Just love being devil's advocate.. like to make people think. Also I love giving information to people that they do not know. 

So today I will talk about dyes... natural dyes.. 

Many years ago I was developing a recipe for a red velvet cake for a TV chef. And I tried making the dessert with beets and some cocoa but of course it did not get the nice red colour you expect when you make a red velvet cake. 

So I used red dye... and the response from the people that saw the recipe was sooo bad.. Oh, you use artificial dyes and shame on you etc etc... The good thing was that my boss at the time knew better and it did not let all that deter him.. 

Anyway... a couple of years later I tries Zuppa Ingleze a traditional Italian dessert that was coloured and flavoured from a red liquer. It is called Alcermes and I tried to find it in Greece but it was very difficult. 

Only could get it in one pharmacy shop that anyway it is now out of stock.. 

So, I decided to maybe make this liquer myself that aparently it was a wonder drug many many years ago in Italy and was made at pharmacies.. 

So.. what makes this liquer so red? dried and grinded bugs... 

Seems like in the past the colour red for dyes was very hard to obtain from plants or rocks... They had made it from sea shells even in ancient times in Greece and also from bugs... 

In Greece from the eggs of bugs found on plant leaves. In South America from bugs on cactus leaves... So, there they cultivate the cactus, infest them with the bugs, harvest the leaves and dry the bugs out... 

Anyway.. with all of this I just want to show that some times the natural way is a more cruel way.. and also that things are not exactly as they seem to be at times... 

Take Almond milk for example... did you know that the Almond tree farmers rent out bee hives in the winter months for the bees to polinate the flowers and so that they will have almonds? do you know how many millions of insects die because all those trees are sprayed with really bad chemicals? Anyway.... Just asking some questiong here. If you like more information let me know.. 


Diffuculty: 1 of 3
Duration:10 minutes and a few weeks wait
Serves:2 big bottles


900 g of Vodka

10 g dried cocineal insects

10 g cinnamon  

10 g coriander seeds

3 g macis

10 cardamon pods

4 cloves

5 g orange zest

3 g star anice

1/2 vanila pod

400 g water

500 g sugar (plain)

50 g. rosewater


Add all the spices apart from vanilla in a mortar and grind them together.

Put them in a jag with the vanilla cut in pieces and add the vodka.

Close the lid and let it rest in a dark place for a few weeks... stirring once a day.


Make a syrup with the water and sugar. 

Add the syrup in the red mixture (as much as you like)...

Add the rosewater.

Leave for a day for all the tastes to blend and use it afterwards... 


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