There were whispers about things of beauty being brewed and bottled in West Cork; things of a very adult nature indeed. Made to majestically pair with crafted spirits, but equally good on their own as a grown up tipple. This is the world of Fintan’s – Small Batch Botanicals Handcrafted in West Cork.
Pamela Weaver and Janet Paterson are foodies and brewers – and from their home near Bantry in West Cork they have created a range of Botanical Syrups and Shrubs from exotic aromats and locally harvested berries.
Ireland is home to some ingenious small batch distillers, and for Pamela, it seemed disingenuous to their time and effort that there wasn’t an equally well-made mixer to pair with it.
Having gone as far as she could experimenting brewing beer at home, Pamela decided to try her hand at brewing tonics instead. The result is a small but beautifully curated range of Botanical Syrups and shrubs to compliment a craft spirit, or simply virgin, on its own, with some sparkling water as a refreshing adult-friendly non-alcoholic drink.
Having finally got my mitts on a bottle of each, I set about experimenting to see what goes well with each. I still haven’t cracked what to do with the Blackberry and Lime Shrub (my earlier attempts were lacking in something, so I have to return to it again!), but for Botanical Syrups 1 & 2 I am happy indeed with the results! The good news for you is that, like all my cocktail recipes, you don’t need any fancy kit to make them! So dive in, chin-chin, and set your watch to Cocktail O’Clock!
The range of Fintan’s come with a handy set of tasting notes. These helped enormously in identifying other flavours and craft spirits that I thought would work well with each.
Botanical Syrup No. 1 : Orange and citrus notes with an edge of tartness. Whole green cardamom and allspice berries round things out with a light spice note in the background.
By order of the king
Working the orange and cardamom hints and warming spicy background of Botanical Syrup No.1, I decided to bring it together with the rather superb Kinsale Mead Co’s Wild Red Mead, rich with tart berry flavours, and The King’s Ginger, a luxuriously warming ginger liqueur. The vanilla sugar dusted rim helps to soften the spices, heat, acidity and sweetness to give a pleasing finishing mouthfeel.
- 50ml Kinsale Mead Co Wild Red Mead
- 25ml Fintan’s Botanical Syrup No. 1
- 10ml The King’s Ginger
- 130ml Sparkling Water
- Vanilla Sugar and Orange to garnish.
- Muddle Mead, Syrup and King’s Ginger with slices of fresh juicy orange. Brush the rim of a glass with orange juice and dust with vanilla sugar. Strain and pour the mixture into the glass and garnish with orange.
Botanical Syrup No. 2 : Genuine cinchona bark gives this its classic, ultra-dry tonic notes. Wood and spice undertones complement the hit of quinine, with grains of paradise for a little pepper, rounded out with grapefruit and fennel.
I knew that I wanted to pair Botanical Syrup No.2 with gin, and my favourite of all is Beara Ocean Gin. It is distilled from West Cork whey and flavoured with sea water, sea kelp and fuchsia botanicals among many others. I’ve always been drawn to gin and passionfruit as a winning flavour combination, and with the prevalent grapefruit coming from No. 2 syrup for me, this just made sense! This is a juicy, tangy and uplifting cocktail, suitably able to transport you to somewhere hot and full of palm trees…
- 50ml Beara Ocean Gin
- 25ml Botanical Syrup No. 2
- Seeds and juice from 2 passionfruits
- Sparkling water and passionfruit garnish
- Muddle and then shake together vigorously with ice cubes the gin, syrup and passionfruit. Strain and pour into a martini glass, top with sparkling water and garnish with a passionfruit round.