From the West side to the East side…
Back when I was at university, up north, there seemed to be this weird icebreaker where they’d split groups based on where they were in the country – north of Birmingham, south of Birmingham etc. Me being me, and generally a pain in the neck, meant I’d stick my hand up and point out that I was neither, that I was actually from Birmingham. My friend Beccy would then join in, for she was from the East (Midlands). It got to the point where we started a joke east/west side rivalry…but now it seems like the Midlands are (re) united, thanks to gin.
Launched in 2014, Burleigh’s gin hails from the picturesque Charnfood Forest in the heart of Leicestershire. The inspiration for the gin came from nearby Burleigh Wood, which is adjacent to the 45 West Distillery, where Burleigh’s gin is made. Whilst walking through the Woods, master distiller Jamie Baxter came across silver birch, dandelion, burdock, elderberry and iris, and used these as inspiration for Burleigh’s gin.
Whereas most gin brands prefer to keep their bottles glass and see through, the unusual dark black, textured bottle of Burleigh’s makes it stand out on the shelf and so pretty easy to spot out and about. And because we Midlanders enjoy a good tipple, I’ve spotted Burleigh’s in a bunch of Birmingham bars, including Gas Street Social, Loki Wine, Cosy Club, The Botanist, Lost & Found, 40 St Pauls and others.
For this slushie, I took inspiration from the classic French 75 cocktail, which involves gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Champagne. As with nearly all the good classic cocktails, no one is really very sure of the history of it – there’s a suggestion that Charles Dickens liked to give callers Tom gin and champagne cups, and one of the first recorded versions of the French 75 is found in The Savoy Cocktail Book. But, the suggestion is that the name comes from the French army’s 75mm field gun used during World War I, so when it was developed is anyone’s guess.
Initially I planned to make these ice lollies, but then I realised two things: one, we live in the UK and there’s probably only a need for cooling ice lollies for two weeks a year; and two, I like to make sure things are decently boozy which doesn’t always make it easy to freeze, unless you’re willing to compromise on the alcohol content. Also, tis nearly the season and a palette cleanser which involves something fizzy and gin is a pretty winning idea.
Before anyone gets at me, this recipe is inspired by the French 75, but tweaked because it’s frozen and I wanted to get the flavours to come through the iciness. I used the Burleigh’s Export Strength gin (47% abv) because it’s distilled using the same botanicals at their signature gin but bottling at a higher ABV gives it a different flavour, including lasting flavours of lemon and juniper, but the intensity means it works served at a cooler temperature.
- 50ml Burleighs export strength gin
- 25ml fresh lemon juice
- 62.5ml sugar syrup (2 parts water, 1 part sugar)
- 125ml prosecco, or champagne if you're fancy
- Add all of the ingredients, give them a good stir
- Pour into ice moulds or a dish and freeze overnight
- Remove from container, bash up the ice a little
- Transfer to champagne glass or bowl and serve
The people at Burleigh’s have given me a code so that readers of Full to the Brum can get 20% off purchases at their online store. Head to burleighsgin.com/shop/ and add the code FTTB20 to get the discount.