The end of summer doesn't need to mean the end of fruity cocktails — we just need to use preserved fruits and emphasize some subtler, year-round flavors.
My drink-making ingredient list was greatly enhanced by a summer 2008 New York Times piece that listed the "11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating." I didn't jump on the beet bandwagon, and I've still got a can of sardines sitting in my cupboard, but I did throw lots of local, organic blueberries in my freezer. At some point I used the blueberries to make a terrible smoothie (non-alcoholic concoctions aren't my specialty), but then I wasn't sure what to do with them.
Not too much longer after the berries hit the freezer, I discovered St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. St. Germain has become common on many cocktail lists since then, but I feel that it is too frequently limited to a minor role in sparkling wine cocktails. I have nothing against these concoctions — they're spectacular (The Kitchn even posted one). But stopping at sparkling wine fails to make full use of this creation's sweet and subtle flavors, and opening a bottle of bubbly is a waste if not enough people are having the same thing.
Flavor and not wasting champagne aside, sometimes champagne flutes just aren't the right look. Flutes filled with a soft golden hue are great at brunch or on lazy summer afternoons, but we're headed into winter! I think soft hues at post-sunset cocktail hours are a bit chilly. It's a time for a visually warming drink with a kick that excites your entire mouth.
Creating such a concoction was my goal one evening last year when my wife, Emily, who has always preferred gin-based cocktails, requested a drink. In addition to liking gin, I also knew she had fallen in love with St. Germain's elderflower flavor by this time, and I was searching for ways to use it. I was unsure how to get color into the mix as I opened the freezer for ice, but those blueberries called from the shelf!
The resulting drink has become a year-round staple that guests have never shied away from finishing: the FreeBerry.
The FreeBerry Cocktail
makes 1 drink
1.5 ounce gin (I use Bombay Sapphire)
1 ounce St. Germain's Elderflower Liqueur
4-5 frozen blueberries
Juice from 1/2 a lime or lemon
Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously (shaking is a must in order to break down the blueberries). Strain into a martini glass — use a tea strainer if you want to avoid pieces of blueberry skin.
Garnish with frozen blueberries (readily at hand, if you've made the drink) or flower petals (plan ahead).
Thank you for sharing, Bertessa!