Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Martini

Even though my bar-tending days are behind me I still love mixing up alcoholic concoctions, and Christmas is the perfect time to get experimenting - you'll have lots of willing test subjects too! 

I've always been a fan of the classic gin martini. I love the balance of flavours plus the punch of the alcohol. But, I've never been very keen on vodka - any vodka, its just not my bag. That is until I discovered the art of making my own flavoured vodkas. With this I have transformed what I see as liquefied hair spray into delicious beverages and bases for many a cocktail. 

This is how I made my spiced cranberry vodka, plus how to put it to good use in a Christmas Martini

The Vodka:

1 750ml bottle of vodka (I used Absolut because it has the cleanest flavour in my opinion)
300g fresh cranberries
200g sugar (use caster sugar if possible)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (if you can ground it yourself from the pods even better!)

  • In a large saucepan combine the sugar, the cranberries and the water together. Sprinkle in the spices and stir through.
  • Leave on a low to medium heat and occasionally stir to make sure its not sticking to the bottle of the pan.
  • Once most of the berries have split your syrup is ready. Take it off the heat and leave to cool slightly but not completely as it will be too thick.
  • In a large airtight container pour all the vodka and syrup mixture, and stir together.
  • Leave in a cool, dark place for 7-10 days. Stir once a day or when necessary to shake up the sediment.
  • Strain into a bowl/large jug. I found that I could still get more juice from the berries so I gave them a little mash and pushed the liquid through the sieve.
  • Pour into a sterilised bottle (I saved the Absolut bottle and just washed out with boiling water).
The vodka should be sweet enough from the syrup to just serve over ice, but if not add a splash of lemonade or tonic water.

The Martini:

50ml of spiced cranberry vodka
20ml of dry vermouth
1 dash of Angostura Bitters.

  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker
  • Add a good amount of cubed ice (about twice as much as the liquid or half the shaker)
  • Stir until diluted (depending on the heat of your surroundings this could take 10 seconds, it could take a minute. It always does well to test a little as you go along using a straw to pinch some up)
  • Strain through a fine strainer or sieve into a traditional martini glass or coupette.
  • Optional garnish of a slither of orange peel to really boost the Christmas scents.