Tag Archives: gin

Pomegranate & Rosemary Shrub

Mr Colonial Cravings again with another boozy post. I had been threatening for some time to do another shrub and, when recently perusing our local supermarket I decided that pomegranate would be an excellent fruit to use in one. I was warned by Mrs Colonial Cravings about how finicky pomegranate is to deal with, and it turned out that she was once again correct! However, I’m glad I persevered as it makes a lovely base for a tasty shrub and I’d say it was well worth the effort.

pomegranate_shrub3

Ingredients

2 parts pomegranate juice
1 part white wine vinegar
1 part sugar
2 sprigs of rosemary

This is incredibly simple to make and as with the previous shrub it’s very tasty as either the basis of a soft drink or as a cocktail ingredient. Start by juicing your pomegranates (much better to try this with a blender and sieve, otherwise you’re left with the task of forcing it manually through a sieve a few seeds at a time which takes ages – believe me I know!). The reason this recipe is noted in ‘parts’ is simply because the amount of juice extracted from your pomegranates can vary massively based on your fruit and the time you’re willing to put into juice extraction.

Once you have your juice, measure out half the same volume of sugar in a bowl, add one of the sprigs of rosemary to the sugar and then lightly press them together. Don’t bash it too hard otherwise you risk extracting the bitter chlorophyll from the leaves as well as the flavourful oils we want, so be gentle. Once you’ve got it started, leave it to one side (for at least 15mins) and the sugar will continue to extract and absorb the herb oils for you from the lacerations in the herb.

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Combine the herbs and sugar, juice and vinegar together in a jar and shake until mixed together. Leave the jar in a dark, room temperature location for a couple of days and then remove the rosemary and store the liquid shrub in the fridge. It should now last for some time, at least a few months, although I’m sure you’ll have consumed it a lot sooner than that!

I’ve use this in a refreshing and simple gin based cocktail by combining equal parts gin and shrub and then topping up with soda water in a rocks glass finishing off with a garnish of fresh rosemary to emphasize the fragrance. As ever though, feel free to adjust the relative levels based on your own tastes as you build the drink. I’m confident that whichever way you go it’ll still go down very easily!

pomegranate_shrub1

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MANDARIN-BASIL SHRUB

Mr Colonial Cravings here, writing a guest post on my wonderful wife’s excellent blog! (you see I get to benefit from the fruits of Mrs Colonial Cravings efforts, so I really do think it’s excellent!)

mandarin basil shrub

A few years ago, while in a sleepy Cornish town, I was party to a very British tradition, the pub lock-in. My ticket to such a prestigious event lay with the old bar piano, on which I had been entertaining the locals with increasingly messy versions of Delilah, Your Song and Hey Jude (amongst other less memorable sing-alongs), increasingly messy because the locals had been plying me with the traditional Cornish tipple Rum & Shrub. I came away with an almighty hangover, but also with a taste for this new delightful beverage, and its similar cousin Brandy & Lovage.

Not only do they taste great, but they have a great story too. Shrubs have been around for a long time, according to ‘The Ark of Taste’ it was a colonial drink whose name derives from the Arabic word sharab, to drink, but by the time they arrived in Cornwall they took on their own unique purpose. Cornwall was a hot-spot for smuggling due to its abundance of coastline littered with many small coves, and one of the big items to smuggle was booze, in the form of French Brandy and Caribbean Rum. Trying to get a barrel of booze, in the dark, onto a small boat, into a small cove in the notoriously fickle seas around Cornwall could easily result in a dunk in salt water leaving you with a tainted product. No problem, just adding some Shrub or Lovage would mask that salty taste – proper job (as they say in Cornwall!).

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Anyway, fast forward to the present and I find in our new stateside home that Shrub is back again, and back with a vengeance. I’ve even got a book on it now and have found out you can make all kinds of yummy shrubs by combining fruit, vinegar, sugar, water and herbs. So Mrs Colonial Cravings asked me to have a play with a new shrub concoction and write a post about it. This is a simple shrub combining mandarin and basil, it’s incredibly easy to make and can be used in all sorts of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

Ingredients

2 mandarins
lots of basil (at least 20 leaves)
100g sugar
120ml white wine vinegar

Remove the zest from the fruit, trying to keep the amount of white pith to a minimum. Muddle the zest thoroughly with the basil and the sugar before covering and leaving it for 1 hour (this allows the sugar to extract the citrus oils from the zest).

Combine the oily sugar mix with the squeezed juice of the fruit and the vinegar. Stir it well so that the sugar dissolves and then strain the liquid into a clean jar and give it a good shake. Put the shrub in a cool dark spot and leave it for a couple of days for the flavours to mellow and mingle together. When it is ready store it in the fridge until you want to use it, the sugar and vinegar combined with the cold of the fridge should keep it fresh for a long time (although ours only lasted 6 weeks because we’d drank it all by then!)

