British Cassis & friends

British Cassis founder Jo HilditchJo Hilditch rose to fame in 2008 when she was awarded a Great Taste Award for her British Cassis, a blackcurrant wine made with fruit from her Herefordshire family farm.

Essentially a British reworking of a French staple, this is like a little black dress - versatile and equally at home on many occasions.

Try it solo to savour the intense essence of blackcurrant; follow the French example and splash into sparkling wine; or play mixologist with any number of variations.

The Cassis was so well received – the Hairy Bikers saw fit to make Jo a local food hero last year and Fortnum & Mason have it on its shelves – that Jo has looked around the farm for inspiration and come up with some welcome additions, an excellent Framboise – essence of strawberry with a refreshing tang – and two new fruity alcoholic mixers for 2011.

James Moss, Whittern EstateThe first is British Fraise, a Pimm’s-pink strawberry drink, while British Poire has a sprig of rosemary to give it that sophisticated herbal edge. James Moss, Jo's co-creator in crime and seen here with the range, brings a head chef's sensibilities to the final product, creating each drink in seriously small batches. Labels are even stuck on by hand.

And if you're wondering how to drink them, check out the helpful recipe section on the website. My favourite? Jo's Cassis Fizz, with a measure of fine gin, although in this weather, the Mulled Cider recipe looks tempting too.

From £13/37.5cl, available from the British Cassis website, select delis and food emporiums; see website for specific outlets.