WINTER BRAMBLE CHRISTMAS COCKTAIL
Although the sloe gin for this Winter Bramble Christmas cocktail can be bought easily in shops, there is nothing quite like picking the sloes and making your own. See the homemade recipe for Sloe Gin at the bottom of this blog. Our sets of stainless steel drink stirrers are a great addition to finish off any Christmas cocktail.
Prepared for us by @aslowgathering Sarah Hemsley.
1 (plus extra syrup)
10 minutes (plus steeping)
50ml sloe gin
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp bay & star anise syrup
½ tbsp crème de mûre or blackberry liqueur
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp golden granulated sugar
For the bay & star anise syrup
250ml granulated sugar
2 star anise
5 fresh bay leaves
To serve (optional)
1-2 fresh bay leaves
1-2 blackberries or red or blackcurrants
Lemon or orange twist
First make the bay and star anise syrup.
1 - Place the sugar and water in a pan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2 - Add the bay leaves and star anise and bring slowly to the boil. When the syrup begins to boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes until the syrup has begun to thicken slightly.
3 - Turn off the heat and put the pan to one side, allowing the bay leaves and star anise to continue steeping in the liquid until it has cooled.
4 - Strain the syrup into a sterilised glass jar or bottle. This can be stored in the fridge until ready to use.
To assemble the cocktail.
1 - In a cup or cocktail shaker, mix the gin with the syrup. In a blender- crush some ice - enough to fill each glass.
2 - Muddle 3 blackberries with the ground cinnamon and sugar at the bottom of a small tumbler glass.
3 - Place the orange slice and a bay leaf into the glass pressing them against the side.
4 - Fill the glass with the crushed ice. Pour over the blended gin. Pour over the crème de mûre.
5 - Decorate with a twist of citrus, 1-2 blackberries and a bay leaf or two.
A NOTE ABOUT SLOE GIN
Allowing enough time to make ahead (it needs time for the fruit to steep so that the flavours fully develop) making Sloe Gin is wonderfully easy and it can be decanted into smaller bottles and presented with pretty labels, tags or one of our 12 Days of Christmas decorations tied round the neck to give away as gifts this Christmas.
Sloes can be found on blackthorn bushes from early autumn onwards. Gather the sloes as soon as they are ripe. There is folklore that suggests waiting until the first frosts have passed before picking sloes, but this is considered a myth nowadays and can also be cheated by putting the berries into a bag and placing in the freezer for 24 hours before making the gin. This method also alleviates the need to prick the sloes with a fork to disperse the juice - by using frozen sloes they will naturally defrost and the skins burst slowly whilst macerating in the gin. Wash them before freezing so they can be tipped straight into the jar from the freezer.
Approximately 500g sloes, washed and frozen
250g caster sugar
1 litre bottle of your favourite gin
Bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, star anise, juniper berries as additional inclusions – optional
1 - Using a sterilised 2 litre jar, or by dividing the ingredients between 2 x sterilised 1 litre jars, add the frozen sloes so they fill the jar/s roughly halfway.
2 - Add the sugar and the additional herbs if using.
3 - Pour over the gin.
4 - Put the lid back onto the jar tightly and gently tip forwards and backwards to mix the contents.
5 - Place in a cool dark corner.
6 - Continue to gently shake the jar every couple of days until the sugar has dissolved. Then leave it until ready to drink.
7 - Sloe Gin is best left to steep for 2-3 months (at the very least) before straining the sloes out and decanting the rich red, fruity liqueur into sterilised bottles.