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We're welcoming back guest blogger, Lucy McOuat, and this time Lucy is talking garnishes, and not just any old garnish, one that you can grow yourself.  Whether you've green fingers or you're new to gardening it's the perfect project for the slower pace of life we've all been practicing.

Over to you Lucy. 

If there’s one thing I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy through this period of lockdown and ultimately furlough it’s a gin and tonic in the garden with the changing weather.

With the supplies to supermarkets beginning to return to normal, we can once again enjoy our Caorunn perfect serves over ice and delicately crafted cocktails as the sun sets in our uncharacteristically clear(ish) skies.

But for those of us still unable to get specific items – how can we use the good weather and slight relaxation of lockdown restrictions to our advantage?

Did you know that you can grow your own garnishes in something as small as a plastic tub from tomatoes?

Mint
This comes with the disclaimer that mint will take over your garden if you plant it into soil – so maybe just keep it in a pot, you’ll still get the great scent from it. Mint can be grown easily from cuttings, so next time you pick up a bunch in the supermarket (or sneak a stem from a friend’s garden) you can use this to kick start your own plant. Remove the leaves from the length of the stalk and stand in a cup or glass with an inch or so of water. Within around a week your mint should begin to root – you can then transplant into soil. Let it grow a little stronger before you move it outside and you’ll likely have mint for life!

What to do with all that mint?  Why not try a Summer Fruits G&T, Caorunn Mint Julep or a Ginitos.

Strawberries
Strawberries are fun to grow, however it’s most likely that if planting this year you won’t actually harvest any fruit until next year. It seems almost too good to be true, but all you need to grow your strawberries are the seeds from the outside of the fruit. I find that the easiest way to get the seeds is when blending the fruit into a puree, it’s a two birds-one stone scenario, you can use your puree in cocktails! Once you’ve blended with a little water to make sure that it’s not too thick, you sieve it out and you should be left with your seeds. It’s important to rinse these through so that they don’t begin to mould. You can then grow these in a warm spot indoors by planting in a seed tray with a little soil or you could keep in between two layers of moist kitchen roll until your seedlings are beginning to grow and will survive being transplanted into soil.

And, once your strawberries are grown you can enjoy them in a Caorunn Berry or Wee Pink Rose cocktail.

Edible Flowers
Chances are you already have these in your flower pots, so it’s worth having a nosy and seeing what you have available to you. If you aren’t keen on dunking these straight into your gin, why not use them to create a fancy alternative to typical ice cubes? They look insta-worthy and will help to infuse the flavours more slowly as the ice begins to warm.  Not to mention that edible flowers can really take your cocktail game up a notch, get inspired.

Rosemary
When establishing your rosemary plant it’s best to grow in a pot as it needs good drainage – nothing worse than a soggy plant! You can kick start your growth by taking a cutting and encouraging it to root. You want to take a cutting of around 10-15cm long, and like with the mint growth, remove the lower leaves to give a good length of stem. For each stem, you need to cut the bottom off at an angle just below one of the notches where leaves can grow. In a plant pot, insert into a well-drained pot ensuring to leave plenty of space between sprigs as the plants will grow exponentially!

Once your rosemary has grown, Caorunn have the perfect show stopping cocktail for you to craft, Don't Thistle My Pink.

Have you been a little more inventive with your drinks throughout lockdown? Be sure to share your results if you try any of these suggestions.  And if you're keen to hear more from Lucy, check out the Roaring 20s.

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