Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?

Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail?

One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to dial up your taste sensation, you can add flavour to your syrup by simply adding extra ingredients of your choice while making it. Try flavouring it with mint leaves, citrus peel, ginger, elderflower, chili or blackcurrant. In fact, the possibilities are endless, so whatever floats your boat. If you’re into making cocktails with your gin, this is the ideal way to customise them to your tastes.

Keeping it sweet

Because it is a liquid sweetener, you can just pour it directly into your drink without the need to stir or heat the sugar – ideal to soften up the sharpness of a Tom Collins or to take the citrus edge off a French 75.  Plus, there’s one more advantage – keep your simple syrup in a bottle in the fridge (it should last a month or so). That way, it’s always handy for your impromptu cocktail making sessions. And remember, this is not just “gin juice”. You can also use it to sweeten up your favourite recipes, pour it straight into a long iced coffee or iced tea, just pour it into your morning cuppa when you run out of sugar.

Here’s an easy recipe for home made syrup.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • ½  cup of water

Steps:

  1. Add sugar and water to small saucepan on medium heat
  2. Stir until sugar is dissolved and add flavouring (if desired)
  3. Allow to cool and decant into a glass jar or bottle
  4. Seal lid and leave in fridge
  5. Kept refrigerated

One batch of simple syrup will last for around one month and is sure to sweeten even the sourest of cocktails!


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

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  • Hot sloe gin toddy: an easy recipe for autumn comfort
    Summer is officially behind us and these days, the weather’s much colder, the rain’s more frequent and sometimes you can even see your breath in the air. This is the season of long nights, darker mornings, conkers, log fires, cozy walks, sturdy walking shoes and Wellington boots. But it is also sloe gin season in … Continued

Hot sloe gin toddy: an easy recipe for autumn comfort

Summer is officially behind us and these days, the weather’s much colder, the rain’s more frequent and sometimes you can even see your breath in the air. This is the season of long nights, darker mornings, conkers, log fires, cozy walks, sturdy walking shoes and Wellington boots. But it is also sloe gin season in the UK.

You might have seen our interview with our friends Jenny and Hamish Prentice about how and when to harvest sloe berries. They’ve been making sloe gin in the Wiltshire countryside for years and they offered some handy tips on exactly how and when to harvest these elusive little berries and turn them into sloe gin. It’s well worth a read if you missed it. But once you’ve got your sloe gin, what exactly do you with it on a cold autumn evening?

Spice up those autumn nights

Well one thing you could do is warm yourself up with a delicious hot sloe gin toddy. So, we thought we’d make it nice and easy for you by giving you a simple recipe that will add a little spice to those cold, dark nights. When you’re trapped indoors (maybe enjoying the warmth of a log fire or wondering what gin based drink you should have) you could get your evening going with a burst of delicious, spicy alcoholic warmth.

Welcome to our hot sloe gin toddy – we think you’ll FALL in love with it (see what I did there?)

Ingredients: Continued

Ingredients: Continued

Slowly does it: why you can’t hurry a sloe gin

A short interview with our friends Hamish and Jenny Prentice, who’ve been harvesting sloe berries since they traded in the big smoke of London for the quiet beauty of the English countryside a decade or so ago. The couple now live in Wiltshire, in the gorgeous south of England and have been harvesting and bottling their homemade Sloe gin by hand ever since.

Every Christmas, Hamish and Jenny give me a gorgeous bottle of their beautiful, rich, warming, fruity, homemade liqueur as a present. I look forward to it for months. It’s so good that this year, I thought I’d ask them to share some of their sloe gin tips with the Barcelona Gin community.

This is what they told me:

How did you first discover the joy of homemade sloe gin?

Jenny and I have always been fond of food (and drink!). We delight in cooking adventurously using unusual, locally foraged ingredients. When we moved to the countryside drinks, jams and jellies were added to our repertoire. Sloe gin and Damson vodka quickly became our favourites.

What are sloe berries?

Sloe berries are actually the fruit of the Blackthorn bush. They are a deep blue/ purple colour and roughly the size of a large blueberry! When ripe for picking, they become soft on the outside and usually develop a pale bluish sheen on the outer skin. You can remove this by gently brushing your fingertip across the fruit to reveal the dark blue/black gloss below.

When is the best time to harvest your sloes?

Picking is normally late September through to late October. Traditionally the best time to pick was always “after the first frost”. That’s because the frost damages the skin & fruit pulp allowing the alcohol to get to the stone, which is where the real flavour can be found. We like to pick when they are starting to soften just a little and put the berries in the freezer, which has the same effect.

Some people also advocate pricking each berry multiple times with a pin. This allows the alcohol to reach the stone, but it is time consuming. We’ve tried both ways (freezing and picking) with the same crop and found absolutely no difference at all. We go for the freezing option.

What about foraging?

We always harvest our own fruit. That’s because the fun is in the forage. Picking is better enjoyed with friends and family before a good, long Sunday lunch. We’ve been really lucky over the last few years to find some good bushes which we “monitor” from the middle weeks of September.

