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Ellen’s Drinks Recipes

Chokecherry Bounce: a Rye Cocktail

What exactly is a bounce? Rumor has it that cherry bounce was one of George Washington’s favorite tipples, and Martha’s recipe for the beverage survives to this day. In this foraged version, I’ve substituted chokecherries for cultivated cherries, and rye for the more traditional brandy. And while many bounce recipes are heavily spiced with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, I’ve kept it simple with just three ingredients. Once you’ve made the base infusion, you can enjoy it any way you’d like: poured over a single large ice cube, sipped neat from a coupe, combined with a sploosh of seltzer, or garnished with a few Luxardo cherries. Any way you drink it, Chokecherry Bounce is an exceptional adult beverage. (more…)

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Naturally Effervescent Queen Anne’s Lace Tonic

I never know what to call this kind of beverage. A cordial? A soda? To some people, the word cordial means a liqueur, but this drink is alcohol-free. And the word soda brings up mental images of two-liter bottles of Coke (at least to me!), so that’s not right either. This is an effervescent, naturally fermented, non-alcoholic beverage that will knock your socks off. So I’m calling it Queen Anne’s Lace Tonic, and here’s how you make it. (more…)

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Bear Bait: a Tequila Cocktail Recipe

Usually, coming up with the perfect cocktail name is harder for me than coming up with the perfect cocktail. Not this time. This time the name came to me in a flash. As I picked both the berries and the milkweed flowers, I was painfully aware that I wasn’t the only mammal leaving foot prints in this field. Hence…the Bear Bait tequila cocktail! (more…)

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Milkweed Flower Cordial Recipe

Every June I look forward to making elderflower champagne, but this year constant rain has washed away the elderflower pollen, with its natural yeasts and fragrance. If there’s no scent, I don’t bother. Fortunately, milkweed stands up to our wet weather, and the color, scent, and flavor of this milkweed flower cordial are outstanding, rain or shine!
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May Wine Recipe: It’s Easier than You Think

Ok. I didn’t get this posted in time for May Day. So sue me. But since sweet woodruff (aka Galium odoratum) is plentiful all summer long, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy this infusion any time of year. May wine is made by steeping sweet woodruff in white wine. Drying the herb before infusing it concentrates the flavor of the woodruff and accentuates its lovely, hay-like scent, full of sweetness and vanilla.

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Foraged Nocino: a Delicious Liqueur Made from Unripe Nuts

While most people think of nocino as a traditional Italian digestif, the recipe actually originated in Britain. The Picts (a Celtic tribe from Scotland), were known to become euphoric after drinking it, and I get that. They harvested green walnuts at the summer solstice, and at the same time celebrated the new green walnut harvest by drinking the previous year’s brew. Legend has it that the Romans took the recipe for nocino back to Italy when they left Britain behind. (more…)

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Foraged Chai Masala Recipe

I am not a tea drinker. I have nothing against it, but coffee is my go-to, hot beverage. But yesterday afternoon my thoughts turned to chai, maybe because it’s been cold and we got a late snow, maybe because I was in need of something warm and comforting, or maybe just because it was tea time. Once I realized that chai masala simply means tea blend, that opened up a world of possibilities. Freed from the recipes based on tropical spices, I came up with my own, foraged chai masala. It’s freakin’ amazing.

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Nettle Cordial Recipe (and a Bonus Cocktail)

Many foragers appreciate stinging nettles as mild-flavored, nutritious, spring greens. We use them in pasta, stews, and soups. But not everyone realizes that stinging nettles can also make a tasty wild beverage. Stinging nettle cordial is a refreshing herbal drink that can be enjoyed on its own or in a flavorful adult beverage. (more…)

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Prickly Pear Syrup Recipe (and a How-to Video!)

No matter how many times I cut open a prickly pear fruit (aka tuna) I’m surprised by its color. On the outside they’re a pretty pink, but cut the fruit open and bam! It’s a vibrant magenta you wouldn’t expect to find in nature. Prickly pear syrup is a great way to preserve both the flavor and color of this fruit, and it’s easier to make than you might think. (more…)

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Wild Ginger Syrup Recipe

Making wild ginger syrup is a great way to preserve our native wild ginger. In liquid form, wild ginger can flavor cocktails, soft drinks, sorbets, crepes, or marinades with its complex and versatile taste.

For years I’ve used wild ginger freshly chopped or dried and powdered. That’s great for baking, but liquids are better for certain applications. By making wild ginger syrup, you get both. When the syrup is done, you’ll be left with candied wild ginger, which can be frozen or dried, and used later as a spice. (more…)

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