Strawberry and basil gimlet
Strawberries and basil are a delicious combination, and this simple cocktail allows them to take centre stage. The grind of black pepper draws out the flavour of the strawberries, and put together with the aromatic, sweet, earthy basil, you’ll have a smile on your face.
* 3 large strawberries
* ½ oz (15ml) agave nectar
* 4 basil leaves
* 2oz (60ml) gin
* ½ oz (15ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
* grind of coarse ground black pepper
Tools: cocktail shaker with strainer, tea strainer
Garnish: strawberry slice, large basil leaf
1. Put the strawberries and agave nectar in the cocktail shaker, and muddle thoroughly.
2. Smack the basil leaves between your palms to release the essential oils and drop in the shaker. Add the remaining ingredients. Fill the shaker two-thirds full with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds.
3. Double-strain the mixture by pouring it through the tea strainer, into the glass. Garnish with the strawberry slice and basil leaf.
This is the easiest cocktail to make, using whichever fruit is in season, yet it is also quite decadent because of the bubbles. Make it with prosecco but any sparkling wine will do, as long as it is dry to counteract the sweetness of the blackberry purée.
* 3 tbsp (45ml) Blackberry Purée
* 4oz (125ml) prosecco or other dry sparkling wine, chilled
Tools: barspoon, toothpick (cocktail stick)
Glass: Champagne flute or glass jar
Garnish: 3 blackberries on a toothpick
1. Pour the purée carefully into the glass.
2. Slowly add the sparkling wine, stirring as you do to combine the purée with the bubbly.
3. Garnish with the blackberries on the toothpick (cocktail stick).
To make the blackberry purée:
1. Take two cups (250g) of very ripe blackberries and place in a blender with two tablespoons (30ml) of lemon juice and ¼ cup (60ml) of simple syrup (recipe below). If you don’t have a blender, place two cups (250g) of very ripe berries in a small, non-reactive pan with two tablespoons (30ml) of lemon juice, ¼ cup (60g) of superfine (caster) sugar, and two tablespoons (30ml) of water.
2. Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved. Whichever method you use, you must then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any pips and ensure the purée is smooth.
3. Once made, store in the refrigerator and use within a couple of days. This recipe makes about five servings.
To make the simple syrup:
1. Heat the sugar and water on a low heat and stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add a tablespoon of 80 proof/40% ABV vodka to increase the syrup’s shelf life.
2. Once cooled, funnel into a sterilized bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks - up to a month if you have added vodka.
Tarragon and apricot caipirinha
We aren’t able to grow apricots at Midnight Apothecary but the local markets burgeon with the most delicious, sweet, and juicy ones in summer. They marry so well with French tarragon which we do grow, that we made this caipirinha in honour of the Soccer World Cup finals held in Brazil in 2014.
* 1 apricot, cut into 6 wedges (save 2 for garnish)
* 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
* ¾ oz (22ml) agave nectar
* 1 French tarragon sprig
* 2oz (60ml) cachaça
Tools: cocktail shaker, muddler
Garnish: 2 apricot wedges, tarragon sprig
1. Place four apricot wedges and the lime wedges in the cocktail shaker.
2. Pour in the agave nectar, and muddle thoroughly. Smack the tarragon sprig between your palms to release its essential oils and add to the mix. Add the cachaça and a couple of handfuls of cracked ice. Cover and shake hard for 20 seconds.
3. Pour (but do not strain) the mixture into the glass. Remove the shaken tarragon sprig. Garnish with a fresh sprig, to keep up appearances, and two apricot wedges.
Blackberrying with my mother when I was a young child formed my love of foraging and adventures with free food. The pleasure of finding those big, scented, sun-warmed berries, with their juice that drips down your fingers and chin, is hard to beat.
* 2oz (60ml) floral gin, such as Jensen Old Tom
* 1oz (30ml) blackberry purée
* 2 tsp (10ml) Grand Marnier
* 2 tsp (10ml) blackcurrant cassis or blackberry liqueur
* 2 tsp (10ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
Tools: blender, cocktail shaker with strainer
Garnish: blackberry and mint leaf on a toothpick (cocktail stick)
1. Chill the glass thoroughly in the freezer or refrigerator for two to four hours. Alternatively, fill the glass with ice.
2. Pour all the ingredients into the cocktail shaker, fill it two-thirds of the way up with ice, cover, and shake hard for 20 seconds. If you used ice to chill your Martini glass, empty it out.
3. Strain the contents of the shaker into the chilled glass. Pierce the blackberry and mint sprig with the toothpick (cocktail stick) and serve.
* Wild Cocktails From The Midnight Apothecary costs £16.99, but readers can buy it for £11.99, including p&p, by calling 01256 302699 (quote code C Q1).
* The Midnight Apothecary is open Saturday evenings, 5.30pm-10.30pm from Easter weekend to the end September. For details, visit brunelmuseum.org/uk