Now you have your shrub there are many ways to use it, here are a few suggestions we tried but I’d encourage you to get creative and try others too.

Elderflower & Mandarin Martini – try this sophisticated drink for size.

blogmandarinbasilshrub_elderflowermartini

Ingredients

2 parts shrub
4 parts gin
1 part elderfllower cordial

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and then strain into martini glasses. Add a simple garnish of basil for presentation.

New-Fangled – my take on an Old Fashioned!

blogmandarinbasilshrub_newfangled

Ingredients

1 part shrub
2 parts bourbon
1 tsp honey
2 dashes of bitters

Warm the honey so it will dissolve more easily and then combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker (without ice), shake and then serve over ice in a rocks glass. Add a twist of mandarin peel for presentation.

Mandarin-Basil Mocktail – even the kids can get involved in this one, it makes a very sophisticated and refreshing take on a soft-drink.

blogmandarinbasilshrub_mandarinmocktail

Serves 2

1.5 oz shrub
1 tsp demerara sugar
big handful of basil
soda water

Muddle the basil (keep some leaves for garnish) with the sugar in a jug (or directly in the glasses if they’re sturdy). Add the shrub and then slowly add the soda water to keep the fizz. Serve in glasses with a garnish of basil leaves.

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SUMMER BLUSH

Summer blush- gin, prosecco & raspberry

I’m not a fan of champagne or other sparkling wines. I would much rather have a beer than a glass of Bolly.

This however is the exception. I guess it’s a bit like a raspberry Bellini but with the added bonus of gin. I’m not going to lie, this is what really sells it to me.
The botanicals in the gin (I’ve tried this with Green Hat and Hendricks, both are great) really complement the acidity of the raspberry and wine. And obviously because it’s sparkling, it’ll make you feel all kinds of fancy!

Summer blush- gin, prosecco & raspberry

Ingredients
Makes 4-6

1 small punnet of raspberries
2-3 tbsp really good gin (depending on how boozy you like things)
2 tsp icing sugar
1 bottle of chilled prosecco
mint leaves to garnish

Pick out enough nice looking raspberries for a garnish and then whizz together the sugar, gin and remaining raspberries in a food processor. Pass this through a fine mesh sieve to leave you with a smooth puree.
Add a generous tablespoon of the puree to each glass and top up (be careful, it’ll fizz up a bit) with the chilled prosecco. Garnish with the reserved raspberries and some mint leaves.

Summer blush- gin, prosecco & raspberry

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GIN AND LEMON TART

gin and lemon tart

I was recently sent a newspaper clipping with ‘useful’ tips for gin (thanks Kath). Some of the tips were a bit silly, “why not use gin as an air-freshener?” Because I don’t want my house to smell like a 18th century tavern. “Why not use it as an aftershave?” Because I don’t want my husband to smell like an 18th century tavern. “Why not use gin as a mouthwash?” Because I don’t want to get pulled over on my drive to the gym every morning.
One of the tips, however, did make a lot of sense to me. “Why not use gin in pastry?” The chemists daughter in me thinks this actually makes a lot of sense, not just from a flavour point of view, but because the alcohol will evaporate at a different rate to water, therefore giving you a lighter, flakier crust. That has to be worth a try. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for sticking booze in my food so why stop now? I think it worked too, the crust on this is rich and buttery but also very crisp and delicate.

gin and lemon tart
I like a creamy, custardy filling in a lemon tart, rather than the lemon meringue pie curd type. This one is very softly set and extremely tangy with a little warmth from the gin at the end. The booze also adds some very subtle botanical undertones so make sure that you pick a really nice quality gin.
I’m not sure that I could think of a better summer dessert than this!

gin and lemon tart

Ingredients
serves 12

Pastry
170g plain flour
100g cold butter
50g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
25ml citrusy gin (I used Green Hat spring/summer edition)

Filling
150g icing sugar
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
zest and juice of 2 lemons
200g sour cream
50ml of the same gin you used in the pastry

gin and lemon tart

Mix together the flour and icing sugar, ensuring that they are well blended. Cut the butter into small pieces and then lightly rub this into the flour mixture, until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Beat together the egg yolk and the gin and use this to bring the dry mixture together to form a nice soft dough, you might not need all of the liquid so add it a bit at a time. If you need more liquid then add a tiny splash more gin. As always, when making pastry, you want to keep the mixing and handling to the bare minimum so that it doesn’t become tough. Wrap the ball of dough in cling film, flatten it a little and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes to relax. Grease a 23cm, loose bottomed tart tin.

