Nettles, dandelions, and brambles start giving cocktails a new twist

Sting and tonic, anyone? Nettles, dandelions, and brambles could start giving cocktails a new twist… After weeds took pride of place at the Chelsea Flower Show

  • ‘Mr Plant Geek’ and influencer Helena Nicklin devised the ‘Sting & Tonic’ drink
  • It comes after nettles featured prominently this year’s Chelsea Flower Show 

Eyebrows were raised when weeds took pride of place at last week’s Chelsea Flower Show.

But now experts predict dandelions, nettles and brambles could soon be all the rage in your cocktail glass too.

They recommend experimenting with homemade stinging nettle G&Ts and dandelion root espresso-style martinis.

Weeds were once seen as a scourge, but featured prominently in several of the show gardens at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show.

Nurseries at the Royal Horticultural Society event were even spotted selling common weeds as ‘wildflowers’ – at £129-a-tray.

They recommend experimenting with homemade stinging nettle G&Ts and dandelion root espresso-style martinis

Sting and tonic:

Tip: When harvesting the nettles, it is very important to use scissors, wear long sleeves and gardening gloves to ensure the raw nettle does not contact your skin. 

To make your own nettle infusion, add 100ml of water and a large handful of clean, young nettle leaves to a pan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. 

Reduce the heat to low and let the leaves simmer in the water for about 15-20 minutes. 

Strain through a fine sieve, discarding the used leaves. 


50ml herbaceous gin 

100ml Indian tonic 

20ml nettle infusion 

Handful of fresh mint leaves 


Step 1. Fill a highball glass or wine glass with ice to the top, pour over the gin and the nettle infusion, then stir. 

Step 2. Top up with tonic to taste. Clap the mint to release the flavour and press down into the glass.

Online supermarket Ocado paired drinks influencer Helena Nicklin with Michael Perry, ‘Mr Plant Geek’, to make classic cocktails blossom.

The duo devised a ‘Sting & Tonic’ – steamed nettle leaves replacing cucumber slices to add a ‘herbaceous and zesty twist’ to G&Ts.

And they used roasted dandelion roots as a substitute for coffee and spiced rum instead of vodka for their ‘Espress-no Martini’.

Mr Perry says that dandelions, nettles and brambles are ideal ingredients for budding mixologists, keen to experiment with exotic, earthy flavours.

He said: ‘These ingredients could be right under your nose – or rather right under your feet in the garden.

‘There has been an increase in foraging over the last three or four years and weeds are very much ‘on trend’.

‘We are increasingly allowing them a place in the garden and with their use in cocktails we are seeing another dimension as well.’

Mr Perry says that stinging nettles add a ‘bitter tang’ to G&Ts and dandelion roots make for martinis with a ‘sexy coffee flavour’.

He also recommends picking wild strawberries and raspberries and sloe berries for delightful drinks and using thistles and daisies as decorative garnishes.

He added: ‘As Brits, we’re beginning to realise that our appreciation of plants, flowers and weeds doesn’t just need to be restricted to the garden.

‘There are so many ways in which classic botanical staples can be infused into our favourite things and what’s more British than a summer cocktail?

‘With these suggestions, you’ll be surprising and delighting all your guests this summer.’

Mrs Nicklin also predicts that weeds will increasingly appear in imaginative DIY cocktails this summer.

She said: ‘The traditional spirits are so versatile that I can see Brits using them as the base for most of their summer sips but coupled with a few unexpected ingredients and floral twists.

‘I think we’ll see all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours and garnishes gracing gatherings this year.’

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