Nasturtium and Grapefruit Paloma

Nasturtium and Grapefruit Paloma

Last week Gregory and I moved into a 1930s treehouse nestled in a wild canyon of Mount Washington in Northeast Los Angeles. After living in tiny Silver Lake apartments for 13 years, it’s an adjustment to no longer call that neighborhood home, but we’ve quickly fallen in love with the fact that we now have a real backyard. Each morning I wake up early and head outside to greet the elder, walnut, oak, and citrus trees, and to watch the comings and goings of squirrels, skunks, and Western scrub jays. And, naturally, I’ve been scoping out the yard for cocktail inspiration, like this nasturtium and grapefruit paloma, which I’m sipping on this Cinco de Mayo.

Nasturtium and Grapefruit Paloma

Margaritas may get all the attention, but the paloma is actually the more popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico. La paloma is Spanish for “dove” and this sweet and tart drink is typically made with grapefruit-flavored soda. Since I’ve been blessed with a white grapefruit tree in my new backyard (seriously, I can’t stop marveling over this!), I decided to use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. (You could also use fresh pink grapefruit instead of white.)

I also muddled in a small handful of flowers and leaves from the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), one of the most prolific and tasty invasive weeds in California. Peppery in flavor and full of vitamins A, C, and D, the nasturtiums give this cocktail a fun little kick.

Some good resources for identifying and foraging nasturtiums:
Eat the Weeds
The Horticult

If you don’t have wild nasturtiums in your neighborhood, you might also find them growing in gardens or sold in edible flower packs at grocery stores.

Nasturtium and Grapefruit Paloma

Lime wedge
Fleur de sel or Kosher salt
Small handful nasturtium flowers and leaves (torn into pieces if large)
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces blanco tequila
Ice cubes
Club soda, chilled
Grapefruit wedge and nasturtium flowers, for garnish

Moisten the outer rim of a Collins or highball glass with a lime wedge and coat with salt. Muddle the nasturtium flowers and leaves, agave nectar, and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the grapefruit juice and tequila. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into the prepared glass. Add ice, top off with club soda, and stir. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge and nasturtium flowers.

Makes 1 drink

p.s. Have you pre-ordered my cookbook yet? Get the details and your bonus here!

Wild Drinks

Signed Book Plate Giveaway!

Wild Drinks & Cocktails

My cookbook, Wild Drinks & Cocktails (Fair Winds Press), is now available for pre-order! The official release date is November 1, 2015. In the meantime, the first 300 pre-orders during the month of May will receive a free bookplate autographed by me (plus another secret bonus)!

How to Order Your Copy

You can order your copy of Wild Drinks & Cocktails anywhere books are sold:

• Order it at Amazon, Amazon Canada or Amazon UK
• Order it at Barnes and Noble
• Order it at Indigo
• Or order it at a local independent bookstore

How to Get the Signed Bookplate

Once you’ve placed your order, send a photo or a copy of your receipt with your mailing address to before May 31, 2015. You will receive a bookplate for each copy you order. If you already ordered prior to May, simply send your receipt, and you’ll also get a signed bookplate.


Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

People often say that Los Angeles doesn’t have seasons. It’s true that we don’t experience the conspicuous cycle of spring-summer-fall-winter. But by slowing down, taking walks, and paying attention, I’ve come to cherish the rhythm of our micro-seasons and the fleeting moments of sensory experience they offer. For a couple of weeks in February I spend as much time as possible inhaling the sweet-scented citrus blossoms and pink jasmine, while in May I marvel at the explosion of purple jacaranda flowers before they descend onto the pavement.

Right now we’re in the midst of two fantastically overlapping seasons: the elder trees are covered in creamy blooms and the loquat fruits are ripening into juicy golden orbs. Which means my kitchen is filled with an intoxicatingly fragrant vat of steeping elderflower cordial, the beginnings of an elderflower liqueur, and 25 pounds of loquats plucked from our cousins’ tree. It seemed only natural to celebrate this moment and combine these flowers and fruits in the form of a cocktail.

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

Fresh loquats and elderflower liqueur make excellent partners; both have a delicate yet complex flavor that brings to mind flowers and citrus, as well as fruits like peach, pear, lychee, passion fruit, and grape. (There are 800 loquat cultivars so flavors vary!) Because my elderflower liqueur is not yet ready, for this recipe I used St-Germain. Some years I make small batch of homemade elderflower liqueur if I have extra blossoms leftover from another project. (Hank Shaw has a nice liqueur recipe.) However, my homemade bottle rarely lasts very long and St-Germain is so reliably exquisite that I’m just as happy to use that.

Some good resources for identifying and foraging loquats:
Foraging Texas
Purdue University

For those of you who don’t have access to loquats, you might bookmark this recipe for later in the summer when you can substitute a small peach.

Elderflower and Loquat Daiquiri

3 to 6 loquats, depending on size
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (see Note)
2 dashes orange bitters
3/4 ounce elderflower liqueur, such as St-Germain
2 ounces white rum
Small loquat, for garnish

Cut the loquats in half; remove and discard the seeds. Muddle the loquat halves and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the bitters, elderflower liqueur, and rum. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To garnish, cut a small slit into the loquat and perch it on the rim of the glass.

• Note: Depending on how sweet or sour your loquats are, you may want to adjust the amount of lime juice to strike the right balance for your tastes.

• Variation: To make a fizzy drink, strain the cocktail into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish.

Makes 1 drink

p.s. If you’re in the LA area and want to learn how to use elderflowers and loquats for food, drinks, and herbal medicine, I have two upcoming workshops for you:

• April 11th I’m teaching a Wildcrafting with Elderflowers class with my friend Rebecca Altman from Kings Road Apothecary. We’ll feed you elderflower cocktails and cake and, more importantly, you’ll come away with a deep understanding of how to gather and use elderflowers for pleasure and healing.

• April 19th I’m teaching a Loquat Celebration and Workshop with Otherwild. We’ll meet under a loquat tree for loquat lore, tastings, and foraging tips, and then you’ll make your own loquat liqueur, cocktail, and fermented ketchup/chutney.