Bols around the Woods
Cocktails with locally foraged ingredients
We live in a world now where you can get any ingredient from all over the world and any time of the year. But how good would it be if you could get all the ingredients you want for your cocktail, just around the corner of your bar? Historically we have been getting our food and water as close to where we live to save energy we desperately needed to survive. There weren’t many cities back then of course, but even the city center of Amsterdam is a source of fresh and original ingredients. Chefs and restaurant owners worldwide have embraced the foraging concept and get their local ingredients from the woods and the forage. If it works in the kitchen, it should definitely work in the bar for your cocktails.
On the 16th of January we took the House of Bols bar-team on a foraging trip in the direct area of the House of Bols. Together with Lynn Shore from UrbanHerbology.com we went to the Museumplein, P.C Hooftstraat and Vondelpark to harvest and look at local ingredients for our Bols cocktails. Lynn explained us that almost every plant you see in the city is usable as ingredient. There are some important things you have to take in account when you go foraging. First off all, if you don’t know what you are doing, always check with an expert. Never go foraging without knowledge, there are many plants that can be poisonous. Secondly, foraging should always be done with respect for the environment. Don’t take away all the herbs and plants from one spot. Make sure you don’t ruin the woods or parks you forage in. Ask permission to the council if you want to forage in a citypark. If you stick to these rules, you are ready to go!
Image: Edible plants in het Vondelpark
Though freezing cold, we managed to find some amazing herbs, plants and berries that just grew everywhere. At the Paulus Potterstraat, just five meters from the main entrance of the House of Bols, we found our first treasure, chickweed, which can be used as a replacement for lettuce in salads. Walking on we found rosehips, sea buckthorn, eucalyptus and passion plant in the P.C Hooftstraat. All berries and plants you can use the leaves, berries and branches of in your drinks. Lots of plants and trees have parts you can eat and give great flavor.
My personal favorite of the foraging trip was sweet cicely. A plant in the celery family that has an amazing taste that is reminiscent of anise. The leaves and roots of the plants are edible. I used a 50% abv neutral grain spirit to make an infusion. My favorite cocktail is a Genever Sazerac and my tincture makes for a great replacement of absinthe. For the sweet part of my Sazerac I made an elixir of Bols Vieux and sea buckthorn and angelica root infused honey. Both the sea buckthorn and the angelica root were foraged locally. I am still thinking of a local substitute for the peychaud’s bitters, but until I found something, I will use the original peychaud’s as only non-Amsterdam Zuid ingredient. I am thinking of making a bitter out of daisy’s and rosehips, I will let you know the results as soon as I know!
Just around the Corner
- 50 ml Bols Genever
- 10 ml Sea Buckthorn
- Angelica root elixir
- 5 ml Sweet Cicely Tincture
- 2 dashes peychaud’s bitters
- Put all ingredients in a stirring glas.
Stir for twenty seconds and strain into pre-chilled old fashioned glass.
Garnish with a dried daisy.