Impatiently waiting for spring? Dreaming about the flavors of ripe summer stone fruit and lush, dark berries? How about this tall, roaring-red cocktail made with ruby port: the Black Cup.
Looking to that ever-so-British summertime classic, the Pimm's Cup, as inspiration, the Black Cup is a combination of three simple ingredients: ruby port, lemon juice, and simple syrup with a muddled strawberry added in for extra fruity richness and a splash of club soda to give the drink a little extra fizz. (Oh, and there's a fresh cucumber slice garnish in there too.)
Created by mixologist Jim Meehan of the famed speakeasy-style bar PDT in New York City, the Black Cup gets its handle from the brand of port used in the recipe: Noval Black. With its deep, rich, black-fruit flavors, this ruby-red fortified wine offers an intriguing alternative to the herbal flavor of the gin-based Pimm's.
After sampling the Black Cup at a tasting recently, I gave the recipe a whirl at home and was pleased with the flavorful red results. With a few months to wait before berry season, I used a slightly defrosted strawberry from my freezer in place of a fresh one and found it worked out just fine. I also discovered that the cucumber slice garnish is more than just a pretty decoration for the glass. Its clean, bright aroma lends the drink a little extra garden-fresh pizazz.
Black Cup (created by Jim Meehan of PDT, used with permission)
1 strawberry (I used a frozen one, slightly defrosted)
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces port (I used Noval BLACK)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Club soda (or 7Up, Sprite, or other lemon-lime soda)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberry with the simple syrup. Add all remaining ingredients except the soda. Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Top up with a splash of soda. Garnish with a cucumber wheel.
Nora Maynard is a longtime home mixologist and an occasional instructor at NYC's Astor Center. She is a contributor to The Business of Food: Encyclopedia of the Food and Drink Industries and is the recipient of the American Egg Board Fellowship in culinary writing at the Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow. She previously covered food and drink in film at The Kitchn in her weekly column, The Celluloid Pantry.
Related: Pimm's Cup for the English Gardener
(Images: Nora Maynard)