Fruit Cocktails: the summer harvest shaken, not stirred
by Emma Cooper
© iStockphoto/Kadir Barcin
There’s still plenty left to celebrate this summer, not least the long-awaited luxury of eating garden-grown strawberries, raspberries and other soft fruits.
So save some of this summer swag from the dessert bowl and mix it with syrups and spirits to create the perfect garden party tipples.
One simple way to make the most of your homegrown goodies is to use them to perk up Pimm’s. The classic version adds mint leaves, cucumber slices, orange and strawberries to a mix of one part Pimm’s to three parts lemonade – but there are plenty of other options to experiment with. Try replacing the cucumber slices with borage flowers, and upping the soft fruit content for a deliciously different flavour.
But if you want something really fruity for your summer celebrations, try these cocktail recipes, starting with a trio of decadent, pudding-inspired drinks.
Summer Pudding Punch
If your garden is bursting with berries, try this boozy take on a British favourite.
500 ml gin
The juice of 5 lemons
250 ml fresh apple juice
100 ml blackcurrant cordial
100 ml cassis, or raspberry liqueur
A handful of fresh mint or lemon balm leaves (stripped from their stems)
A good handful of each of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
At least an hour before your guests are due to arrive, combine all the liquid ingredients together in a jug and chill.
Then pour the liquid into your punch bowl and add the fruit and herb leaves. Stir gently. Serve over ice in tall glasses.
Eton Mess Cocktail
Strawberries and cream is a truly classic combo – give it an extra kick and added crunch with this twist on a naughtily nice dessert.
Ingredients (per drink)
6 strawberries, hulls removed and chopped
35ml white rum
2 tsp agave syrup
1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry liqueur
25 ml double cream
For the glass:
A meringue, crushed to dust
Lemon/ lime wedge
Prepare each cocktail glass by rubbing the rim with a lemon or lime wedge and dipping it into the powdered meringue.
Put the strawberries into the bottom of a cocktail shaker and ‘muddle’ – crush them to release the juices. Add ice and the rest of the cocktail ingredients and shake thoroughly. Strain into the glass to serve, and garnish with a whole strawberry.
A Taste of Scotland
Scotland is famous for its raspberries so what could be better than a cranachan-inspired cocktail?
Ingredients (per drink)
A handful of raspberries
35ml Scotch whisky
2 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp raspberry liqueur
25ml double cream (for a more authentic flavour, try the new Oatly oat alternative to cream)
The drink is prepared in the same way as the Eton Mess cocktail – muddle the raspberries then shake with ice and the rest of the ingredients. Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.
The season for British strawberries is all too brief, but you can bottle up their essence to enjoy later in the year by making your own strawberry liqueur.
Start by thoroughly cleaning a preserving jar. Then pick out your best fruits. Remove their hulls, and prick each one a few times with a fork or cocktail stick to get the juices flowing. Fill up the jar with fruit and then pour in caster sugar until it fills the bottom third of the jar. Top up with vodka or gin, depending on your preference.
The tricky part comes next – you have to leave the jar on one side (in a cool, dark spot) for at least three months, and preferably six. Once you’ve done that, strain out the fruit (use it for a tipsy treat, rather than simply discarding it) and pour your strawberry liqueur into a clean bottle.
*The same method works for most soft fruit, and so it can be a good way to deal with a glut. Adjust the amount of caster sugar you use according to the sweetness of the fruit (but you can always sweeten the final liqueur later on if necessary).
The old legend goes that you shouldn’t pick blackberries after Michaelmas Eve at the end of September, as the Devil makes them bitter (by spitting or peeing on them, depending on the version of the legend!). It’s certainly true that blackberries are past their best by mid-autumn, so make use of the bounty while you may!
Ingredients (per drink)
A handful of blackberries
35ml gin or vodka
20ml lemon juice
1 tsp agave syrup
15ml blackberry liqueur (if you can’t find some to buy, or you are waiting for yours to mature, then try replacing the syrup and the blackberry liqueur with blackcurrant cordial for a slightly less boozy drink)
Crush the blackberries and shake with the other ingredients.
To serve, fill a tumbler with crushed ice, strain the cocktail mix into the glass and garnish with a slice of lemon.