It's become traditional to head to the Scottish Borders for family time at New Year, and another part of that tradition has been to take a hefty Victorian novel with me in the hope I'll find time to read it. Sometimes this works, sometimes not, Trollope's 'The Prime Minister' has made the trip a couple of times but remains stubbornly unread. This year I'm taking 'New Grub Street' for a change.
It's yet another tradition to stick a couple of suitably chunky Victorian novels on my Christmas wish list (in case it's not been clear from the amount of times I've mentioned Christmas, all the books I've chosen for this series are ones I think would make excellent gifts for like minded readers) and my (lovely) mother has always obliged by choosing one (or two). The pace of lazy winter days is perfect for getting lost in these books.
I've been meaning to make some Mulled sloe gin (in the name of research) for at least the last month in the hope that it would be this years counterpart to last years hot gin, honey, and lemon (an excellent idea on a cold night if you don't have anywhere particular to be). It hasn't disappointed. I've seen a few recipes along the same lines - apple juice, sloe gin, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, all gently warmed together, so that's what I did. The apple juice and sugar already in the gin provide more than enough sweetness so there's no need for more sugar. Unlike Mulled wine it's easy to make by the glass, the ratio of apple juice to gin is best determined by personal preference, but it's entirely feasible to make a barely alcoholic version (in which case a slice of lemon might help balance the sweetness of the apple juice. I see no reason why it wouldn't work with orange or grape juice depending on what's around either.