The 19th September marked the start of British Food Fortnight, a national celebration of British produce, from health benefits and quality, to freshness and seasonality. Slingsby Gin uses locally-sourced ingredients from places such as its home town of Harrogate to create its stunning range of Gins (London Dry, Marmalade, Gooseberry and Rhubarb), with Yorkshire from the Rhubarb Triangle and Taylors of Harrogate Jasmine and Green Tea to name just a few. At the moment everyone is on the lookout for new and exciting flavour pairings, and what better time to experiment than British Food Fortnight
Budding mixologists are creating complex cocktails which steer away from the sweet, tropical concoctions that have been around for many years and are moving towards drinking better not more – treating cocktails as they would going out for a fancy meal.
Now we’re seeing beetroot, radish, samphire, mushrooms, chorizo, yuzu and oysters on cocktail menus all around the country. These ingredients allow bartenders to add an extra layer of complexity to classic cocktails – like the tried and tested French Martini, Earth of the Tropics, which uses beetroot powder for colour and flavour.
Alex, Slingsby Mixologist shares his top tips and tricks to celebrate British Produce and how you can use ingredients close to home when you are making your next cocktail.
Using Citrus Husks and Peels to create cordials and shrubs
Making cocktails often requires the use of citrus fruits such as oranges, and lemons. Plant your own trees in your garden or allotment and you will find there are many uses for the fruits. We recommend making the most out of them by creating shrubs and cordials. Before you juice your citrus fruits, wash them in warm water to remove any wax and use a Y-peeler or sharp knife to remove the fruit peel. Make sure the skin is thin with minimal amounts of pith and combine with sugar in a kilner jar for a few days. This draws out the zesty essential oils from the skins to create a beautifully sweet oleo saccharum (Latin for oil-sugar). Combining this with some of the citrus juice and water can create a cordial, with the addition of a vinegar turning this into a shrub.
Mint Stalk Syrup
With the mojito being one of the most popular cocktails in both bars and at home, we go through an extortionate amount of mint making tasty libations. A lot of the time, many people pick mint leaves and discard the stalks however, mint stalks can provide great complexity to a simple sugar syrup.
Grow your Own!
It sounds simple, maybe too simple, but it really does make a difference. As soon as fruits and herbs are picked, they begin to lose flavour and aroma. So, by growing your own British produce, you’re going to have fresher ingredients and you’re reducing your carbon footprint (win win we’d say). It’s easy to pick up potted herbs from your local supermarket, it’s slightly less easy keeping them alive however, but give it a shot!
Go forth and forage
There has been a movement towards foraging for botanicals and garnishes in the last few years. Make sure you buy local and support independent British businesses, or alternatively you can go out and forage to source your own – you would be surprised at how many bushes are out there with fruit just ready to be picked.