Blackberries conjure up lots of summer memories for me. If I close my eyes, I can still remember all of the dusky hot evenings spent cleaning out the blackberry bushes on the side of my parents' property. We'd put most of them into a container to bring back to the house, but a couple would always make their way to our lips straight off the vine — still warm from the day and bursting with juices. This is what summer should taste like.
These blackberry and sage spritzers are my homage to those long summer days spent with juice-stained and thorn-pricked hands. The added sage makes them fragrant and a little more sophisticated. They're like my childhood memories, but all grown up.
To make these spritzers, start with fresh blackberries, and cook them with honey and sage until they are soft and the berries start to burst. Then blend everything together and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to collect the blackberry seeds. It's not one hundred percent necessary to include this straining step, but I like my spritzer free of seeds.
What you're left with is an herbaceous and juicy, honey-sweetened mixer that is perfect for summer! Add some of this syrup to a glass filled with ice and top it off with sparkling water! You can vary the sweetness of the spritzer to your taste. If you like things on the sweeter side (like my husband), add a bit more syrup to your glass. If you only like a hint of sweetness, add less. It's not fussy. You can make it your own.
I hope this spritzer brings back your own summer berry picking memories, or maybe even creates some new ones!
Blackberry & Sage Spritzers
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup of water
3 to 4 fresh sage leaves
1 pound fresh blackberries
Extra blackberries and sage leaves for garnish (optional)
Combine the honey and the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir it together as it heats up. Once it reaches the point just before boiling, shut off the burner and remove the mixture from the heat.
Add the whole sage leaves and the blackberries to the hot honey mixture and stir. Allow the berries to macerate in the honey syrup until the mixture has cooled significantly and the berries have broken down a bit.
Pour the blackberries and the syrup into a blender. Blend the entire mixture (including the sage leaves) on high until it is well combined and looks uniform in color and texture. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the blackberry seeds. You should have about 2 cups of smooth, thick syrup.
To make the spritzers, fill a cup with ice and add some of the blackberry and sage syrup. Use two tablespoons for a mild spritzer, or a quarter cup for a sweeter one. You can play around with a ratio to suit your taste.
Add sparkling water to top, stir, and garnish with extra blackberries and a bit of sage.
Although I crafted this spritzer recipe to be non-alcoholic, that can be easily remedied. Simply add a shot of your favorite spirit (I might have tried this with vodka already). I would recommend either vodka or gin for this berry-licious cocktail.