The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Mixed soft fruit vodka liqueur recipe. Harlequin grog.

Photo: Soft fruit destined for the grog bottle

Photo: Soft fruit destined for the grog bottle

Tiny hands clapped with glee when we surveyed our potential black, red and white currant harvest back in the spring. The gooseberries looked promising too.
“We can make loads of schnapps and finally our own red currant jelly. This year I’ll make some gooseberry sauce for Christmas and some gooseberry vodka with the dessert gooseberries.”
“The gooseberry vodka didn’t last long. When you made it last year.”
“I only had a couple of shot glasses. This year I’m going to hide it away.”

The sawfly must have been listening.
“We’ll scotch that selfish plan. And leave just enough fruit to make one bottle of grog. Let’s start chomping now!”

This afternoon I harvested our currants. Just a couple of handfuls. I also picked some of the ripe dessert gooseberries. Strangely the sawfly ate all the regular green gooseberries but left the special dessert ones these ripen to a deep red and can be eaten raw. Sharp and sweet, these are so well worth growing. I’ll be able to make a sweet gooseberry sauce for Christmas. A gift from generous spirited sawfly, perhaps?

I have no idea how this concoction will turn out but here is my recipe anyway and I let you know how it tastes in six months time.

Meanwhile we have been picking raspberries like mad. We have early, mid season and autumn raspberries so we can savour them from June to November. The flavour improves as the year unfolds. The early ones are perfect for making raspberry gin and raspberry vodka – the king and queen of homemade liqueurs (far, far better than sloe gin). This summer I doubled the raspberries in each bottle and added the same amount of sugar. The magical grog can be diluted with more spirits if the fruit flavour is too strong. Check back here in six months for a review.

Last week John Cushnie answered a question on Gardener’s Question Time – BBC Radio 4. The question was what to grow in a recession to salve the credit crunch effect. He suggested growing a vine that fruits very early, making wine from the grapes and gently glugging.  With this liqueur we are planning to follow the same route. For a couple of evenings at least.

Mixed soft fruit liqueur recipe. Harlequin grog.


100g of mixed soft summer fruit and a leaf from one of the currant bushes (we used white, red and black currants and made up the weight with a few dessert gooseberries)
650 ml of medium priced vodka. Don’t go for the cheapest unless you want to spend the next day in bed this is so good that you will not be able to stop at one glass.
100g of white granulated sugar. This sugar turns to alcohol.


  1. Wash and pick over the fruit discarding any iffy fruit. Top and tail the fruit and place in the bottle (I save vodka bottles for this purpose. No need to sterilise them if you keep the lids on and store them somewhere dry and cool.)

Using a funnel pour in the sugar and vodka to the level of an inch under the top of the bottle.

Leave on the kitchen side for a few days, shaking the bottle morning and evening to dissolve the sugar. Then store in a cool dark place to mature.

After six months drain off the liquor – the grog should be delicious by now. But continue to store in a dark, cool dry place. The fruit can be liquidised and frozen to serve with budget champagne in the future as a terrifyingly intoxicating cocktail. Meanwhile serve this grog at the end of a meal with plenty of chilled water.

Expect the bottle to be drained however many guests are around the table. Soft fruit liqueurs are incredibly moreish. Beware.

  Leave a reply


  1. Danny Carey

    Oi, Steve, if you can recall the head of Zeb from the Magic R in such detail, then you are showing your age 🙂

    Thanks for your previous comment saying you noticed the subtle differences here lately. We take that as approval!

  2. steve

    These icons are pink roses?!!!
    now i will have to change mine! – i thought it was the head of Zebbedee from the Magic Roundabout!!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Steve

    Lucky you! I’m very envious.

    Danny has been doing aa lot of work on the site recently and I like what he’s done 🙂

    Hi Bridget

    Oh you cant beat a good strawberry. We’re harvesting big ones and those tiny mountain ones ATM.

    Hello Mary

    Great idea. I think that I’m going to have a go at rasapberry cordial this year.

    Hi Casalba

    Yes making grog is fun. This year’s apple harvest doesn’t look promising but it looks as though it will be a good plum and sloe year. Plum wine can be really good after a few years.

    I’ve never cooked a crumble 😉

    Hi Sophie

    Fingers crossed that this will work out well.

  4. Sophie

    Lovely indeed! MMMMMMMMM,…..!!!!

  5. Danny Carey

    I added a link: Get Your Icon, at the top right-hand side above. It takes you the comment I added yesterday on How to Get Your Avatar.

    Steve, Bridget, Mary, Casalba : great comments – and Fiona’s spanking brand new laptop arrived at 09:30 this morning. Tiny hands are excitedly getting it all set up. Hopefully she will be online later to respond to you all.

  6. casalba

    Oh! I’m a pink rose too. I loaded a bunch of verdicchio grapes a while ago, but it came out as a lime green blob in miniature – kept meaning to change it. Your pink rose is fine for now.

  7. casalba

    One (of the many) reasons I love this blog is that the first thing you think about when you have a good crop of something is what brew you are going to make with it. It’s not “Oh great, gooseberry crumble” at the Cottage Smallholder, but Schnapps!

    I also like this new avatar look. Going to put my URL into this message to see how it comes up. Love Danny’s Groucho and Magic Cochin’s lino cut.

  8. Yum! We make cassis and creme de framboise with our fruit. Delicious.

  9. Bridget

    Yum, that sounds delicious. We don’t have any currants or raspberries in yet. Busy replanting all our hundreds of strawberry plants at the moment, it is taking some time but will be great to have lots of fruit come summertime.

  10. steve

    Perfect post timing!
    i’ve just harvested approx 9lbs of blackcurrants off three bushes! – best crop i’ve ever had! last year i had enough to make myself a birthday cheesecake, this year i was going to try jam/jelly and cheesecakes, but this recipe sounds far more worthy of my time, after all who wants to eat a jam butty when they could be “‘avin a party!”. Made redcurrant jelly yesterday tho’ with the pickings of the redcurrant bushes, 3lbs, and supprisingly i got it to set! . Apparently currants fruit better after a hard winter, and this year we had a good “old fashioned” deep-freezer on several nights, i think this is more likely the explanation for the bumper crop rather than anything i’ve done!
    like the subtle changes to the site!

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