We love the idea of a foraged seasonal tipple, and were inspired by the recipes in Lottie Muir’s lovely new book – like a (slightly drunken) stroll through the midnight garden! Ayurveda being the balanced humanistic science it is, it does not shun those who choose the occasional tipple (phew), but recommends lighter spirits and wines in summer, and asks that one saves the rum, red wine and hearty ales for winter, when a bit of extra warmth won’t go amiss (of course, we’re talking moderation, lest I be mistaken for a covert Alcoholic Ayurvedic). These recipes are fun, interesting and filled with salubrious ingredients that will help take the edge off… in more ways than one.
Red Clover Lemonade
Serves 6 (approximately 1 litre)
The beautiful flowers of red clover (Trifolium pratense) are slightly sweet, and many of us will have enjoyed them in clover honey. They are also packed with nutrients, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. Red clover has been used in tea form for many years to alleviate the symptoms of gout. This lemonade is a quick and easy recipe that leaves you with a very pretty, delicately flavored sweet drink—think sweet hay.
Approximately 40 red clover blossoms
250ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
50ml honey, preferably raw, set or runny
Tools: Small nonreactive pan, fine-strainer, widemouthed pitcher, wooden spoon
Glass: Collins (x 6)
Garnish: Red clover blossoms
Bring the water to a slow boil in the nonreactive pan, add the clover blossoms, and gentle simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the liquid into the wide-mouthed pitcher, removing the blossoms, and return to the cleaned pan over a low heat. Add the lemon juice and honey, and stir to dissolve the honey. Do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and pour the lemonade into the cleaned pitcher. Chill for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. To serve, fill the 6 glasses with ice. Pour the lemonade three-quarters of the way up each one. Garnish with fresh red clover blossoms. Top with soda water and serve immediately.
Coumarin, the slightly vanillaflavored phytochemical present in red clover, has antifungal and antitumor properties, but it also thins the blood. While that may be great for some, people taking anticoagulants should not consume red clover in large quantities.
Many menopausal women who experience hot flashes (flushes) take red clover in some form because it is considered to be one of the highest sources of isoflavones, which act like estrogens.
Strawberry and Basil Gimlet
Strawberries and basil (Ocimum basilicum) are a delicious combination, and this simple cocktail allows them to take center stage. The grind of black pepper draws out the flavor of the strawberries, and put together with the aromatic, sweet, earthy basil, you’ll have a smile on your face.
3 large strawberries
½ oz (15ml) agave nectar
4 basil leaves
2oz (60ml) gin
½ oz (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
Grind of coarse ground black pepper
Tools: Cocktail shaker with strainer, tea strainer
Garnish: Strawberry slice, large basil leaf
Put the strawberries and agave nectar in the cocktail shaker, and muddle thoroughly.
Smack the basil leaves between your palms to release the essential oils and drop in the shaker. Add the remaining ingredients. Fill the shaker two-thirds full with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds. Double-strain the mixture by pouring it through the tea strainer, into the glass. Garnish with the strawberry slice and basil leaf.
WILD COCKTAILS by LOTTIE MUIR, published by CICO Books (£16.99)
Photography by Kim Lightbody