As we enter the festive period we’ve ducked into the Mudhutter archive for this post from Issue 45 of The MFE. Issue 65 is available now from all the usual places, plus www.mudhutter.co.uk. Don’t thank us until you’ve tried it…
It was one of those daft news stories, like the “World” Pie Eating Championship, something that would only ever, at best, make Northwest Tonight, but the link about Revolution in Wigan selling “Uncle Joe’s Mint Ball Vodka” piqued my interest. Not so much the idea of shots that would make your granny go, but the side swipe at the Boulevard and their “unauthorised” version that came in the middle of the article.
There seemed to be an implication that there was more to all this than lobbing some peppermint essence and caramel flavouring in a bottle of Vodka and sticking a picture of a bloke in a white top hat on the front of it, and I was right. Uncle Joes’ vodka was something you could make in the comfort of your own kitchen, without any of the Wild West clichés of exploding moonshine stills.
For the uninitiated, the method is quite simple.
- Buy some uncle Joe’s mintballs (about half a pound)
- Buy some vodka (a bottle of cheap stuff will do)
- Get an air tight jar
- Put the sweets and vodka in the jar together
- Wait for the sweets to dissolve into the vodka
Step 5 sounds like the bugger and it probably is if you really wait for things to happen naturally. The good thing is that there are a few ways to speed this step up, apparently sticking it in the freezer works but is still quite a lengthy do, so it didn’t grab me. I wanted my drink now and if not now then as quickly as possible.
Any scientist will tell you that applying heat is a good way to speed up this sort of process, but any drinker will also tell you that heat is a good way to reduce the alcohol content of your drink. So if you want that speed then we’ll need a way of heating our brew without evaporating off all of tomorrow’s hangovers. The key is in that air-tight jar, and that strange box in the corner of the kitchen where you keep all the dirty dishes.
Yes, we’re going to cook our vodka in the dishwasher (that’s what it’s for fellas). It’s sort of like a slow roast, meaning that things don’t get too hot and explode but making sure that the necessary chemical reactions take place. Your jar’s airtight so you can probably get away with having your vodka in with last night’s pots; you might need two cycles to get the job done properly depending on your machine; but once the sweets have dissolved and the liquid has cooled down then you’re good to go.
I tend to decant the vodka back into the original bottle and keep it in the freezer (turn the bottle every so often to stop the sugar settling) for the best results but if you can’t wait then just get stuck in.
The result is syrupy sweet, minty (really) and, pardon my French, effing ace.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like it and who wouldn’t drink it way beyond the novelty value passing. Mrs Perm is about the furthest away from a shot drinker I can think of and she’d quite happily wade through a lake of the stuff (if she could take her ale that is).
Of course it doesn’t stop there. If you’re anything like me, you’ll already be pondering the question that I’d got to within five minutes of googling “mint ball vodka” a couple of years back and the answer is “yes”. It works with pretty much any boiled sweet that you fancy. It’s now a New Year’s tradition and we’ve added a new brew each year giving us the following so far:
Mint Ball – The original but, unusually, not the best. As I said above, a syrupy sweet minty mess of a night. Don’t think that all that mint will hide the smell of the alcohol on your breath though.
Pear Drop – Tastes like, err… Pear Drops. Most people’s favourite, this one has a schnapps feel to it and is a little easier to drink quickly. That’s a warning, not a plus point, by the way.
Rhubarb and Custard – I’ve just been watching Nigel Slater on some food channel, drooling over some Rhubarb in caramel sauce invention that he reckoned had all the best of sweetness and sharpness in it. I’m sorry Nigel but you’re wrong, that honour goes to Rhubarb and Custard vodka. A proper grown-up treat and the daddy of the bunch so far, as far as I’m concerned.
This year, we’ve added Blackcurrant and Liquorice to the repertoire. It’s in the freezer as I type and due its first outing tonight. I reckon it’ll be the dog’s wotsits, but the real test is in the tasting, wish me luck…