Please do not let the title of this post sway you into thinking that I drink gin at 7am. This gin, however, sings Christmas, and as Dotcomgiftshop have challenged their favourite bloggers to remember they're favourite (or worst) Christmas presents, I thought I'd accompany my story with a nip of pure Christmas. You can see Dotcomgiftshop's Christmas range here.
This gin is designed to be drunk on Christmas Eve. A splash in a glass of champagne. When you've done all the prep you can for the next day. When you sit and indulge each other with tales of anything Christmassy. And this one is one of my favourites.
It's strange how an affection for a time can fluctuate from childhood to adulthood.
I'm passive to 7am now. I'm up and on the way to work.
7am slipped from my vocabulary when I was a teenager. When I worked a 17minute walk from my office. When 7am was only good when you cruise towards it from the other side, smelling like sweet alcopops, dancing sweat and cigarette smoke. And your vision and balance is all blurry. (From, erm, lack of sleep and those stupid high heels...)
But when you're a child, waiting until 7am on Christmas day is barely short of torture. A late night was supposed to make us sleep in, but that would never work on Christmas Day morning. But that was the curfew. 7am. No exit from your room until 7am. 7am! A cry of "He's been! He's beeeeen!" was the opening call.
7am then became a flurry of ripping open our stockings on our parents bed (an impressive balancing act as I have three older siblings), sneaking a few chocolate coins in before eating a huge breakfast before the main presents were opened.
The lounge door was closed until after breakfast and a sneak peek before the platters of sausages, bacon, toast, eggs were set down on the dining room tablewith jugs of fresh orange juice and coffee was when I first set my eyes on it. A big boxy thing. With a pitched top. Two sets of tiny, painted terracotta chimneys poking out of the crisp shiny wrapping paper at either end. Next to the tree. Multicoloured bulbs projecting plastic ornament silhouettes onto it. A rustle of fake fir needles as the cat sleepily slunk behind it.
The true beauty of it revealed when the wrapping paper had been stripped away with a childish abandon. A doll's house. All handmade. Soft pink with raised and painted white corner stones. A hand painted plaque which carried the name of the house. The best Christmas present I have ever received. Well worth the 7am wait.
Christmas Damson Gin
70cl good quality gin
200gr white granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
3 cardamom pods
1tsp whole all spice berries
1, Prick each of the damsons a few times (mine got a thorough stabbing with a fork) and place into a large preserving jar. Pour in the sugar and gin.
2, Attach lid and give it a good shake.
3, Pop in the cloves and firmly reattach the lid.
4, Store in a dry and cool place and shake every couple of days for the next week. Put the rest of the whole spices in and repeat the storing and shaking process for another 6-8 weeks.
5, Place a colander over a mixing bowl and line the colander with a clean piece of muslin or a new jay cloth. Pour the contents of the jar out into the colander.
6, Gather the edges up and secure using an elastic band, suspend this over the bowl for at least 5 minutes so you get as much liquid out as possible. Do not squeeze or you'll end up with a cloudy, rather than a clear gin.
7, Decant into a sterilised bottle.
My christmas damson gin isn't quite ready, this is my damson vodka which I made in last year. It's the same method sans the spices. I've also got a damson and vanilla vodka on the go - the same process again but instead of the whole spices, simply pop in a split vanilla pod. You can scrape out the seeds and use them in something else first if you wish.