Inside-out guest blog - Jane's Sour Cocktail for Christmas

Jane is my sister (I have three and she is the one after me, before twins). She lives on the most incredible island of Jura, in the Inner Hebrides. If you'd like to know more about this magical place, check out my blog from April 2022. It's one of those amazingly remote places (more deer than people) which presses all your internal reset buttons, or at least that's how it feels for visitors.

It definitely still has it perks if you are a resident but existing there can be quite challenging. Think no ever... and post in winter only when the post woman can get through the snow on the one island road and up to the hamlet. To survive (with a smile at least) you have to be both practical and inventive. So its serendipitous that Jane should end up there: she is one of the most imaginative, curious and ingenious people I know. 

She also works at a distillery on the neighbouring island of Islay, coming up with ideas, inventing delicious beverages and creating content about all of it. So, it seems only right that she should be the person to share a Christmas Cocktail recipe with us, in just enough time for you to buy the ingredients before the big day. Shopping list ready? Let's go! 

A sour cocktail for Christmas 

If you've got young kids and you live in the countryside as we do, an evening at a cocktail bar is like a mirage in a thirsty desert it takes years to cross.  

But learn a few basic recipes / principles and you can provide some tasty consolation at home. You want to balance the sour and sweet in a drink, for example, and a bitter ingredient (such as orange zest below, or some drops of proper cocktail bitters) gives your drink depth.  

For me, extra satisfaction comes from incorporating edible plants which grow locally - garden herbs or flowers, weeds, wild things, usually gone out for mid-make. You will always get freshness of flavour and aroma if you're picking something yourself, plus a snatch of how lucky you are to live on a generous planet.  

Here's a recipe you can make with whisky or gin - it's basically a "sour". It's good for Christmas morning because it's boozy but also contains something to line your stomach. It's roughly equal amounts alcohol, to non-alcohol, to thickener. You shake it, so it cues up those Gigi cocktail associations - the sounds of cubes in a shaker (a large jam jar works just as well).

Besides something to shake it in, you need a wee sieve, plenty of ice, and glasses with stems. 

Two matching glasses of Sour Cocktail, rosemary garnish and decorative holly spring

Makes 2 drinks 


  • Juice of one lemon
  • Finely grated zest and juice of half an orange
  • Two good dessert spoons honey melted in equal amount of boiling water, cooled. I like to add a handful of rose petals to this to boost the florals in the honey; miraculously there are still some hanging on outside! Rose petals also contain pinene which is present in juniper (gin!), rosemary, and Christmas trees, so it all ties in
  • One egg white or a slug of the water from a can of chickpeas
  • Gin or whisky


  1. Mix all of these ingredients. Roughly measure (should be about 100ml)
  2. Add to shaker
  3. Take gin or whisky - measure out slightly less than the combined liquids above - it's a long old day... (about 80-90ml)
  4. Tighten lid and shake for about 30 seconds without ice, then add at least 1/3 tray of ice and shake again until it feels really cold
  5. Strain through a fine sieve into stem glasses
  6. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary


Jane's Bio 

Jane works at a distillery that makes gin and single malt whisky on the island of Islay. She first stepped foot in the Inner Hebrides, with a group of friends from university. They stayed in Barn Hill on Jura (the house where George Orwell wrote 1984) for the summer and painted the outside of the house, whilst pursuing their various artistic endeavors. It was here she met her husband Hugh, a multi-talented musician, among other things. She became a full- fledged resident of the island in 2007.  

They now live in a beautiful converted crofters’ cottage on Jura with their two children Grace and Louis and their lurchers Pirlo and Pirate. Jura has one Village Store, one pub and a restaurant... so its residents have to be inventive about their little indulgences. Jane always has an exceedingly well-stocked pantry (so long as the mice haven’t got to it) and an imaginative take on culinary delights to fall back on. More often than not her edible inventions turn out to be exceedingly brilliant, although her extended family will tell you that when they do go wrong, dinner time can become very 'interesting'! 

Jane off for a walk up the hill, son Louis on her back, grass and the Paps behind

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