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Six foraged cocktails to see you through the summer

The ingredients in these cocktails can be found from late spring to early autumn, so there's plenty of inspiration for you to go wild with your mixology.

Maibowle with sweet woodruff surrounded by fairy lights
Maibowle: sweet woodruff, sweet German wine and dry prosecco


The Maibowle or Waldmeister (sweet woodruff) Bowle is a German punch traditionally consumed around 1 May. This was when the Pagan spring festival of fertility was celebrated and the drink was thought to remove inhibitions. It is still drunk in Germany today, with sweet woodruff being sold in street markets in the run up to the festival. This woodland plant can be found from mid-spring to July and takes on a stronger scent and flavour when dried, often said to be reminiscent of hay and vanilla.

Ingredients (serves six to eight):

1 bottle of dry Prosecco

1 bottle German sweet white wine eg Riesling

7 sprigs of dried sweet woodruff plus extra to serve

Squeeze of lime juice

Fruit eg strawberries (optional)

Directions: Add the dried woodruff sprigs to a punch bowl and pour in the wine and Prosecco, leave to infuse for 20 mins or so before serving. Place an additional sprig of sweet woodruff in each glass.

Thornstar martini: rosehip juice, vanilla vodka and sloe gin
Thornstar martini: rosehip juice, vanilla vodka and sloe gin

Thornstar martini

We created this wild version of a pornstar martini to celebrate those two great thorny friends of the forager: the rose and the blackthorn. Juicy rugosa rosehips are the ones to use for this and they start to appear from late summer. They freeze well though, so there is no reason not to keep a few bags in the freezer to use throughout the year. This cocktail is a more sophisticated version of the pornstar martini (which uses passionfruit juice) and gets most of its sweetness from a slug of sloe gin. Pornstar martinis are traditionally served with a shot of prosecco — so feel free to knock back a glass of elderflower champagne for an extra foraged twist.

Ingredients (serves one):

Rosehip juice (made from 300g rugosa rosehips simmered in 150ml water until they break down and strained through a muslin)

25ml Vanilla vodka

25ml sloe gin

1 egg white (optional)

Ice cubes

Directions: To make the rosehip juice, boil down 300g of rosehips with 150 ml of water, mash and strain through a muslin, giving a good squeeze to get out the last of the liquid. Allow to cool. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes, add in the rosehip juice, vanilla vodka, sloe gin and an egg white and shake vigorously until condensation appears on the outside of the shaker. Pour into a martini glass and serve immediately.

Two glasses of spearmint julep
Spearmint julep: spearmint, bourbon, icing sugar and crushed ice

Spearmint julep

This refreshing whiskey cocktail is an easy one to get you started, combining fresh wild mint and bourbon poured over a mound of crushed ice. Mint julep is a classic from the American south, originating in the 18th century, and has become the "official" drink of the Kentucky Derby.

Spearmint is commonly found in gardens but also hedgerows and waysides. It is one of several wild mints that can be found in Britain, including water mint, peppermint and apple mint. Spearmint is one of the easiest to identify due to its cones-like purple flower heads and is named for its pointed-tipped, spear-shaped leaves.

Ingredients (serves one):

7 spearmint leaves

1 heaped tsp icing sugar

50ml bourbon

3 tbsp water

Crushed ice

Mint to garnish

Directions: Take the mint leaves and place in the bottom of a glass, gently muddling to release the oils. Add in the 3 tbsp of water and the icing sugar and mix. Crush some ice with a rolling pin or quickly blitz in a blender and fill glass to the brim. Pour in the whiskey, muddle, add another sprig of mint to garnish and serve.

A tiki glass with a sea zombie foraged cocktail
Sea zombie: sea buckthorn juice, lime, raspberry syrup and a blend of rums

Sea Zombie

The traditional zombie is a tiki cocktail invented at the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood in 1934. Legend has it that it was created to help a hungover customer get through a business meeting and this version is likely to give you even more of a pick-me-up than the original. We've replaced grapefruit juice with the super-zingy sea buckthorn, a vivid orange, vitamin A, C and E-packed fruit that tastes like orange zest. It's quite concentrated, so we've added a little soda to the mix, as well as replacing grenadine with some foraged raspberry syrup.

Ingredients (serves one):

25ml Dark rum

25 ml Coconut white rum (eg Malibu, Bacardi)

125 ml sea buckthorn juice

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp raspberry syrup or grenadine

Soda water to top up

Large handful of ice

Mint and lime to garnish

Directions: Mix the dark rum, white rum, buckthorn juice, lime juice and ice in a blender and pour into a glass. Drizzle in the syrup or grenadine and serve with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge.

A bloody Mary with ground elder and an Alexanders straw
The Bloody Roman: tomato juice, vodka, ground elder and an Alexanders straw

The Bloody Roman

This traditional vodka-and-tomato-juice bloody Mary is made that little bit more special by two species that have become naturalised after their introduction by the Romans. Muddled through the tomato juice are some sprigs of finely chopped ground elder, while the ex-factor is the straw made from hollow Alexanders stem, adding a far more aromatic kick than standard celery. This is definitely one to put the forgotten vegetable back on the map.

Ingredients (serves one):

250 ml tomato juice

50 ml vodka

Dash of Worcestershire sauce Dash of Tabasco 1 tbsp chopped ground elder 8cm-10cm piece of hollow Alexanders stem Ice and a sprig of ground elder to serve

Directions: Put the ice in the glass and add the double shot of vodka, then top up with the tomato juice, add the chopped ground elder and muddle. Pop in your Alexanders stem and your ground elder garnish to serve.

Two glasses of Stinging Suzanne cocktail
Stinging Suzanne: nettle cordial, vodka and soda

The Stinging Suzanne

A mocktail version of this drink, made with nettle cordial, is a favourite of The Foraging Course Company founder Kerry, so it is one that works well with or without the vodka. It is also just as good with some nettle gin. Similar to a long vodka, it is a very refreshing, cool drink for hot summer days. If you've made your nettle cordial early enough in the season, it's also a fabulous pink! You can add a little more drama and flavour to the mix by plunging some nettle leaves into ice to denature the stings and then mixing them through to serve.

Ingredients (serves one):

Double shot of nettle cordial (50 ml)

One shot of vodka or vodka (25ml)

Soda water

Ice and nettle leaves to serve

Directions: Pop some ice in a glass, add the nettle cordial and vodka/gin and top up with soda water. Muddle through some nettles that have been plunged into iced water to serve.

Discover more about wild edibles and recipes on a foraging course

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

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