Mint Chocolate Martini

Creamy cocktail flavoured with chocolate and mint.

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I made this cocktail to show off the deliciously rich flavour of my cocoa nib vodka. The combination of double cream and mint syrup really bring out the chocolate flavour and make seriously indulgent drink.

This makes a fantastic after dinner treat and will definitely impress guests!

You could probably use any chocolate liquor instead if cocoa bin vodka, you might need to adjust the amount of syrup through!

Variations: I was thinking of making this a mocha martini by using some Tia Maria and a pain sugar syrup.

Ingredients: Serves one

  • 30ml cocoa nib vodka
  • 25ml double cream
  • 30ml mint syrup
  • 1tbsp cocoa nibs
  • ice
  • mint spring for garnish.

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To Make:

Place a few cubes of ice in a cocktail shaker, then add the cream, mint syrup, vodka and cocoa nibs.

Seal and shake hard for 30 seconds to fully incorporate the cream.

Strain into a chilled sherry or martini glass, and garnish with ice and a sprig of mint.

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Damson Gin

Gin, flavoured with sweet and fruity damsons.

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This year, while picking sloes, we were lucky enough to come across a really big damson tree! At first we thought we had just come across a bush with unusually large sloes, but we soon realised the leaves and branches were different, and that we must be picking something else. A quick search on the internet told us that we were indeed picking damsons, which are much more rare and exciting!

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We filled a large carrier bag and spent a few hours at home looking up recipes. I read that damson gin is supposed to be even more delicious than sloe gin, so I decided we should probably make a few batches to enjoy at Christmas.

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We are making a sloe and damson wine with the rest which is very exciting, but it won’t be ready for another year! So I’m glad I will have some damson gin to enjoy while I’m waiting.

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Variations: You could add some winter spices to your gin, to give a more Christmasy feel – cinnamon and all spice berries would work well.

Ingredients: Makes around 900ml

  • 500g damsons
  • 200g sugar
  • 750ml gin

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To Make:

Weight out 500g of damsons and wash. Then use a sharp knife to cut a small slash in the side of each damson and drop into a large >1.5L kilner jar.

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Weigh out 200g of sugar and add to the damsons. Then pour over 750ml of gin.

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Seal the jar and shake vigorously to start dissolving the sugar.

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Store in a cool dark place and shake semi- regularly for 3 months.

Then strain out the damsons from the gin, and pour into sterilised glass bottles.  Store in a cool dark place.

Serve over ice and enjoy!

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Sloe Gin

Gin, flavoured with deliciously sweet, tart and fruity sloe berries.

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Last year was the first time I made flavoured gins from foraged fruit, and sloe gin was the one that got me started on this obsession. I had always been told that sloe bushes were rare, and that people were very protective of any they knew about, so when we found one on a walk last year I was really excited!

However I have since realised that this is definitely a myth, or something people who don’t go on a lot of countryside walks think! Since then I have found lots of sloe bushes, often on the sides of countryside paths or in field hedges, so I’m sure anyone could find one if they look hard enough.

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Sloes grow on a thorny bush called the blackthorn bush, with tear shaped leaves and very long spikes on the branches. It flowers in early spring with little white flowers, so it’s worth keeping an eye out at that time of year as you can easily identify a few sloe bushes to come back to in winter!  The mayflower or Hawthorn bush also flowers at this time of year, but it’s bushes have leaves that are toothed, so they are easy to tell apart! You can also make gin from Hawthorn berries though.

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BLACKTHORN (prunus spinosa)

Traditionally, sloes aren’t picked until after the first frost, as the freezing breaks their skins, allowing them to release their juices into the gin more easily. However now you can just pick them when they are ripe and freeze them overnight to mimic the process. (Alternatively, if you are short of freezer space you can prick them individually with a needle!)

You can tell if a sloe is ripe by giving them a squeeze between your fingers, they should give a little, and if they are very ripe the skin will break and some juice will be released. If they are rock hard, they are unripe, and you might want to wait a week or two before picking them.

Now is the perfect time to start your sloe gin,as it will be ready just in time for christmas, and a bottle will make an excellent gift.

