Lilly pilly Champagne cocktail

Lilly pilly Champagne cocktail

By
From
Real Food by Mike
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

A Champagne cocktail is a very elegant aperitif. The brandy and bitters with the sugar cube give this drink a lovely twist, and the forever-bubbling sugar cube at the bottom of the glass looks spectacular. This recipe calls for beautiful pink cordial made from the lilly pilly, an Australian native fruit. If you can’t find lilly pilly, try using crabapples– when ripe, the lovely small apple is sharp and will give a very similar finish to the lilly pilly. The cocktail will look almost like a kir royale, but will have the flavour of the slightly tannic lilly pilly cordial. Try to find dark-coloured lilly pillies, as this means they are ripe. It’s important to add only a small amount of cordial and not to overplay its delicate flavour. It’s there to stain the Champagne, not overpower it. You may be concerned about the amount of cordial you’ve made against the amount you actually use. The reason you make a large amount is that the lilly pilly is very seasonal and is only at its peak for a number of weeks. So I say make hay while the sun shines!

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
8 dashes angostura bitters
4 sugar cubes
60ml lilly pilly cordial
40ml brandy
360ml champagne

Lilly pilly cordial

Quantity Ingredient
460g caster sugar
1 teaspoon tartaric acid
2 lemons, zested and juiced
300g lilly pillies, halved

Method

  1. For the lilly pilly cordial, in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar and 750 ml (3 cups) water to the boil. Add the tartaric acid and lemon zest and stir to dissolve. Add the lilly pillies to the pan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes or until all the colour has been extracted from the fruit and it has softened.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, add the lemon juice and squash the fruit against the side of the pan. Allow to sit for 5 minutes off the heat.
  3. Pour the fruit through a sieve, or strain it through muslin (cheesecloth) into a bowl, to yield a deep-red syrup. Discard the fruit. Pour the cordial into a sterilised 500 ml bottle and keep sealed in the refrigerator.
  4. To serve, in each glass soak a sugar cube in 2 dashes Angostura bitters. Pour the cordial and brandy over the sugar cube, and top up gently with chilled Champagne.

Note

  • Tartaric acid is derived from grapes and is very sharp and sour. It’s not the same as cream of tartar, which is used for baking. I would use citric acid if you can’t find tartaric acid, but add a little more to make up for it not being so intense.

Medicinal Benefit

  • Lilly pilly, otherwise known as riberry, is an evergreen rainforest plant with glossy green leaves and fruit the size of a large cherry. An Australian native, it contains a high concentration of antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins A, E and C. Indigenous Australians use lilly pilly for its antibacterial properties. It also has astringent qualities that work to improve the firmness of the skin.
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