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Garden Gin Tasting Bar

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Garden Gin Tasting Bar

When we moved into our house in January, a ‘selling’ point is the proximity to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery.  This is something we learnt after we bought the house, and at a mile and a half down the road, it is great to be able to send people off to sample the local gin.  For some of our friends, we are not sure if they were coming to see the house or to get a sneaky trip in to the distillery!

A few weeks back we had a group of friends come and visit.  This group fit into the ‘nice house, where’s the gin?’ category and came to visit the distillery (as well as us!).  We thought it would be a good idea to carry on the gin when they returned and decided our garden also needed it’s own gin tasting bar, so we started getting creative.  Who doesn’t want a gin tasting bar in the garden?

Garden Gin Bar

Bar Basics

We recently bought a potting table from Clas Olsen that makes for a great decorative counter and a good start for a bar, along with its practical purpose of a potting table.  A few herbs, plenty of glasses and clear signage gave us the start of the bar.  For bar supplies try Ikea, H&M Home or TK Maxx.

Garden Gin Bar

Tonics

To make the perfect gin, you do need a good tonic.  We tend to like the FeverTree tonic over the others as it has a more subtle flavour.  Plus it comes in glass bottles that look good and are easier to recycle.

Garden Gin Bar

Garnish

We learnt about garnish for cocktails at the London Gin Club.  Garnished definitely help make a good G&T, bringing out the flavours in the gin.  For the gins we selected, we had a range of garnishes from ginger and thyme to strawberry and lime.  The herbs weren’t there just for decoration!

Tasting Notes

Each gin has its own history, botanicals and distillery method.  One of the great parts about tasting notes is learning the history.  The best part is tasting the gin and knowing what to look out for when you taste the gin are given to you in the notes.  It is important to taste the gin at its absolute best, the tasting notes give you the hints to ensure that!

Garden Gin Bar

The Gin

As Bombay Sapphire had already been sampled that day, we decided to go for a few other gins.  Some choices were made and we found – okay we raided our bar – a bottle of Ophir, Gin Mare and Bloom.  On a trip to Lidl we found their own gin – Hortus.  All great gins and a great selection of gin that is currently available.

Garden Gin Tasting Bar

We can say, with certainty, that every house should have a garden gin tasting bar.  We have had a number of bars in the past and they make for a great focal point.  What do you think? What else would you add to the gin bar?

Where to Buy

 

Garden Gin Bar

 

13th August 2017
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Making Elderflower Cordial

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Elderflower Cordial

As spring made its appearance, we made the most of the outdoors and the Hampshire countryside.  One thing we noticed on a recent walk was the number of Elderflower trees in the vicinity of the house and decided we would make our own cordial this year.  Armed with a scissors and a bag, we ventured out to gather  a number of Elderflower heads.  It seems that this is a popular activity in Hampshire as it looked like a few people got to the easier to reach branches before us.

Elderflower Cordial

Elderflower cordial is a drink that can be tracked back to Roman times.  This may explain why it is used through out Europe.  The cordial is made from the flowers of the Elderberry tree and can be used in many different drink combinations such as diluted with water, sparking water, champagne or many other suitable cocktails.  Once home we looked up a few recipes and settled on the Jamie Oliver as it does not use as much refined sugar as the others we found.

A quick rummage through the cupboards and we found what we needed and started following the instructions to make the cordial.  It was easy to follow and great to know that it is an easy cordial to make.  The hardest part was cleaning the flower heads and the number of insects we shook off was a little surprising.  A note for next time that we should shake the flower heads out before harvesting!  We left the mix over night to steep which meant that the kitchen smelt wonderfully of a sweet elderflower mix in the morning and we could not wait to enjoy the cordial!  We bottle just over two litres of the cordial ready for use.

The cordial is fantastic and doesn’t taste as sugary as others we have tried.  It will make a great addition to our future parties and cocktails over the summer.  Especially our Swedish Midsummer party in June.

Elderflower CordialElderflower Cordial

 

6th July 2017
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Cocktail of the Week | Calum’s Eggnog

Calum's Eggnog Recipe

There are always a few things that say Christmas to people. Some will have a particular tradition, no matter how random it is to others, or particular food, that makes their Christmas entirely! For Calum there are a few things that make it Christmas, the first is pork pie for breakfast on Christmas Day (Don’t ask)! and the second is our last cocktail of the week before Christmas, we give you Calum’s Eggnog!

