With the Royal Horticulture Society’s Chelsea Flower Show returning this May, you might be inspired by all the stunning botanical creations on display. Not only are these blooms beautiful to look at, but they’re also a welcome symbol of spring and summer after a long, cold British winter. And what better way to celebrate this return of light, sunny days than incorporating these flowers into your food and drink?
Edible blooms instantly elevate any dish or beverage by adding a dash of colour and a dose of unique flavour. To help you get started, bespoke gift hamper company Bottled & Boxed share three recipes that are sure to bring a fresh, floral twist to your favourite tipples.
Firstly, it’s important to note that not all flowers are edible, and you should only ever cook or make cocktails with those you know to be absolutely safe and non-toxic. While certain flowering plants may cause nausea and skin irritation, others can have far more serious effects. Some common toxic plants that should always be avoided include:
· Lily of the Valley
· Deadly Nightshade
Needless to say, the recipes below only use perfectly safe, edible flowers which only have the side effect of bringing a delicious botanical flavour to your tipples! So, read on to find out how you can celebrate this year’s Chelsea Flower Show with some show-stopping floral creations of your own.
The May Queen
Not only is it a sweet, refreshing cocktail for a spring afternoon, this tipple is aptly named as the Flower Show will be taking place from the 22nd–27th of May! Here the botanical flavours of hibiscus, rose, and lavender come together to make a drink that tastes as good as it looks.
Start by making a batch of lavender gin — this is a lot easier than it sounds! Simply let four tablespoons of dried lavender sit in 750ml of your favourite dry gin for at least four hours. You can then strain out the lavender, transfer to a clean container, and this can be kept in a cool, dry place for several months to enjoy a floral tipple whenever you like.
While your lavender gin infuses, make a hibiscus rose syrup by heating 300g of sugar and 250ml of water in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved. Once on a low simmer, add 100g of dried hibiscus flowers and allow these to steep for half an hour off the heat, covered. You can then strain the flowers from the syrup and add two teaspoons of water as it cools.
Finally, to make your May Queen, add 45ml of the lavender infused gin, 20ml of the hibiscus rose syrup, 15ml of elderflower liqueur, 15ml of fresh lemon juice, and one egg white to a cocktail shaker. Shake this with ice and strain into a coupe glass, adding more edible flowers like pansies or rose petals to garnish.
If you prefer a short cocktail that packs a punch, the Elder Fashioned may just be the perfect drink for you. Those with a green thumb can even make their own botanical liqueur by foraging the mild, delicate elderflowers that are in season from May to June in the UK. Tales From The Kitchen Shed have a great recipe for homemade elderflower liqueur with just a few ingredients, including a litre of good-quality gin or vodka, simple sugar syrup, 20 large elderflower heads, and an unwaxed lemon. However, if you don’t have the time (or the garden!) to make your own, a shop-bought alternative will do just as well.
Making an Elder Fashioned is nice and simple. All you need is 60ml of your favourite Bourbon whiskey, 15ml of elderflower liqueur (shop-bought or homemade), 2.5ml of sugar syrup, and a dash of orange Angostura bitters. Stir these ingredients together with ice and strain into a short tumbler, serving with a large block of ice and an orange zest twist. You can of course add extra garnishes like a fresh sprig of elderflower blossoms, or something in a complementary colour like chamomile or nasturtiums.
This recipe is perfect for those who like something light, delicate, and not overly sweet. Borage blossoms are small star-shaped flowers that have purple and blue hues, while basil leaves add a pop of bright green and a savoury edge.
Make a borage basil syrup by heating 10ml of honey with 10 ml of water in a small saucepan. After simmering on a medium heat, transfer to a bowl with 40g of borage blossoms and 10g of torn basil leaves. Leave this to infuse for at least an hour.
To make the gimlet, muddle six basil leaves with a tablespoon of the syrup and a tablespoon of fresh lime juice. Add 20ml of gin and shake this for a minute, before straining into a glass and topping up with a splash of soda water. Serve with ice and a sprinkle of plucked borage blossoms.
“If you’re a fan of the Chelsea Flower Show or simply want to celebrate the return of spring, why not let this floral theme inspire your next happy hour? There are plenty of flowers that are not only perfectly safe to eat, but can instantly elevate your homemade cocktails from good to showstopping!
“You can find pre-dried flowers at many fine food stores, but if you’re foraging for your own, always wash them before use and ensure that you are 100% certain about the flower’s species. Only buy or forage flowers that are clearly classified as edible, and if you’re ever in doubt, don’t eat them. Whether you make infused syrups, liqueurs, or spirits with the petals or simply use them as a garnish, using fresh flowers is the perfect way to toast the springtime.”
– Steve King, Managing Director of Bottled and Boxed