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.
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.
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.