Shoreside inspired drinks

13th December 2023

Christmas cocktail nights, seasonal hosting, or settling down with a warming drink over ice on a dark evening, add some coastal flavours and inspiration to your glass…

House seaweed bitters for umami notes, gin that could only have been made in St Ives or an oakwood and sea rosemary, alcohol-free, take on an after-work classic. What will it be?

Only in St Ives

St Ives Gin came into existence around six years ago in a restaurant looking out to St Ives harbour, says Tim at St Ives Liquor Company (Silco): “Considering the amount of G&Ts we sold and the fact we made everything else ourselves it made sense to make our own alcohol.”

Image credit: Silco St Ives Gin restaurant

What started with a locally-sourced and made gin has expanded to nine drinks: other gins, liqueurs and ready-to-drink cocktails are now on the menu at Eat Silco.

Image credit: Silco St Ives Gin

“From day one, we’ve foraged for botanicals from the surrounding area. No air miles, sustainable, and, so, competitively priced,” explains Tim.

The west Cornwall coastal stars of the show at Silco are bladderwrack seaweed and the shoreline plant samphire. “Their minerality and salinity really balance drinks nicely,” says Tim.

“We have always used gorse in our drinks; we find the slightly bitter coconut flavour works so well in cordials and infusions. We also use seaweed to add an additional umami note.”

Spritz sans-alcohol

Days spent in the north Cornwall surf as instructor and evenings at work in London bars led Alistair Frost and Ed Grieg-Gran to create Pentire, a maker of non-alcoholic spirits, aperitifs and cocktails founded on botanical flavours native to the Cornish coast.

And Pentire has just released its own sea-influenced take on an after-work classic, originating from Italy: the spritz. Like other Pentire drinks, this one has been “crafted in collaboration with some of the world’s best bartenders, who share our love for the outdoors,” says Alistair.

Image credit: Pentire Coastal Spritz

The Pentire Coastal Spritz aims for a balance of natural bitter flavours and refreshing coastal tones, taking the company’s signature coastal blend and combining it with tastes of blood orange, sea rosemary and oakwood.

The core flavours in Pentire drinks came together during experiments in a kitchen in Port Isaac, after Alistair’s discovery – with the help of a botanist – of 1000 different plant species growing along just one Cornish headland.

“It’s a naturally bitter and refreshing aperitif,” says Alistair.

Foraged cocktails

At Tom Thumb cocktail bar in Newquay the drinks menu is currently all about the RNLI with a selection of sea-themed spirits ready to mix. These reach further along the coastline to the Channel Islands, including Salcombe Island Street Rum and a Tidal Rum from Jersey.

 Image credit: Jamie Mitchell, Tom Thumb

The ingredients that go with the spirits though come from much closer to the bar. “We always forage for local ingredients,” says Jamie. “We are blessed to have many naturally occurring products to use along the coast. We have always used gorse in our drinks; we find the slightly bitter coconut flavour works so well in cordials and infusions.

“We also use seaweed to add an additional umami note. The added saline from seaweed also brings underlying notes and can add another element to the drink almost as if its seasoning the drink for us.”

On the current lifeboat-themed menu is The Oggin (an old maritime word for the sea). “We infuse gorse and cacao nibs through a pear cognac, and add a number of other ingredients all bought together by our house seaweed bitters,” says Jamie.

Another drink on the menu takes its name from an active member of the Newquay RNLI. The Dangerous Bri is a cherry-flavoured carbonated Negroni, made with Tidal Rum and a kelp seaweed dilution.

A measure of coastal plant-infused spritz with soda, something stronger with seaweed bitters or the fresh taste of the sea with tonic, just some of the shoreside inspired drinks produced and mixed around Cornwall. Why not add a splash of coastal wonder to your drinks line-up this festive season.