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.
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.
Related: Pimm's Cup for the English Gardener
(Images: Nora Maynard)