Today is the first day of spring — does it feel like it where you are? It's still cold in my Midwest neighborhood, but all the telltale signs of spring are here. It's the perfect day for The Hint of Spring, a rum, blackberry, and sage cocktail created for our team retreat a few weeks ago.
Back in February The Kitchn team took itself far away from the snow and the ice, all the way down to St. Augustine, Florida, where we rented a big beach house with our developer team and spent a few days recapping the past year and brainstorming fabulous new ideas.
I felt a beach retreat deserved a special cocktail, and I commissioned a couple of new recipes from my friend Josh Gandee, the bar manager at Harvest Clintonville, my local pizza place and watering spot. Josh is always full of endless invention and good ideas when it comes to cocktails, and he didn't disappoint —offering up a drink that felt, at that point in the winter, very wistfully-named.
The Hint of Spring mixes blackberries (frozen berries are fine) and hardy sage with sweet rum and spicy bitters for a drink that becomes so much more than the sum of its parts — herbaceous, in a cold green way, but with that hint of fruitiness and warmth beneath.
"The Hint of Spring was my answer to cabin fever," Josh told me. "Being stuck inside due to below freezing temperatures, all I could do was yearn for freshness, and while knowing spring wasn't going to bloom in one day I needed to hold on to some winter flavors as well. This cocktail was the perfect bridge for me. With flavors of lush berry, the subtle earthiness of sage, mixed with bright overtones of lemon, it is just enough warmth to get you through the winter chill, and enough refreshing citrus to remind you there is a light at the end of the tunnel."
Josh used one of my new favorite rums, too: "I chose Diplomatico rum because you are able to experience everything from tropical fruit, and warmed cinnamon with soft vanilla, which makes it easy to pair with the darkness you get with blackberry, and the brightness you get from lemon and sage. Snowed in, and can't get the berries and sage? Pour this rum over ice and wait it out."
To cap off the fun of our retreat cocktail, I also ordered custom muddlers from the fabulous Amy Stringer-Mowat of AHeirloom — a Brooklyn company that makes beautiful boards and other goods for the kitchen. A little Kitchn flair for our cocktail-making!
So, from our winter getaway to your first day of spring, by way of Brooklyn and Ohio, here's the Hint of Spring — let's raise a glass to the end of winter!
The Hint of Spring
2 large blackberries
1 sprig sage, plus another leaf to garnish
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Diplomatic Anejo rum
1/2 ounce Chartreuse liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Muddle the blackberries and sage with the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add the rum, Chartreuse, and Angostura. Shake over ice. Double strain into a coupe. Garnish with sage leaf.
- Serving: Josh strains this into a coupe but I tend to drink this in a more casual way, over ice, with an extra blackberry or two. Either way is good!
- Chartreuse Substitute: Josh initially prescribed Dolin Genepy des Alpes, a liqueur that is much less expensive than Chartreuse, but a little harder to find. If you happen to find it, substitute it in equal parts for the Chartreuse.
Recipe by Josh Gandee of Harvest Clintonville in Columbus, Ohio.