I am often asked what I love most about gin. After “its deliciousness”, I invariably say the rich history that surrounds it. Reading about gin and cocktails is the next best thing after drinking them and I do enjoy coming across old recipes and giving them a try. Purl is one such drink.
The original Purl began life in the 17th century as a “sharply bitter ale infused with wormwood” (D. Wondrich, Imbibe), pre-dating gin by around 100 years. Hops weren’t used as a preservative back then, and beer was quick to spoil and a bit tasteless. People would add herbs and spices to boost the flavour, in particular wormwood. This beverage would be drunk in the morning and was said to settle the stomach.
With the advent of gin in the 18th century, Purl evolved into mixture of hot ale, gin, and sugar. It’s mentioned in several Dickens’ novels as well as Samuel Pepys’ diary.
Can you think of a better winter warmer?
Loch Brewery and Distillery makes both gin and ale, so it was a wonderful opportunity to put their new gin, The Weaver together with their dark ale. I recently purchased a copy of Tristan Stephenson’s book, The Curious Bartender’s Gin Palace, and it’s his recipe I have adapted. Like most drinks of this nature, they evolve, so have a play with the ingredients in the infusion as well as the types of beer.
How to Make Purl
Warning, some patience required!
For the infusion
150ml Loch “The Weaver” gin
3g crushed black pepper
3g bay leaves
1g gentian root
1g star anise
Put all the ingredients together in an airtight jar or bottle. After 2 weeks, strain and reserve the liquid.
For the drink (makes 700ml)
150ml of the infusion
500ml Loch Dark Ale
50g soft brown sugar
50g caster sugar
Place all the ingredients together in a glass bottle, ensuring the sugar is dissolved. Add more sugar if desired. Warm gently and serve.