IN­TRO:

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FOOD AND DRINK - HIS­TORY: Visit us at www.cock­tail­maker for fur­ther ad­vice and tips

For our fi­nal col­umn of the year, we’re look­ing at a truly sea­sonal cock­tail. The Win­ter Ne­groni in­cor­po­rates the won­der­ful sloe gin and whether you choose to make your own from an ear­lier sea­sonal har­vest or buy off the shelf, this is a per­fect drink for Christ­mas.

Ev­i­dence sug­gests that the grad­ual en­clo­sure of the coun­try­side to farm­land in the late 16th cen­tury, re­sulted in the in­creas­ing use of the black­thorn bush (the plant that pro­duces sloes) as its rig­or­ous growth and thorns kept tres­passers out and cat­tle in. This wide­spread use of the black­thorn in hedges dra­mat­i­cally in­creased the avail­abil­ity of sloes. Find­ing the berry too bit­ter to eat, the so­lu­tion was to soak them in al­co­hol and sugar, with the drink of choice at the time be­ing gin. Our mod­ern day take on this clas­sic cock­tail is to re­place the gin with cam­pari for a slightly drier taste and its glo­ri­ous deep red colour will add that fes­tive ap­peal to any gath­er­ing. Take a sprig of rose­mary and bruise a lit­tle with a pes­tle and mor­tar to en­sure it re­mains in­tact but it is still able to re­lease its flavours. Add one shot Cam­pari, one shot sloe gin over a short glass filled with ice. Add the sprig of rose­mary down the side of the glass and serve. Cheers and a happy Christ­mas from all at Cock­tail­maker.

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