What’s your favourite homemade sloe gin recipe and how do you make it?

All sloe gin is good! But somehow it tastes better if you make it yourself. The idiosyncratic flavour and unique profile that each different batch achieves is very satisfying. Over the years we’ve reduced the sugar of more traditional recipes as we prefer a slightly tarter taste

Sloe gin is not difficult to make. It can be as simple as adding some sloes and sugar to a suitably elegant bottle of gin. We only use three simple tools – a demi-john bottle with a stopper/bung (readily available), a funnel for pouring and a cloth or muslin sieve when ready for bottling!

What’s the best ratio for a good homemade sloe gin?

We use 1.5kg of sloes, add 2 ltr. of gin and 1kg of granulated sugar (avoid caster sugar, which can be too fine and cause the sugar to clog the base of the demi-john).

For our taste, the best recipe ratio is 33% sloes:45% gin: 22% sugar

However, you can increase/decrease the sugar according to your taste. We’ve tried & tested countless combinations over the years. We stir the mixture frequently at first then we just forget all about it. It’s probably drinkable after 4 to 6 months, but we choose to leave it for a year to really steep that gin with a real burst of fruit.

Method:

  • Enjoy the picking & remove as many leaves , twigs as you can when you get home (stalks are fine). Freeze and leave for at least 24 hours for when you have the time to make the sloe gin
  • Make sure your demi-john/ bung is clean. Soapy water, rinsed & dried has been fine for us – no need for ‘sterilizing’ 
  • Pop your frozen sloes into the demi-john. Add the gin then the sugar, bung and swirl 
  • Place in a dark cool place and swirl daily for the first week then weekly until all the sugar has dissolved. 
  • We tend to bottle after a year when we are foraging for the next crop but you can bottle after 6 months
  • Pour the demi-john contents through a sieve to catch the now shriveled berries  (compost them). Collect in a large bowl/pan. If you don’t sieve first the straining takes much longer
  • We use a wooden hooped cloth straining bag but you can use muslin tied onto legs of a stool. We use 2 chairs and a broom to hold the strainer – so be resourceful
  • The key thing is never be tempted to squeeze the bag or the gin will be cloudy – overnight  straining should be sufficient. You can move the cloth around a bit so that the gin finds a new area of clean cloth. It will strain through more quickly
  • The crystal dark sloe gin can now be bottled or put back into a clean dry demi-john stored somewhere cool & dark until you are ready to bottle

Bottling it

We use an attractive 200ml cork stoppered bottle. It’s ideal for enjoying with friends and family or giving as a gift! We would normally make between 30/40 bottles of sloe gin and damson vodka in any one year.

What’s the best way to drink sloe gin?

We think that sloe gin is best enjoyed neat in a shot or sipped from a small sherry glass after a good lunch or dinner. It is equally enjoyable as a Sloe “Royale” with bubbles! We have also mixed it into homemade ice cream, dribbled it over puddings and have friends who swear by adding homemade lemonade to a generous shot. It’s also a great addition to cocktail recipes.

Enjoy.


Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
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What a tart!

What a lovely lemon tart this is!

Are you looking for a simple recipe for a gorgeous G&T tart, drizzled with G&T syrup? If so, this might be the one for you. This little beauty is bursting with citrusy goodness and calls for a double-dose of gin for that extra kick. This easy dessert packs a real gin punch. In fact, most of the ingredients for this easy gin lemon tart recipe are probably in your fridge already, so no need to get anything exotic.

You can use any basic London Dry gin for this recipe, but you might also want to raise the game a little. Lemon flavoured gins such as Malfy Lemon or Lone Wolf Cloudy Lemon gin (from the folks at Brewdog) can be a nice alternative if you want to boost the lemoniness.

Cooking with gin is a whole new world for gin fans and a great way to impress your friends with your creative talents.

One for the chef…

And remember, for every measure of gin that ends up going into the tart, there should always be an extra one for the chef. Drizzle that G&T syrup over the sweet, tangy tart for the perfect ending.

So, let’s get this party started.

Ingredients:

Pastry:
  • 200g of plain, sifted flour
  • 1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
  • 75g of chilled, unsalted butter (chopped into a cube)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup of cold tonic water
Tart filling:
  • 2 eggs
  • 150 mls of cream
  • 80g caster sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 2-3 lemons to 100 ml
  • 30 ml of gin
G&T syrup:
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 125 ml tonic water
  • zest of one lemon
  • 30ml gin (again!)
  • 3 juniper berries, lightly bruised

Method:

