The Bramble may not have as storied a history as the Sidecar or Old Fashioned, but it’s a modern classic - refreshing, bittersweet and slightly exotic. Although popular in England as a tart alternative to a Cosmopolitan, the Bramble has not gained a particularly high-profile here in the US. This is a shame, as it very well may be the most perfect Summer gin drink around (the New York Times agrees with me, as they recently profiled the drink in their magazine section). Here’s the easy recipe:
2 parts gin
1 part freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 part simple syrup
1/2 part creme de mure OR 1 batch fresh, muddled blackberries
Lemon and blackberries to garnish
Although the traditional recipe does call for creme de mure, I prefer to muddle blackberries in its place. The liqueur is a bit heavy and tends to weigh down and sweeten the drink past my liking. So, instead, muddle a bunch (use your judgement on how many) of blackberries in a cocktail shaker and then add ice and the rest of the ingredients. Shake the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup together with the berry pulp until freezing cold, then drain into a rocks glass of crushed (or at least cracked) ice.
If you can’t find fresh blackberries, or don’t want to take the time to muddle them, you can drizzle creme de mure on top of the Bramble right after shaking and strainng it into its glass. What’s creme de mure, you wonder? Even though it sounds rather fancy and difficult-to-find, it’s really not. Creme de mure is simply a blackberry liquer and can be located nearly anywhere fine spirits (and their even finer accoutrements) are sold. Once again, traditionalists would probably add creme de mure in addition to freshly muddled berries, but I just find this to be overkill.
There are two things that I must stress about making a Bramble. First of all, every ingredient has to be fresh and the gin has to be good - as the starring spirit of the drink, a strong and potent gin can make or break a Bramble (I’d reccomend Hendrick’s, Bombay Sapphire or Aviation Gin - nothing too herbal, nothing too cheap). Secondly, the ice should really be crushed to maximize deliciousness. I’m talking really, seriously crushed. Little Branch in NYC makes one of the most perfect Brambles I’ve ever had and I’m convinced that their secret is the abundance of crushed ice - it makes a Bramble extra cold and almost reminiscent of a frozen italian ice, but for grown-ups.