Forager and boozehound, Andy Hamilton, shares some recipes, craft and enthusiasm in the quest to expand your booze cabinet. Thrill your friends, bore your family and get yourself drunk using the wisdom below.
The flavours that can be found in the wild are a constant wonder to me. Turkish delight from haw blossom, aniseed from fennel, and sweet cicely and the whole range of citrus flavours from pine, spruce and cedar. It is the latter that excites me the most, as so many cocktails contain citrus.
- two pine bud clusters
- two cut-up cedar fruits
- two spruce tip buds
Stick all the ingredients into a jar and cover with vodka. Leave to infuse for about a week. Strain and keep in a dark cupboard.
Lion’s tooth vermouth
A glass of vermouth was one of the first drinks that I enjoyed. I can remember being 13 and leaning over a balcony overlooking Skegness, swirling a glass of stolen vermouth and feeling like I was the king of sophistication. It was a far cry from the Turin happy hours I was to experience later—but perhaps no less enjoyable and certainly less pretentious.
- 100 ml of vermouth mix
- one bottle of white wine
- 50 ml caramel syrup
Add all the ingredients and stir.
Ok, you are looking at this thinking what is vermouth mix? You can approach this two ways. You can do as I do and infuse herbs and spices individually in vodka and make a mix from that. Ensure that one of the herbs is wormwood or it’s not vermouth. I use 10 ml of ten different infusions.
Or, you infuse all your herbs and spices at the same time in 100 ml of vodka. As long as you have a pinch of wormwood in there you can call it vermouth.
If you need a suggestion for some flavours that work try using burdock leaf, sage, fennel, rose petal, elderflower and, well, anything that takes your fancy. Just remember not to overpower the delicate flavours. Research and experimentation are part of the pleasure.
Wild carrot seed vodka
Wild carrot comes from the same family as hemlock. Once you know the difference you are unlikely to get them confused. That said, I never underestimate how little someone might know and prefer to keep my readership alive. Look up wild carrot here for some help with identification. Let’s be careful out there.
When it comes to the recipe, it couldn’t be easier.
- 1 tbsp wild carrot seeds
- 500 ml vodka
Infuse for one week in a sealable jar. Filter into a bottle and keep in your drinks cabinet.
It’s easier than you might think.
These drinks can be used in all sorts of things, and they can even be combined to make the bear wrestler, a special cocktail inspired by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
Andy Hamilton (Bristol, June 2018)
Andy had his first alcoholic drink at eight and has never looked back. He now works as a freelance drunkard and does many booze related things to earn a crust. These include taking people out into the woods and teaching them how to make booze from wild plants, writing about booze in his books, the bestselling Booze for Free, the in-depth treatise on beer, Brewing Britain, and more recently the book he is working on, Wild Booze and Hedgerow Cocktails. He often writes for the Telegraph and occasionally for the Guardian. He’s also been know to help various establishments design their own signature drinks. Andy is known as one of the politest people in the drinks industry, he never swears and is always convivial and never an incompressible drunk. Honest. And he really is the editor at large for Alderman Lushington.