It is unclear to me when I realized I liked gin.
I remember having some in high school – and we’re well past the statute of limitations on that incident, I’m sure – and not being entirely enamoured with the juniper flavour.
At some point between then and now, however, it’s become my preferred liquor. (Though, admittedly, the brand has changed in the intervening years.) Gin and tonics are now my preferred highball.
Although lime is traditional, I like mine with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Sometimes I add in some rhubarb bitters I found at a small shop in Portland, Ore. But even with these minor tweaks, the recipe is essentially the same.
Every favourite can benefit once in a while from a little change, however, so when I stumbled on this recipe for a Blackberry Gin and Tonic while cruising Serious Eats – an excellent online resource for recipes, cooking tips and, perhaps most important to me, reviews of hamburgers all over the U.S. – I bookmarked it immediately.
The scorching heat over the past weekend that had me wilting in my apartment seemed like the perfect time to give it a try. Gin and tonics are a good way to beat the heat, in my opinion, and adding the juicy, sweet and tart summer flavour of blackberry only adds to that.
With my ice and wee clamshell case of some of the juiciest blackberries I’ve ever seen in the grocery store, I set to work.
While I do have a cocktail shaker and set, I don’t have a muddler – a long-handled, often wooden pestle used by bartenders to pound at fruit and herbs to release their flavours. I’m sure a real bartender would balk, but let me assure you that the back of a large spoon pressed against the inside of the cocktail shaker seemed to do a very nice job squeezing out that deep purple juice from the ripe berries.
A little squeeze of lime, some tonic and a large handful of ice then get all shaken up. (I love watching the shaker fog over from the cold as it’s shaken.)
The resulting liquid is berry bright in the glass, even after the tonic is added.
It tastes of summer and refreshment and of a welcome change to my old favourite.
Blackberry Gin and Tonic
This recipe comes from Serious Eats.
- 6 ripe blackberries, plus 2 more for garnish
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1 oz simple syrup (see Cook’s Note)
- 1 1/2 oz gin
- 2 to 3 oz tonic water
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the blackberries and lime juice. Fill with ice and add simple syrup and gin. Shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Double strain into serving glass using a cocktail strainer and its strainer or a mini fine-mesh strainer to prevent the blackberry seeds from going into the glass. Add tonic water and stir gently. Garnish with a few blackberries on a skewer.
Cook’s Note: To make simple syrup, combine equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. It will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to five days.
Edited to add: At a friend’s request, I made these again the weekend this story first appeared in the Calgary Herald. It would be an understatement to say they went over well. This is, hands down, my new favourite summer drink.)