Pastry:
  • Add flour and icing sugar to the bowl of a food processor and combine
  • Add lemon zest and butter and pulse until mixture combines
  • Remove from food processor and wrap in plastic wrap
  • Place in fridge for 30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 180c and lightly grease 8×10 cm loose bottom mini tart tins
  • Roll out pastry until 5 mm thick and cut circles that are 2 cm wider than the tart tin
  • Line each tin and trim excess pastry
  • Chill for 15 minutes before lining with baking paper and filling with pastry weights
  • Bake for 10 minutes before removing weights
  • Bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown
  • Set aside
Tart filling:
  • For the filling, which together the eggs, caster sugar, lemon zest and juice
  • Add the cream and gin and whisk until combined
  • Divide the filling between the tarts
  • Bake for 7-10 minutes
  • Set aside to cool
G&T syrup:
  • While the tarts are baking, prepare the syrup
  • Place caster sugar, tonic water and lemon juice in a saucepan over a low heat
  • Stir to dissolve the sugar
  • Add the gin and juniper berries and zest
  • Bring to boil
  • Reduce to simmer until slightly thickened
  • Serve the tarts with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of syrup

Written by Steve (with a little help from Ruddles, the gin dog!)

Don’t forget to follow us on our facebook community page to join in the gin discussion.


RECENT POSTS

  • Simple syrup: what is it and why do I need it?
    Ever struggle to get sweetness into your cocktail? One of bartending’s greatest secrets is simple syrup and just as it says on the tin, it’s really simple. If you’re into cocktails, always have a supply of this available in your fridge. It will be the best thing you ever did. Plus, if you want to … Continued
  • Basil Gimlet: a new twist on a classic cocktail
    In our never-ending search for the perfect gin cocktail, we will spare no effort.  The Barcelona gin team (guided by our faithful gin dog, Ruddles) are constantly searching for new gins and out of the ordinary cocktail recipes that will elevate gin into a thing of pure beauty. And the wonderful thing about gin is … Continued
  • 5 flavoured gins to try before you die
    Gone are the days when gin generally came in one flavour – juniper.  Now, with more than 600 craft gin distilleries in the UK alone (and several hundred more in Spain),  gins are infused with flavours unthinkable only a few years ago. Ingredients as diverse as lemongrass, seaweed, tea and freshly foraged herbs now offer … Continued
  • Hot sloe gin toddy: an easy recipe for autumn comfort
    Summer is officially behind us and these days, the weather’s much colder, the rain’s more frequent and sometimes you can even see your breath in the air. This is the season of long nights, darker mornings, conkers, log fires, cozy walks, sturdy walking shoes and Wellington boots. But it is also sloe gin season in … Continued

Warm your cockles on a cold Autumn weekend with a Hot Gin Toddy – a hug in a mug!

Autumn is definitely in the air and we all know that Winter is just around the corner.

So, while you’re feeling the comforting crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet and before the cold Winter wind drives you towards the mulled wine, how about something a little different – a nice warming Hot Gin Toddy to get you through the weeks between now and Christmas.

Hot gin might sound a bit weird but it’s delicious.

Why not give it a try this weekend if you need a little “gin hug” to revive your spirits..

There are some great seasonal gin cocktail recipes that are perfect for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. They are easy to make and guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out as the nights grow colder, longer and darker.

You can even drink them from a coffee cup – nobody will ever know!

Here’s one of our favourites, a simple recipe, full of Autumn goodness and gingery warmth.

Wrap up warm, put the kettle on and enjoy.

Take:

  • 1 ginger tea bag
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 8 oz hot water
  • 1 lemon

Then:

Put all the ingredients in a mug.

Add 8 oz hot water.

Garnish with a cinammon stick.

Drink.

A very refreshing recipe for the summer

posted in: Gingredients | 0

The dog days of Summer are here and we’re sure that the gins are already out and the ice cubes are stacking up in the freezer. But sometimes, just drinking gin isn’t enough. What if you could eat it?

Never fear, your dreams have just come true.

So, as the temperature climbs, why not cool down with some delicious gin & tonic ice cream.

Here’s one of our favourite recipes for you to try out at home (in 5 easy steps).

Give it a whirl and let us know what you think. You could even stick a couple of flakes in the top and pretend it’s just a 99 from Mr. Whippy (although you may not fool your friends, who will all want to try this cool G&T treat!)

5 steps to a perfect G&T ice cream

  1. Pour one cup of sugar directly into a mixing bowl, then add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 125ml of tonic water and 3 tablespoons of gin
  2. Stir all ingredients together until they start to dissolve
  3. Pour in 600ml of cream
  4. Whip it good! Beat the cream with a whisk until it thickens up like a decent milkshake (think McDonald’s). Try not to over do the whipping!
  5. Transfer the contents into a freezer-proof container and allow to freeze.

It really is as easy as that – so whip some up for your friends and relatives and let us know what you think of the ultimate summer cooler! And don’t forget to share all your photos on our fabulous instagram pages. #barcelonagincommunity #ginstagram #gin ice cream #gin&tonicicecream

Recommendation: Any gin will do for this recipe, but we recommend Bertha’s Revenge from Ireland (see Gin of the Month). This gin is rich and creamy (just as well since it’s made fermented from real Irish milk). The perfect base for a gin ice cream. Thank you, Bertha!

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