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
30ml blood orange cordial
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
30ml lemon syrup
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?