Despite the best efforts of the resourceful Eric Seed, whose liquor importing company, Haus Alpenz, has unearthed many hitherto elusive spirits from around the globe, it is still nearly impossible to get your hands on a bottle of cr'me de m're in the United States. That's a shame, since this blackberry liqueur from England is the central ingredient in the bramble cocktail, a mid-'80s confection from London that combines gin, lemon juice, and cr'me de m're to superb effect. Like its cousin cr'me de cassis, blackberry liqueur adds a lovely sweet note without dominating gin's complexity and seems wonderfully appropriate as the days get shorter. At Fort Defiance in Red Hook, Brooklyn, St. John Frizell has found a way around the cr'me de m're issue -- he substitutes American Fruits black currant cordial in his Warwick bramble. Made in the Hudson Valley, it's a little tarter than cr'me de m're, but still ripe and jammy with a lovely purple-red color. For the gin-averse, Fred Sarkis at Chicago's Sable Kitchen & Bar, offers a neat twist on an old-fashioned. He muddles fresh blackberries, bitters, sugar, and lemon with bourbon for his excellent Jefferson's Quill. It may just be the missing link between summer's bright and thirst-quenching cocktails and the warming confections of winter.
Berried Treasure: Three delicious berry recipes:
1 - Warwick Bramble
1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce American Fruits black currant cordial
Mix all ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over crushed ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a blackberry and a lemon wheel.
2 - Jefferson's Quill
3 slices lemon
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces bourbon
2 sprigs mint
Dash of aromatic bitters
Muddle lemon and blackberries with sugar and bitters. Mix and shake with bourbon, mint, and ice. Double-strain over ice into a large tumbler.
3 - The Parisian
1 1/2 ounces Plymouth gin
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce cr'me de cassis or cr'me de m're
Mix and shake all ingredients well with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.