It’s Labor Day +1. Bars are starting to break out their fall menus and the smell of pumpkin spice everything is wafting through the air. Well-meaning—but wrong—folks keep saying that the summer is over, even though the heat index, and more importantly, the calendar disagrees (come, on it ain’t over until September 23!). This week’s Cocktail of the Week is in the spirit of holding on to summer until it actually ends. Vodka meets fragrant basil, juicy blackberries and spicy ginger beer. It fairly scream “It’s still summer damnit!” Well, at least it does to me. Serve it in a highball glass or batch some in mason jars, set out on your deck, porch, stoop and stave off the chill you know is just around the corner.
The Bramble as a cocktail is credited to Dick Bradsell, a star bartender in London who came up with the concoction in 1984. Bradsell’s Bramble is a delicious mix of gin, lemon juice and crème de mûre (a fancy name for blackberry liqueur). This week’s cocktail swaps vodka for the gin, and fresh blackberries for the liqueur. Fresh basil is both aromatic and provides an herbaceous note to the flavor, and it ups the fancy quotient. The ginger beer cuts through the sweetness and provides a refreshing kick. Best part, the drink is beautiful and dead-easy to make. Impress the hell out of your friends while you savor summer’s last gasps.
2 parts Q Ginger Beer
2 parts vodka
1 part lemon juice
1/2 part agave nectar
Dash of Orange Bitters
3 basil leaves
Combine vodka, lemon juice, agave, bitters, basil and 3 blackberries in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, then strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top off with ginger beer and serve garnished with the remaining blackberry. (Shhh. Don’t tell Augie, but I three in a few extra blackberries for more color)