Eggnog is likely to date back to medieval Europe and was developed from a posset drink made with hot milk that was curdled with wine or ale and mixed with spices. These possets were used a cold and flu remedies that made it a winter tradition.   The drink appears to have been taken across the Atlantic where the term eggnog was first used in a poem. There are many different versions. In the UK, the drink was popular with the aristocracy who used sherry. Others use rum (Caribbean and Puerto Rico), beer (German) and bourbon (South America). More recently the mix has been used in coffee that has brought it to the masses.

For this week’s cocktail, you will need;

  • 2 pints whole milk
  • 500 ml Single Cream
  • 1 Measure of rum
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 200g sugar
  • Orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Vanilla seeds
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of ginger
  • Pinch of Nutmeg (plus some to garnish)

Take the orange zest, rum, cloves vanilla seed and the pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg into a jar and add the rum.  Leave for 12 hours to infuse.   Once ready, mix the egg yolks with the 200g sugar. Mix together the cream, the egg mix and infused rum and heat the mix through to make custard. Start to add the milk to thin the mix out to the consistency of a milkshake. Once completed, chill the drink until cold. When ready, pour the drink into a glass of choice and sprinkle with nutmeg, and there you have this week’s cocktail, Eggnog.

Calum’s recipe has been tried and tested over many years to try and recreate the store bought drink he used to get in Hong Kong.   For Calum it is Christmas in a glass, for Richard…not so much. It is a superb drink to have for a party or to enjoy watching your favourite Christmas movie on Christmas Eve.

Calum's Eggnog Recipe

Calum's Eggnog Recipe
24th December 2016
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Scandi Inspired Winter Woodland Table

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Scandinavian Inspired Winter Woodland Table Theme

This week we had a couple of friends over for a pre Christmas dinner.  The fires were lit, we had carols playing and mulled wine to drink, all in all a jolly festive evening. For our table decorations we took more inspiration from our recent trip to Copenhagen and went for a Scandi inspired winter woodland table.

Scandi Inspired Winter Woodland Table

The Inspiration

We found so much inspiration from our recent trip to Copenhagen, so many ideas in so many way.  We were particularly taken by the use of natural materials in their Christmas decoration, The Danes don’t do tinsel. We took this as a jumping off point when choosing our scheme, we chose a simple pallet of colours; white of the candles, green of the foliage, brown of the wood and pine cones and then neutral table linens. By using a limited colour palette it made choosing what to include much easier. We had seen this colours used whilst away, and when browsing through some magazines we brought home with us.  A quick look at pinterest gave us lots more ideas along this theme.

Scandi inspired winter woodland table

Shop Scandi

Whilst pottering about Copenhagen we picked up several of the bits we needed for our table centre.  If you wanted to replicate this theme you could easily do do within the uk, with the likes of Ikea, H&M Home, Clas Ohlson, Flying Tiger of Copenhagen and now Søstrene Grene all having a UK presence, it is easier than ever to add a bit of Scandi cool into your homes.

Scandi Inspired Winter Woodland Table

Natural Material

We wanted to use plenty of natural materials in our woodland table centre.  We found some birch covered candle holders at Søstrene Grene in Copenhagen and the wood tea light holders at a shop called Lagerhaus when we were in Malmö. We put candles in star shape dishes we’d found in H&M Home and in Ikea, surrounding the candles with moss.  We cut some branches of seeded eucalyptus from the garden and arranged these with some spruces branches to bring all the elements together. Lastly we placed some pine cones into the display, we have been collecting these from the common from some time, but these were only quite small, we supplemented them with some larger ones we got at a local garden centre.

Scandi Inspired Winter Woodland Table

Candles Galore

We heard that the Danes burn more candles per person than anywhere else on earth, the evidence we saw from our brief trip suggest this is probably true.  We get our candles from Ikea and from Flying Tiger of Copenhagen, both have great selection. In addition to the wooden candle holders we found some pretty glass ones from H&M Home, and repurposed some glasses from Flying Tiger. As we chose only white candles they all matched and gave a nice theme.

Scandi Inspired Winter Woodland Table

What do you think?

We really enjoyed making our Scandi inspired winter woodland table centre.  It was a lovely cosy table to enjoy a simple meal with friends, we have subsequently  gone on an decorated the room further using the table centre s inspiration. If you have any thoughts or ideas please let us know in the comments section or contact us on social media. Read more…

23rd December 2016
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Cocktail of the Week | Gingerbread Fizz

It is the Christmas Party season and sadly we have had to forgo our annual party as we are still with Rich’s parents.  Since we started dating we have had a Christmas party every year that just seems to get bigger!  We love having all our friends with us and now our friends are starting to have children, sharing the Christmas joy with them just makes it better!  One thing we always try to do is have a signature festive cocktail to serve and this week’s cocktail of the week went down a storm when we served it up; the Gingerbread Fizz.

