This week we’re sipping The Made in Chelsea Coupe, an indulgent yet refreshing cocktail created by the clever folks at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. The occasion? Toasting the launch of Broken Clock Lingering Vodka, which takes botanical inspiration from England’s idyllic country gardens…
If there’s one thing us Brits delight in, it’s the sanctuary of a garden. Our very own tiny little bit of green space in which to do, well, whatever the hell we fancy. From manicured lawn obsessives and elaborate bird fountain fanatics to green-fingered allotment fans, few can resist tending to their personal piece of the great outdoors. And the truth is, you don’t even need your own ‘outdoors’ to get involved, as we discovered at a terrarium-building masterclass hosted by Broken Clock Lingering Vodka.
Infused with slow-ripened apples from the orchards of Yorkshire’s historic Shandy Hall estate and botanicals typically found growing wild in country gardens, this copper pot-distilled wheat vodka is about as quintessentially English as it gets. The liquid has an interesting literary link, which unfolded as we decorated our indoor gardens under the watchful eye and expertise of east London’s Botanical Boys. When founder Andrew Kuhajewski set about establishing Broken Clock, his biggest hurdle was refining the recipe. And after three years and more than 100 trial samples, he still wasn’t any closer to bottling his vodka. “I knew what kind of flavour profile I wanted to achieve, but it was very difficult to find the right balance of ingredients,” he explains. Add too much of any botanical and it’ll dominate the liquid; too little and it’ll get lost.
As Kuhajewski continued making adjustments, he began to draw parallels between Project Broken Clock and his choice of reading: a series called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by 18th-century novelist Laurence Sterne. If you’re unacquainted, we’ll bring you up to speed: pretty much nothing happens. In fact, by the time you make it to the third volume (there are nine in total) the protagonist – Tristram Shandy – still hasn’t been born. Every night, before he gets busy with his missus, Shandy’s dad winds his clock. One night, he forgets, so the story goes, and this is the night baby Shandy is conceived.
Reading between the lines somewhat, Kuhajewski “decided to change the approach, step away from infinite planning and instead allow the project to grow organically.” He took a trip to the picturesque Shandy Hall, located in the village of Coxwold, and met the team behind the Laurence Sterne Trust. There, he says, everything clicked into place. “One of the custodians of the foundation, Patrick, took me around the village,” Kuhajewski says. “It’s a quiet place rather like a time warp. I spotted a broken clock atop a house neighbouring Shandy Hall.
“I explained my predicament with the recipe, and the Trust came up with the idea of donating apples from their garden to the vodka,” he adds. Basketfuls of bitter-sweet apples were taken to the distillery in Cheshire, cut in half, and added to the copper pot still for the final distillation, along with bergamot, Angelica root and the rest of the botanicals. Upon tasting the resulting liquid, “I suddenly understood that [those] apples were the missing flavour,” Kuhajewski says.
In-keeping with the Georgian style, the bottle label is clad with typefaces dating back to the 18th century; in fact, ‘lingering’ is written in the original version of the Sans Serif font, while ‘Broken Clock’ is styled on old clock faces and Roman italics. The stopper features an engraving from British design legend (and poet, novelist and socialist) William Morris.
And as for the liquid within? On the nose, there’s dewy grass, dried fruits, angelica and citrus, while the palate reveals rose petal, bramley apples and baking spices, with a “touch of earthiness” and a long, bitter-sweet finish. Sip Broken Clock on the rocks, stir it into your Martini or mix it with tonic or soda and top with a freshly-foraged garden garnish: think pears, blackberries, rosemary, and lavender.
Alternatively, you could try your hand at the Made in Chelsea Coupe, below. Garden in a glass? Don’t mind if we do…
Add all ingredients to a Boston shaker. Dry shake for 30 seconds, add ice, short shake, then double strain and garnish with a slice of dehydrated lemon.