It’s silly season on the farm, with calves being born by the day, and fields frenetically bursting with life again. Very welcome providence given everything that is happening in our world, right? We have just been informed of an extension to our strict lockdown measures that were put into place again right after Christmas again. Looking at mid-April before we can travel outside of 5km radius (if not for essentials) again. Perhaps it’s just as well that we are so busy here, keeps the mind at bay from apocalyptic thinking.

Geoffrey is attending school classes via Zoom and he is doing very well with it. It’s great to have him home (he normally attends a boarding high school where he is in 3rd year = freshman) and we have all been working together on the farm more. It’s been wonderful to have my teen son actually showing me some of the ropes in the farmyard, (not that he’ll let me take a photo of him these days) and I must say, his knowledge and intuition with animals is quite impressive!

With all the sweet and subtle coconut/vanilla-scented Gorse blossoming in the hedgerows and shoreline pathways, I couldn’t help but harvest a little basket of its delicate spring flowers over the weekend. Gorse sugar (simply harvest/clean flowers, allow to fully dry, then powder with mortar and pestle and mix into granulated sugar) and syrup is incredibly easy to make and really adds a sunny boost as a wild ingredient for cocktails, mixed with sparkling water, or even blended into an ice cream base. Gorse flowers also have apothecary properties which aid in calming and soothing the digestive system.

This year I have decided to use this foraged gorse to garnish my Vernal Equinox tipple, inspired by a seasonal rhubarb martini conceived of by our friends at Ballyvolane House prepared with Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin shaken up with a gorgeous new rhubarb mixer by Dacha Drinks. Hope you’ll raise a glass with us to shepherd in the Spring Solstice on 20th of March.

Vernal Equinox Cocktail

Makes 2 cocktails

3 shots Bertha’s Revenge Milk Gin

2 shots Dacha Drinks rhubarb syrup

1/2 shot fresh lime juice

Gorse sugar and flowers, for decoration

2 ice cubes

1 cocktail shaker

2 martini glasses

Put all the ingredients together into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Chill the martini glasses by putting them in the freezer then wet the rim and press onto plate of gorse sugar. Pour the Rhubarb Martini through a cocktail strainer into the glasses. Garnish with gorse flowers. Make a toast and sip away!

Scullery Notes: For a twist, add a good splash of cold Ginjō sake to the cocktail shaker for a “Solstice Saketini” or simply replace all alcohol with sparkling water or tonic water for a refreshing non-alcohol version.

Slan Abhaile,

Imen x

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