Hi guys! Spring is almost here for reals now, and with spring comes blackberries. I’ve been enjoying them in abundance over the last few weeks with them being cheaply priced at my local grocery store, validating my desire to develop this Gin-and-Soda with Blackberry-Sage Honey Simple Syrup and the recent Greek Yogurt Breakfast Parfait with Blackberries, Honey, and Almonds. There is nothing like sweet, tart, antioxidant-rich blackberries mixed into your morning yogurt or oatmeal or eaten on their own – or, of course, incorporated into a cocktail.
People love to declare, “it’s five o’clock somewhere!” when they’re preparing to drink at a time in the day when it’s deemed less socially acceptable to imbibe. Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t need an excuse to drink before noon – not on the weekend, at least. It’s a Sunday when I’m writing this, and in my neck of the woods, Sunday means brunch, and cocktails are most definitely deemed socially acceptable at brunch. Cocktails are embraced with open arms at brunch! And this Gin-and-Soda with Blackberry-Sage Honey Simple Syrup cocktail is the perfect brunch drink, because it’s flavorful without being too sweet and is impressive-looking but not at all complex to make. The blackberry-sage honey simple syrup can be made the night before and kept in the fridge for when you’re ready for it. The recipe makes enough syrup for two drinks, but it can be easily doubled or tripled.
As mentioned in the recipe below, having cheesecloth on hand to use as an additional layer on top of a fine mesh strainer when straining the syrup is incredibly helpful. I resisted recipes that called for straining anything through cheesecloth for years, wondering, “Really, who has that stuff laying around?” Finally, I broke down and bought it for use in making this cocktail, finding it in the craft section of my local big-box supermarket (look for the food-grade kind). And I must say, it was worth the effort of seeking it out when I saw the end result of perfectly strained blackberry-sage honey simple syrup.
Speaking of blackberries and sage, I first realized they were a thing while stumbling across the flavor-combo recommendation in my beloved reference tome The Flavor Bible, a compilation of ingredients that shows what other ingredients are thought by top chefs to be complementary to them. Blackberries and sage and gin were a lauded combo, and it’s easy to see why upon tasting this drink. The jammy blackberries and savory sage go perfectly with the juniper-infused liquor. And if gin is not your thing, vodka or even whiskey can be substituted; sage and blackberries, go well with them, too.
But enough yammering on about how great this cocktail is; it’s time to actually taste how delightfully refreshing it is. On to the recipe!
-1/4 cup honey
-1/4 cup water
-10 blackberries, plus extra for garnish
-10 good-sized fresh sage leaves, plus extra for garnish
-1 oz. gin
Add the honey and water to a small saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly until melded together and steaming. Add the blackberries; mash them well, then add the sage leaves. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit at least 15 minutes. Strain into a pitcher or bowl so only the liquid remains by pouring through a fine mesh strainer layered with cheesecloth.
To a rocks glass, add the desired amount of crushed ice and the ounce of gin. Add half of the blackberry-sage simple syrup and top with soda water. Garnish with a blackberry and a sage leaf. Cocktail hour is now upon you!