Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Cocktails and Victorian Hot Punch

Having written about Rose flavoured drinks for Christmas I was really pleased to receive an email on behalf of Hendrick's Gin. For the festive season they have partnered with Purl, London’s newly opened eclectic cocktail bar in the heart of Marylebone, to create The Hendrick’s Purl. This is a take on an old gin cocktail recipe (heated beer, gin, sugar and ginger) served in Victorian times. For those of us who can't make it to London (Purl will be serving the Hendrick’s Purl until the end of January) they have kindly sent me the recipe so that we can make it at home. For those who would like to visit Purl you can find it at Purl London, 50/54 Blandford St, W1U 7HX.

The Hendrick’s Purl

150ml Hendrick's Gin
1 litre of good quality hoppy ale
200ml cloudy apple juice
5 slices of satsuma
1 cinnamon stick
90g sugar
5g hops
2 cloves
1 dessert spoon honey
2 large splashes of Angostura Bitters
1 whole star anise

Heat ingredients in a pan. Simmer for 20 minutes then strain the hops out and serve with satsuma slices and a stick of cinnamon to garnish. Serves 6 people.

You can find Hendrick's Gin (£22.75 for a 70cl bottle) at Sainsbury’s Waitrose, Peckham’s and Harvey Nichols. As I mentioned in my earlier blog Hendricks is a most unusual gin as it uses a hint of Bulgarian Rose with cucumber essence. It is distilled in Scotland, in tiny batches of only 450 litres at a time. Hendrick's is the only gin made in a combination of a Carter-Head and copper pot still.

It is made by William Grant & Sons - an award-winning, independent, family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and still controlled by the fifth generation of his family. The Company distils some of the world’s leading brands of Scotch whisky, including the world’s favourite single malt Glenfiddich, the hand crafted range of The Balvenie single malts and the world’s fourth largest blended Scotch Grant’s, as well as selected other spirits, including Tulliore Dew and Sailor Jerry. I must admit I have never heard of a hot punch that uses hops before and I can't wait to try it. You can buy hops from hops2brew who are third generation farmers in Herefordshire by the 100g bag. We are just on the edge of hop growing country here and I used to love the smell coming from the local breweries as a child.

I hadn't realised that hops have only been grown in England since the 1400s. Before this period, brewers used a wide variety of bitter herbs and flowers, including dandelion, burdock root, marigold, horehound, ground ivy, and heather. Apparently hops were introduced here by Dutch traders operating in Kent and Sussex, though they were first used by Bavarian monks in the 8th and 9th Centuries.

Beer became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries - Queen Elizabeth I used to quaff a quart for breakfast, but others used it to drown their sorrows. Mary Queen of Scots had dark beer brought to her at Fotheringhay Castle, before she went to the block. Sir Walter Raleigh enjoyed a beer and a smoke on the morning of his execution.

We also have the Dutch to thank for Gin - the word is an English shortening of Genever, the Dutch word for juniper. The origins of Gin are rather murky but in the late 1580s a juniper-flavoured spirit was found in Holland by British troops who were fighting against the Spanish in the Dutch War of Independence. They gratefully drank it to give them what they soon came to call "Dutch courage" in battle.

If you are hankering after a cocktail this Christmas I have 2 suggestions, both using Hendrick's Gin:

The Hendricks Leaf

In a shaker muddle three wedges of melon and three wedges of cucumber, then add ice, a large (50ml) shot of Hendrick's gin, half a small shot (25ml) of Melon Schnapps and a small shot of sugar syrup. Shake well and strain into a Martini glass.

The Cucumber “Gimlet”

1 ¾ oz Hendrick's Gin
¾ oz Lime Juice
¼ oz Elderflower syrup
1 dash Orange bitters
Float of Champagne

In an ice filled mixing glass, combine ingredients (except Champagne). Shake and strain into cocktail glass (Martini glass). Add float of Champagne. Garnish: Three cucumber slices.



lostpastremembered said...

I am a new convert to gin after a lecture and tasting. Hendricks sounds like the drink for me! I must say, I've seen hops growing as an ornamental vine covering a porch and they are just lovely... I want to grow some to have my own hops to make lovely recipes like yours!

Sue said...

Thanks Deanna - hops are really easy to grow but watch out as they can take over and strangle nearby plants!