Posts Tagged ‘blackberries’

Bending the calendar with fruit shrubs

Friday, October 5th, 2012

It is October, right? Or am I being punked by my calendar, fooled into thinking it’s October when the weather seems more like the end of August? If so, then the joke is also on the blackberries, plums and other late summer fruit still heavy on trees and bushes. But I will have the last laugh when I am enjoying these fruits into 2013.

I won’t freeze them or make jam. Instead, I’ll do as American colonialists did and make shrubs – a combination of fruit, vinegar and sugar.  Shrubs can be used in cocktails or enjoyed splashed into plain club soda or even Diet Coke (try with cherry shrub!). The vinegar lends a tangy taste to produce and serves as a great preservative.

In my cranberry Thanksgiving shrub post, I described how to cook a shrub. For late summer’s softer, juicier fruits, I love the cold-process approach because it is so easy and the ingredients do all the work. But don’t be limited by season: I have found that frozen berries make excellent shrubs with this same technique.

Blackberry shrub

2 c. washed blackberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. champagne vinegar

Combine the blackberries and sugar in a covered jar or bowl and refrigerate for a day or two, until the berries break down and a syrup forms. Fine strain the berry solids out, then add vinegar to the syrup, bottle and refrigerate. For best taste, wait another day or two for the flavors to meld and then enjoy!

I use the recipe above as my template for most shrubs: 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar and 1 cup vinegar (usually white wine, champagne or apple cider vinegars). Then I experiment with flavors, using my shrubs as substitutes for citrus juice and muddled fruit in cocktails.

Sometimes an existing cocktail recipe provides the perfect foundation for a shrub tweak. Such was the case with the Bufala Negra, which calls for balsamic vinegar. I can’t compare it to the original recipe, but my version makes a flavorful and refreshing drink to enjoy all year round.  

Bufala Negra Shrubbed

1½ oz bourbon
4 fresh basil leaves (+1 for optional garnish)
3/4 oz shrub
2 oz ginger beer (I used Fentimans)
Brown sugar (optional)

Muddle the shrub and basil. Add bourbon and ice and shake hard. Strain over fresh ice cubes into a glass and top with ginger beer. Garnish with basil leaf. Note: Since shrub sweetness can vary by fruit and time of season, you can add a teaspoon or more of brown sugar when muddling the basil if you like.

Combined, blackberries, bourbon and basil are a tongue twister — and a tongue tingler. Enjoy!

  

Cheers, ICE

*Bufala Negra is from Imbibe Magazine online

 

A Second Chance for Aquavit

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

In my pre-family, pre-suburbs days, I spent a lot of time in Ballard. Ballard is now full of fresh restaurants and craft cocktail havens, but that’s not the Ballard of my youth. That Ballard was The Sloop, Hattie’s Hat and sometimes the Tractor Tavern – these gems are still there, still treasured, but fairly overshadowed. Somewhere among these I once tried aquavit, probably encouraged by one of Ballard’s transplanted Norwegians (one of whom introduced me and Red, but not in a bar!), the prized Scandinavian liquor.  A shot and a shudder: No more aquavit for me. Uff da!

But then I tried the Trident (aquavit, sherry, Cynar and peach bitters) at the Zig Zag Café and re-examined my opinion of aquavit, a neutral spirit flavored with caraway seeds, anise, fennel and citrus peel. In the right cocktail it is lovely and soft, not harsh. Thinking about aquavit after some blackberry foraging, I created the following cocktail. Enjoy!

Uff Da

 4 blackberries
1 oz aquavit
½ oz yellow chartreuse
¾ oz lemon juice
¼ oz honey syrup (equal parts honey and warm water shaken to mix)

Muddle the blackberries with lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and remaining ingredients and shake well to chill. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

When not playing fetch, Nacho loves some hang time.

A Nacho Libre Update: Despite my scoffing, the meds are actually working. He wakes us up only once in awhile, is cuddlier again, and spends less time on patrol. But he still loves his upside-down time.

Cheers, ICE

As always, check out my Glossary of Spirits page for alcohol and mixer definitions and details.