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Country Garden Bitter Sorbet – a cool twist on a Negroni

August 28, 2016

Is it Negroni o’clock where you are? I’m back in Dubai and although happy to be home, the pale skies and the steamy temperatures are a stark contrast to beautiful English countryside, dramatic clouds and a fresh breeze. I was pounding the pavements last night with Hazel panting beside me (my Border Terrier in case you’re wondering) with headphones in ears listening to the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme podcast. Diana Henry‘s very lyrical Irish tones were lulling me into a reverie about the rise of the l’aperitif or l’aperitivo trend in the UK. She looked back to her first taste at the age of fifteen on an exchange in France. The words Lillet, Suze and Dubbonet were incredibly exotic. Like me, she was brought up in a time when alcohol was advertised on TV with little regulation and thought the life that the Martini and Cinzano ads portrayed was just real life as a grown up. Turns out we were both impossible day dreamers then. Hands up anyone else who can sing along to ‘any time, any place, anywhere, there’s a wonderful world you can share‘.

Diana lays down two rules for the perfect l’aperitif – nothing too strong and nothing too sweet. To get the taste buds in peak anticipation, Professor Charles Spence recommends the classic combination of something sour or citrus, some carbonation (i.e. bubbles) and something aromatic to stimulate the appetite.

My three very favourite aperitif are a gin and tonic (no surprise there), a French 75 (gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar) and a Negroni, which just happens to be ultra-fashionable right now and deliciously bitter.

So coming back to the house at dusk, rather warm and a bit peckish, after being seduced for half an hour about the allure of pre-dinner cocktails  you can guess what I was craving. Denzel’s special cocktail recipe for August fitted the bill as it’s a twist on the Negroni but slightly more elaborate.

Denzel Heath (of the MMI Bar Academy) uses Bloom gin here as it’s infused with botanicals such as chamomile, honeysuckle and pomelo capturing the essence of a country garden. Created by head distiller, Joanne Moore (still one of the few female master distillers in the world) soda is recommended as a partner for Bloom gin to set off the light, feminine flavours. The juniper is still an important element and in a gin and tonic Bloom suggests a strawberry as a garnish. St Germain is liqueur flavoured with elderflowers and is simply divine. Lillet is a refreshing citrus flavoured fortified wine which is lovely on its own over ice as an aperitif. If you really can’t find it try some bianco vermouth (sweet white) and maybe add a touch of Cointreau and Angostura orange bitters.

Country Garden Bitter Sorbet

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 30ml Bloom gin (or your gin of choice)
  • 30ml Campari (Aperol will also do)
  • 30ml Lillet Blanc
  • 30ml strawberry purée*
  • 60ml St Germain
  • 30ml fresh pineapple juice
  • 30ml egg white
  • Sprinkles (optional)


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Old fashioned glass or something more frivolous (like an ice cream container)
  • Ice

How to mix

  1. Add the Bloom gin, Campari, Lillet and strawberry purée into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until completely chilled. Strain the chilled liquid out of the shaker into an old-fashioned glass over fresh ice (discard the used ice from the shaker and wash it up).
  2. Make some St Germaine Foam: Fill a clean cocktail shaker with 60ml of St Germaine, 30ml of egg white and 30ml of pineapple juice. First shake these ingredients thoroughly without ice (this is known as a dry shake and is used to agitate the liquid and proteins).  Add ice to the mixture and shake for a second time.
  3. Strain 30ml of the foam on top of the ‘negroni mix (use the rest for another cocktail).

*Strawberry puree is simply 4 parts fresh, hulled strawberries with 1 part caster sugar blitzed in a blender until very smooth. You’ll probably find it easier to make a larger amount than needed in the recipe.

While this is probably involves a few more processes than your usual homemade cocktail, just imagine serving it at a summer garden party with some summery nibbly things. Divine.
Emiko Davies explains more about Italian aperitivi here and find out why I adore Diana Henry’s writing here.

