The Spring Equinox is one reason for celebration in the second half of March, besides St Patrick’s Day. By the Ides of March (today) the land is palpably stirring, at least it is on the European edge of the Atlantic. A committed bloomer in windswept places, gorse is the star of this spring cocktail from America Village Apothecary, in northern Connemara, County Galway.
“I have a love-hate relationship with gorse,” says Claire Davey of America Village. “I love its power; the coconut and vanilla notes that are reminiscent of exotic lands, even though it grows in the most barren of landscapes. I love that it is able to transport you, once you close your eyes and breathe in its aromas. I hate having to pick it, though!”
Read on for a recipe for a Gorse Sour Cocktail:
Images courtesy of America Village.
The Gorse Sour has parallels with that great American cocktail the Whiskey Sour. Instead, it is made with brandy, while the strangely exotic sweetness of gorse blossom in Gorse Syrup (€8 at America Village) is balanced by herbal bitters, all locally sourced by Claire Davey, who started America Village Apothecary in 2014. Besides running this small business (which supplies to Fortnum & Mason), Davey is studying botany and herbal medicine. This bolsters the knowledge she has absorbed since childhood and from her gypsy forebears, living in unconventional places and observing nature close at hand.
Gorse Sour Cocktail
103 brandy is a light Spanish brandy, aged in American oak casks previously containing sherry.
- • 50 ml 103 brandy (Brandy de Jerez)
• 15 ml Gorse Syrup
• 20 ml fresh lime juice
• 1 small egg white
• America Village Aromatic Bitters (€8)
Combine all of the ingredients except for the Bitters in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 15 to 20 seconds until nicely chilled. Strain into a coupé glass and float 4-5 dashes of Aromatic Bitters on the top.
Making peace with the gorse helps Claire through the painful task of foraging: “I believe the enormous spikes on the branches are there to protect it. I’m always mindful of its beauty and uniqueness when gathering the blossoms, and always like to ask permission first.”
The name “America Village” is the physical location of the apothecary, in Connemara, Ireland. Its origins are not entirely clear, since it precedes the Famine, yet it was at a geographical crossroads for migrants en route to America. An “America Wake” was the term used for the party given to people who were about to leave, forever.
Syrups, tinctures, and bitters are also available to order direct, from America Village Apothecary.
For more of our favorite festive (and seasonal) cocktails, see: