We have been experimenting with botanical infusions since our interest in wild ingredients began. Over the years we have had great successes with drinks like Patxaran and May blossom brandy and absolute disasters like ‘Dandelion and Burdock’ Vodka (it seemed like a good idea at the time!). But until this year we have never tried alcoholic infusions into anything but hard spirits.
A couple of weeks ago Rose and I were chatting to Tom, Rose’s son who lives in Galicia and he was telling us about the amazing range of vermouth available in the bars around Ponte vedra where he lives. This got us thinking that maybe we could use some wild botanicals to produce our own vermouth style fortified wine.
Vermouth is the French pronunciation of the German word Wermut. Wermut translated into English is Wormwood, the wild herb used to flavour absinthe liquer and obviously Vermouth.
We use the close relation of Wormwood, Mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) as a culinary herb and having some ready dried in the cupboard we thought this was a good place to start. To this we added a balance of floral and herbal botanicals plus a little citrus.
Many vermouths have a huge range of botanical flavourings in them, sometimes up to 30 different plants. Ours is far more simple but the eight we use does produce a beautifully complex fortified wine.
Last night we were just sipping it straight and enjoying in it’s simple form but this dry vermouth screams out to be made into a vodka martini and I have included my favourite recipe below.
Peel of 1 lemon cut into strips
Peel of 1/4 Grapefruit cut into strips
2g (1 tablespoon) dried Mugwort
2g (1 tablespoon) dried Elderflowers
2g (1 tablespoon) dried Hyssop
0.75 g (1 tablespoon) dried Rose petals
1 teaspoon dried Chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon dried Lavender flowers
1 750ml Bottle dry white wine
60 ml Stock syrup
250 ml Brandy
Put all the flavourings into a medium sized saucepan and add 250ml of the white wine. Bring to a boil over a high heat then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or muslin squeezing to extract all the liquid. Discard all the solids.
Put the strained line into a clean pan and add the rest of the bottle warm the wine and slowly add the stock syrup until completely combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.
Cool completely, bottle and store in the fridge. It will be ready to drink 24 hours later.
The Perfect Martini?
Actually not a true martini but a bond style vodkatini . We’re not trying to be secret agents, this drink is all about our Wild Vermouth so we don’t want the botanicals in a good gin competing!
4 parts good Vodka
1 part chilled Wild Vermouth
1 strip of lemon peel
Put the martini glass in the freezer along with the vodka and chill for at least half an hour.
Half fill a mixing glass with ice and add the vodka and vermouth. Stir for 30 seconds, touching the glass as little as possible to keep it cold, then strain into the chilled glass.
Twist the lemon over the top of the drink, then wipe it around the rim of the glass and drop it in. Serve immediately.
Repeat at your own risk!