The Witches Jelly is one of my own recipes that seems to go down well with my guests. It’s a nice bittersweet drink that really showcases Amaro Montenegro (familiar from The Ottoman), one of my favourite Amari. The Witches Jelly is a fairly easy drink to make if you have a couple of the Tiki staple ingredients to hand namely cinnamon syrup and white grapefruit juice. Unfortunately it has become rather difficult to find fresh white grapefruit these days. I blame our sweetening palates for the takeover of pink and, increasingly, red grapefruit in out supermarkets. For the vast majority of cocktails we want the bitterness of white grapefruit juice and at the moment it seems to require a visit to a health food shop where you can buy it by the bottle. It’s actually pretty good but fresh is better still. You tend not to use a lot at a time so I usually decant a bottle into a number of smaller plastic bottles and freeze them until needed. If anyone knows a source of fresh white grapefruit in Amsterdam please let me know. If it checks out I’ll name a cocktail after you.
300g fine white sugar
150ml just boiled water
3 cinnamon sticks* broken up into small flakes in a mortar and pestle
Combine in a clean pan, stir and cover
Let sit for 1-2 hours stirring now and then
Strain through a fine mesh sieve and put into a sterilised bottle
Will keep in the fridge for at least 3 months
*Use the thick skinned (cassia/Chinese) cinnamon for best results. The thin skinned “true” cinnamon is a bit mild for this although sometimes I use two sticks of cassia and one of true which is a nice combination.
1.5oz dry London gin (I use Bombay Sapphire or Brokers).
0.75oz Amaro Montenegro.
0.75oz white grapefruit juice (fresh or bottled, as discussed above).
0.25oz cinnamon syrup.
Shake with ice.
Strain into a chilled champagne coupe or cocktail glass.
Toast the Strugatsky brothers for their classic Russian sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic from which this cocktail takes its name. Read it to find out why.