This cocktail is nearly as old as me (and that's quite old), but strangely, I don't have the memories that should be conjured up when drinking this one as I didn't grow up anywhere where brambles grew. I lived on a council estate in Fulham so the nearest thing I could have got to foraging was picking up old tin cans or deflated footballs!
Invented in 1984 by Dick Bradsell at Fred's Club in Soho, the Bramble was his way of bringing back memories of foraging for blackberries (or brambles as they are known - though this isn't quite right as the plant itself is called a bramble and the fruit it produces is a blackberry) on the Isle of Wight. The bramble is made using gin, lemon juice and creme de mure (blackberry liqueur) and has a wonderful sweetly sour flavour.
I make these regularly at Copper & Ink, and made it recently on stage at Foodies Festival alongside some delicious Bramble muffins!
3tsp caster sugar
25ml lemon juice
50ml gin (I use Brockmans)
25ml creme de mure (I love British Mure, but any blackberry liqueur will work)
1 blackberry for garnish
I've made you a little instructional video below.
Please Bramble responsibly!
Now, I'm not saying I've been drinking forever - there was that period way back when when I was actually sober for 2.5 years following some kidney issues - but it is true to say that I've known about different cocktails for a long time. I mentioned the cosmopolitan in a previous post, and that was introduced to me by the SATC girls when I was 16. So too did they introduce me to the Long Island Iced Tea, the Statten Island Iced Tea, the Tartini and many more, but they didn't introduce me to this one. I came to this one very late in life. Well, too late in my life anyway for how good of a cocktail this is.
Like most cocktails, there doesn't seem to be a definitive date when it was created, however, it was definitely written about in the late 1920s. There is also contention as to the origin of the name.
Some camps say that the name is derived from the small tool used to drill holes and the "drilling" it gives the drinker, some saying it was named after Surgeon Admiral Sir Thomas Gimlette who is purported to be the first person to add lime cordial to a daily tot of gin for those serving in the Navy to stave off scurvy.
I personally love both ideas of this being where the name stemmed from, but more than that I love the drink itself. Such a popular drink in the 50's; even Raymond Chandler mentioned it (saying it should be equal parts gin and Rose's lime cordial "and nothing else") in his 1953 novel 'The Long Goodbye'.
Whilst there have been and I'm sure will continue to be many different ways of making this classic cocktail, it seems to have fallen out of favour somewhat which makes me sad. It's insanely easy to make, is refreshing and utterly delicious. And yes, it has a penetrating effect just like a drilling tool and incidentally I'm scurvy free, so, what's not to love?!
You could channel your inner Betty Draper by wearing a twin-set & pearls and marrying & divorcing an adulterous narcissist, or, make it easier on yourself and make yourself a Gimlet using my recipe below. I know which one I prefer...
I've even made a little old style video for your viewing pleasure...
Please Gimlet responsibly!
I know, I know, I've been neglecting my site. I apologise. Sometimes, though, it's so much easier to post a review on Instagram than it is here; I love that about Instagram, the quick snap and the review in the comments. I feel like you get more information from me that way than you do here. This is a place for cocktail recipes and more in depth chats about wine I feel. Maybe you like the reviews here? You tell me!
We've definitely been drinking probably more than we should, but I blame lockdown. Things are hard right now, and finding small nuggets of joy in each day is the way to get through. We get joy out of having a glass of wine, so there are times when we have several. Bottles. Anyway, I digress. I thought that I might do a little round up of just a small selection of the wines we have tried recently and have scored them out of 10 just for fun.
