Mrs Hudson's Top Tips

 Mrs Hudson knows all about heritage places. Each month she comes up with some top tips for places to visit and days out around the UK. Whenever she can she takes her faithful dog Walpole with her too!



Mmmm…my favourite Christmas and New Year holiday is spent with friends and family and Walpole the dog. This year, I’m planning some exciting cocktails to liven up my gatherings and get me into 2018 with style. Here are some suggestions for cocktails with a heritage twist that should tempt you to visit the places that inspired them. 


If Christmas is still in full swing for you, here’s a recipe for a classic punch for sharing that has all the colour of the festive season. Look out for wine in historic house shops. Blenheim Palace have their own label and Sherborne Castle grow their own. Blenheim sell their own sparkling water as well. This is good made with prosecco or champagne but just as good and less alcoholic with white wine and a splash of sparkling water.

250ml cranberry juice, 60ml Cointreau,125ml prosecco or white wine and sparkling water to taste.

Mix the cranberry juice and Cointreau and infuse for 24 hours. Pour into 4 glasses and top up with prosecco or wine and sparkling water. Garnish with fresh cranberries.


If you worry about falling asleep before midnight at New Year, this is the pick-me-up drink for you. Make it with a really good coffee, I laid in a supply of the excellent Cuillin Coffee when I was in Skye visiting Dunvegan Castle. Perfect.

50ml vodka, 35ml coffee liqueur, 1 shot (25ml) Cuillin blend (or other) espresso.

Shake well over ice, strain into a martini glass and garnish with three coffee beans.


At Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, safe in the Walled Garden, grows the National Collection of Rhubarb. All 130 different varieties. Here’s a pink drink that celebrates that heritage.

Start by making a spicy rhubarb syrup: 2 stalks of rhubarb, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups water, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp vanilla extract. Combine in a pan, bring to the boil, simmer for 5 mins, then cool.

25ml white rum 50ml rhubarb syrup 5 mint leaves 15ml lime juice lime zest nutmeg. In the bottom of a glass add a bit of nutmeg, lime zest, mint leaves and the lime juice. Using a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon muddle the ingredients, giving the mint a good bashing. Add the rum and syrup, give a light stir then top with ice. Garnish with mint and a thin slice of rhubarb.



Apparently, Charles Darwin kept a stash of pineapple rum in his cellar at home at Down House. Here’s a cocktail he might have enjoyed.


1 small pineapple, diced
70cl dark rum
25ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
1 dash angostura bitters


Add the pineapple and rum to a jug and leave to infuse for at least 24 hours. Strain off 50ml rum and shake over ice with lemon juice, sugar syrup and angostura. Serve garnished with pineapple, an orange slice and a cocktail cherry. Then do a Darwin and keep the rest of the rum in the cellar for up to 6 months. 

Down House


On Raby Castle Estate in Co Durham grows one of the largest juniper plantations in the UK. Juniper is fragrant and low growing and without it we wouldn’t have any gin – it’s the essential flavouring of all gins. The gimlet also reminds us that while Britain was ruling the waves in the 19th century there was still a real problem getting enough fresh fruit to counter scurvy among the sailors. Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette (1857-1943) is said to have first added lime cordial to the daily gin tot of the men of the Royal Navy. I’ve added a bit of elderflower too which also grows in profusion around the Castle at Raby.

50ml gin 10ml elderflower cordial, 15ml freshly squeezed lime juice, shake over ice and garnish with a twist of lime.




A classic American cocktail, the Sidecar dates from the great days of New York’s Harry’s Bar in the 1920s. This is a spicy winter version that I like to think of the Washington family of Sulgrave Manor drinking and thinking of their illustrious American cousins, George and Martha.

Start by making a cinnamon syrup: Add 250g white caster sugar to 250ml water. Pop in a cinnamon stick and heat gently. When the sugar has dissolved simmer for 5 minutes and then cool. Remove the cinnamon stick.

30ml brandy 25ml, Cointreau 15ml, lemon juice 15ml, cinnamon syrup. Shake over ice. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Sulgrave Manor


Dalemain in Cumbria is home to the World Marmalade Festival – they have one of the earliest known recipes for marmalade - and marmalade season is right now. This is just the thing after a trip to Paddington 2.

50ml gin, 25ml aperol, 15ml lemon juice, 1 tsp thin cut marmalade. Muddle the marmalade thoroughly in a shaker. Add crushed ice and the other ingredients. Strain into a glass and garnish with an orange twist.


Of course, you can drink this in any garden you like but it must have roses, so I’m dreaming of Borde Hill Garden’s famous Rose Garden. This is the cocktail to carry you through to summer and banish the January blues. It won’t be long until roses are blooming!

325ml rose liqueur, 25ml gin, 10ml rose syrup, 15ml lemon juice, 15ml apple juice, 15ml cranberry juice.

Shake over ice and strain. Garnish with raspberries left over from the Christmas trifle (until rose petals are available).



If I’m driving or just slowing down then I’m for a winter Mocktail. Just as much pizzazz without the alcohol.


Kent is our most famous apple growing county and the apple trees have always been grown in the medieval gardens at Penshurst Place. Here’s how they do it:

1 litre freshly pressed apple juice, 1 cinnamon stick, Peel of 1 large orange, Peel of 1 large lemon, Small knob of fresh ginger, grated 2tsp runny honey.

Add the cinnamon stick, orange and lemon peel, and a sprinkle of the grated ginger to a large saucepan. Pour in the apple juice and place the pan over a low heat, simmering for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Stir in the honey to taste. Strain the mixture into a jug and serve warm.


Here’s a drink that I’m sure the 4 designers of the gardens at Woburn Abbey would have relished; the rosemary gives it a spicy depth. So “Cheers”, Humphry Repton, Sir Jeffry Wyattville, Percy Cane and Henry Holland.

Start by making the cucumber syrup: Add 250g white caster sugar to 250ml water. Pop in 6 peeled slices of cucumber about 1 cm thick and heat gently. When the sugar has dissolved simmer for 2 minutes and then cool. Strain out the cucumber.

15ml cucumber syrup, 50ml apple juice, 2 rosemary sprigs, 8 mint leaves. Lightly muddle (press) one rosemary sprig in a long glass. Remove and fill with crushed ice, pour the other ingredients over. Stir and add sparkling water. Garnish with the second rosemary sprig.

Mrs Hudson is a pseudonym. She is not related to Sherlock Holmes' landlady or housekeeper, the cook in Upstairs Downstairs or any other Hudson fictional or real. The dog is real but doesn't answer to Walpole.