Blackberry syrup in whiskey cocktails can be a revelation, and the combination of that with fresh herbs makes this Blackberry Basil Old Fashioned a summer hit.
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My basil bush is going crazy in the garden – it’s one of the few things not decimated by the heat lately. I love strolling past and just brushing the leaves with my hands to pick up their scent. It’s not far from the blackberry bush, so I wondered how the two would play together.
Basil is savory, but it pairs very well with berries. With blackberries it’s a wonderful match that gives a lot of aromatic depth to the drink without overloading it with bitters.
In this case, the blackberry simple syrup is from a friend of mine whose jam didn’t set properly so she was left with a canned syrup which I knew would be amazing in cocktails. Blackberry old fashioneds by themselves are a wonderful thing. But adding the basil takes it to the next level.
I’m introducing the basil to the cocktail in two ways – 1) rubbing fresh basil leaves on the inside of the glass and rim to make sure the aromatics of the herb are detectable before you take your first sip and 2) using a basil tincture I made a few weeks ago to add the flavor of basil to the drink without overpowering the other elements.
Another thing I love about using blackberry syrup is the gorgeous, rich color it imparts to the cocktail. A lot of ingredients can’t overcome whiskey’s natural color, but blackberry syrup gives that deep purple/fuscia color that can’t be beat for a beautiful cocktail.
For bitters, I did add cherry bark vanilla bitters from Bittercube – my favorite vanilla bitters, but not so much to overpower the basil or the blackberry.
We’ll keep the garnish simple with some basil and fresh blackberries, but it’s a delight to serve to someone else or to put down in front of yourself for your afternoon tipple.
Blackberry Basil Old Fashioned
- 2 oz bourbon or rye
- ½ oz blackberry simple syrup*
- 1 barspoon basil tincture**
- 2 dashes Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
- 1-2 basil leaves
- Garnish: basil and fresh or frozen blackberries
- Take the basil leaves and rub the inside and rim of a rocks glass until fragrant. Discard leaves. Combine whiskey, syrup, tincture and bitters in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until very chilled. Strain into the prepared glass with ice. Garnish with blackberries and basil.