Using all the colours - Edible flowers in cocktails July 23 2015
Summer is glorious this year, and with it comes the garden all full of colour, more so in July than at any other time of the year.
Inspired by this wonderful colour, I decided to hold a cocktail party last week in the garden room, to celebrate my thirty-something birthday. My idea was that we would collect all the edible flowers from around the garden and use them to make our cocktails look pretty.
In advance, I also made some rose infused vodka and raspberry sugar syrup with ingredients from the garden. We created our own signature cocktail and I’ll post the recipes for all of those over the next day or so.
The party was quite splendid, and everyone loved being able to choose from a selection of flower cocktail garnishes and paper straws to create their own cocktail.
Everyone should have edible flowers in their drinks at this time of year, so to help you choose some for your own party, here are some tips and ideas for flowers and herbs you can use without poisoning your friends.
What You Sow's tips:
- Pick the flowers a few hours in advance of your event with long stems that you can leave in water until people use them. This will keep them looking fresh and save you running around last minute when you should be putting on your makeup/ doing up your bow tie. We cut our flowers at 5pm and they were still looking fresh when we cleaned up at midnight.
- More is more. As Rupaul says “Don’t be afraid to use all the colours in the crayon box”. This mantra should be applied to life, love, and edible flowers. Use all the colours at your disposal.
- Get yourself some snips. Cutting the stems cleanly with a sharp blade will help the flowers survive a little bit longer during the party and protect the remaining plant from pests and diseases. Snips come in handy for most flowers, for woodier stems (like rosemary) you’ll need secateurs.
- Only pick what you need. Your cocktail party will last just 2 terrific hours, so leave enough flowers to enjoy in the garden for the rest of the summer.
- Ask a neighbour. If you don’t have your own edible flowers, many of the flowers and herbs on the list below can be found wild or in your neighbours’ front garden. Make sure you ask permission first and you might even make some new friends.
- Paper straws make every drink look pretty. You can find pretty paper straws online at What You Sow and Papermash, and on the high street in Tiger. Use paper cups too and pop them onto the compost afterwards.
So here are some of my favourite plants to use in your cocktails with links to some ideas of how to use them:
- Borage (perfect in water kefir, a la Silo Brighton)
- Honeysuckle (I love how the Midnight Apothecary use them.)
- Geranium leaves
- Hibiscus (congratulations if you have managed to grow these in your garden in England)
And earlier in the year
- Elderflower (the stems can be poisonous so just use the flowers)
- Fuchsia (the purple petals look amazing on a chocolate cake)
- Marigold (Calendula)
- Rosemary (shake with a whisky sour)
- Mint (especially in mojitos)
- Lemon Verbena
- Raspberries/ redcurrants/ blueberries/ wild strawberries still on the stem (use cocktail cherries on the end to weigh them down)
- Strawberry slices
So that's what we're using in our cocktails at the moment. What edible flowers have you been using to make your drinks look pretty?
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