Rhumtopf (rum pot)

This is a traditional German thing.

Take one massive earthenware pot with lid. As berries come into season, spread them in the pot, removing ones that are bruised or damaged.  Cover each new layer with a layer of sugar and then enough high percentage rum to cover.  Leave for at least year, then eat on ice-cream and use the juices in drinks or desserts.

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Liqueur making

Whilst I’m on the subject of spirits, this is something I believe most of us do not do enough of! It’s quite simple to make very nice liqueurs which can then be drunk straight with tonic water or maybe with a couple of drops of orange bitters. A general recipe:

use lots of passata and put the bottles through the dishwasher to get them really clean, you need these to store your liqueur in & speaking as someone who has tried shoving damsons (small plums) through the neck of a gin bottle, the wide opening is really necessary;

start with decent quality spirits (gin, vodka, brandy all work well as they are dry – I’ve tried rum and it’s natural flavour is a bit too sweet);
prick the fruit a few times (for cumquats, sloes, damsons, apricots etc, not necessary for thin skinned fruit like berries);
put fruit in the bottle up to the half way mark;
depending on the sweetness of the fruit itself add sugar to the 1/4 – 1/3 mark of the bottle;
top up with your chosen spirit (the bottle will then take a little over half it’s volume in spirit (i.e. a 700mL bottle will take about 400mL of spirits);
gently mix every couple of days until all the sugar is dissolved (by gently turning the bottle, don’t shake hard!);
drink any time more than 3 months later – the longer you leave it the better it will taste!


Poli Moscatel Grappa

This is pretty amazing stuff. If you think of grappa as being something akin to an anti-biotic mouthwash, you have to try this. It’s made from Moscatel grapes (the only wine grape which is officially described as having a ‘grapey’ aroma) and on the nose and in the mouth it does have the wonderful floral aromatics of the moscatel: lychees and rose, apricot, mmmm lovely. Really long aftertaste of moscatel as well – it’s something to convert those who don’t usually drink their spirits straight up! (As well as having lovely packaging for a present – copper coloured tin & a swing top, with a very narrow neck for the precision pour).

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Cocktails – Aviator

My line of work takes me around quite a few cocktail bars, and I was recently glancing through the drinks list at Lab (Old Compton St, Soho, London) and came across their ‘Dutchy’ which reminded me that I’d always wanted to try an Aviator. Given Julian’s almost got his private pilot’s licence it seemed strangely appropriate. That night we tried it out & it’s fantastic, despite a couple of substitutions in the ingredients department!  I’ve also added in the orange bitters, which I think I saw on someone’s recipe when I was web trawling & I find it really balances out the flavours (also of many other drinks, including my home-made damson gin)


  • 60mL gin
  • 15mL (1 tbs) lemon juice
  • 10mL (2 tsp) maraschino liqueur (gotta buy it as currently the Bombay Sapphire is balancing out the pretty rough cooking kirsch I’m using)
  • 5mL (1 tsp) cr�me de violette (I’m using Monin violet syrup)
  • 2-3 drops of Orange bitters

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.