Variations: You can add lemon or orange peel to the berries to give your gin a slightly citrusy flavour, you could also add some wintery spices at this point which would be really good for drinking at Christmas.

One of my favourite variations we tried last year was adding a vanilla pod after you bottle the gin and leaving it to develop for a few months before drinking.

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Ingredients: Makes around 800-900ml

  • 400g sloes
  • 200g sugar
  • 750ml gin

To Make:

Weigh out and wash 400g of sloe berries. Place in a bag, and freeze over night.

Remove the berries from the freezer and tip into a large (>1.5L) kilner jar. Add the sugar to the jar, followed by the gin.

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Close and seal the jar, then shake to help the sugar dissolve. Keep shaking semi-regally for a few hours until the sugar has almost dissolved.

Store in a cool dark place for three months, shaking occasionally.

Once ready strain the gin through a sieve and pour into sterilised glass bottles and seal.

Don’t throw away the used sloes, you can still do something with them! You can make a sloe port, sloe vodka or sloe jam.

The gin can be drunk right away, but the flavour will develop if you leave it in the bottles for as long as possible. Some people say that sloe gin is better the older it is, and keep bottles for years before drinking.

Serve over ice and enjoy!

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Red Currant Liquor

A deliciously refreshing liquor flavoured with tart and fruity red currants.

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Back in July I started to make some summer fruit liquors, among them was a red currant liquor, which has been developing for the last 12 weeks, and which I finally got to bottle and taste this week!

The flavour of this liquor is absolutely delicious, and dare I say it, better than the sloe and elderberry liquor I made last year! The red currants have given the liquor a really juicy, summery taste which I love, I’m sad that I only made one batch as I’m sure I will have finished it in no time.

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This is not a liquor to be mixed, as it is perfect served neat over ice.

I will include the beginning stages of the recipe again in this post. If you can get your hands on some red currants then I can really recommend that you try this recipe!

Variations: I think adding some other flavours to this liquor could work nicely, I would like to try adding some lemon or orange peel to the berries.

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Ingredients: Makes around 900ml:

  • 700g red currants
  • 750ml vodka
  • 200g sugar

To Make:

Weigh out 700g of red currants, wash and transfer to a large kilner jar.

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Muddle the red currants in the jar, to release their juices, then add the sugar.

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Pour over the vodka and shake to infuse. Leave in a cool dark place for 3 months, shaking every few days.

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Three months later…..

Sieve the redcurrant flavoured vodka into a clean pan, and discard the red currants.

Use a funnel to pour the liquor into a sterilised glass bottle. Seal, label and store in a cool dark place.

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You can use the liquor immediately, but it will only improve with age.

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Elderflower Gin

Gin, flavoured with zesty orange, lemon and fresh citrusy elderflowers.

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I picked so many elderflowers when I made my elderflower cordial that I couldn’t resist having a go at making some elderflower gin.

I made some elderberry and sloe gin last autumn which was absolutely delicious, so I thought I’d try doing the same thing with elderflowers.

The recipe for this is really very simple, it just requires about 1 month to infuse.  Now is the perfect time to get one started as the elderflowers are in full boom!

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Ingredients: Makes about 800ml

  • 750ml bottle of gin
  • 50 heads of elderflower
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 limes

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To Make:

Remove any insects from the elderflowers and use some scissors to snip off the flowers into a large bowl. Wash the flowers and transfer them to a large kilner jar.

Use a potato peeler the peel the zest off the oranges and limes and add this to the kilner jar, then squeeze in the juice.

Pour in the sugar, and finally the gin. Press the elderflowers down with a spoon to make sure they are all fully submerged in the gin. Shake the jar until the sugar dissolves, then leave in a cool dark place.

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Leave to infuse for about 3-4 weeks, shaking regularly.

I took mine out this week because the top layer of elderflowers were starting to turn brown:

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Strain the gin through a muslin bag, and taste it. I wanted mine to be quite a bit sweeter, so I have added another 200g of sugar.

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Once the sugar has dissolved, pour into a sterilised glass bottle and store in a cool dark place.

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Enjoy on the rocks, or mixed with tonic water for a pimped up G&T.