First up, this Lucien Lardy Vigneron Beaujolais-Villages "Vignes de 1951". We were sent this by Jascots Wine Merchants (thank you again!). An unpretentious simple Beaujolais which does exactly what you would expect a Beaujolais to do. 100% Gamay and planted on steep slopes and small hillsides; this is a light and fruity wine. Notes of red fruits (raspberry and strawberry) along with some darker fruits like blackberry. There were some subtle savoury characters, perhaps some bitter chocolate or tobacco, and just the slightest grip of some rounded but nicely structured tannins. Not my favourite Beaujolais-Villages I can't lie, but you certainly wouldn't be disappointed if you got this at a pub or restaurant. It's very drinkable! 6.5/10
Next up, Prieuré Saint-Côme Chablis. This one came via Theatre of Wine, and is a really really wonderful example of just how good Chablis can be. I won't start here on a rant about Chardonnay (I've written an article about it for a magazine and I'll let you know as and when that is published), but honestly, Chablis is one of the best things to happen to the Chardonnay grape. This one is fermented and aged in stainless steel, is not oaked (typical of Chablis) and has a wonderful gravelly mineral flavour - the terroir in the Chablis area is well known for this and this is why the wine has such a distinctive savoury note to it. I tasted citrus (lemon & grapefruit) and also honey and apple. A really stunning wine and one I will definitely be buying over and over. 9.5/10
Now we come to what I am classing as the star of this 4-act show. Another Chardonnay, this time from Hungary. The Kovács Nimród Monopole Battonage. Made in a classic Burgundy style, this is a truly delicious wine. Battonage is the process of stirring the lees (or yeast which is formed during fermentation) through the wine. This wine is aged in small barrels made from French, Hungarian and a very small amount of American oak. The lees ageing provides a wonderful creamy, yeasty, almost brioche note to the wine and alongside this, there are flavours of citrus, honey and orchard fruits. This one was another Theatre of Wine purchase, and honestly a real show stopping crowd pleaser. Phenomenal. 10/10
Lastly, we head to France for the Roc' Ambulle Pet Nat Negrette. This is a natural, organic, sparkling pink made from Mauzac & Negrette grapes. Pet Nat, for those who don't know, is short for pétillant naturel and basically means naturally fizzy. The wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is complete and without any additional yeasts or sugars, allowing the final throes of fermentation to happen in bottle creating this wonderful tongue tingling sparkle. This is unlike the champagne method in which the wine undergoes a second fermentation in bottle. Because it is a natural wine it did contain some sediment, which although doesn't affect the flavour, it did, on the last mouthful, impair my enjoyment of the wine. It can sometimes be beneficial to decant natural wines, (perhaps through cheesecloth or muslin), to remove this sediment, but I do love a natural wine. This one was nice; a lovely shade of pink akin to a rose lemonade (mmm, rose lemonade, I quite fancy a glass of that right now actually) and was perfectly pétillant. It had notes of strawberry and a pink grapefruit acidity on the nose and the palate offered up candied strawberries and juicy cherries. I think I said in my Instagram post that both of these flavours had been subtly kissed by a rose in bloom. Yes, this is a very wanky thing to say, but I stand by the description as I think it works. Plus, I'm reviewing wine, and that can definitely be considered a wanky 'profession'! A lovely example of a Pet Nat, and certainly very quaffable, but can't say it was massively memorable. 7/10
Well, there we have it. Just a short round up of some of the wines we have been getting into recently.
I'll try not to neglect this too much, but, despite lockdown, life does still manage to get in the way somehow!
Let me know in the comments what other content you might like to see both here and over on Instagram.
Until the next time my imbibing friends...
Has anyone else found that their intake of both caffeinated and alcoholic beverages have increased substantially during the last 12 months? It might just be me, but I’m pretty sure that most of us have found the need to imbibe more frequently that we used to (it’s just me isn’t it?). Now, although I don’t condone drinking to excess (please do drink responsibly people), I do endorse the mixing of caffeine and alcohol, especially when it’s in the form of an espresso martini.
The espresso martini, or the ‘vodka espresso’ cocktail as it was originally known, was invented in 1983 by Dick Bradsell when he worked at the Soho Brasserie. It has been a staple in cocktail bars and restaurants ever since, and it certainly is one of the more popular cocktails at Copper & Ink. It’s quite possibly my favourite cocktail to both make and drink and I think it always looks so elegant. As with most cocktails, the base ingredients you use are what elevate it, and I believe that the ingredients I use in mine make for a really special drink. Ethical and tasty? What more could you ask for?!
*This vodka is made from milk, so if you are vegan or have a dairy allergy, you will want to use an alternative
I’m not sure about you, but I was definitely glad to see the back of 2020. Not that 2021 is much better currently, being in tier 4 with the prospect of tougher restrictions coming and not being able to open the restaurant at the moment, but hopefully there will be a light at the end of the tunnel this year.
One of the great things about 2020 (and I’m hoping 2021) was having a bit more time to try some new wines and continuing my learning.
Here are the wines we saw out 2020 with:
Sifer Wines Samuel
Sifer Wines are based in Spain. Their terroir has soils composed of sand, clay and silt which you would not expect to produce particularly great grapes. Situated between 300 and 350m above sea level with a continental climate and relatively low rainfall this vineyard manages to grow Garnacha (or grenache if you prefer) and Macabao very successfully.
The high temperatures make for a lot of residual sugar and alcohol in their wines and the Samuel was no exception at a whopping 15.3%!
Grape(s): Garnacha (100%)
Appearance: Very dark purple as to be expected from such a young wine
Nose: The nose had characteristics of dark fruits, marzipan and spice
Palate: On the palate some very grippy tannins, a touch of acidity, marzipan and dark berries with a medium plus to long finish.
Verdict: The high percentage of alcohol did lead to a bit of alcohol burn at the back of the palate and down the the throat, however, it had quite a rounded mouth feel and some really lovely notes of berries and almonds. I would definitely drink this wine again, and I also really loved the fact that it was made more traditionally and aged in amphora.
Davenport Vineyards Horsmonden Dry White
Grape(s): Bacchus, Ortega, Faber, Sieberrebe and Huxelrebe
Appearance: Almost clear, but a very pale lemon colour
Nose: The nose had hints of peach, apricot and elderflower
Palate: On the palate stone fruits (mainly peach), some citrus (lemon oil) and a slight creaminess on the finish. Dry, but not overly so.
