This party drink will be the stunning centre piece for any Jubilee or summer bar!
Foraged Sweet Woodruff is the basis for this wonderfully refreshing aromatic party drink which is very popular in Germany. I think it would be a royal highlight for any Jubilee Party or indeed giving any summer party an elegant touch.
The botanical bit
The plant can be found covering the ground in large patches in light beech woods. Again, as for many of my Shropshire foraging walks throughout the year, Wenlock Edge is the ideal hunting ground.
Sweet woodruff plants bear clusters of small, white flowers and reach 15 -20 cm height (with a slightly greater width). The individual upright stems bare 6-8 equal sized leaves resembling a star. Rub the leaves between your fingers to detect a sweet fragrance of vanilla and hay which intensifies when dried.
The intensity of the fragrance of sweet woodruff’s foliage increases when dried, and its aromatic quality lasts for years. The fragrance of sweet woodruff herbs has been variously described as resembling new-mown hay or vanilla. And as provenance to my very decimated herbalist knowledge > this is caused by the Cumarin in the plant an ingredient helping you sleep or curing headaches, but can be nausea and dizziness inducing in consumed absolutely huge quantities. No good blaming the herb for any hangovers after enjoying May punch though – that will be most likely caused by the alcohol in the following recipe!
But now to the fun bit …
Go for a lovely stroll to pick your Sweet Woodruff. When you find a decent patch select stems which are not in flower yet, the aroma fades with flowering! You will need about 3 – 4 decent sized stems per litre of punch. For the recipe below you should have a small bunch of about 12 stems. Don’t worry wilting it when carry on walking for another hour or so … drying the herb will be necessary to extract the full perfume anyway. When you get home check for any dirt & creepy crawlies you might have brought with you from the woods and bind the stems together with a longish piece of clean string almost like making a bouquet garni or “teabag” to dip into your wine. Leave your bouquet of Sweet Woodruff to dry for a couple of hours before using.
- 3 -4 litres punch bowl or jug
- 2 bottles ( = 1400 ml) of crisp white wine
- 700 ml of good quality of lemonade
- 1 bottle of sparkling wine
- 1 lime sliced
- 1 small handful of clean daisy heads
Make sure that all liquid ingredients are properly chilled in the fridge.
Empty the wine (of your liking or budget) into a large jug or punch bowl which will hold about 3 – 4 litres.
Drop the dried bunch on the string into the wine making sure that the cut ends of the stems are not immersed in the wine. This could cause a bitter taste.
Cover the May punch base and put in fridge to keep chilled.
Leave the punch base to infuse for at least 3 hours, but best overnight.
Remove string with Sweet Woodruff and add homemade vanilla sugar and stir to dissolve in flavoured wine.
To keep the punch nice and bubbly add all other ingredients just before serving to your guests.
Enjoy your party!