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Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Mark and Rachel, Treganna Gin

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Mark and Rachel of Treganna Gin, who have given us the first Lockdown Cocktail recipe of this series! We’re looking for your stories, so please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown

We are Mark and Rachel of Treganna Gin, a micro-gin distillery that started-up in Canton in 2019. We have been turning to nature in  lockdown to keep us sane.

We’re used to living a city life; spending time in the parks and museums, joining the crowds watching the rugby and eating as many Salkaara curries as we can get our hands on.

Lockdown has forced us to live very differently for the past few months. We have stayed close to home, only venturing out into the garden or the little lanes around our house.

Getting out into the countryside has given us the chance to grow an appreciation of nature, re-establishing a connection which is almost totally cut-off by modern urban life. We have watched the gentle progression of spring; the buds appearing on trees, wildflowers blooming in hedgerows and the arrival of the migrating swallows.

On the back lanes around Cardiff, nature has taken over whilst the cars and council lawnmowers have stayed home. Have you noticed the abundance of wildflowers this year? The charity PlantlifeUK estimates that there are only 85,000 hectares of species-rich grassland in the UK. When you compare that with the 238,000 hectares of roadside verges you start to see how important these little mini-meadows are.

Above all, getting out into nature has helped with our mental health.

Lockdown has been difficult in different ways for almost everyone. For us we have found the chaos of working and looking after three children the hardest; it is exhausting and relentless. We miss our friends and family, the ones who come around and bounce the baby for five minutes or share a drink and laugh with us on a Saturday afternoon. Getting out once a day into the countryside instantly quietens the noise; the shouting children, the emails and the pandemic news all disappear. For an hour everything is ok again.

Spurred on by the resilience nature around us, we have used lockdown to start to learn more about the different uses for the plants around us.

After only two months we have learnt so much. Even the children have shown an interest. Our two year old can already recognise stinging nettles, sticky-willies and wild garlic!

Us adults have taken an interest in the edible plants, taking advice from books and online advice to make sure we don’t poison anyone! The wild garlic down by the river smells fantastic and makes the best pesto. Nettles are surprisingly delicious when you sprinkle them with oil and roast them like crisps. The Ribwort Plantain that sprung up outside our house is edible, but mainly it’s a natural antihistamine and fantastic for nettle stings picked up during said crisp making!

En hommage to the nature which has kept us sane these past few months, we’ve used our gin in a ‘forager’ cocktail. The drink includes forget-me-not and lilac flowers which can easily be found in gardens and verges around Wales.

Please remember! When foraging, always make sure that you can identify the plant accurately. When in doubt, leave it out! Seek expert advice if you are unsure. Please use common sense when foraging for ingredients. Leave one third for wildlife, one third for sustainability and one third for foraging.

Cardiff Foragers Gin Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 50ml Treganna Gin
  • 100ml quality tonic (we used Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic)
  • 25ml fresh lemon juice
  • 20ml sugar syrup (we used Monin Lavender syrup)
  • Edible wild flowers for garnish (we used forget-me-not and lilac flowers)

Method

  1. Fill your glass of choice with crushed ice, Treganna gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup
  2. Stir and fill to the brim with tonic water (add more gin or ice if you prefer!)
  3. Gather your foraged and washed flowers or herbs and decorate
  4. Enjoy!

Why not treat yourself, go order some Treganna Gin today! We’ve just put our order in…

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