Tag Archives: gin

A Cocktail on Whole Wheat Toast

I recently went blackberry picking with friends.  This year did not seem to be a good one for the berries.  They were small and unusually tart.

I was disappointed by the slim pickings, but I still had fun.  I think my friend Jamie had a good time, too.

While I did not bring home a bonanza of sweet berries, I knew they would be great in jam and baked goods.  Last summer I brought in a big haul of blackberries.  My husband and I enjoyed them many ways, including in two luscious cocktails.  When making the drinks again this year, I realized how much I enjoy the flavors of blackberry and gin together.  And then I thought, why not add some gin to my batch of blackberry jam?

Rolling down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice
Laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind.” 

Let me tell you – this jam is smashing.  Note that I didn’t say it made me smashed.  It was just wonderful on a slice of whole wheat toast…tart blackberries with a hint of herbal, bitter juniper balanced with the sweet of the sugar.   And, I didn’t even get tipsy at the breakfast table.

PS – Humming Snoop Dogg may help as you prepare your jam, but it is not necessary for its success.

Blackberry & Gin Jam
Makes about four 1/2 pint jars

4 cups fresh blackberries, rinsed
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 Tbsp gin (I used Tanqueray)

Add blackberries and sugar to a large non reactive pot.  Turn the burner on medium heat.  Lightly mash the berries as they cook, I used a potato masher, but a wooden spoon will work.  Stir occasionally.

Turn up to medium high and stir.  Continue stirring as the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add gin and lime juice.  Take care that the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.  After about 25 minutes of bubbling and cooking, your jam is likely ready.  If you don’t trust your eyes, you can use the freezer test as I describe in my strawberry jam recipe or you can use a candy thermometer to measure when the mixture reaches about 225 degrees F.

Once you are happy with the consistency, turn off the heat and ladle the jam into sterilized jars and seal.  Process in a water-bath for about 10 minutes.  Listen for the pings as the jars cool.  Now, enjoy.


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Gin It Up

Did you know that the folks who brew Anchor Steam Beer are now making gin and whiskey?  In the early 90s, the company opened Anchor Distillery, a microdistillery in the same location as the brewery, and began making a single malt rye whiskey, named Old Portero.  A few years later, the microdistillery began producing gin, called Junípero, which is Spanish for juniper.  More recently, they have also begun producing a Genever style gin called Genevieve, using wheat, barley, rye, and the same herbal ingredients as Junípero.

Junípero Gin

I‘ve read about them in some food and spirit publications, but hadn’t yet seen them in local bars here in DC.  Well, I finally got a taste this week.  Junípero Dry Gin (98.5% proof, 49.3% alc. by volume) is one of the nicer small-batch, handcrafted gins I’ve tasted.  It is soft, flowery, and very smooth.  It has a very juniper heavy flavor, but maintains a clean finish.  I thought it worked well with tonic, but given its high proof and botanical flavor, I think it would also make a great martini gin.

Gin is becoming more popular as a drink and because I enjoy it, I’ve been trying to learn more about the beverage lately.  I’ve heard gin described as a flavored vodka.  Gin distillers take neutral spirits and a mash of fermented grain then redistill with botanicals to flavor.  The primary botanical source is juniper berries.  In fact, the word gin comes from genever, which is French for juniper.

Historically, gins that were sweetened with sugar for a more palatable taste were called Old Tom.  Terms like Dry or London Dry were used to distinguish unsweetened gins from Old Tom.   Old Tom wasn’t automatically a bad gin with sugar added.  The sugar was often added to balance out the bitter botanicals that were used.  This style of gin is making a comeback, but London Dry Gin is still the most popular, and the one I prefer.  

To be labeled London Dry, the gin doesn’t need to have been made in London, but production is regulated in many parts of the world to ensure that only a small amount of sweetening and no flavorings or colorings are added.  The natural flavor must come from herbs, fruits, and spices added through the distillation process.  

The third style of gin I’ve learned about is Genever, which is one of the earliest styles.  Genever styles have a varied range from a light, almost vodka-like flavor to sweetened, fruity, almost liqueur-like bottles.  Pot distilling from a grain mash creates a strong flavor, and genever is not used for martinis or gin and tonics.  It is best served straight – either chilled, over ice, or shaken with ice.  I’ll have to try to find Anchor’s Genevieve and report back…

Genevieve™ Genever-Style Gin

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Blackberry Cocktails

A perfectly ripe blackberry is a beautiful and delicious thing.  Blackberries are reaching their peak here in the Washington, DC area, and I cannot get enough.  My family grew blackberries when I was young and I just adore them.  I like picking them, too.  It reminds me of childhood and the vines that grew near our horse pasture.  My horse, Bess, was very curious and would watch you closely as you picked the fruit, hoping it would mean something sweet for her, too.

I wasn’t really feeling in the mood for traditional baking with blackberries, so I decided to come up with some cocktails instead.  A number of blackberry-themed drink recipes using creme de mure or creme de cassis, which is a blackberry liqueur.  I do not have that liqueur, but I thought I might create even more delicious blackberry flavor if I used a blackberry puree instead.  So, I pulled out my trusty blender and got to work.

To make the blackberry puree…In a blender, add 2 cups of blackberries, 1/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, and 3 Tbsp of sugar.  Puree and taste.   Continue to add sugar or a bit more water until desired consistency and taste.  Some berries are sweeter and riper than others and need less sugar.  I’ve given you a starting point, it is up to you to make it work.

I mixed up two different blackberry cocktails.  One, I call a Tequila Sunset, a take on the Tequila Sunrise.  The second is a modified version of the Bramble, which is gin based.  Give them both a try, even if you don’t think you like gin or tequila.

Tequila Sunset
Makes 1

crushed ice
1 oz tequila
4 oz orange juice
1 oz blackberry puree (see above recipe)
2 oz club soda or seltzer (optional)
Pour the tequila and orange juice into an ice-filled glass, and stir.  Float the blackberry puree on top, and let it slowly descend through the drink.  Top with club soda or seltzer, if desired.
Blackberry Bramble
Makes 1

crushed ice
2 oz gin
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 oz blackberry puree (see above recipe)
garnish with fresh blackberries and a lime wedge
Fill shaker with ice and add gin, lime juice, and simple syrup.  Shake and strain into glass with crushed ice.  Pour the blackberry puree on top and let it descend through the glass.  Garnish with blackberries and a lime wedge.

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Gin Sipping and Porch Sitting

My husband and I are trying to institute a regular cocktail hour in the evenings to transition out of the work day.  It helps us connect and unwind, and I find it especially important as I work from home.

Last night, we took advantage of the pleasant weather and had happy hour on our front porch.  We snacked on tortilla chips with guacamole and imbibed gin cocktails as we were entertained by our noisy neighbors.

One of my favorite warm weather drinks is gin lemonade.  I got this recipe in a supper club several years ago from a lovely woman named Maida. She prepared it with a picnic theme menu while we sat on pillows in her living room.   It was a fun evening that I remember fondly.

Gin Lemonade

Buy a can of Minute Maid frozen lemonade concentrate. Follow directions for preparation, except replace one can of water, with one can of gin. Mix well. Serve over ice. Delicious!

I make this mostly with gin (because I love it), but you could replace it with vodka or bourbon, if you prefer. Don’t change the proportions, however. Just stick with replacing one can of water with one can of alcohol. My husband tried to use more and not only did it not taste as good, and he got drunk very quickly.
We drink this all season long. It is very refreshing and so easy. It is also handy to bring on picnics, even in public areas where alcohol is discouraged since it appears you are drinking just lemonade.

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