So – Summer’s here. Sort of. From time-to-time. When it’s not flooding or what-have-you.

With this in mind, Professor Cornelius Ampleforth has turned his attention to perhaps the most quintessentially British drink that there is – the Summer Fruit Cup.

Now – it’s worth noting that there are several other cups on the market, from the Ubiquitous Pimm’s, through several distillers’ own recipes (Chase is rather good – coming soon – watch this space) to the really rather excellent Sipsmith. There was one thing that the Professor had deemed to be missing from all of these concoctions though – pure, distilled Madness*.

Now the Professor is well known for taking a somewhat odd approach to the production of his spirits, and this one is certainly no exception. After tasting each and every one of the cups available on the market, he found that the freshness and vitality that he knew and loved from drinking a correctly garnished fruit cup was somewhat lacking. In some instances he even used the word ‘stewed’ before having to be chemically ‘calmed’ and returned to his warm liquid environment for a nice rest.

The Professor’s solution to this lack of freshness and vitality was simple – if not straight forward. Why not take the very ingredients traditionally used to garnish a summer cup, and cold-distil them in order to pull out and lock away all the freshness and vitality one expects, with none of the pesky degradation associated with infusion at low ABVs?

Seems like a no-brainer, no?

Why not indeed – so this is exactly what the Professor did. Taking a whole pile of Cucumber, fistfuls of fresh mint, punnet after punnet of strawberries, and a decent number of (whole) oranges and macerated them for 24 hours in pure wheat spirit to extract the fullest flavour possible, before filtering and distilling the resulting sweet and sticky liquid.

The result was extraordinary. The freshness of the mint was astonishing, the juiciness of the strawberries came through more than should be possible with a bone-dry distilled spirit, and the cucumber and orange flavours were present in droves.

The professor tipped progressively more and more of this distillate into his own blend of fine wines, spirits and herbs, until after a fair bit of tinkering, he came up with what he felt was the perfect recipe, so – ladies and gentlemen, may we present to you – Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s Summer Fruit Cup:

Nose: Huge depth and richness in the initial nose, spicy with notes of Caramelised Apricot, Chocolate and Marmalade. A huge secondary whack from the cold-distilled botanicals – Cucumber is the primary component, but mint, orange and sweet luscious strawberry all make an appearance.

Palate: Extraordinary intensity, but made fresh and accessible by the cold-distilled botanicals. The Strawberry is particularly prominent, but the mint freshness is omnipresent.

Finish: Long and luscious with the Mint, Strawberry, Orange peel bitterness and mint continuing to shine.

In order to serve his most refreshing and, dare we say it, most British concoction yet, the professor recommends first half-filling a highball glass with ice, sliced cucumber and orange, quartered strawberries and a lightly bruised sprig of fresh mint. Then carefully combining one part of his delicious Summer Fruit Cup with two parts of Lemonade (not three – this would lead to an excessively dilute drink suitable only for unwelcome guests), and gently addding to the glass.

Cheers – and here’s to the summer!


*okay – so distilled cucumber, orange, strawberry and mint. Not actual Madness. Or the band Madness**.

**Although we would very much like to expose the band madness to an atmosphere 1/10 that of earth’s for a period of about an hour or so.