This is the second installment of Little Tipples, a neat little series hatched by illustrator Katt Frank and food writer Sean St. John. To see the first, check out Sloe Gin. This time, one of our favorite berries gets a boozy treatment that will have you smiling all season long; who doesn’t love a taste of early autumn in the throes of winter? Enjoy! -Amy
Autumn creeps up and steals summer away. It happens every year without my noticing, and then, as if from nowhere, every leaf becomes either fruit, flower or a crisp rusted relic from the summer now past. Scarves and hats adorn our heads first; jackets will join later. On evening walks the air is seasoned with spicy smoke escaping from chimneys. There are many sensations of autumn, but for me, it’s the first blackberries that mark the turning point: summer’s gone and winter is not far behind.
The sweetness of blackberries paired against the smoky treacle quality of bourbon is an unusual combination – jammy, almost sticky, rich – it reminds me of a warm berry pie straight out of the oven. For anyone that doesn’t like bourbon, this should sway them. The smokiness is subdued and the richer flavours jump to the front. I’ve found it works best if you go for something complex and treacly like Jefferson’s Reserve or Elijah Craig – both are perfect, with hints of sweet toffee, dried fruit and burnt sugar still shining through after the infusion. When blackberries are in season, you’ll find them everywhere in wild hedgerows. Take a bucket out and fill up with as much as you need. I cannot resist eating the best looking ones straight off the bush, they taste absolutely divine standing under an autumnal sun in the peace and quiet of nature.
- 1lb blackberries
- 11oz caster sugar
- 2 ½ cups bourbon
- 1 quart bottle
- Blackberry bourbon can be made like sloe gin, only you do not need to prick the berries. Just add 1lb of blackberries to 2½ cups of bourbon and about 11oz of caster sugar.
- Seal and shake for about a week. Leave until Christmas is near. Blackberry bourbon is just the treat for warming up after a day out in the bitter December air, especially if served ever so slightly warm. If you’re out carol singing, don’t leave home without a sneaky flask of the stuff.
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