HOW TO Make a Castle Dip Cocktail

Illustration by Chloe Hall
Illustration by Chloe Hall

YGT welcomes you to our latest and greatest feat yet, it’s a series of creative HOW TO posts, promised to be filled with delectable delights, handy tutorials and quick fixes. As we all know, creatives love to roll up their sleeves and try new things. They like making things look good, and they spend a great deal of time thinking about preparation, presentation, composition and collaboration. So, what better way to feed (there’ll be a lot of puns here by the way) the senses, inspire the imagination, and branch out into new and exciting creative experiments, than to launch our very own lifestyle-led guide to making?

We’ll be collaborating with some seriously amazing people to bring you top notch tutorials with unique twists, and awesome illustrations. We’ll also be focussing, not just on creations that look great, but specifically on utilising ingredients and materials that are good for us, and for the planet. It’s a real myth that eating healthily or doing-it-yourseld is boring and tie-consuming, or that vegetarian and vegan food, home-made clothes and accessories and the result of 10 minute crafting challenges look like crap. In our posts you’ll find guides on beautiful food, tasty drinks, style, arts and crafts, home decor, lifestyle and plenty of scope to experiment for yourself.

In the spirit of the fresh and chilly new year, we thought a hot and minty cocktail might be the ideal thing with which to introduce YGT’s latest section. A Castle Dip is probably more well-known in America than the UK, despite it’s medieval-sounding title. It’s also considered to be a pretty vintage cocktail, and despite its simplicity, is notoriously difficult to get right. What you’re after in this scenario is a piping hot beverage that tastes of hot liquorice-flavoured apples, with a sweet lemony tang, and not like Night Nurse. Many cocktails have medicinal qualities but should never ever taste like Night Nurse.

Created way back in 1916, the original Castle Dip recipe (and probably most of the recipes you’ll find online) call for creme de menthe, however, this conjures up images of elderly women with alligator purses and purple rinses for us, so we’ve opted to mix it using fresh sprigs of mint. This is not only far healthier but means that the drink will taste much fresher. You can serve this drink in pretty much any vessel that has a handle. If you don’t opt for a handle you might end up with burnt fingers so think mugs, wine glasses, teacups, latte glasses, and er, tankards. You get the idea.

You Will Need

36ml of Apple Brandy (we’ve chosen this because it tastes amazing, and much of it is produced on UK cider farms in Cornwall and Somerset. You may have to go online to buy a bottle but it’s totally worth supporting those farms.)

1 tablespoon sugar syrup (you can make this by boiling equal parts water and sugar on the hob. Leave the mixture to cool and set, then go ahead and use. You can pop whatever’s left over in a bottle with a lid and store it in the cupboard until you need to use it again.)

1/4 teaspoon Absinthe (you can go for any brand here so choose whatever takes your fancy)

1 large sprig of mint (a mint plant will happily grow inside all year so we suggest buying a young plant from a garden centre and making it comfortable in your kitchen so that it can grow into a beast. If you’re lazy, just pick up some pre-harvested sprigs from your local shops, or supermarkets.)

1 lemon (we know you don’t have time to sit and watch a lemon tree grow so pick up your fruit from the shops)

1 apple (same goes for your apples)

Boiling water


Cut the lemon and apple into thin slices and place a few pieces in your glass or mug. Next, remove three or four leaves from the sprig of mint and clap your hands once or twice while holding them. This releases the mint’s flavour and gets the juices in the leaves ready to be mixed with the rest of your ingredients. Place these leaves and the mint sprig into the glass or mug with the fruit.

Then add your alcohol and sugar syrup and mix all ingredients with a spoon. Don’t be afraid to squidge the fruit and mint a little to release even more flavour. Then you’ll want to top your drink with boiling water and give it all another stir. Wait for it to cool before having a sip, and if it’s a little on the sour side, add a little more sugar syrup to the mix and stir again. At this point, things should be looking pretty green and delicious, especially if you’ve opted to serve your drink in a glass. If you’re making the drink for a number of people, it’s very easy to mix together in a pan or a mixing jug, by simply increasing the measurements to suit the number of people you’re serving. Once you’ve mixed everything together, decant the drinks into glasses. Do warn your guests about the absinthe if you plan to be drinking Castle Dips all night long though.

There are a variety of ways to garnish this drink, AKA to make it look fancy. You can cut up the remaining pieces of lemon and apple and arrange them on the rim of the glass or cup you’re serving your cocktail in. Alternatively you can add a few very thin pieces of fruit and mint leaves to the drink, these will float around and look pretty wonderful. Be careful not to add too much fruit, this is an alcoholic beverage, not healthy breakfast after all. If mint is your thing, take a very large mint leaf and carefully pop it in the top of the drink so that it sticks to one side of the glass or mug. This one is our favourite. Don’t faff around too much with garnishes as this drink should be served hot!

So there you have it, a tasty, near-forgotten delicacy to warm you to your bones. This is a drink that not only looks amazing, but tastes really bloody good too. Plus it’s totally fruity and on-point for your January detox, though probably not that great for you if you’re powering through a dry January. Sorry for tempting you. Let us know how you get on and show us photos of your Castle Dip Cocktail kitchen session.

Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth