Last weekend we made gorse flower rum. High up in the hills and woodland, the gorse bushes were blanketed in bright, canary-yellow petals. The individual blooms have a fragile scent that echoes a combination of coconut, vanilla and pineapple. And the collective fragrance of a whole gorse bush, amplified by the warmth of sunshine, reminds us of beach holidays and sun cream. We could have foraged what we needed just a few steps from the start of the walk, but we decided to stroll on until we found a particularly pretty gorse grove, just off the footpath, interspersed with fir trees.
Carefully, we picked enough gorse flowers to fill a couple of 350ml Kilner jars. The plants are so prickly it’s almost impossible not to spike a finger or two, and wearing gloves just seems to make it harder to pick the delicate little blossoms. The key, we find, is bare hands and slow, unhurried gathering. A gentle pinch between fingertips and a tug at the very base of each flower will release it intact from its thorny surrounds. Experience has taught us that the newly opened flowers on the sunniest side of the bushes tend to offer the most flavour to the rum.
Making gorse flower rum is incredibly simple. We follow John Wright’s recipe from his excellent River Cottage Handbook No.12 ‘Booze’. In line with John’s instructions, as soon as we got home, we completely covered the jars of flowers with white rum, closed the lids, and gave them a little shake. After two days the golden infusion was filtered through some muslin cloth and bottled up. It keeps for a good few months.
Gorse Flower and Raw Honey Mojito
- 1/2 lime, cut into quarters
- 6 large fresh mint leaves
- 6 fresh gorse flowers (optional)
- 1 tsp honey, ideally raw and unpasteurised (or to taste)
- 2 handfuls crushed ice (just pop a few cubes in a clean tea towel and whack it with a rolling pin a few times, or blitz them in a blender)
- 25 ml shot of gorse flower rum
- 80 ml soda water or sparkling mineral water
- gorse flowers and a sprig of mint to serve (optional)
Use a muddle to gently squash the lime, mint leaves, gorse flowers (if using), and honey together in the bottom of the glass.
Add a handful crushed ice to the glass and then pour the gorse flower rum shot over the top. Stir everything together using the end of a straw (we use reusable stainless steel ones, which are a great, eco-friendly alternative to plastic).
Top up the glass to the brim with another handful of crushed ice and pour over the soda or mineral water.
Add the straw and a final garnish of mint and gorse flowers. Serve immediately.
These are the eco-friendly reusable stainless steel straws that we use.