Interlude: Liqueur of Empires

Before Christmas I made sloe gin for the first time, which I’ll be writing about at some point. It  inspired me – I took the cheapest of the cheap gin I could find, and by adding bits and pieces have turned it into something deliciously yummy and homemade. I don’t know why students haven’t turned to this before to make cheap alcohol taste good. Though a) thinking back the patience involved probably wouldn’t have gone down too well at university… I daresay a bottle of gin topped up with sloes and sugar would have been drunk hours after preparation as part of a dare or game of Ring of Fire, if not before the sloes and sugar were even added. And b) in their own fashion, they do… and skittle vodka certainly requires less effort than popping hand-picked pin-pricked sloes into a bottle one by one.

I’ve always been a fan of anything mulled and spicy (wine, cider, apple juice, chai latte, ginger cake; if it’s sweet and spicy then I’ll like it) so last week I decided to try making a mulled, apple-y spirit in a similar fashion to the sloe gin. After my adventures into making homemade bits and bobs in the Autumn term of first year post-uni (recipes to follow) I mentioned to Mum and Dad over Christmas that if they had any nice bottles or jars, they should pass them my way. Days later when Mum came to visit, she dutifully turned up with a huge box of jars and bottles, hoping to be filled with deliciousness (and possibly then returned to my parents as gifts no doubt). Amongst these treasures now occupying the dusty space on top of my wardrobe, were two lovely big square Kilner jars (my love affair with jars is possibly a bit peculiar, but I do derive enormous comfort and pleasure from a nice heavy jar). I picked up some fruit, brandy and vodka from Tescos – the thinking being that brandy on its own might be too much, whereas vodka alone has no flavour – dutifully sliced and cored some “succulent, sweet and fragrant” Empire apples, and pushed them into one of the square jars before pouring in half and half brandy and vodka to the top. I wedged in all the cinnamon sticks in the cupboard (two whole ones and enough fragments to count as a third) and some cloves and squished the whole lot around a bit. The next morning the apples had softened a bit, so I squeezed in some more sliced apples. The plan now is to leave it for 5-6 weeks before taking it home and using my mother’s apple press to squish out the apple juice. Then Google seems unanimous in its agreement on the instruction to add something to sweeten it, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. Left to its own devices after that for however many months, and fingers crossed it’ll emerge as something warming, spicy and delicious. Or just pleasantly drinkable. Results to follow.

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