Last Updated on February 3, 2022
Bullards Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin is the perfect choice for your Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day – it has been the best of times, and the worst of times. Depending on your relationship status, the occasion can feel like a combination between an overbearing obligation, a gruelling test of one’s affections, a fantasy on the brink of collapse, or an affirmation of the fondest romantic sentiments. No matter where you are in this yearly charade, you’re probably in need of some gin – and good gin at that.
Bullards Spirits has a long history of making quality gin. Founded in Norwich in 1827 by Richard Bullard, the company has been revived in recent years by Richard’s great-great, grandson. Since its revival, the company has won numerous awards in the business, including, in 2017, the World’s Best London Dry Gin and Distillery Of The Year. Though I’ve only tried their Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin, Bullards’ other premium spirits also sound delightful – especially their Coastal Gin, said to be inspired by the stunning Norfolk beaches.
One has to admit that in 2022 there is nothing sexier than being eco-friendly and Bullards Spirits have made a big commitment to sustainability with their new Eco-Refill Pouches and Bottles For Life. Taking much less energy to make, store and transport, the pouches allow drinkers to top up their original Bullard’s bottle and help save the planet whilst sipping on a G&T. The pouches can then be sent back to Bullards, free of charge, by popping them in the post-box, they will then be transformed into plastic pellets and turned into new products. Buying the pouches will also save money on your gin – truly I see no losers here!
Bullards Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin is a delicious spirit in their collection, perfect both in a G&T and your favourite cocktails. It has a lovely light strawberry flavour off the bat, and when mixed with your chosen tonic water, maintains its bright summery taste, leaving a hint of lemon on the tongue. The black pepper element of the gin is relatively subtle, but can be teased out by some of the cocktails I’ve tried below. Two of these recipes, The Pomegranate and Basil Spritzer, and the Strawberry Clover Club, come directly from Bullards’ mixologists themselves. Further cocktails and serves can be found on the Bullards Spirits’ website, for each of their wonderful gins.
A light and refreshing cocktail with a strawberry sweetness and delicious apple and black pepper aftertaste. The Double Dutch Pomegranate and Basil mixer is an absolute must, its lightness really highlights the other flavours, and adds body to this cocktail. I also made my own pomegranate syrup (recipe below). You can absolutely buy syrup instead - I like Maison Routin’s cocktail syrups - but you have to admit it’s impressive if you can say to your date that you made your own. This is the perfect cocktail to embark on a romantic night in, and with homemade pomegranate syrup, it’s like drinking pure love.
- 1 Pomegranate
- Caster Sugar
- 2/3 drops Orange Blossom Water or Orange Extract
- 25 ml Bullards Strawberry and Basil
- 50 ml Apple Juice
- 1 tbsp Pomegranate Syrup
- Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil Mixer
- Pomegranate Seeds and Basil to Garnish
Start by carefully cutting a small circle around the tip of the pomegranate, making sure to only cut just below the surface of the fruit. Slowly pull the tip of the fruit out of the circle you have cut. With your knife, split the pomegranate in two, and then in four, again, making sure not to cut too far below the membrane.
Prepare a large bowl of cold water. Placing the fruit so it is fully submerged, start to pull apart the segments you have made with your knife. Working with one piece at a time carefully start to separate the seeds from the fruit. The water ensures that the seeds will sink while the membrane floats, allowing you to easily sift through at the end, and discard the pith. It also prevents pomegranate juice from absolutely destroying your kitchen.
Once you have separated the seeds from the fruit, drain and place the fruit in the blender. Blend until you have a beautiful bright pink liquid, and all the seeds have burst.
Sieve the contents of the blender into a new bowl – making sure to squeeze all the juice out of the seeds, before discarding the contents of the sieve. You should be left with a much deeper coloured juice.
Measure out the volume of the remaining pomegranate juice, and the same volume of sugar. Pour both into a non-stick pan, and bring to the boil, stirring often.
Once bubbling, turn the heat down, pop a lid on it and let it simmer for five minutes. Keep an eye on the syrup to ensure it doesn’t over-bubble, making sure to stir occasionally.
After five minutes is up and the sugar has dissolved, you should be left with a lovely thick syrup. Allow to cool completely before sieving one final time, and adding a couple drops of orange blossom water or orange extract.
Decant into a glass bottle with a tight seal and use in your favourite cocktails. Use within six months.
Add plenty of ice to a large chilled wine glass. Followed by the gin, apple juice and pomegranate syrup.
