The stunning honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) blossoms appear in early summer and provide a heady scent around the garden at Midnight Apothecary, as well as in the neighbouring parks, railroad sidings, and streets. I have used some vodka here to maintain the strength of the cocktail but not drown out the taste of honeysuckle. The rowan in the foam provides bitter and sour notes to counteract the sweetness of the honey and sourness of the lemon. And rowan works beautifully with brandy. The sweet, sharp mint opens up the palate to make the drink balanced and refreshing.
5 spearmint (Mentha spicata) leaves
1oz (30ml) cognac (or mid-range brandy)
½ oz (15ml) vodka
¾ oz (22ml) honeysuckle syrup
¾ oz (22ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tools: Cocktail shaker with strainer
Garnish: Honeysuckle blossom
Chill the glass thoroughly in the freezer or refrigerator for 2 or 4 hours respectively. Alternatively, fill the glass with ice.
Smack the mint leaves between the palms of your hands to release the essential oils and drop them into the cocktail shaker. Add the cognac, vodka, honeysuckle syrup, and lemon juice. Fill the shaker two-thirds of the way up with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds. If you used ice to chill your glass, empty it out. Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass. Remove the whipper containing the
Rowan, Honey, and Lemon Foam from the refrigerator, shake it a few times, and, holding it vertically, gently discharge the foam until it reaches the level of the rim of the glass. Wait a few seconds for the foam to settle. Garnish with the honeysuckle blossom and serve.
The blossom heads are the perfect size to fill a champagne coupe or martini glass as a garnish on top of the egg white foam. Encourage your guests to try to suck the nectar out of the blossoms, although the bees will usually have got there first.
8 large handfuls of unsprayed
honeysuckle flowers, leaves and
Approximately 2 cups (400g) caster sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
Sealable presentation bottle(s), sterilised
Makes approximately 1 pint (500ml)
Place the honeysuckle flowers in a nonreactive bowl and cover with cold water, then leave to steep for 12 hours, or at least overnight, at room temperature. Make sure the flowers are completely covered by the water.
Strain the mixture into a measuring cup, discarding the flowers. Pour the liquid into a nonreactive pan. Measure an equal amount of sugar to the liquid and add to the pan. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Feel free to replace half the sugar with a handful of chopped sweet cicely leaves, but bear in mind that this will adjust the colour.
Remove from the heat, let cool, add the lemon juice, and funnel into the sterilised presentation bottle(s).