This foraged cocktail does double duty by putting purslane (a pesky garden weed) and Japanese knotweed (an aggressive, invasive species) to delicious use.
When you can use weeds in your cocktails, it’s a win-win. You eradicate a few pesky plants and you get a delicious adult beverage. Most people don’t realize that the purslane they pull out of their garden beds is the same purslane you’ll see at the grocery store or farmers’ market for $6.95 a pound.
Purslane is chock-full of omega-3 essential fatty acids, making it a very healthy weed indeed. But who’s kidding whom? That’s not why you’re making this drink. Purslane has a lemony, peppery flavor and gives this drink a gorgeous green color. In its prime it’s a succulent plant; that’s when you want to harvest it for this cocktail. Once the plant has flowered and set seed, it’s usually not juicy enough to flavor the drink. Don’t give in to the temptation to pick purslane from city sidewalks, where dogs and pollution may sully your harvest. The last six to eight inches of stem are most succulent and work best in this cocktail.
And because I can’t resist playing with plants, I’ve added two more wild edibles to this recipe. A Japanese knotweed pickle takes the lemony flavor up a notch and adds a little heat.
Japanese knotweed is generally despised by gardeners and environmentalists. It’s an aggressive plant, spreading rapidly by both seed and underground runners, and it’s very difficult to get rid of. Foragers, on the other hand, celebrate the appearance of Japanese knotweed shoots in spring. The young shoots make a crunchy, tart pickle with a strong lemony taste. Knotweed loses its pretty green and red colors once it’s pickled, but it retains its crunch and the tart flavor is exceptional.
A salt rim made with pink peppercorns adds complexity and spiciness.
I prefer my margaritas straight up, but you may serve yours on the rocks if you prefer. And before you say anything, yes, it’s a generous drink. You got a problem with that?
Get Off My Lawn
Makes One Drink
- Fresh lemon juice, for the rim
- Salt and pink peppercorn blend, for the rim
- 3 ounces reposado tequila
- ½ cup juicy, fresh purslane
- 1 ounce Cointreau
- ½ ounce verjuice or lemon juice
- Quick Pickled Japanese Knotweed Stems, for garnish (recipe follows)
- Rim a margarita glass first in lemon juice and then in the salt and pink peppercorn blend and set aside.
- Combine the tequila and purslane in a blender and pulverize until the purslane is thoroughly liquefied.
- Strain the green liquid through a jelly bag. Transfer the strained liquid to a shaker filled with ice and add the Cointreau and verjuice. Shake for 30 seconds, then strain into the rimmed margarita glass and garnish with a Japanese knotweed pickle or two.
The color of the purslane tequila fades with time, so use it quickly.
Quick Pickled Japanese Knotweed Stems
Makes 3 (4-ounce) jars
- 1½ cups Japanese knotweed stems, stripped of their leaves, washed, and sliced into ½- to ¾-inch-long lengths
- 3 cloves garlic
- 9 small hot chiles
- 6 (1-inch) pieces dried wild ginger rhizome
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Combine all the brine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the brine simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. (Japanese knotweed turns mushy when heated, so this pickle is best made with a cooled brine.)
- Set out three sterilized 4-ounce jars. Into each one put ½ cup sliced Japanese knotweed, one garlic clove, three chiles, and two pieces of dried wild ginger rhizome. Pour in enough brine to cover each jar’s contents, seal the jars, and refrigerate.
- You may eat your knotweed pickles after a few hours, but the flavor will be better after 24 to 48 hours. These pickles will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
EXCERPTED FROM THE WILDCRAFTED COCKTAIL © ELLEN ZACHOS. PHOTO © KELLER + KELLER PHOTOGRAPHY.