Gingerbread is a long standing traditional item for Christmas.  It comes in all forms and one of our favourites is Lebkuchen from Germany.  We also enjoy making our own gingerbread men (and women) a tradition started by Queen Elizabeth I whose courtiers served them to visiting dignitaries.  Every country has their own version of a gingerbread product from cakes to biscuits and they are all served in a multitude of ways.  As the original recipe for gingerbread can be dated back to before 1000AD, it is no surprise that it has spread across the world.  We came across this idea in Nigella Lawson’s book, Nigella Christmas and on a trip to France found a bottle of gingerbread syrup and ‘one or two’ bottles of Crémant du Loire for us to try the cocktail.

To make this week’s cocktail, you will need:

  • One bottle of sparking wine of your choice
  • Gingerbread syrup

To make the cocktail, ensure your sparking wine is chilled.  Take a champagne glass and add a teaspoon of gingerbread syrup (or more if to your taste).  Fill the glass with your sparkling wine and serve.  There you have a very simple, but perfect festive cocktail, gingerbread fizz.

The cocktail is a great drink to have at a Christmas Party as it is so simple to make.  Our friends loved it and we went through the entire bottle of gingerbread syrup and several bottles of sparkling wine.  The laughs and merriment certainly made our party a lot of fun!

Gingerbread Fizz CocktailGingerbread Fizz Cocktail

Gingerbread Fizz Cocktail
19th December 2016
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Cocktail of the Week | Gløgg

Gløgg

With Christmas and winter comes the continued love of mulled drinks.   There must be millions of litres drunk each year of mulled something. You could probably drink a different version of mulled wine each day in December. This week, we are taking inspiration from our recent trip to Copenhagen and this week’s cocktail of the week is Gløgg.

Gløgg in Denmark is a staple winter drink. As the borders through the Nordic countries moved regularly over the centuries, it is impossible to say whether it is a Danish started drink, a Swedish drink or German variation of Glühwein imported to Denmark. However it arrived, the Danes have made it theirs! There appear to be as many different versions of the drink as there are Danes! It is traditionally drunk with a Danish winter treat called Æbleskiver, a doughnut/pancake type dessert that is served many ways. We were told the traditional way is with strawberry jam and a sprinkling of icing sugar.

To make this week’s cocktail you will need;

  • Bottle red wine
  • Almonds slivered
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Your own version of mulling spices

To start, heat the wine, but don’t let it boil. Add the spices and allow the flavours to infuse for a short while before serving. You can buy premade versions of the spices and as there are many versions, any type of mulled spices will recreate the drink. To serve, pour the wine into a suitable glass or mug using a sieve to remove the spices if using your own. Add the raisins and slivered almonds to the drink and stir. If you are so inclined, you can add a shot of rum, brandy or any other spirit of your choice.

Gløgg is a great way to keep warm whilst taking a short break from the sightseeing across Copenhagen. The only tip we can give is that it is best to serve Gløgg with a teaspoon to get to the good stuff of the warmed raisins and almonds.

GløggGløgg

Orchard Blog | Gløgg
13th December 2016
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Our Old Fashion Jazzy Christmas Playlist

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Christmas Playlist

What better music to decorate the tree to than a bit of old-fashioned jazz? We have put together this Christmas Playlist of our favourite Christmas from the 50s and 60s. These were all recorded decades before we were born, but there is something reassuring and friendly about listening to familiar old songs.  After you have finished decorating, light a few candles, grab a glass of your favourite tipple, sit back and enjoy!  Listen to our Christmas Playlist here.

Our Old Fashion Jazzy Christmas Playlist

2nd December 2016
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Cocktail of the Week | Sage & Clementine Mule

clementine sage mule

We have been enjoying the cocktail of the week for the last few months and the few times we have come across a savoury cocktail they have been a hit. Whilst looking for a good cocktail for Thanksgiving, we came across a savoury cocktail from Jamie Oliver’s Drink Tube that really interested us and thought it would be perfect to try as our cocktail of the week, Sage and Clementine Mule.

