Ratafía

Literary references to this liquor going back to the Middle Ages describe how people would collect wild herbs in the summers to make Ratafía. The oldest written recipes are from the 19th century and the details vary: they can include carnations, berries or even green walnuts. But the drink is always a product of its surroundings. Josep Roca, sommelier at Celler de can Roca, calls it "a forest in a bottle".

Ingredients

Wild mint

1 bunch

Lemon balm

1 bunch

Yarrow

1 bunch

Lesser calamint

1 bunch

Lemon verbena

1 bunch

Rosemary

1 bunch

Chamomile

a pinch

Juniper

1 bunch

Fennel

1 bunch

Lavender

1 bunch

Star anise

3 pods

Walnuts, green

5

Nutmeg

1/2

Thyme

1 bunch

Cloves

4

Cinnamon

2 sticks

Orange zest

from half an orange

Lemon zest

from half a lemon

Simple syrup

to taste

Hard liquor, such as anise

1/2 litre, 50% alcohol by volume

Modern Recipe

  • Step 1
    Make the simple syrup

    6 tablespoons of sugar per 1/2 litre of water, to sweeten and dilute the recipe to about 25% alcohol by volume.

  • Step 2
    Score the walnuts

    Use a knife to score the green walnuts

  • Step 3
    Mix and cover the liquor

    Put the rest of the ingredients in a sealable glass bottle or jar. Cover the ingredients with the liquor.

  • Step 4
    Sweeten

    Add the simple syrup.

  • Step 5
    Leave to macerate

    Leave to macerate 40 days and 40 nights.

El nuevo licorista

El nuevo licorista is an 1847 collection of recipes for making all sorts of liquors, vinegars, confections, conserves, syrups and artificial wines. All we know about the compiler are his or her initials: J. A. H. de C.

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