If you’re struggling to feel Christmassy in 2020, you need to get yourself down to Petersham Nurseries, pronto. Its Richmond and Covent Garden outposts are positively laden with festive cheer. Somehow, as you’re perusing stocking fillers and panettones, even the jingling Christmas tunes sound more sophisticated. Failing that, Petersham Nurseries has brought its favourite Christmas cocktail to you, with a recipe bound to get even the most dedicated Scrooge humming quietly to Santa Baby.
Sloe gin is the star ingredient, a much-underrated ingredient in the drinks cabinet you’ve no doubt been accumulating this year. According to old wives tales, the best time to pick sloes is after the first frost when the berries are ripe and juicy and bursting with flavour. You don’t need to be in the middle of the countryside to find these hedgerow berries, either. Hampstead Heath, Wimbledon Common and Battersea Park all have plenty of sloes to be picked right about now. Once you’ve picked the berries, simply mix one part sugar, two parts sloes and four parts gin in a Kilner jar and leave for a month or two, shaking whenever you remember.
If there’s anything more wholesome than foraging sloes and infusing them with gin or vodka to make your own liqueur in the run up to Christmas, we’d love to hear. Alternatively, there are some excellent ready-made sloe gins on the market. It’s great drunk neat from a hip flask on a frosty walk, or topped up with champagne.
Petersham Nurseries, however, likes to make something a little more elaborate with its sloe gin. “Something quite magical happens when lemon, egg white, sugar and booze come together in a shaker, as they emulsify to make that frothy white layer that tops proper cocktails,” says Lonan Bann-Murray, Bar Manager at Petersham Nurseries’ Covent Garden restaurant. “This is a wonderful, yet simple cocktail to make at home in the run up to Christmas.” Regular gin can be used instead of the shiraz barrel aged one in the recipe, or you can spice it up with amaretto.
25ml Sloe gin
25ml Four Pillars shiraz barrel aged gin
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg white
2 dashes angostura bitters
Top up with soda
Glass: Champagne coupe or martini glass
- Add the lemon, sloe gin, shiraz gin and egg white to a cocktail shaker without ice and shake hard to froth the egg.
- Add ice and shake further.
- Strain into a glass, add a splash of soda and serve.
Looking for more cocktail inspiration? Here’s how to make Raffles’ Singapore Sling…
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