When life gives you (Oldstead) Lemons…

22.12.17 | Cocktails and Drinks

By Benjamin Daniells

In the Black Swan garden there are three different types of plants. Some are workhorses, producing mountains of food whilst being taken entirely for granted. Others are more special, they produce unique flavours that can’t be found anywhere else. Finally, there’s a few with more charisma than the rest combined. They demand attention and we’re happy to give it to them, forgiving them for producing very little because the show is worth it.


There is one plant in particular that seems to have the ability to combine so much  – the Four Seasons lemon. It’s a truly appropriate name as flowers and fruit adorn this tree throughout the year.

Since it is such a brilliant talking point, we don’t rush to pick the ripe fruit, and most of the time there is glowing yellow and vivid green fruit side-by-side with fragrant blossom. Not so this week.


The notorious drinks team, infamous for their ability to try anything and everything whether ripe or not, were at it again. The yellow beacons in the tunnel proved too much and the first I knew of the harvest, was Seb offering a segment of lemon to taste, along with the warning that “it’s not what you’d expect”.

Imagine eating a lemon! You expect lip-pursing acidity, yet this was truly sweet and delicious.

Production combined with so much charisma – it’s easy to get carried away, dreaming of a garden in the Dolomites with a field full of these amazing trees. Lemons are not generally reckoned to be suited to our climate but if any, these are the ones to give a chance. At The Black Swan we try to focus on growing the delicious plants that thrive in our climate  so the fact that these do so much more than survive is rather wonderful.


This is where the genius of the drinks team shines through again. They have used our lemons to create a cloudy lemonade base and then partnered it with locally-foraged Douglas Fir, a favourite of ours with it’s own mouthwatering and truly surprising citrus flavour. The result is a soda that surpasses all expectation. It’s a marvel of a drink and so good that the guys have even agreed to leave the vodka on the shelf – a real treat for everyone whether driving or not. The lemon complements the fir perfectly and reflects exactly what The Black Swan is about.

Follow Ben over on Instagram @theblackswangarden to see what else he is growing and foraging here at The Black Swan at Oldstead.