As we move into the colder months, it seemed appropriate to start thinking about replacing some of our cooling, refreshing summer drinks and start introducing a few more wintery comforting ingredients. Well, and a thoroughly bizarre take on a Margarita… Just because we could. With that in mind, we set to foraging, harvesting and rediscovering a few products from the ‘pantry’ (which is our equivalent of a back bar!). Over the next couple of weeks we’ll post a little of the backstory behind the new drinks and show how we sometimes have to get a little creative to incorporate the produce available to us at this slightly more meagre time of year!
So…. What have we rustled up for you?
First up is our Rhubarb Martini. We made gallons of Rhubarb Schnapps at the start of this year, which has taken us right through summer and has proven to be very popular. So a Rhubarb drink is a must, but we fancied a little update. A few weeks ago all our Bronze Fennel went to pollen, and Sam started playing around with making an anise scented infusion with the fragrant heads. It turned out fantastically, a really powerful flavour, which got me thinking about the pleasant combination of Rhubarb and Anise.
– Isla collecting rhubarb in the garden-
So we played around with stirring the infused Vodkas with some vermouth, but then dry Fino Sherry occurred and it was so much fresher! We added a little boost with some Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters. It was still missing a little bite though, so in went homemade verjus from our tons of Bramley Apple trees. The verjus added that little bit of sharpness we were lacking and balanced the drink out nicely.
– Fennel pollen –
In fact the verjus itself, although a small component of this drink is probably one of our most interesting progressions this year. We’re always looking for ways to substitute lemon as an acid in our drinks with something a little closer to home. Shrubs (flavoured vinegars) have seen a few successes on occasion, but a lot of the time old faithful lemon has provided us with a better flavour. Ordinarily verjus is made with unripe pressed grapes but I’d seen some examples of apple based products. Our Sous Chef, Nick manned the first experiment for us and it was delicious! Sour, sharp and tart with a faint fruity flavour. We decided to ice filter the pressed Bramley Juice as well to intensify the flavour.
– Verjus in the making –
Is this truly a Martini? I would say probably not once I had finished toying around with it! It’s times likes this we’re relieved that we’ve stockpiled products that we know we can utilise time and time again. But experimentation is vital too, well done Sam for nabbing some of the pollen before the chefs had it all (and we’ve finally found a way to use up all those Bramleys…)