The Cottage Smallholder

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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.

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  1. Vel Koerber

    I have a large amount in the freezer of black currants and gooseberries so what is the quantity of alcohol do I need for all this and can I put in a stock pot to ferment How long does it have to ferment etc

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