Friday, 27 September 2013

Cocktail Hour: Blackberry Sour

Aoife, Cambridge 

I have yet to reveal the outcome of my blackberry vodka experiment but I couldn't resist using some of an older batch to knock up a quick cocktail last Friday. A chance conversation with the lovely Deepa on twitter got me thinking about sours. I had recommended them to her as a quick cocktail to use her blackcurrant vodka and the more I thought about it the more I wanted one too.

A sour is a type of cocktail, typically consisting of a spirit, lemon or lime juice and some kind of sweetener. Within the broad sours category there are many different sub-groups: for instance the Margarita is a well known example of a New Orleans Sour. I am quite partial to a whiskey sour but you have to be in the whole of your health to go messing around with egg whites. The blackberry vodka's time had come.

If you are making a sour with a liqueur or a homemade spirit to which you have added sugar you don't need to add a sweetener. I tend to make my infused spirits without sugar so that I can adjust the sweetness later. It also allows me to introduce other flavours through the use of infused simple syrups. In this case, I had a batch of lemon verbena infused syrup that I thought might do the trick. Different cocktail books will advise different proportions but I decided to put my faith in Gary Regan whose book and his wonderful orange bitters I wholeheartedly recommend. If you have added sugar to your blackberry vodka, simply leave out the simple syrup.

This is my favourite type of cocktail. Easy to make but full of delicious flavours. You know you have found the perfect balance of sweet and sour when your spine tingles as you sip and you start saying "well I'm feeling a LOT better than I was five minutes ago".

blackberry sour

60mL blackberry vodka (NOT made with sugar)
30mL fresh lemon (or lime) juice
15mL simple syrup (infused with lemon verbena if you have it - see below)
apple slices to garnish (cooking apples for extra tartness)

Combine all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker or large glass. Add plenty of ice. Stir for a minutes. Strain into a prepared glass. Garnish with apple slices.

lemon verbena simple syrup

bowlful of fresh lemon verbena leaves
freshly boiled water
1 tablespoon of vodka

Cover the bowl of lemon verbena leaves with freshly boiled water. Breathe in the wonderful fragrance. Feel better. Allow to infuse for a couple of hours. Strain out the leaves. Strain again through muslin to remove any small bits of leaf or random stuff. Measure (by volume or mass) the amount of liquid you now have. Add an equal amount of sugar. E.g. if you have 500mL of liquid, add 500g sugar. If you have 400g of liquid, add 400g of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved (you may need to heat it gently). Once dissolved, transfer to a sterilized bottle and add a tablespoon of vodka (to help it keep longer). Store in the fridge.

In addition to it's starring role in several of my cocktails, this syrup makes a delightful soft drink when mixed with a squeeze of lime juice and sparkling water.


  1. I never did make that sour, I just went for a glass of wine instead. Definitely trying this this weekend though - however I did make my vodka with sugar!

    1. Sometimes a glass of wine is all I have energy to put together as well. I think you would like this though - simple and incredibly tasty. Even easier if you already have sugar in your vodka - all you need is lemon juice!

  2. hmmm looking so much tasty i like it.
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