The Taste of Early Summer in a Glass
Nature is so clever at pairing flavours together and letting them conveniently ripen at the same time. Gooseberries and elderflower do just that, ripening in early summer while the garden and countryside is still a fresh light green, before the dusty days of summer.
Homemade gooseberry gin and homemade elderflower syrup form the basis of these 3 cocktails, combining the delicate flavour of elderflower with the freshness of gooseberry infused gin. Try them. It’s easier than you think to make. And rewarding to sit back and sip your own concoctions.
I make my own elderflower syrup (find out how here) and grow my own gooseberries. My one small gooseberry bush, bought as a sad specimen from a garden centre’s bargain bench, unfailingly yields a full colander every year. Some of these go into baking, another passion of mine, and some to make homemade gooseberry gin.
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Making Homemade Gooseberry Gin
Surprisingly this gin doesn’t turn out green. I think I was rather disappointed when I first made it. I was hoping for pale chartreuse. But sadly the gin was clear.
The flavour though was clean fresh gooseberry. Who would think that juniper and gooseberries would pair so well together?
Scale up the quantities if required.
250 ml London Dry Gin
100 g gooseberries
Tip: use a good supermarket gin for this recipe. The balance of juniper will be just right. Save your expensive craft gin for a G&T. The botanical kick will knock out the delicate flavour of gooseberry.
Clean the gooseberries. Top and tail them if you wish.
Cut them in half and put in a clean Kilner jar together with the gin.
Leave for a week or two. No longer. Alcohol is an excellent solvent. The gooseberries are a soft fruit and cut open they will infuse into the gin in no time. It really isn’t necessary to steep them for months. You just want to steep them long enough to extract all the flavour.
And then get on to mixing your cocktails!
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Gooseberry and Elderflower Fizz
Gin fizzes are so versatile, easy and fun to create. You can make something quite elegant and light with only a couple of ingredients. They are a great starting point for those of you who are not familiar with making cocktails – yet!
Here, I’ve used my 2 signature ingredients, combining homemade gooseberry infused gin with elderflower presse. I bought the presse but it is just as easy to make your own by adding a little homemade elderflower syrup to sparkling water. You can always substitute the presse for prosecco and bump up the alcohol content of your fizz.
Glass: Highball or champagne flute
50 ml of your gooseberry gin
Pour the gin into a chilled glass.
Top with elderflower presse.
Garnish: fresh elderflowers
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Now for a slightly more complex cocktail. This one combines gooseberry and elderflower with fresh zesty citrus and is one of my all-time favourite cocktails. Created by Matt Gee at the Milk & Honey bar in New York.
The original recipe calls for London Dry Gin but I think this combination is more fun and evocative of warm sunny summer days. Lemony silky smooth.
45 ml / 1.5 oz gooseberry gin
30 ml / 1 oz homemade elderflower syrup or St. Germain liqueur
5 ml / 1 bar spoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 ml / 1 bar spoon freshly squeezed lime juice
15 ml / .5 oz pasteurised egg white
Shake ALL the ingredients with ice in a shaker.
Normally you would dry shake a mixture containing egg white first but in this instance, you are not trying to create a head of foam but create a silky texture.
Fine strain into a martini glass.
Garnish: lemon and lime zest
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My original recipe. I have a thing for creating cocktails based on the flavours of my favourite desserts. In a previous post, I created a Lemon Meringue Pie cocktail.
Of course, it isn’t really a pie. But I can dream.
Ingredients for the ‘pie filling’:
60 ml / 2 oz gooseberry infused gin
22.5 ml / .75 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
15 ml / .25 oz simple syrup
Shake in a shaker with ice.
Fine strain into the coupe glass.
Tip: Don’t be put off by the thought of making a cocktail foam. They are quite simple to make and add a nuance of flavour to the mix. A ‘foam’ is just a fluffy head of protein. Doesn’t sound very appetising, does it? And if you didn’t flavour the egg white it would make your cocktail smell and taste unappetisingly eggy. But by adding a small amount of flavoured syrup or liqueur to the egg white you create a cocktail that has layers of complexity.
Ingredients for the ‘pie crust’:
This is essentially an elderflower foam.
30 ml / 1 oz pasteurised egg white
7.5 ml / 1 and a half bar spoons homemade elderflower syrup or St Germain liqueur
Dry shake in a chilled cocktail shaker to emulsify the egg white and create a frothy foam.
Or just cheat by using a mini electric whisk.
Pour the elderflower foam over the gooseberry filling to put the ‘crust’ on the gooseberry pie.
Garnish: fresh or dried elderflowers
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