This post was largely inspired by the Briar Patch cocktail, and the blackberry-chile syrup that is responsible for the bulk of its flavor (101 Cookbooks). It is everything good about summer, to my mind: fresh, sweet (but not too sweet), hot (but not too too hot), fruity and fizzy, and as boozy (or not) as you want. The cocktail, which originally called for blackberry simple syrup, features bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup and bitters (plus egg white if you like it shaken and foamy — I don’t, so I leave it out). It’s riff on a Maple Leaf, I suppose, with a smoky-hot twist!
This is just one of many cocktails that you can make using local berries and herbs; if you haven’t thought to make your own syrups or infusions before, we have some suggestions for getting started!
Some recent posts I’ve been admiring on this subject:
- Garden to Glass Cocktails (Food & Wine)
- The Bartender’s Garden (The Spruce)
- Grow Your Own Cocktail Herbs (Rodale)
From Food and Wine, the Garden Elixir features cilantro and celery in variation of the gin martini. They also add green Chartreuse, apple juice, and lime juice to bump up the green. Don’t worry if you don’t keep Chartreuse on hand; it’s very distinctive and certainly adds to this cocktail, but it’ll be delicious without it as well. I’d definitely go with a little fizz on this one, maybe using lime soda instead of the lime juice, but it’s up to you.
Pepino’s Revenge, also from Food and Wine (via Wolfgang Puck) uses cucumber and basil in a margarita-like tequila cocktail — SO refreshing on a hot day!
From The Spruce, try a blueberry martini!! Making the juice is as simple as blending the berries (no need to strain, unless you want the juice to be clear).
Or try their Garden Patch Smash, which combines tequila, blueberries, raspberry-lavender syrup, lime, and lavender soda.
And, we couldn’t leave out the tomatoes… and neither could Serious Eats. They have a wonderful fresh tomato martini that absolutely wouldn’t be the same without that perfect local tomato. The recipe calls for tomato and vodka blended together, and then strained gently but thoroughly to yield clear tomato-flavored vodka. To 3 oz of this, you add 1/2 t. dry vermouth, and 1/4 t. white wine vinegar. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled glass. It’s a bit unusual, but so summery and delicious.
Why not experiment with your cocktail recipes, and include some local ingredients? Let us know if you have a favorite!