lemon & gin tart
After the dough has done relaxing, roll it out so that it is big enough to fill the tin. I do this between pieces of cling film so that I don’t work any extra flour into it but by all means use a lightly floured surface if you prefer that. Line the tin with the pastry, gently pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. I also tend to leave a little overhang (you can trim it after it’s cooked) to allow for any shrinkage during baking. Recover the pastry case and put it back in the fridge to relax again for 20 minutes whilst the oven pre-heats to 190°c.
Prick the pastry base with a fork and cover it with a piece of grease-proof paper and then pile on some baking beans. Bake the pastry case for 20 minutes, then remove the beans and uncover it before returning it to the oven for a further 10 minutes. Once it is fully baked take the pastry case out and turn the oven down to 150°c.
At this point you can start on the filling. Mix together the icing sugar and lemon zest in a jug, then beat in the eggs and finally the lemon juice. Leave this to stand in the fridge whilst the oven cools down (for 10-15 minutes) so that the flavours can develop. when you are ready beat in the sour cream and finally the gin, making sure the filling is very smooth.

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Doing a pretty good impression of Pac-Man!

Put the pastry case in the oven and carefully pour then filling into it in there, it’s much easier than trying to fill it and then transfer it to the oven, there’s no way my hands are that steady.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes. It should have a little wobble to it, like a cheesecake, when it’s ready. Turn the oven off and open the door but leave that tart in there to cool down before putting it in the fridge to chill before serving.
I’ve garnished mine with a couple of leaves that I made from some leftover pastry (which got a bit too brown!), a caramelised lemon slice and a dusting of icing sugar.

gin and lemon tart

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G & THAI (same same but different)

Thai gin and tonic

I love so much about travelling in Southeast Asia, the people, the culture, the landscape and obviously because I’m a glutton, the flavours. Fragrant and sweet and sour and fresh and creamy and spicy and all perfectly harmonious. But it’s not all massaman curries and jasmine rice. I’m just as happy to drink in the flavours with a gin and tonic. On a sunny evening, if I sit on my deck, block out the noise of the road and close my eyes I can almost pretend that I’m back in Krabi whilst I sip one of these.
I’ve used Bombay Sapphire East for this because it’s infused with lemongrass and Tanqueray Rangpur would also be nice but it’s not essential, just choose a gin that you really like.

To make the simple syrup cut a 6″ lemongrass stalk into three and give it a quick bash with a rolling pin. Stab a red chili several times (or slit it open if you want it really spicy) and put this and the lemongrass in a small pan with 70ml of water and 3 teaspoons of sugar. Gently simmer this for about 5 minutes and then leave it to cool. The longer you leave the chili and lemongrass in the syrup the more flavour and heat you’ll get out of them. I actually put it all in a jam jar and leave it over night and then strain it just before I use it.

Thai gin and tonic

Ingredients
makes 2
70ml of Bombay Saphirre East
2 tbsp chili-lemongrass simple syrup
squeeze of lime juice
tonic water

Stir together the gin, lime juice and chili-lemongrass syrup. Fill a couple of tumblers with ice and then divide the mix between them. Top each glass up with tonic water and garnish with a slice of lime and lemongrass stalk.

Thai gin and tonic

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ENGLISH COUNTRY GARDEN

Gin and rose cocktail

This dainty drink is pretty as a picture. (Mr Colonial Cravings was quite keen on it despite this – don’t tell him that I told you.) It’s delicately fruity and floral and just perfect for sipping as the evenings get warmer.
Hendricks is the perfect gin to use in this because it already has notes of rose in it, although I wouldn’t turn down one made with an alternative gin either…

To make the honey simple syrup you just need to use a 1:1 ratio of honey and water and simmer it for a minute or two. Allow to cool before using obviously.

Gin and rose cocktail

Ingredients
makes 2

70ml Hendricks gin
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp rosewater
2 tsp elderflower cordial
2 tbsp honey simple syrup
8 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters (to make it blush pink)

Put everything in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake together for a minute. Strain into pretty glasses and garnish with a lemon twist.

Gin and rose cocktail

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CHERRY RICKEY

cherry rickey

Rumour has it that the famous cherry blossom in Washington D.C will be in peak bloom soon. This makes me very happy – partly because it’s sooo very pretty (seriously, go and see it) and partly because it means that Spring is well and truly here!

This really does fill my heart with joy, so to celebrate I’m filling my glass with D.C distilled Green Hat gin, the spring version obviously and luscious cherries. Beautiful!
I’ve used the sort of cherries that come it bottles and jars so that I can use the syrup that they are packed in. If you use frozen ones just reserve any juice that is left once they’ve defrosted and mix it with some simple syrup.

cherry rickey

ingredients
makes 2

70ml gin (if you can get it use Green Hat)
1 tsp sugar
juice of 1 lime
30ml cherry juice
10(ish) cherries
soda water

Put the lime juice, cherries, cherry juice and sugar in a cocktail shaker and gently muddle it together, you don’t want to totally annihilate the cherries. Add the gin and plenty of ice and then give it a good shake. Pour into two rocks glasses, ice and all, top with a little soda water and garnish with a cherry and slice of lime.

cherry rickey

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