Thomasina Miers’ recipe for juniper and lemon martinis and deep-fried olives | Christmas food and drink

Thomasina Miers’ recipe for juniper and lemon martinis and deep-fried olives | Christmas food and drink

The joy of entertaining at home is underrated. You can have fun creating a great menu, like this glamorous combination. Preparing the olives ahead makes them achievable snacks; throw in some infused gin martinis and you have the makings of a serious party – something we all deserve this year.

Juniper and lemon martinis with deep-fried olives

The infused gin recipe makes enough for six to eight martinis, but in the method below, I have given the quantities for making two.

Prep 20 min
Infuse 3-4 days
Chill 1 hr
Cook 15 min
Makes 2 martinis, olives and gin for 6

For the martinis
2 unwaxed lemons
350ml good-quality gin
2 tbsp juniper berries
2 sprigs rosemary
1-2 tsp agave syrup
Dry vermouth

For the fried olives
1 anchovy fillet in oil
½ orange
50g cream cheese
1 garlic clove,
peeled and minced
1 tsp thyme leaves
Salt and black pepper
200g pitted
green gordal or queen olives
3-4 tbsp
plain flour
1 egg, beaten
100g panko breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil,
for frying

To infuse the gin, use a vegetable peeler to pare the zest from the lemons, then add to a sterilised jar with the gin and juniper berries. Add the rosemary and agave, leave for three to four days, then strain.

To make the olives, chop the anchovy with the flesh from a quarter of an orange and the zest from half. Mix with the cheese, garlic and thyme, and lightly season. Pop this into a piping bag and use it to fill the olives.

Put the flour on one plate, the egg on another and the breadcrumbs on a third. Season the flour with some pepper. Roll each olive in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Refrigerate for an hour to ‘set’, or longer if you want to make them in advance.

When you’re ready to cook, fill a small, high-sided pan two-thirds of the way with vegetable oil and heat to 180C/350F – it’s ready when a piece of bread dropped in sizzles and turns golden in about 30 seconds. Fry the olives in batches (so as not to crowd the pan) for two minutes or until golden; drain on kitchen paper. You can either do this as your guests arrive for a bit of drama or fry the olives in advance then simply reheat in a moderate oven (150C (130C fan)/300F/gas 2) just before they arrive.

To make the martinis (I make two at a time), fill a mixing glass with ice. Measure out 100ml of the gin and pour into the glass with 20ml vermouth. Stir with a long spoon until the gin is ice-cold. Pour into martini glasses, offering your guests a choice between a dirty martini (with a trickle of olive juice from your jar) or one with a twist of lemon peel squeezed over the surface of the drink to release its oils. Serve at once.