Lottie Muir - aka the Cocktail Gardener - mixes up a zingy springtime recipe from her new book, harnessing the heady bouquet of beautiful cherry blossom.
Japan is known for its cherry blossom celebrations - a very short season when this beautiful flower takes centre stage - and even on city streets, the drama of cherry blossoms (Prunus serrulata) falling from the trees like confetti is not just a visual feast. The blossoms themselves can be candied for a wonderful garnish or dried and mixed with salt for a cocktail rim. I have used Japanese ingredients in this cocktail to bring a little bit of Japan to your table.
The Cherry Blossom
YOU WILL NEED
* - oz (22ml) yuzu (a fruit is commonly used in Japan as a lemon substitute, with its overtones of grapefruit and mandarin; you can order it online from Japanese suppliers) or lemon juice
* dried pink cherry blossom, ground into pink salt*
* 1oz (30ml) plum wine
* 1oz (30ml) vodka
* - oz (15ml) sake
* 2 tsp (10ml) sour cherry juice
Tools: Saucer, cocktail shaker with strainer
Garnish: Candied pink cherry blossom (see recipe below)
1 Chill the glass thoroughly in the freezer or refrigerator for 2 or 4 hours respectively.
2 Dip the glass into a saucer of yuzu or lemon juice and then turn the outside edge of the glass into the salted cherry blossom mix.
3 Pour the remaining ingredients into the cocktail shaker, fill it two thirds of the way up with ice, and shake hard for 20 seconds.
4 Strain the contents of the shaker into the chilled glass and garnish with a candied pink cherry blossom.
* Salt or sugar rims These can be used sparingly to give a sweet touch to a cocktail. Sugars and salts can be smoked or flavored with crushed dried flowers or spices. I use a range of pink and black salts, and flavored sugars. The trick is to make sure the individual crystals are small enough to coat the rim. Use a mortar and pestle to reduce the particle size if you need to.
Candied Cherry Blossom
Simply make about 1/3 cup (75ml) of egg wash by mixing 1 lightly whisked egg white and - cup (100g) superfine (caster) sugar. Using a fine paintbrush, paint each individual petal on both sides with a light coating of the egg wash and, with your fingers, scatter a light coating of sugar over them before placing on a sheet of parchment paper inside a tray on a sunny windowsill or in a warm area. They may take 24-48 hours to dry. Once dried, store in an airtight container and use within a week.
This is an edited extract from Wild Cocktails from the Midnight Apothecary by Lottie Muir (Cico Books, €24.50), which features more than 100 recipes using homegrown and foraged fruits, herbs and edible flowers. Lottie is the creator of the Midnight Apothecary pop-up cocktail bar, set in a roof garden in the heart of London, where she also grows many of the ingredients for her mixes.
Photography Kim Lightbody