Beautiful boozy blackberries

By Sarah Watson

Blackberries-zoomDue to its mix of tart and sweet, blackberry lends cocktails, from gin and vodka to scotch and bourbon, a good sweet and sour balance as well as rich flavour. Here I’ve gathered some of the tastiest cocktail recipes from around the web, using blackberries.

Some of these cocktails use a delicious French-style blackberry liqueur, which can be easily be made at home: Infuse around 250g blackberries with 70cl vodka and 100g sugar for around three months (add some citrus zest if you fancy) shaking occasionally, then strain through a fine sieve, or muslin. You can then filter again if you want a clear liqueur – coffee filters do the job. Add more sugar to taste if required, shake regularly again until the sugar has dissolved, then decant into a sterilised bottle and seal. Your liquor will benefit from maturing for a few more months – if you can wait that long!

October is the tail end of the blackberry season,  but don’t worry if the berries are getting a bit seedy or aren’t very sweet, because sugar is added to the infusion and it’s filtered before drinking. Although if the berries are over-ripe and soggy, mouldy, tasteless, or just don’t taste nice, they’re past it! Alternatively you may have some stashed in the freezer.

The Hedgerow Sling from Absolut Drinks is a sour style of cocktail using sloe and lemon juice along with blackberry liqueur.  Their Bramble Mimosa mixes floral and rich berry flavours in a twist on the Kir Royale. Champagne (or you could use sparkling wine) tops up Chambord black raspberry liqueur, blackberry liqueur and elderflower cordial.

blackberry-bourbon-fizz-crop

This Blackberry Bourbon Smash (above) from The Little Epicurean muddles fresh blackberries with mint leaves, agave, lemon and ginger ale to make a long bourbon cocktail.

 

Blackberry Gin Smash is a  fruity alternative to traditional G&T, adding fresh blackberries muddled with lime juice.

A couple of these cocktail recipes use simple (sugar) syrup. Don’t buy it – it’s simple and inexpensive to make at home..here’s how.

Discover more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast foraging & cookery course.  Get wild food and drink tips and updates on courses on Facebook and sign up for my e-newsletter for wild food & drink recipes direct to your inbox (option to unsubscribe at any time).

A wee wild dram: whisky for wild infusions

By Sarah Watson

Whisky in a glass

The Guinea Pig and I went on a whisky-tasting pub visit around Christmas time for the sole purpose of reviewing some budget-end whiskies to see which we thought would be best for making wild infusions with…Some were just about OK, and there was at least one real stinker in the pub house selection, but anything too harsh or peaty would be too overbearing to suit complex wild fruit flavours, or fruit wood infusions (something I’ve yet to try). We came to the conclusion, after trying several brands, that Famous Grouse would be passable for making blackberry whisky, or smooth, sweet blend Whyte and Mackay Special seemed a even better bet.

However, a few weeks later on Burn’s Night, we were invited by GP’s dad, former Merchant Navy captain Bob, for haggis, home-made sausages, neeps and tatties. Smoked fish is also traditional for a Burn’s supper, and so to contribute to the spread, I took along a wild appetiser of hand-caught home-smoked mackerel crostini with horseradish cream and snipped three-cornered leek.

To accompany our Burn’s supper, the venerable seaman offered us Aldi’s own brand, award-winning Highland Earl Scotch whisky. The verdict was that it’s a very quaffable blended whisky at a budget price. It’s certainly not harsh, but soft and quite sweet with a gentle aftertaste. Some might say it’s not particularly flavoursome, but it’s just what I’m looking for for making blackberry whisky…

Blackberry on bush

The whisky’s sweetness and hints of oak, butterscotch and vanilla will complement wild fruit flavours, and its gentleness means it won’t be overpowering…best of all it won’t break the bank, so you don’t have to hold back on your wild booze infusions. You heard it here first!

Discover  more about identifying and cooking with wild herbs and flowers on a Wild Feast foraging & cookery course> book here.  Get more wild food tips and updates on courses on Facebook and sign up for my e-newsletter for wild food recipes direct to your inbox (option to unsubscribe at any time).