Created in the late 1980s by legendary English mixologist Dick Bradsell, The Bramble uses a blackberry liqueur called Crème de Mûre to bring a sweet berry flavoring to what is basically a gin sour.
A key ingredient here is the crushed ice, which cannot be substituted with cubes for the reason that as the ice melts, the flavor of the drink slowly morphs. I noticed that the citrus of the lemon juice was slowly overcome by the wonderful full flavor of the berry liqueur, prompting me to hold off on my next sip longer and longer to let the ice have its way with the glass. The Bramble is another great summer cocktail you won’t mind serving to your grandmother. It’s light on its feet and will keep you light on yours as well.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce Crème de Mûre.
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake together the first three ingredients and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice, piled high. Drizzle crème de mûre over the top and garnish with a slice of lemon, two blackberries and a short straw.
Despite the seemingly simple ingredient roster, I have had something of a hard time assembling this drink properly. First and foremost, you may notice in the photos that I am currently out of short straws. I’m sure you’ll let that one slide, and for that, I thank you.
Secondly, Crème de Mûre is not as easy to find as you might think. The employees at my local BevMo had never heard of it, didn’t know they carried it, and once their computers told them it was in stock, didn’t know where to find it. In case you have the problem, direct them to the brandy section, which is where my bottle was found. I would expect it to be with the other flavored fruity liqueurs, but it was not the case. So if you can’t find it in one, look for it in the other. It’s definitely worth the effort. It tastes, as you might guess, something like blackberry pancake syrup and a few drops of it have already found their way into my vodka martini (I’m not slowly going Sex and the City here. I’m just trying things out.)
Thirdly was the question of buying simple syrup or simply making it at home. I do enough homemade, so I decided to pop for the $12 bottle. But if you do want to make it, simply stir together equal measures of hot water and sugar, cool to room temperature and keep in your fridge until ready to use.
Fourth is crushed ice. If you have heard that the best way to crush ice cubes is by wrapping them up in a clean dish towel and whacking the hell out of them with a pan or a heavy spoon, you’re being misled. EIGHTY-SIX THE DISH TOWEL. You’ll find that so much of what is cracked sticks uncomfortably and tenaciously to the fabric. Better to pack your cubes in a plastic ziploc bag, crush, use what you need and zip up the rest to keep handy for Bramble #2.
Next, there are debates about the drink-making procedure. Many instruct to add all the ingredients, and pour the Crème de Mûre over the top, creating a beautiful lava lamp cocktail as the crème descends to the bottom of the glass. The argument against that procedure is that the Crème de Mûre doesn’t mix with the drink.
There are two solutions:
The first is to simply float the crème over the top of the drink (for instructions on that, hit up my post on The Harvey Wallbanger). Your second option is to simply mix all the ingredients in a shaker.
Finally, there is also disagreement over the appropriate fruit to garnish this drink, but since you can substitute your favorite flavored liqueur for the blackberry, you really should go ahead and garnish any way you please. As long as you have crushed ice awaiting in the glass and follow the portions outlined above, you’re sure to enjoy The Bramble.