very local plums from Paul’s grandma’s yard. (There’s also a recipe in Emily’s book for Plum Gin!) I split the batch in half and left one plain–just gin and plums–and added a vanilla bean, some rosemary, and a handful of hawthorn berries to the other half as a little experiment. I loved the tartness that the hawthorn berries brought to the infusion, so when I spotted a hawthorn cordial recipe in Wild Drinks and Cocktails, I was excited to try it out. Emily describes the flavor of hawthorn in a really perfect way, I think, calling it “gently sweet and sour with an appley sort of flavor.”
I used dried hawthorn berries, as the recipe suggests, as an alternative to fresh. Of course, I had to pair the finished product with my hawthorn-infused plum gin in a cocktail! I mixed 2 oz plum gin (plain gin is fine too), 1 oz hawthorn cordial, 1 oz lime juice, and a few dashes of angostura bitters and it was SO GOOD.
Definitely check out the rest of the stops on the Wild Drinks and Cocktails blog book tour!
Recipe reprinted from Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han, with permission from Fair Winds Press, copyright 2015
THE WORD “CORDIAL” COMES FROM THE MEDIEVAL LATIN TERM CORDIALIS, meaning “of the heart,” and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna, C. laevigata) has been used for thousands of years in Asia and Europe to protect and strengthen the physical and emotional heart, improving blood circulation, and healing anxiety and sadness. So, how could I resist making a cordial that literally warms the heart?
Hawthorn’s red berries, or haws, are gently sweet and sour with an appley sort of flavor. I like to warm up my Hawthorn Cordial with a little ginger, which complements the haws’ flavor and improves blood circulation to boot.
- 2 cups (400 g) fresh hawthorn berries (or 1 cup [120 g] dried)
- 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly-sliced
- 3 cups (705 ml) water
- 1 cup (340 g) honey or (200 g) sugar
Combine the hawthorn berries, ginger, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Lightly crush the berries with a potato masher or another mashing tool, and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. Measure the liquid; you should have about 1 cup (235 ml). Return the liquid to the saucepan and add the honey or sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
ABOUT 1 CUP (235 ML)
Variation: Replace the hawthorn with vitamin A- and C-rich American mountain ash or rowan berries (Sorbus americana, S. alnifolia).