This cocktail is a twist on the classic mule cocktail the Moscow Mule. As with many cocktails from the 1940’s there seems to be a bit of mixed history as to who created the Moscow Mule and where it started. Some attribute it to John Martin, a Spirits and Food distributor in Hartford, CT and Jack Morgan, President of Cock ‘n’ Bull products (which produced ginger beer). This story line gives it a bit of a corporate myth style story, a ‘cock ‘n’ bull story’ if you will.  The other is attributed to Wes Price, Jack Morgan’s head barman who wanted to clear out the cellar of dead stock. From what we have learnt, we are more inclined to believe the latter story. Needless to say the Cock ‘n’ Bull team had a hand in its development. As with all classic cocktails, a new twist on tradition is always a good thing and this one has some expectations to live up to.

For this week’s cocktail, you will need;

  • 1 measure Lemon Vodka
  • 1 Fresh Clementine
  • Ginger beer
  • 5 Sage leaves
  • Ice

To make the drink, quarter a clementine and add it with the sage to a Collins and muddle the mix.   Add some ice to the glass, followed by the vodka. Add the ginger beer to fill the glass, giving it one final stir and you have this week’s cocktail, a Sage and Clementine Mule.

The cocktail has a good mix of flavours, the clementine is not as sweet as expected and the ginger is not over powering. The sage is very subtle taste to the drink and works well with the hint of lemon from the vodka.  It is a refreshing drink that is well worth making as a seasonal drink.

clementine sage mule
clementine sage mule

 

1st December 2016
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Cocktail of the Week | Mulled Cider

Mulled Cider

This weekend is the first in Advent, which means only one thing, it is the start of the official countdown to Christmas! We both love Christmas and we usually mark this countdown by getting our advent calendars and making our own first mulled drink, which is our Cocktail of the Week, Mulled Cider.

Mulling drinks over winter is a European tradition. Nearly ever European country has their version of a mulled drink. In the UK it is mulled wine, Germany and Austria it is Glühwein and Nordic Countries it is Gløgg, all of which we have partaken in over the years. The concept of mulling wine and other drinks spread across Europe thanks to the Romans during the 2nd century as they conquered and traded with the countries they passed. The mulled spices we use today vary from country to country. The spices in the English version include cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. A Medieval version of a mulled wine also included pepper, rosemary and pepper.  There is no one recipe for mulled wine and some of the more unique versions can include sausage and savoury herbs or be fortified with other spirits for good measure.

For this week’s cocktail, you will need;

• Cider
• Mulling syrup or spices.

To make this week’s drink, pour the cider into a saucepan and heat gently. Add the syrup or spices and bring to a boil. If you are using spices add a a little bit of sugar. Once boiled, allow the cider to cool slightly and ladle into a glass or mug. Add some apple, cinnamon or star anise and you have this week cocktail, Mulled Cider.

Any mulled drink is an enjoyable drink to have on a winter’s night with your feet up next to the fire and mulled cider is one of our favourites. That said, we are always happy to have a mulled drink when it is available.

Mulled Cider Mulled Cider

Mulled Cider
25th November 2016
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In Praise of Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

This time last year we were in a small town just outside Boston celebrating Thanksgiving with our American friends. It was Rich’s first Thanksgiving and Calum’s second. We ate too much food and probably drunk a bit too much but it was a wonderful day, and we wish we could back again this year.  Thanksgiving is a great American tradition and it is something we miss out on in the UK.

What is all about anyway?

We’ve probably all seen thanksgiving celebrated on American tv shows or in movies, Friends particularly comes to mind, but what it is and how is it celebrated?

Thanksgiving is the on the 4th Thursday of November.  The Festival dates from 1621, when a group of pilgrims in New England shared a feast with the local native tribe that had helped them with their harvest. The holiday was officially recognised in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln and the date finally settled on by President Franklin D Roosevelt.

The secular nature means that more Americans celebrate Thanksgiving than any other holiday.  It is time for family and friends to come together to celebrate.  Although plenty of shops sell cards and decorations it is nowhere near as commercial as Christmas.  The main event is the meal, Roast Turkey with all the trimmings, followed by pumpkin pie.

Other features of thanksgiving include the annual Macy’s Parade in New York City, (American) football games and the black friday sales.

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie
Can we celebrate in the UK?

Closer to home we have tended to celebrate harvest festival, we hosted a harvest dinner earlier this year.  Having said that there is nothing to stop you, and it seems more and more Brits are embracing the holiday as this recent article in the Waitrose Weekend suggests. We love the celebration so this is something we can get completely on board with.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year we look back fondly on our trip to  last year.  Not quiet as much excess this year; we are just having some pizza, beer and a slice of Calum’s Pumpkin pie. Whatever you are doing this Thanksgiving, we hope you have a great time and don’t eat too much!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

24th November 2016
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