Friday, 5 October 2012

Fabulous Friday: Cocktail Hour

Blackberry Vodka

Rachel, Dublin

After weeks of waiting (actually only four but it's felt like more) my much anticipated blackberry vodka was finally ready for straining* this week.  As I poured the vodka through the sieve, the delicious berry fumes wafting up to me suggested that the vodka would be incredible on it's own, over ice, much like Aoife's rhubarb vodka.  I decided to take that a step further and used a special silicone mould I have to make ice shot glasses. 

I tried to make things a bit fancy by adding small black and red currants to the mould before I added the water.  While this looked very pretty, and gave a nice red hue to the glass, it damaged the structural integrity somewhat, meaning that I had to down my shot a little faster than I was intending, not that this was a problem I couldn't handle.  I was impressed at how much the flavour of the blackberries came across.

As tempting as it was to knock the whole bottle back as shots, I didn't commit myself to a month of shaking my mixture daily not to create some fabulous cocktails with it. 

Apple and Blackberry is a ubiquitous combination for good reason, the flavours of autumn, they complement each other perfectly.  This recipe is a version of one from the Difford's guide, with blackberry vodka in the place of muddled fresh fruit.  Make sure to get good quality, sharp apple juice.  The clear, sugary stuff from a carton would make this far too sweet.  I got the Karmine pure Irish apple juice below from Fallon and Byrne and the flavour is incredible.

On a side note, I did mention previously how I intended on following Nigella's suggestion of using the boozy berries to make her 'drunken fool'. However, all the colour and flavour of the berries had leached out into the vodka and the only texture remaining was from the tough central core; not appetizing. Instead, I pressed out any remaining vodka goodness and binned them.  Nigella's suggestion might possibly work if you had used larger shop-bought berries. 

apple and blackberry pie

2 shots of blackberry vodka (I used a 50ml shot measure)
1 shot of good quality apple juice
1 tbsp single cream
dusting of ground cinnamon
blackberry to garnish (fresh or frozen)
large handful of ice cubes

Place a large handful of ice in a cocktail shaker, add the vodka and juice and shake vigorously.  Strain into a martini glass.  Hold a teaspoon, with the base pointing upwards, against the edge of the glass, just at the level of the top of the liquid, pour the cream slowly over the spoon into the glass so that it floats on top of the cocktail.  If necessary, use the tip of a cocktail stick to swirl the cream so it covers the surface of the drink.  Add a berry to the side of the glass and dust with ground cinnamon.  I made an attempt at making mine a little fancy by holding a small piece of card above the glass so the cinnamon dusting would have a straight edge across the cream, my skills in this regard require some practice!  

The cream makes this a rich, decadent cocktail that easily falls into the category of 'dessert in a glass'; it's perfectly suited to this week where there has been a consistent chill in the air and the addition of a hat to my commuting wardrobe was required for the first time, next week, gloves!  

*Strain your vodka by pouring it through a fine sieve into a large jug or bowl.  Press the berries gently with the back of the spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.  If you wanted to get every last drop out of them I would advise straining them through a sieve lined with muslin so that you don't end up with too much sediment in your vodka.  If you are going to try Nigella's drunken fool recipe then skip the step of pressing or squeezing the berries.  Using a jug, carefully pour your vodka into a clean, sterilised bottle. 

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