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This drink was originally conceived while trying to get rid of the last remnants of a cold. I’d been making up a mix of honey, lemon and ginger, but as delicious as it was, it was getting monotonous. 

So I added some ground spices for warmth and a little vanilla bean paste for sweetness, and it changed the taste completely – just what the doctor ordered.

Each year I make a spiced cranberry vodka for Christmas by steeping dried sweetened cranberries and a few spices in vodka and putting the bottle in a cool dark place for about a month. This year I wanted something different. 

The lemon and honey drink I’d made during my cold came to mind, so I set about making an alcoholic version adding whole spices this time and the zest of the lemon as well as the juice. The result was a deliciously sweet and fragrant drink with a pleasant spiciness and a gentle kick of alcohol.

You can chop the ginger as fine or as roughly as you want, it will all be sieved out of the final mixture. I chop mine quite roughly then smash it in a mortar and pestle to ensure it gives up all its hot ginger goodness.

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This would be delicious served hot, to warm you up after a long winter walk, or over ice with soda water, tonic or even champagne for a festive drink.

Spiced honey, ginger and lemon vodka


Ingredients (Makes about a litre)

  • 250ml runny honey
  • 250ml boiling water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 150g ginger, roughly chopped and smashed in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and scrape out the seeds
  • Zest and juice of 2 large lemons
  • 750ml of vodka
Method

Put the honey into a large mason jar and pour over the boiling water. Stir thoroughly until the honey has dissolved completely. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice berries, smashed ginger, vanilla beans and vanilla pod and stir again. Leave aside to cool.

With a fine grater take the zest from the lemons then squeeze out the juice. Add both to the cooled mixture. Pour in the vodka and mix well. Seal the jar and leave to rest at room temperature for 24 hours for all the flavours to infuse.

After resting the mixture, strain through a muslin-lined sieve, pour into a sealable bottle and refrigerate. This is now ready to drink but only gets better the longer you leave it.

To serve as a liqueur, pour into a small glass and garnish with a twist of lemon peel, or heat very gently and add a little knob of butter to each glass. Alternatively, serve in a tall glass, over ice, and top up with soda water, tonic or champagne.

-Beverly Hicks for Independent