I had plans to make sloe gin but my excursions have come up short of berries; there aren’t that much sloes on the bushes because the spring was so cold, and what little is I’ll leave for the birds. Instead I decided to go all in with the quince liqueur this autumn.
Quinces I bought at the market, I went with a less expensive cognac but not the cheapest because in my experience that’s just nasty. It’s worth spending a little extra on this, especially since I’m thinking about giving some away as Christmas presents.
I’ve made this before with light rum and spices, with cognac and spices and this time it’s just fruit and booze. And a little sugar. The real sweetening however is done in six weeks time, and then it can be adjust to taste. The first recipe I used was from the web, this is a pared down version of that from The wonderful weekend book by Elspeth Thompson.
Quince brandy-based liqueur; yields almost 1 liter in the end
750 ml cognac/brandy (spend as much as you feel you can afford)
1 large quince
4 tablespoons of castersugar
- Rinse and dry the fruit. Then spilt it in quarters.
- Put the fruit pieces in a clean 1 liter jar, add the sugar and the pour the cognac/brandy over it. Closer the lid.
- Let infuse for at least six weeks.
- After six weeks; pour through a sieve and add around 2 dl of freshly made sugar syrup to the cognac/brandy, stir so it blends and put into clean bottles.
This is so easy to make, and such a great thing to have. Impossible to buy something similar in the shops. I’ve made several cocktails with it but just mixed with some champagne it’s wonderful.
Luckily for me, I have friends that give me berries and fruit on occasion. I like to forage for sure but I’m not above a bit of store-bought produce now and again if time is tight. And I’m even happier at being given stuff when I don’t have time to even browse the frozen section at the corner shop.
So I found myself with a couple of punnets of sour cherries. The are called Klarbär in Swedish and Amarelle in Italian (which I think we can agree is a superior name). They are, as the name implies, not as sweet as regular cherries. To be fair, it’s rarely enough sun and warmth for even the regular ones to be as sweet as they can be up here. But these are rather tart even when they are ripe. So what to do?
I did two things. First I tried a thing that I found on Martha Stewart, find the original here, which is basically equal amounts of cherries and bourbon that gets to sit in a jar with an orange zest for a few days and then is used for for an Old-fashioned. Mine has now infused for almost week; very nice and fruity but with warmth from all the spices in the bitters giving it a nice balance once blended into a cocktail. It’s giving me ideas I tell you. And this is such an easy thing to do. Just make sure the berries are in good knick (no mold or damaged berries) and always clean the jar properly. The bourbon of choice, if I’m gonna have it at home, is Bulleit bourbon. I have made scathing comments in the past about bourbon in general as I don’t find it a necessity but it is very nice on occasion. My main bourbon-peeve is people’s tendency to get their knickers in a twist about Maker’s mark which I find to be overly sweet and too expensive (does anyone else have a bourbon-peeve of any kind?).
The other thing was also drink related; I made a syrup/cordial with sour cherries. As I’m making this using something that has a stone it’s easier to boil them in water first and then let that filter through a clean cloth, and then mix the juices with sugar and bring it to the boil. As I plan to use this in the next couple of weeks I didn’t add any citric acid or anything else as a preservative. You can google recipes to get in measurements that you are used to. Basically I will use this instead of grenadine (i.e. pomegranate syrup) in some cases and I’m likely to experiment with using it as a replacement for regular syrup in a few classics. Will make the drink nice and pink, and it really is an interesting twist taste wise.