What’s your favourite l’aperitif or l’aperitivo?


  1. The Real Geordie Armani permalink
    August 28, 2016 11:33 am

    That reminds me of the adverts for Martini with Lorraine Chase, Luton Airport 🙂

  2. August 28, 2016 12:26 pm

    That sorbet cocktail looks very interesting and not too sweet either with the Campari

  3. August 28, 2016 12:41 pm

    I’m still of a teenage taste when it comes to cocktails, so I do like them sweeter than most. St Germain is a favourite of mine, love that sweet and rich elderflower kick. I know that general opinion and taste, not to mention the trend of the last decade, is for cocktails with bitters in them, or a bitter flavour profile. I like the look of this one though, so might try and adapt it to my contrary tastebuds!!

  4. August 28, 2016 12:50 pm

    I love Diana Henry’s books. I have a couple sitting in my wish list at the moment. Thanks for the heads up on the podcast too. Off to search for it.

  5. August 28, 2016 12:54 pm

    Coincidentally I’ve just been writing about gin! I am not great at making cocktails and my limit at home is usually something like a gin and tonic with a garnish. I’d just have to find someone else to make this one for me – I’m far too lazy I fear!

  6. August 28, 2016 1:34 pm

    Is it too early on a Sunday morning for one of these? Sounds lovely!!

  7. August 28, 2016 1:35 pm

    That sounds wonderful and refreshing!



  8. August 28, 2016 2:01 pm

    This cocktail sounds and looks so delicious and refreshing!

  9. August 28, 2016 3:22 pm

    Oh wow what a delicious cocktail – I admit it’s the strawberry and pineapple elements drawing me in. And I love your photos – very moody 😀

  10. August 28, 2016 7:36 pm

    Sally this is my ideal cocktail. So fresh and cooling. Loving the moody photography too.

  11. August 29, 2016 7:55 am

    This sounds absolutely delicious! The only spirit I drink is gin, so this is right up my alley!

  12. August 29, 2016 9:06 am

    I recently had my first Aperol Spritz and loved it, but I usually like to have a sweet vermouth on the rocks with a twist of lemon. This sounds wonderful-on the list to try!

  13. August 29, 2016 10:27 am

    I have tried neither the French 75 or a negroni so now I have two new drinks to make! And made into a sorbet will be perfect for our summer 🙂

  14. August 29, 2016 12:08 pm

    That looks and sounds utterly delish. I too love Gin just reminds me of UK.Even on flights to UK I always get a G&T .Seems I have picked up several habits from the Brits.

  15. Fuss Free Helen permalink
    August 29, 2016 5:27 pm

    I made a batch of elderflower vodka one year, I think it needs mixing with a little cordial, but will be trying my version of this.

  16. August 29, 2016 9:33 pm

    I’ve not yet tried St. Germain, but artisan gin is my favorite hard liquor… I love bitter flavors (sweet not so much), and will look forward to trying this lovely cocktail!

  17. glamorous glutton permalink
    August 30, 2016 12:34 am

    I bet this is delicous. I do like Bloom gin and I’ve long been a fan of Campari. Cheers! GG

  18. August 30, 2016 1:38 am

    Lovely Sally and how nice to hear of such a lovely ritual coming back – it makes me think of the pre dinner drinks in the Downton Abbey household 😄 my vote would go to a glass of champagne 🍾

  19. August 30, 2016 10:10 am

    It’s always Negroni o’clock somewhere. What an awesome summer party drink. Divine indeed.

  20. August 30, 2016 6:00 pm

    I’ve heard a lot about Negronis lately but have never tried one! I love the sound of this recipe – the strawberry puree sounds gorgeous.

  21. August 30, 2016 6:09 pm

    This sounds so good! I can’t believe that I’ve never had St Germain. Must amend!

  22. September 25, 2016 12:23 pm

    It’s the light one. It’s the bright one. It’s Martini!

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