Top with Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil Mixer and stir to combine.
Garnish with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and a few fresh basil leaves.
Aperol and Strawberry Gin Sour:
No idea how to use up that left over Christmas Aperol? Or simply missing a taste of summer in these cold times? This smooth sweet and sour cocktail might be the one for you. I have adapted this cocktail from the incomparable @JoinJules, a cocktail goddess. I would highly recommend using maple syrup as it has slightly deeper flavours, but sugar syrup can work in a pinch. The pink gin certainly adds some sweeter notes to the cocktail so I’ve upped the lemon juice from the original recipe. It’s the perfect mix between tangy Aperol and strawberry sweetness. Incidentally, this is the most alcoholic cocktail by ABV I’m recommending – do with that information what you will.
- 45 ml Bullards Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin
- 30 ml Aperol
- 30 ml Lemon Juice
- 15 ml Maple Syrup
- One Egg White or 25ml of Aquafaba (for a vegan alternative)
- 2 Thyme Sprigs
- 1 Thyme Sprig to garnish
- Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake without ice.
- Add ice and shake again.
- Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a fresh thyme sprig.
Strawberry Clover Club
A wonderful take on a classic clover club – unlike the Aperol and Strawberry Gin Sour, these flavours are slightly lighter and don’t overwhelm the taste of black pepper in the gin. It’s a beautifully smooth and refreshing cocktail, strawberry sweet but with a hint of lemon. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the strawberry syrup, it is very simple to make, absolutely delicious, and makes your kitchen smell divine. Easy to build and make in larger quantities, yet still very impressive, this cocktail is perfect for a friend’s Valentine get together – or indeed, for the more adventurous among us, a ménage à trois.
(makes about 150 ml of syrup – scale up or down depending on the need)
- 100g Strawberries
- 170ml Water
- 100g Caster Sugar
Strawberry Clover Club:
- 50ml Bullards Strawberry & Black Pepper Gin
- 25ml Strawberry syrup
- 25ml Fresh lemon juice
- One Egg White or 25ml aquafaba (for a vegan alternative)
- Lemon to garnish
- Take off the top of the strawberries and chop roughly into quarters.
- Place the strawberries in a pan and cover them with the water – bring it to the boil.
- Once bubbling, turn the heat down and simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally and removing any foam from the top layer.
- Sieve the liquid into another pan. Although it might be tempting to smush the strawberries, don’t do this, as it will discolour the syrup.
- Discard the strawberries and add the sugar to the remaining liquid. Pop the mixture back on the heat until the sugar dissolves, then take off the heat.
- Decant the syrup into a glass bottle with a tight seal. Use in your favourite cocktails. Consume within two months.
Strawberry Clover Club:
- Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and dry shake.
- Add ice and shake.
- Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist and two (or more!) lines of strawberry syrup.
Strawberry and Basil Smash:
Feeling resentful about Valentine’s day or perhaps more about the state of the world? Would crushing some fruit to a pulp help? If so, this recipe might be the one for you. Basil is of course the obvious choice when pairing with strawberry, even so, my advice would be to not hold back. The more refreshing the better here as this is a rather sweet cocktail. The strawberry syrup can be swapped out for simple sugar syrup, or for nothing at all if you don’t like particularly sweet drinks. Additionally, you can add whatever fresh berries you like at the beginning for a more complex flavour. Delicious and fruity, you really can’t go very wrong here, experiment, play around and see what works for you. Make sure to serve with a straw – otherwise, things might get messy ;).
- 2 Strawberries
- 5 Chopped Basil Leaves
- 50ml of Bullards Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin
- 25ml Lemon Juice
- 15ml Strawberry Syrup (recipe above)
- Crushed Ice
- Basil to Garnish
- At the bottom of a chilled rocks glass, muddle together the strawberries and the basil leaves.
- Fill half the glass with crushed ice and stir to combine the ice with the muddled fruit.
- Fill the glass to the brim with crushed ice.
- In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice and strawberry syrup. Shake with ice until cold.
- Strain the contents of the shaker over the ice.
- Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.
Strawberry and Black Pepper G&T:
Finally – why change what is already perfect?
Two shots of Strawberry & Black Pepper Gin mixed with your favourite tonic water (I use Fever-Tree) and ice makes for a delicious G&T. Top with your favourite fruit and enjoy.
There’s nothing quite like a G&T to kick start some romancing…
Bullards Spirits Website: https://bullardsspirits.co.uk/