Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Incredible Crime with a 'Marmalade'

Reasearching coctails is all well and good, but this one has a kick like a mule which bodes ill for my concentration (and the knitting I was going to finish later). I found the 'Marmalade' in Ambrose Heath's 'Good Drinks' originally published in 1939 (beautifully reprinted by Faber & Faber with a nice Edward Bowden cover). Heath is an engaging writer in the subject of food and drink (Faber & Faber have reprinted 2 titles, so have Persephone, I really hope someone picks up 'Good Breakfasts' and 'Good Sandwiches and Picnic Dishes' both of which sound charming) though his instructions on Cocktails are very much of their time.

All he has to say on the subject of the Marmalade is to take 2 tablespoons of Cooper's Oxford Marmalade, the juice of a large lemon, 4 glasses of gin, and a squeeze of orange peel in each glass. That's it. I'm taking the line that precise measurements are a matter of taste for this one. To make a single measure I used a small teaspoon of Marmalade (my own, of course) the juice of half a small lemon, and a measure of gin. I shook them all with ice and am drinking it, strained, from a martini glass. I've also tried it with soda water added as a long drink with more ice (and all the Marmalade bits) - which works very well indeed.

Three days in gin is emerging as a bit of a feature for this month, that's because I really like gin and I'm primarily looking for drinks that use a minimum of expensive or difficult to source ingredients. This cocktail would work well with either vodka or a white rum as a base - and probably with whisky or Brandy too if anyone cares to make the experiment. The astringency from the lemon juice is nicely balanced by the sugar in the Marmalade, but only just so it tastes like a grown up drink - the soda water makes it summery, but otherwise it tastes a lot like something that would be very welcome by the gore on a winters afternoon after some sort of freezing cold out doors activity.

Marmalade, even if it's Oxford Marmalade, seems perfectly in accord with the Cambridge college and country house setting of 'The Incredible Crime', the gin kick of this cocktail very much in tune with what I'd expect hard swearing Prudence Pinsent to drink after an energetic days hunting. (A Percy special might have been another choice.)

The charm of 'The Incredible Crime' is its atmospheric evocation both of collage and country house life, something the 'Marmalade' certainly adds too.


  1. That sounds yummy - both book and cocktail. Love marmalade, and love Cambridge crime. Sounds like a match made in Heaven!

  2. The cocktail was particularly good (I thought) as a long drink, this research business is hard work... 'The Impossible Crime' is brilliant for atmosphere, the plot sort of meanders around and doesn't entirely resolved itself - but it's a fun, and frequently funny book, that's worth reading.