Blackberries are my favorite fruit, and they are so delicious this time of year. In addition to eating blackberries & dark chocolate for breakfast, I’ve been using them to make this amazing mocktail/cocktail, the blackberry smash. I was going to call it a blackberry fauxjito, but blackberry smash is just so much more fun to say. In addition to being fun to say, it’s really fun to make and drink.
When I have a party, I like to offer one special, seasonally-inspired cocktail that I can make for my friends all night long. I’m not a very proficient bartender, so I don’t want to offer a bunch of different things, but I’ve found that having one unique drink makes a gathering way more glamorous and fun. At Thanksgiving this past year, I had ten people over, and was prepared with several different kinds of wine and beer, as well as the ingredients for cranberry margaritas. The margaritas were such a hit that I don’t think we opened a single bottle of wine–no one could say no to a creative libation based on fall’s quintessential berry.
These blackberry smashes were an equally big hit at the girls’ night I hosted this weekend. The blackberry syrup is sweet, tart, and a tiny bit creamy from a touch of vanilla, and the lime and mint add springy freshness, making this a perfect April drink. I also love how flexible the blackberry smash is–I made a batch without alcohol when my mom came for dinner on Sunday night, and we both loved them (virgin is actually my favorite way to enjoy these, but I am not a very big drinker). When my friends were over on Saturday, I made some of them a version with rum, which tastes similar to a mojito, and some a version with tequila, which is more like a margarita. It was nice to have a delicious drink base that worked well with two types of alcohol so people could choose their favorite.
The best thing about this drink, though, is the color–it’s the most gorgeous shade of orangey pink, and I wish I had nail polish, a bag, some dishes, and several shirts in this exact shade. The drinks are also ombre before they’re stirred, and ombre makes everything better.
Do you have a signature cocktail? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Yield: 1 drink
Prep time: 3 minutes
1 wedge of lime
3-6 mint leaves, torn
2-3 tablespoons blackberry syrup, to taste (recipe below)
Handful of ice
6-8 ounces club soda or seltzer
Shot of rum or tequila, optional (usually top-shelf brands are gluten free, but check to make sure)
Slice of lime, mint leaf, and blackberries, for garnish
Squeeze the lime wedge into the bottom of a highball glass (or a widemouthed jar) and drop the lime into the glass. Add the torn mint leaves and muddle them with the lime. Add the blackberry syrup and then the ice, and top with club soda, leaving room for a shot of rum or tequila if desired. Garnish with a slice of lime, a mint leaf, and a blackberry or two threaded onto a cocktail pick. Stir gently, and serve with a straw or swizzle stick.
Yield: About one cup (enough for 5-6 drinks)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
6 ounces blackberries
1/4 cup honey (or agave nectar for a vegan version)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until the blackberries are lighter in color and the mixture is foamy and bubbling. Let cool somewhat, then puree with an immersion (or regular) blender. Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds, and cool to room temperature or chill before adding to a drink. Extra syrup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 days.