Thursday 19 April 2018

BLOG TOUR: Rebellious Spirits - Ruth Ball

I reviewed the beautiful hardback of Rebellious Spirits in 2016 and you can read my review here.  I'm absolutely over the moon to open the paperback blog tour with an extract on how to make your own bootleg gin and a fabulous giveaway (UK only) to win your own copy of this excellent book.  I'd love to have a go at distilling my own alcohol although 20 gallons (just shy of an eye-watering 91 litres!!!) is a bit too much for me so I think I'll stick to the pre-bottled version of mother's ruin.

Bootleg Gin Extract – taken from Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball

With illegal gin sold from under a stranger’s skirt, you couldn’t be sure what you were getting. Gins had fancy names like White Satin, Blue Ruin, Cuckold’s Delight, King Theodore of Corsica, Flashes of Lightning or The Cure for the Blue Devils, but they were usually more turpentine than juniper. Even the less dodgy recipes for gin – those involving real juniper – were full of toxic ingredients. They were used in all kinds of food and drink at the time because their toxic properties just weren’t known. It wouldn’t be safe to try a truly authentic recipe for bootleg gin, but I have managed to put together a cocktail that should give you some idea of the taste without any of the nasty side effects.

For twenty gallons of gin
Seventeen gallons of spirits one to five under proof. Take one penny-weight and three quarters of the oil of vitriol, one penny-weight and three quarters of the oil of almonds, half a penny-weight of the oil of turpentine, two penny-weights of the oil of juniper berries, mixed with lump sugar and spirits of wine, as before; add to it one pint of lime-water, and one pint of rose-water; use the whole. After you dissolve five pounds of lump sugar, in two gallons and a half of water that was boiled, as before directed, fine it down with the proportioned quantity of allum and salt of tartar.

P. Boyle, The Publican and Spirit Dealer’s Daily Companion (Sixth Edition, c. 1800)

1 part vodka
½ part retsina
¼ part amaretto
¼ part neat sugar syrup
part rosewater
½ part water
1–2 drops of juniper oil

Simply mix and serve. But how? With tonic? While this gin would be really lovely with tonic, that wouldn’t be authentic. Tonic wouldn’t be introduced to Britain for more than another hundred years; so while you could drink it with tonic, it would be a little like going to a re-enactment wearing a digital watch. Chilled or with ice? Although this gin would also be excellent shaken over ice with a splash of vermouth and served in a well-chilled Martini glass, historical authenticity will not allow.

Drink it the authentic way. Just add a little water and drink at room/street temperature. If possible, try to throw some mud at an MP, or anyone who looks like they might be rich or important, at the same time. That’s the eighteenth-century way!

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If you like the sound of this book (and who wouldn't?), you can click HERE to buy a copy from Amazon or enter my giveaway to be in with the chance of winning a copy - you've got to be in it to win it!


Win a paperback copy of Rebellious Spirits by Ruth Ball courtesy of Elliott & Thompson.  The giveaway is open to entrants in the UK only and is open for 3 days from 19th April 2018 to midnight on 21st April 2018.  One winner will be chosen at random and contacted via email on 22nd April 2018.  If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen.  GOOD LUCK!

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  1. My favourites are amaretto and brandy together. Sometimes I add a bit of in my cappuccino 😀