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Father’s Day is a week away and I have been feeling nostalgic. Growing up, I was a total daddy’s girl, a tomboy who preferred to spend a day putting earthworms on a hook and fishing with my father to painting my fingernails or playing dress up with the neighbourhood girls. I have fond memories of sipping Shirley Temples, (or, as my dad would refer to them, “kiddie cocktails”) layered with loads of extra maraschino cherries. They were my refreshing clubhouse reward for caddying 9 or 18 holes of golf with him after work from spring until the links closed each winter, well into my teens.

When Geoffrey was about seven, I recall him pointing at a pretty Pimm’s Cup and requesting his own glass “just like Daddy’s” at an afternoon garden party I was hosting at the farm. It was then that I decided to sort out a fancy long drink that would be sweet and sophisticated, yet alcohol-free, making it suitable for both smallies and grown-ups alike. In other words, the newly crowned kiddie cocktail of our crazy Irish country life. Dad would be proud.

Blooms of elderflower and honeysuckle paint the hedges that line our fields with splashes of soft ivory and vibrant pink from about the end of May through to July here, and it’s always good fun to spend an hour on a bright day collecting the delicate flowers from the trees to make cordial or other sweet treats. This Elderflower-Honeysuckle (Mock)tail is one of our favourites.

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Before I get to the recipe, I have loads of brilliant Sunday Bits of news to share! I feel like it’s been ages since we last caught up here, so grab a cup of jo or a glass of vino (or, perhaps a kiddie cocktail?) and read on……

First of all, my Chi-town Girl (now LA Girl) Meredith Sinclair, has released her first book and it is SO MUCH FUN!!!! I implore you to seek out a copy of Well Played, The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit filled with games, projects and adventures for the whole family. We’ve been experimenting here and I must say, it is keeping us more entertained than we’ve been in years, so thank you Meredith! It would certainly make a fabulous Father’s Day gift too.

y450-293Secondly, The Farmette Cookbook has received 2 amazing recommendations this month: one in the New York Times and one in Martha Stewart Living! I’m having a heart attack! SO much gratitude for these wee mentions, you give so much of yourself putting a book out into the world and hope and pray that it is well-received. I do not take any press for granted, I am very grateful.

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Myself and Cliodhna Prendergast have teamed up with Aoife Carrigy, Kildare Village and Só Collective to produce a series of From the Isle pop-dinners and Lens & Larder: Village Life food and styling workshops in the retail village. Our next dinners will be June 24th and 25th. Transport to and from Dublin is included in the 45 euro price for 5-course menu complete with a DIY Irish coffee tutorial as a send-off! We are working with the incredible talents of Grace Campbell of Grace & Saviour and Mark Grehan, The Garden on designing and dressing the dinner location, completely transforming a breezeway into a rustic green space with Sean Scully-inspired walls of linen.  Please book in, it will be like coming to a lovely little dinner party hosted by Cliodhna and I.  For more details and to reserve a place at our table, click here.

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Elderflower & Honeysuckle (Mock)tails

Refreshing and fruity, this blossoming combination of musky elderflower-honeysuckle nectar and sparkling water is the perfect thirst quencher for a long summer day, and it doubles as a dazzling drink for farm dinners al fresco.

5 lbs (2.5 kg) granulated or superfine sugar
51⁄2 cups (1.5 l) water
2 unwaxed lemons
1 orange
20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed
10 honeysuckle flower heads, freshly picked
Ice, to serve
Club soda or 7-up, to serve

Put the sugar and water into the largest saucepan you have. Heat without boiling over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
Pare the zest from the lemons using a vegetable peeler, then slice the lemons into rounds. Repeat with the orange.
Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the pan of syrup to a boil, then turn off the heat. Fill a large mixing bowl with cold water. Add all the flower heads, and swish them gently to loosen any dirt or bugs. Lift the flowers out one at a time, gently shake off excess water, and transfer to the syrup along with the lemon and orange zest and slices; stir well. Cover the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hours.
Sterilize glass bottles
Line a colander with a clean tea towel, and set it over a large bowl or pan. Ladle in the syrup, letting it drip through slowly. Discard the bits left in the towel. Use a funnel and a ladle to fill the sterilized bottles. The cocktail is ready to drink right away and will keep in the fridge for up to six weeks. Or you can freeze it in plastic containers or ice cube trays and defrost as needed. It keeps in the freezer for up to a year.
To make the cocktail, fill a tall glass with ice cubes, pour in 3 tablespoons elderflower-honeysuckle cordial, top with soda, stir, and serve. You may garnish the glass with elderflower and honeysuckle blossoms, if you desire.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen xx

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4 Responses to “Elderflower & Honeysuckle (Mock)tails”

  1. Krista says:

    I love this mocktail so much. 🙂 I’m nurturing an elderflower hedge here, but haven’t been able to grow honeysuckle yet. They are the flowers of my childhood and I miss them. 🙂

  2. Congratulations, Imen!! I’ve been traveling in Europe for a month, so I haven’t seen your book yet, but I’m sure it’s fabulous! Well deserved accolades, so I’m not surprised!

    I have honeysuckle growing here in my LA garden, but no elderflower. I may try a straight honeysuckle version. Thank you for all the recipes that you share!

  3. Linda says:

    Got your book and I am enjoying the recipes – so many good items to make and share. I remember ordering Shirley temples as well, I always wanted extra cherries….Thanks!

  4. I love both these flavors, and I have honeysuckle blooming all over my front porch, so I’m off to pluck blossoms!

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