I did already write in other contexts about the English bartender Dick Bradsell, who is considered to be the English luminary of bar culture for the last decades. He is the master mind behind many sophisticated cocktails, for example the very rich Treacle Cocktail, which I really appreciate, but he also created less sophisticated drinks that became very suitable for a mass audience like for example the Espresso Martini. But I don’t want to make more words about Dick Bradsell’s personal career here since I already did this in other articles. Instead I’d like to concentrate on one of his most famous drinks, the Bramble.
The Bramble cocktail is a name that is familiar to many people, often without even knowing the exact nature of the actual cocktail. In the Scottish capital of Edinburgh there even is a Bramble Bar (I did present the Bramble’s Mezcal Flip from that place here in the past). So you have to be a little careful that you do not get confused. The name Bramble is quite programmatic here and of a very plain elegance since it describes the nature of the cocktail in its essence: The Bramble relies on the blackberry as its genuine flavor.
Bradsell invented the Bramble in 1984 while working in Fred’s Club in Downtown Soho, London. This club was a quite special institution during that time because it put a very strong emphasis on style, ambience and service. Of course, the club was so not the first of that kind and also not completely unique in offering quality service and ambience but in the 1980s it was much less common when it came to cocktail places than it is today. One of the driving forces there was the owner of the club, a former English butler. In this respect one naturally expected that the Bramble Cocktail offers some impressive, yet sophisticated features and that is exactly what it did. Prepared on the basis of Crème de Mure, a blackberry liqueur, it is basically a modification of the classic Gin Sour. (A very interesting variant can be made if you replace Crème de Mure by Chambord, this version is in no way inferior to the original but offers a slightly different flavor profile.
So the Bramble consists of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and crème de Mure. The choice of a suitable gin will be quite tricky here because you have several options. Usually you will encounter lighter, citrus-toned gins in a Bramble as they emphasize the fresher side of the drink and foreground the blackberries. But I think that also stronger gins with a distinct juniper work very well here. The interaction of the earthy, more herbal notes with a complex juniper is a very interesting company for the blackberries. Some recipe variants reduce the proportion of Crème de Mure to only 1 cl with about 1.5 cl of sugar syrup. I like to reverse both measurements in order to use a gin with distinct juniper like for instance the Cotswolds Gin from the rural and idyllic Heart of England. It really strikes a chord in the Bramble cocktail, I think. The combination adds a nice depth to the drink and simultaneously emphasizes associations of shady and cooling forests in the hot summer.
5 cl Gin
3 cl lemon
1 cl sugar syrup
1.5 cl Crème de Mure (or Chambord for an alternate variant)
Preparation: The Bramble is built inside the glass: First add all ingredients except Crème de Mure into a glass filled with crushed ice and stir. Finally, fill up with more crushed ice and then float the drink with Créme de Mure.
Garnish: blackberries and a lemon slice or wedge
Buying sources: In stores or in well-stocked supermarkets you should be able to find the essential ingredients.