Let me take you back in time. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve dinosaurs or anything like that, we’re only going back to the 6th of August 2011…

A friend of mine celebrates her birthday in late July, and last year, in one of those fits of experimental creativity that I sometimes get, I decided to ‘make’ her a special drink as a gift. Her and her partner were coming round for an evening of socialising, involving the usual intoxicants, and I thought it would be a good idea to concoct a unique cocktail of sorts to mark the celebration. A few days earlier, I had picked a large amount of blackberries and was at a loose end as to what to do with them. I’m not a massive fan of fruit pies, although I will eat one if necessary, and making jam’s far too much like hard work. That’s when the light bulb flashed above my head to create something alcoholic with them. No, not wine, that’s also too much like hard work.

On the day of our social gathering I headed off to the local off license and bought a half bottle of mid-priced vodka. Back in the kitchen/laboratory I decanted the vodka into a wine bottle before throwing the blackberries into a blender until they were a mushy paste which I then strained and added to the bottle. There was a little room left so I topped up the bottle with some cointreau (which I just happened to have in the house because I’m posh like that) and added a dash of lemon juice for good measure. After giving it a good shake, I left the bottle in the fridge to settle and chill for the evening.

That night, while the birthday celebrations were in full swing (it wasn’t actually that exciting, but it sounds better with a bit of exaggeration) I got the cocktail from the fridge, and we all sampled a small glass of it. It was foul. Apart from a vaguely acidic and unpleasant taste, it had the consistency of bile. There was no pleasure to be gleaned from its alcoholic content whatsoever. I tried to put a brave face on things and say “Oh, I’ve drunk much worse than this” (which is true, but we won’t go into that) but the lid was promptly put back on the bottle and wasn’t touched again.

At this point, common sense should have prevailed, leading to me pouring the contents of the bottle down the sink, but no. Maybe due to the excesses of the evening, my friend suggested I bury the bottle in the garden for a year, and maybe it would be more palatable the next time her birthday came round. Quite why a year underground would improve it I wasn’t sure, but what harm could it do? And so it came to pass that on Saturday, August the 6th 2011 I buried my vodka, cointreau and blackberry cocktail in the vegetable patch, not to see the light of day for the next 12 months.

Let me bring you forward in time. Woah, not too far, just back to the present, nearly. Due to other commitments, this year’s birthday celebrations took place on the 11th of August, and so it was that after 370 days (unless last year was a leap year, I can’t remember) I carefully excavated the cocktail from its earthen grave. After hosing down the bottle I held it up to the sunlight to see if it had cleared. Not really, but no matter. Who knew what mysterious chemical processes the alcoholic ingredients had been up to over the past year?

I returned to the kitchen/laboratory and unscrewed the lid. It smelled OK, or at least it didn’t smell toxic, but further inspection suggested I strain it again, just to get rid of a few of those gloopy lumps. This took a while, as the contents of the bottle were more akin to a puree than a drink, but I wasn’t getting downhearted and remained optimistic that it would taste better than last year. Once the straining was done, I popped it into the fridge to chill before evening.

The night was spent sitting in the back garden, enjoying the relatively balmy temperature despite a heavy ceiling of cloud masking any potential viewings of the scheduled meteor shower. After midnight we repaired to the parlour (I don’t really have a parlour, but let’s continue the posh theme…) and ceremoniously sampled the ‘vintage’ concoction. It was still foul. Maybe slightly less foul than it had been last year, but certainly not significantly better. In all honesty, it tasted pretty much exactly the same as it had last time, only with less gloopy bits in it, due to the second straining. However, after all the hard work I’d gone to producing this special drink, we heroically polished off the contents of the jug with hearty grimaces. Well, some of us did. One particular person took a tentative sip and flatly refused to touch any more.

So, another one of my experiments, and another failure. There’s a pattern developing here, I know, but I won’t be perturbed, and won’t give up doing slightly strange, slightly stupid things. Maybe one day I’ll have a success and it will all be worth while 🙂

Here’s some photographic evidence from the experiment. Just be thankful that a picture doesn’t always paint a thousand words, or this would be a painfully long post…

What lies beneath?

Buried treasure, sort of…

Squint and it looks OK, look closely and it resembles a bottle of purple soup.

Maybe I just need a better strainer.

Swampy looks less than impressed.

Just try to ignore the dog hairs all over the rug please…

* * *

Forthcoming attractions include a sequel to my mystifyingly popular Commercial Suicide blog post from last year, the start of the rubber duck global takeover, and some more ‘Appearances’ of course!

Drink responsibly… Occasionally… ses x