What do you do with a drink called Slivovica?

Well, clearly you knock it back by the shot at a good friend’s wedding to a wonderful Slovakian as you stay up celebrating until gone 5am. To do otherwise would be rude after all, owing to the father of the bride having made a goodly quantity out of fruit on his own land to give out as wedding favours.

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But then you get home and realise you have about two litres of the stuff secreted amongst your luggage. While we thought we were bringing back in hold luggage what other’s couldn’t in the cabin, there’s still quite a few bottles staring at us unclaimed from the fireplace (don’t ask). As good, law-abiding citizens of Europe, we want to hew to the ‘personal consumption’ part of drinks restrictions for international travellers. Shots are all well and good, but this spirit, whilst both pure and redolent of a marvellous day, is hearty stuff. Let’s keep neat measures for special occasions.

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So, a week or two back, I turned my mind to a little Sunday-night sharpener, as spiced lamb was slowly roasting in the oven and the aromas of cinnamon, oregano and rosemary wafted about most insistently. My first port of call when I’m not quite sure what to do is a sour, because if you can’t get some uplift from fresh citrus, a little sugar and that wonderfully smoothing egg white, you’re doing something wrong. Problem is, while there’s a great plum and almond nose, Slivovica is not sweet and has a certain funky intensity. I had hoped to muddle up some peaches and possibly add a touch of almond essence, but the peaches were stubbornly unripe and we hadn’t yet unpacked the right box of kitchen supplies to get hold of the essence. By serendipity, there was a bottle of freshly made blueberry cordial, courtesy of the chef, who had noticed the fruit passing into over-ripeness in the fridge. A fresh blueberry softness felt like it might be complimentary, so off I went

Anglo-Slovak Alliance (for two)

  • 100ml Slivovica (available from all the best weddings)
  • 50ml blueberry cordial (made by all the best spouses)
  • 30ml lemon juice
  • an extra tsp of golden caster sugar
  • one medium egg white

If you’re very organised, pre-chill your glasses. Put the first four ingredients in a shaking tin, stir the sugar to dissolve and see how it strikes you (I added the sugar on top of the cordial to balance it out, you might fancy more). Chuck in a hearty amount of good, fresh ice, seal and shake well. Once v. cold, pop open, strain out ice and pop in the egg white. Seal up the shaker again and give another forceful shake. Strain into the waiting glassware.

It was a solid, if punchy, drink, and as the cordial was essentially simple syrup + blueberries, it worked quite well. I’m not convinced that there isn’t quite a bit of fine-tuning left on this, but the hue alone was great fun. I’d want a bit more fruit coming through, and adding a note of almond still appeals. Maybe a splash of amaretto in the tin, or even spritz a bit onto the foam? Maybe go the other way entirely and see what happens in a Sazerac or Vieux Carré…  Anyhow, those are questions for another day’s sharpener.

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