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Friday 25 November 2011

Booze for Free

Ha, I bet that got your attention didn't it? "BOOZE? FOR FREE? WHERE! DO THEY DO MOJITOS?"

One of my favourite writers on Twitter, Tom Cox, recently posted an article he'd written about foraging, which eventually led me to this marvellous chap called Andy Hamilton, who's something of a foraging specialist. Once I got the confusion with the BBC comic out of the way, I realised that foraging sounded rather wonderful, if slightly impractical in London.

Andy has written a book about which sounds immeasurably more practical to me, about making your own booze for free, or at least incredibly cheaply. While reading through it over a hot toddy in The Bear pub in Camberwell the other night, I realised with a growing sense of excitement, that this book is going to enable me to make my own version of Sipsmith's damson vodka, which I fell madly in love with at a tasting at Planet of the Grapes a couple of months ago.

I'm normally a bit rubbish with cookery or skill books, as I tend to dip in and out and then get distracted by the mountain of other books sitting on my desk. I read the entire "how-to" section (beers, cider, wines, cordials, plus the history of each) in one go, before plotting which drinks I'd like to make.

Andy gives excellent, cheap alternatives for buying your own fermenting casks, for example, and tips on how to avoid your elderflower champagne from exploding all over the shop. I was most taken with the ones that look massively easy, so stuff like rhubarb whisky, and the damson vodka (or gin, or brandy) which basically involves stuffing sugar, fruit and booze into a kilner jar and turning every time you pass it for a good few months.

Having been summarily told off by my grandma for asking for a bottle of Laphroaigh for Christmas, I know that booze isn't going to feature in my stocking this year. But a good few jars and glass bottles - well, that's perfectly innocent. Ahahahaha.

Booze for Free by Andy Hamilton, is £9.99 or £5.89 on Amazon. If you are my grandma, my Amazon wishlist is here, without so much as a whisper of a mention about whisky.


  1. Thank you, you have just sorted an xmas gift for my dad! And maybe my boyfriend too!!

  2. Hey, that's my friend's book! Andy rocks and so so does this book - good spot ladies.

  3. Wild Pickings here in Ceredigion, West Wales, is a great independent foraged foods company! Might be of interest to you:!/pages/Wild-Pickings/178541688852161 I'm going to be buying some of their stuff for my mum for Christmas, and maybe a sloe gin truffle or several for myself!

  4. This post title is like the Domestic Sluttery version of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

  5. What a lovely tip Stonecypher, thank you for that! I made some Earl Grey truffles for my grandma last Christmas, but they weren't very tea-y so I might have to leave them to the professionals.

    @funkypixie It's a brilliant book, do pass on my compliments to Andy. I'm so enjoying reading it.

    @Betty Hurray!

  6. How spooky-I've just made my second batch of sloe gin this year from this book, about half an hour ago! Also have damson gin and elderberry vodka steeping in the larder, and a freezer full of sloes waiting to make more as soon as I can afford more gin ;-) Love this book, there is so much I want to try in it. And now I want to go sloe picking again even though I really don't need to....

  7. Are you London-based Rachael? If so, tell me where you get your sloes!

  8. Sadly not :-( I'm in Sheffield! Get me a cheapo train ticket and I'll bring you some ;-)


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