by Nick Moyle and Richard Hood
If you’re a fan of good port but crave something darker, boozier and more intense, a simple blackberry and brandy infusion is the drink for you. But if you want to crank the intensity up to maximum, this liqueur will send you wild with excitement. Just as the deep, mellow richness of the blackberries seduces your taste buds, along comes a sturdy slap of tart elderberry goodness. Compared to our wild brandy liqueur, port is for wimps.
300g/10½oz/2½ cups blackberries
200g/7oz/1¼ cups elderberries
220g/7¾oz/1 cup white sugar
1 x 70cl bottle of brandy
- Pick the fattest, ripest, juiciest blackberries and elderberries you can find. The blackberries can be simply washed and put in a large jar, but you’ll need to remove the elderberries from their stalks before they join them. Elderberries have a habit of ripening at different times on the same head, so first pick off any young green or old shrivelled berries and discard them. The easiest way to strip the ripe fruit from the stalks is with fingers, but if you don’t want your hands to look like you’ve just come from a production of Sweeney Todd, flick them off by dragging them through the tines of a fork.
- Add the sugar and brandy to the jar with the fruit, then firmly seal the lid and give the jar a vigorous shake.
- In order to preserve the luxuriously deep colour of your drink, keep the jar somewhere cool and dark. Shake the jar daily until the sugar has dissolved, and continue to agitate it every week or two throughout the infusion time.
- This is definitely a drink not to be rushed, so try to hold out for 3 months before bottling. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve or mesh – gently press the fruit to remove the last drop of goodness without getting too heavy-handed and making a mess. Small particles of fruit are likely to be drifting through your bottled liquid, although it will be so dark they may not be obvious. If you want to remove these, strain for a second time through coffee filter paper.
- Wild brandy benefits from ageing in the bottles more than most liqueurs, so it’s well worth being patient to allow the flavours time to mellow. If you’re intending to drink it straight after bottling, you may wish to add a bit more sugar to smooth out the edges.