Three of the finest liquids known to man go into this cocktail. Two of them are about the most labour-intensive liquids in the forager’s repertoire, so its quite an investment of precious resources…
Sea buckthorn is a wonderfully sour, intensely flavoured wild coastal berry – read more about it here.
Birch sap syrup is an intense, deep, smokey syrup, like a very fine maple syrup on steroids. The process of harvesting the sap from birch trees in early spring, then reducing to a syrup (a less than 2% yield!), is a very labour and energy intensive process, but worth the investment. I just about let myself off with the unsustainably heavy carbon footprint of the reducing process by thinking about all the embedded energy costs in a bag of sugar that has been flown half way around the world. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but hey ho… I will blog on how to harvest birch sap in the spring.
I don’t think I need to rave about whisky! But I will say, if you are one of those odd creatures that don’t like it, don’t be put off – the extra ingredients here transform its pungency into something quite wonderful, refreshing and uplifting. I have had whisky-haters begging me for more. I don’t generally use high-end whisky, single malt or blended – it seems a waste as its glass-fellows are so flavoursome that they will mask any nuances. Having said that my friends at Bruichladdich Distillery have no end of amazing whiskies and convinced me to set up a blind tasting – Bruchladdich Bere Barley Single Malt Wild Whisky Sour v Ordinary Supermarket Blend Wild Whisky Sour. The result was 7:1 in favour of the single malt version. So if you can afford it, give it a go!
All i’ve really done here is take a classic cocktail, then replaced non-native imported ingredients with foraged equivalents. Read more about this here.
So this tipple is a variation on the classic whisky sour – made with whisky (usually bourbon), lemon juice and sugar. Whisky goes very well with sour fruit. Who would have thought it?
- 50ml whisky. Scotch, Irish, bourbon or Rye all work
- 25ml sea buckthorn juice (it is possible to buy this, but you’ll enjoy it more if you harvest it yourself)
- 25ml Birch sap syrup (or other deep syrup – maple syrup will do, or I also use cloveroot syrup – see here for info and recipe. Even a plain strong sugar syrup will do at a push)
- 3 dash of bitters (angostura are good, but its a lot of fun to make your own – I like this drink with hogweed seed or 9 carrot bitters, a blend I make from 9 bitter aromatic members of the carrot family)
- 1 egg white (optional – this makes for a thicker, mellower, more luxurious cocktail with a creamy head and a smoother mouth-feel). If you omit the egg white the drink will be sharper, but still delicious, though with a tendency to settle out a bit if you drink it slowly. I once messed up separating the white from the yolk, which slipped into the mixing glass. The result was an even more luxurious cocktail – technically a “flip” in cocktail parlance.
Add all ingredients except the ice to a cocktail shaker and shake well for 60 seconds. This is called a “dry shake” and allows the egg white proteins to coagulate without dilution. Next add ice to the shaker and shake for up to 20 seconds until the drink is chilled to your liking.
Strain into a glass of your choosing. Garnish with an umbelule of hogweed seeds or another bitter aromatic like hops. I also spray a mist of bitters onto the finished drink. Serve with a stirrer as the drink can settle out a little if drunk slowly – which is quite unlikely!