Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

People often say that Los Angeles doesn’t have seasons. It’s true that we don’t experience the conspicuous cycle of spring-summer-fall-winter. But by slowing down, taking walks, and paying attention, I’ve come to cherish the rhythm of our micro-seasons and the fleeting moments of sensory experience they offer. For a couple of weeks in February I spend as much time as possible inhaling the sweet-scented citrus blossoms and pink jasmine, while in May I marvel at the explosion of purple jacaranda flowers before they descend onto the pavement.

Right now we’re in the midst of two fantastically overlapping seasons: the elder trees are covered in creamy blooms and the loquat fruits are ripening into juicy golden orbs. Which means my kitchen is filled with an intoxicatingly fragrant vat of steeping elderflower cordial, the beginnings of an elderflower liqueur, and 25 pounds of loquats plucked from our cousins’ tree. It seemed only natural to celebrate this moment and combine these flowers and fruits in the form of a cocktail.

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

Fresh loquats and elderflower liqueur make excellent partners; both have a delicate yet complex flavor that brings to mind flowers and citrus, as well as fruits like peach, pear, lychee, passion fruit, and grape. (There are 800 loquat cultivars so flavors vary!) Because my elderflower liqueur is not yet ready, for this recipe I used St-Germain. Some years I make small batch of homemade elderflower liqueur if I have extra blossoms leftover from another project. (Hank Shaw has a nice liqueur recipe.) However, my homemade bottle rarely lasts very long and St-Germain is so reliably exquisite that I’m just as happy to use that.

Some good resources for identifying and foraging loquats:
Foraging Texas
Purdue University

For those of you who don’t have access to loquats, you might bookmark this recipe for later in the summer when you can substitute a small peach.

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

3 to 6 loquats, depending on size
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (see Note)
2 dashes orange bitters
3/4 ounce elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain
2 ounces white rum
Small loquat, for garnish

Cut the loquats in half; remove and discard the seeds. Muddle the loquat halves and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the bitters, elderflower liqueur, and rum. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To garnish, cut a small slit into the loquat and perch it on the rim of the glass.

• Note: Depending on how sweet or sour your loquats are, you may want to adjust the amount of lime juice to strike the right balance for your tastes.

• Variation: To make a fizzy drink, strain the cocktail into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish.

Makes 1 drink

p.s. If you’re in the LA area and want to learn how to use elderflowers and loquats for food, drinks, and herbal medicine, I have two upcoming workshops for you:

• April 11th I’m teaching a Wildcrafting with Elderflowers class with my friend Rebecca Altman from Kings Road Apothecary. We’ll feed you elderflower cocktails and cake and, more importantly, you’ll come away with a deep understanding of how to gather and use elderflowers for pleasure and healing.

• April 19th I’m teaching a Loquat Celebration and Workshop with Otherwild. We’ll meet under a loquat tree for loquat lore, tastings, and foraging tips, and then you’ll make your own loquat liqueur, cocktail, and fermented ketchup/chutney.



Wood Sorrel Gin Smash

Wood Sorrel Gin Smash

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although this holiday is traditionally associated with the shamrock or clover, where I live wood sorrel is easier to find and forage. Both plants are edible and both have three leaves, but an easy way to tell the difference is that wood sorrel has heart-shaped leaves.

clover vs. wood sorrelclover (Trifolium) on the left // wood sorrel (Oxalis) on the right

Wood sorrel is also known as sour grass and I especially like using it in drinks because it has a tart, refreshing flavor that can complement or take the place of other sours like lemon or lime. Look for it in moist, shady spots in forests or even your backyard from spring to summer. All wood sorrel species are edible — from the leaves to the stems and flowers — although some are more palatable than others. If you encounter some, just give it a nibble and see if you like it. (Note that wood sorrel is high in oxalic acid and should be avoided or used sparingly if you have kidney stones.)

wood sorrelIreland? No, Los Angeles!

I hiked over to one of my favorite neighborhood gathering spots and harvested a few handfuls to make some festive green cocktails. Here’s a simple one to highlight your favorite gin — I used St. George Botanivore. Make sure to gather the stems along with the leaves, as they’re particularly juicy.

Some good resources for identifying and foraging wood sorrel:
Foraging & Feasting
Eat the Weeds

Wood Sorrel Gin Smash

1 generous handful wood sorrel leaves and stems
1 ounce simple syrup (see below)
2 ounces gin
Sprigs of wood sorrel, for garnish

Place the wood sorrel and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add the gin and fill the shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly, and strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with wood sorrel.

Makes 1 drink

Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for another minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Makes about 1 cup


Griffith Park Plant Walk: 3.21.15

Griffith Park

Griffith Park Plant Walk
Saturday, March 21, 10am-12pm
Los Angeles, CA

The winter rains have brought an abundance of edible and medicinal plants to Southern California! On this plant walk I’ll show you how to identify many common “weeds” with tips on how to use them for food, drinks, and herbal remedies. In addition, we explore wildcrafting and foraging ethics and ways to connect with nature in our urban environment. I will also bring a wild drink for everyone to sip.

Limited to 20 people. We will walk approximately 2 miles with the option of hiking a steep slope. Wear comfortable shoes and bring water. You may also wish to bring sunglasses, hat, camera/phone, and notebook.

Secure your spot: Griffith Park Plant Walk

Griffith Park Plant Walk