Blackberry season is almost over and I forgot to share this amazing blackberry sour with you. It required a trip up to Huber's in Starlight, Indiana to get a bottle of their Starlight Blackberry Whiskey since I'd run out of in in the winter making blackberry old fashioneds.
But I digress. Last summer I had frozen the few blackberries I managed to harvest out of our backyard before the birds went to town on them. Just as the blackberries for this season started popping up tiny and pink on the blackberry brambles, I took the last of last year's blackberries and made a batch of blackberry simple syrup. Although I usually make berry syrups using fresh berries instead of cooking the simple syrup, in this case, I prefer the cooked blackberry simple syrup. It reminds me of the syrup in the bottom of a berry cobbler.
Blackberry simple syrup
1 cup sugar
3 cups frozen blackberries
1/4 cup water
Combine ingredients in a saucepan and cook until the blackberries until thawed, soft and very juicy. Simmer once it starts to boil for 10 minutes. Strain the blackberries out, pressing on them to get as much juice out of them as possible. Let cool and store in a bottle for one to two weeks.
When you've made the blackberry syrup, you're ready to assemble the Bramble Sour.
1 oz Willett bourbon
1 oz Blackberry whiskey
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz blackberry simple syrup
2 dashes peach bitters
1 dash vanilla bitters
1 egg white
It's Peach Truck season. Time to stand in line for hours to get 25 lb boxes of sweet, juicy Georgia peaches. And it's totally worth it. I wanted a peach drink that required muddling. It's been a long week and I needed to work out some frustration on it.
So I tweaked a Dale DeGroff recipe for the peach smash. I'm calling it Dangerous Waters because you think it's a light, lovely drink, but it's too easy to drink, and before you know it, you've had several and you're thinking about whether or not you have chocolate moosetracks ice cream in the fridge.
2 ounces 90 proof bourbon whiskey
1/2 lemon peeled, quartered
1/2 @peachtruck peach peeled and sliced
3 dashes Fee Brothers peach bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers gin-aged orange bitters
3 mint leaves
1 oz simple
1 oz water
Garnish: mint sprig and peach slice
Muddle everything except the whiskey. Then add 2 oz whiskey, ice, shake and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Class it up with a garnish of spanked mint sprigs and a peach slice.
Voila. The perfect summer drink!
On the last day of a vacation out West, we went to Bitters Bar in Scottsdale and some of the best cocktails I've ever had. My honey had a tiki drink made with bourbon, so I decided to tweak a mai-tai recipe with bourbon instead of rum.
O. M. G. You guys.
The first one he taste-tested and kept for himself. One night later he asked for a repeat. Two nights later I made some for the 'rents. And then I had to make it another weekend to take a picture for you guys. I think the combination of bourbon with the lime and the orgeat made it a solid foundation, but adding the amaretto float and the blood orange bitters took it from good to magnificent.
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce orgeat
1/2 ounce gum syrup
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1/2 oz spiced rum
2 stoppers Bittermans Elamakule tiki bitters
1/4 oz amaretto float
4 spritzes of Blood Orange bitters sprayed on finished cocktail
Garnish: mint and dehydrated orange slice
In a mixing tin, add the lime, Cointreau, orgeat, gum syrup, bourbon, rum and bitters. Add about 8 ounces of cubed and crushed ice and shake until very chilled. Pour into a large rocks glass, ice and all. Add the amaretto float on the top of the cocktail and spritz blood orange bitters on the top of the cocktail.
Garnish with a dehydrated orange slice and a big spanked sprig of mint.
Better make a second one just in case you need another.
Have you started your cocktail recipe for the Not Your Pink Drink contest? If you haven’t, here are a couple more tips to get you to your A-game cocktail.
Just to backtrack, every year, at the Bourbon Women Siposium the Bourbon Women announce the winner of their Not Your Pink Drink Contest (It's been me the last few years, so this year I'm just helping out). Bourbon women love well-crafted, bourbon-centric cocktails, and they want ones that aren’t pink! (You can see the full rules here.)
In the previous post, I gave you three tips to get you started with the Not Your Pink Drink Contest. Play with classic cocktail recipes, make bourbon the star of your cocktail and make the bourbon stand out in your cocktail. This time, we’ll cover a couple more recommendations.
Start with a Cocktail Recipe You Already Love
The easiest way to come up with a new recipe without starting from scratch is to start with a cocktail that you already know you love. Maybe it’s the old fashioned, or maybe the Manhattan, or it could be a whiskey sour. If you have a go-to cocktail when you’re eating out or having cocktails, think about new flavors or combinations to introduce to the cocktail.
For example, I love a good old fashioned, and when I tried Starlight Blackberry Whiskey, I knew I wanted to try it out in an old fashioned. I just took my basic old fashioned recipe, 2 oz bourbon, ½ oz simple syrup and some bitters and dropped the bourbon amount and replaced it with the blackberry whiskey. Instead of plain simple syrup, I made some blackberry simple syrup. Sounds simple enough, right?
I’m also a fan of the Manhattan, and when I tried Rivulet Pecan liqueur I wanted to combine pecan with bourbon. In this case, I used the Rivulet in place of the sweet vermouth traditionally used in a Manhattan, and added some chocolate bitters. Voila! New cocktail.
The fun thing about playing with a cocktail you already know you like is that even your mistakes will be tasty. And that brings us to your second tip:
Taste-test It while you’re Working on It
Half the fun in coming up with new cocktail recipes is testing the cocktail once you’re finished. But, the real tip here prevents you from making any stinkers: Taste Test! You’ll see mixologists doing this in bars occasionally when they want to test a cocktail they’ve put together. Before they serve it, and sometimes while they are mixing it, they take a straw or spoon and take a small sip. Testing as they go prevents mishaps making it to the patron’s table.
When you start to work on a cocktail, think about general proportions, and if you think it’s possible you might want less of an ingredient, use the smaller amount, taste it before pouring into the glass and see if you need more. You can always add more, but it’s impossible to remove a single ingredient once it’s in the mixing glass with everything else. So taste test early and taste test often.
If your cocktail doesn’t quite make the cut, sometimes adding bitters, especially unique or different bitters, can take your cocktail up a notch. Angostura, Fee Brothers and Regans bitters are all classic bitters, but we’re in a cocktail renaissance and there are hundreds of unique bitters on the market you can try. When you get a new bottle of bitters, one easy way to taste test it is to add several dashes to a glass of chilled sparkling water.
Occasionally, you will make a cocktail you can’t save, but for the most part starting with a standard cocktail recipe and improvising from there along with taste testing throughout the contest will save most of the drinks you make.
Those are your tips for now, so go out and keep mixing! Go here to enter your cocktail. The due date is July 27th!
Heather Wibbels is a cocktail enthusiast who spends her time thinking about cocktails, researching cocktails and making cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.