I'm presenting a cocktail masterclass for Cambridge Food & Wine Society tonight. The highlight of the evening should be the preparation of the CFWS signature summer cocktail. In attempt to distill the flavours and scents of summer into a measurable form I have prepared this delightful syrup to be the cornerstone of the cocktail. In addition to it's main purpose as a cocktail ingredient it is delicious served simply with water and ice (and a jazzy straw). Perfect for cooling down and replacing some electrolytes in this wonderful good weather. A cocktail recipe using the syrup will follow next week.
Warning - this recipe is not quick and easy. Only attempt if you are feeling energetic.
strawberry, gooseberry & lemon balm syrup (makes approx 1.4L)
large bunch lemon balm (enough to fill a std bowl with leaves)
Dissolve 500g of the sugar in 500mL of water over a low heat. Take off the heat, crush the lemon balm leaves gently and add to the sugar syrup. Allow to infuse off the heat. In a separate saucepan, heat the washed gooseberries, barely covered in a little water, until the skins break. Take off the heat and add the prepared strawberries. When cool, crush the mixture with a potato masher until reasonably smooth. Add the cooled sugar syrup (including the lemon balm) and allow to sit and infuse overnight in a cool place. In the morning, strain through a colander or wide sieve into a saucepan to remove the bigger pieces of debris. Add the remaining 350g sugar (or more to taste) and heat gently to dissolve. Once dissolved take off the heat and allow to cool. I strained an additional two times. The first time by passing it through a fine sieve (and pushing through with the back of a spoon). The second time through a sieve lined with muslin (and no forcing through) in order to get a sparkling clear appearance. This last filtration is slow so I let the last bit drip slowly overnight. Resist the temptation to force it through!