Venice, blood oranges and lemon syrup

Last week, inspired by the beautiful citrus that is in season - and the wonderfully evocative recipe on The Littlest Anchovy, I decided to make a batch of Anna's blood orange cordial.

The recipe was excellent - really easy to follow and with great results! I am not sure if if was the beautiful dusky red color or the bittersweet flavour of the blood orange - but this wonderful cordial transported me immediately to a warm autumn evening in Venice. All dusky pink street lights and bright orange skies.

When most people think of Venice and aperitivos, they probably think of Hemmingway types, Harry's Bar and soft pink Bellinis. Not for Mrs Mulberry. When I first set foot in the dark twisting alleys of Venice, it was turning dark. All you could hear was the soft lapping of the canals and all manner of strange creakings. The madness of the day had past. All the boats of tourists had left - it was just me, Mr K and what felt like a thousand medieval spirits, drifting from door to door. We hotfooted it to the nearest bar, charming Italian waiters and the reassuring red blush of an Americano - a dry apertivio of vermouth and Campari. Remebering Venice, I could think of no better match for Anna's Venetian sunset colored cordial than bitter sweet Campari.

Blood orange and campari aperitivo

Serves 1

30ml blood orange cordial

30ml Campari

Sparkling water or prosecco*

Add blood orange cordial to a champagne glass. Next add the Campari. Top up with chilled sparkling water or prosecco - and don't stir!

* I made this cocktail on a Tuesday night - hence the sparkling water. Had it been Friday - there would have been no question about the prosecco going in!

Anna's great recipe got me thinking not only about Venice, but also about citrus, cordials and my grandmother's own recipe for a tangy cordial from many years ago. Never called "cordial", Nana's lemon syrup was the perfect refresher during a hot Sydney summer afternoon tea. Lemons also being synonymous with Italy and the Mediterranean - it was no wonder I got the desire to recreate this childhood favorite.

Not wanting to test my memory to much - I headed to find Nan's well worn recipe notebook (an old school book of my dads) which still had the faint blue lines of 1950s graph paper, dog eared corners and splatters of long forgotten meals, across the more favoured pages. Riffling through Nan's old recipe notebook, you could not believe my delight where next to the recipe for sultana cake - I found the notes for lemon syrup. A similar recipe exists in my Nan's slightly mildewed copy of Mrs Beeton. Although Mrs B calls for a heck of a lot more sugar and surprisingly no lemon juice at all - but concentrated lemon essence. I like to think with Nan's recipe there is at least the benefit of some vitamin C and fresh lemon flavours to balance out the sugar.

Nan's Lemon syrup

4 tablespoons of water

1 cup of sugar

Juice of 4 lemons

1 tablespoon of citric acid

1 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Step 1: bring the water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan.

Step 2: add the sugar to the boiling water. Lower the heat and stir until all the sugar crystals dissolve.

Step 3: Add lemon juice and stir.

Step 4: Add citric acid and cream of tartar and stir until dissolved.

Pour into a sterilized bottle and serve with sparkling water, mint and ice.

Like all good traditions - they evolve with time and loved ones. After a few arduous hours in the hot spring sunshine, trying to coax our muddy lawn into some kind of a Greek vegetable paradise, Mr K was delighted to find a chilled bottle lemon syrup in our fridge. Perhaps taking inspiration from my efforts with the Campari, Mr K developed his very own Greek Gardner's Cocktail.....

Greek Gardner's Cocktail
Serves 1

30ml lemon syrup

30ml ouzo

Sparking water

Crushed ice

Mint leaves to garnish

Add crushed ice, lemon syrup and ouzo to a tall glass. Stir to combine. Top with sparkling water and garnish with lightly crushed mint leaves.

Signing off, I have to say a very big thank you to Anna for not only sharing a fabulous recipe but sparking some great memories! If you havent visted Anna's blog yet - you must!! Last but not least, I would love to know....Do you have a favorite aperitif or drink that reminds you of a special time or place?


  1. Loving the pics and the drinks.... yummo!

  2. That photo of the lines of washing is amazing! :o So colourful and as if it were carefully styled! I'd love that as a poster :D

  3. Oh WOW!!! I am in LOVE with your photos!!!

  4. Such a beautiful post, yet again, Mrs M. Have you thought of watermarks on your images?

    1. Thanks Lizzy - and thatnk you for the good idea- I defn need to follow up on the watermarks!

  5. 3 recipes in 1 post?! Now that's a deal :) Your Greek Gardner's cocktail sounds delicious. How did the garden turn out?

    On a different note- for some reason, I stopped getting all of you posts via email! It's probably a problem on my end, but I wanted to mention it to you just in case other subscribers were having the same problem :( I'm going to sign up again!

    Thanks again for another beautiful post. I truly love reading them after a long week.

    1. Hi Emilie, thanks for letting me know about the email - I ve reinstalled it, so hopefully it should start working again! The garden is sought of underway, we have a lovely little crop of lemons, herbs and some veggies in progress. The more pressing concern is where we are going to put the giant terracotta wood fire oven from Cyrprus when it arrives!!

    2. I just stumbled upon this comment now...I cannot believe that you're getting a wood fire oven! How amazing is that? And from Cyprus no less!!! You are so lucky, and I am so jealous ;)

      PS- I'm receiving your posts via email again. Thanks!

  6. Wow such gorgeous photos of Venice! We have been thinking of visiting Venice this november but for now we opted to go to Rome instead as we hadn't been to either. Now looking at those beautiful colorful shots I wish we maybe had chosen differently... Well there will always be a next time. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous memories!

    1. Thanks Simone! There is so much wonderful color in Rome - I hope you had a fabulous time there. As the old saying goes, the only way to get over your last holiday is to plan the next one!!!

  7. I love EVERYTHING about this post... the gorgeous pictures, the delicious recipes and the lovely writing. I've been obsessed with blood oranges this spring, but I can't seem to stop eating them simply sliced up long enough to DO anything with them. I should really buy some specifically for the cordial recipe.

    1. Hi SarahKate, thanks for your lovely words! Blood oranges are so fabulous - there are still lots around at the markets. I think I am going to stock up on some more this week for another batch of cordial - and maybe some sorbet!!!

  8. The photographs from Venice are incredibly beautiful. Wow, I need to go back there soon.
    I love the Greek Gardner's cocktail, though I have never heard of it before :)

    1. Thanks so much Magda - the cocktail was from the mind (and tastebuds) of Mr K - perfect after a hot day ; )

  9. I can't believe I have only just seen this post! I think this was when I was overseas. Thank you so much for the shout out! Your photos are just so beautiful...:)


Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate every single one!

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Maira Gall