Verdict: A really lovely example of an English white wine and very easy to drink. For me, it wouldn’t work as a food wine as anything too acidic or vinegary would affect the flavour of the wine too much and make it unpalatable. This is definitely a ‘sit on the balcony in the warmth of a dying summers eve and drink with friends’ kind of wine.
Grape(s): Roditis (100%)
Appearance: Clear and light, a very pale lemon
Nose: The nose had notes of citrus, mainly lemon and grapefruit and an almost cheesy aroma
Palate: On the palate it was very smooth with bright acidity, notes of pine, citrus and stone fruits.
Verdict: To begin with the wine was incredibly easy to drink, interesting and complex and would work well with fish and lighter meats cooked on charcoal. On a second tasting (the next day), the cheesiness started to come through more strongly which I found to be quite off-putting. I would definitely give this another go with food, but it appears to be a wine that needs to be quaffed pretty much as soon as it is opened, as any oxygen seems to mar the flavour.
(Purchased from Theatre of Wine)
This year has certainly been a strange one. So many ups and downs, I’m surprised more of us didn’t develop some kind of motion sickness. Christmas this year was a quiet affair; Tony & I had planned to share Christmas Day with my parents and his mum, but being forced into Tier 4 meant that we all had to change our plans and we plan to re-imagine Christmas all together when it is safe and permissible to do so. One thing that didn’t change for us, however, was imbibing! Whilst I had planned a more varied affair, Tony & I picked a couple of wines for the day that we felt would work with our Christmas feast and as a standalone glass of cheer. We began the day with our favourite Henners Vineyard Sparkling Rose (I wrote about that here), then opened a bottle of red which we decanted and let breathe until we were ready to eat.
The first wine we cracked open was the Marof Breg Cuvée Red from Slovenia which we purchased from the fabulous Theatre of Wine. A perfect blend of Zweigelt and Blaufrankisch this wine was light and bright. Notes of red & black berries, some peppery spice and a lovely touch of florality. Some subtly grippy tannins and more acidity than I was expecting, it was the perfect companion to our savoury rich roasted rib of beef.
After quaffing that, and breaking out the cheese and charcuterie, we chose the Queiron Mi Lugar Rioja which was gifted to us by our dear friend Jack. A really fantastic example of a Rioja and a really wonderful blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha. Really dark on the pour with dark fruits, spice and chocolate aromas on the nose. On the palate; smooth, plummy, with a hint of liquorice. A luxuriously long finish kissed with an almost creamy woodiness.
Whilst our Christmas Day wasn’t the one we had hoped for, our wine, at least, gave us some Christmas cheer.
OK, OK, I know English Sparkling isn’t technically Champagne, but I’m pretty sure we all refer to most fizz as champagne even if it’s English sparkling, Prosecco, cava, blancs de blancs, crémant etc. It is a word synonymous with luxurious and fancy fizz, and who doesn’t like to feel like they are being fancy even if they’re just drinking Lambrini or Babycham (I still lust over those fabulous Babycham coupe glasses, I won’t lie)?!
I am lucky that my job affords me opportunities every now and again to try out new wine/spirits/beers, and this week, I was very privileged to try some utterly phenomenal English sparkling wines.
Henners Vineyard is based in East Sussex, and produces some really incredible bottles of booze. It’s run by a very small team and is set in a really picturesque part of the UK. The terroir is perfectly suited to the grapes they grow and the clay soil and close proximity to the coast only adds to the wonderful flavours these grapes then impart into the wine they create.
Henners NV Brut
A 12% alcohol blend of chardonnay (40%), pinot noir (35%) and pinot meunier (25%), aged on the lees for 36 months. Bright, pale lemon with a slight hint of lime in appearance with notes of yeast and citrus on the nose. On the palate, the first thing I was met with was a wonderfully sweet and creamy hint of marzipan. The yeast comes through delicately on the tongue along with sprightly citrus and some slightly underripe melon. Definitely not your bog-standard glass of fizz!
Henners Vintage 2014
12% alcohol blend of chardonnay (70%) and Pinot noir (30%) and aged for 48 months on the lees in French oak (old & new). Clear with a bright lime character and a lovely sparkle on appearance, the nose is littered with citrus, oak and cooked apple. These notes are mirrored in the palate, which has a wonderfully soft and rounded texture, despite the fizz. The orchard fruit notes are paired with fragrant lemon peel and tangy bittersweet grapefruit. The blend is perfectly judged and this would work perfectly with food, or enjoyed on its own.
Henners NV Rosé
12% alcohol blend of pinot meunier (65%) and pinot noir (35%) and aged on the lees for 18 months. Clear, bright and a blushing coral pink, you know on the pour that this is going to be something special. On the nose, sweet and heady notes of strawberry and comforting buttered toast. This is echoed in the palate with additional characters of red berries (mainly raspberry), white flowers and a beautiful undertone of warming vanilla. With its fresh acidity, lusciously long finish and tongue tingling sparkle, this is a sparkling rosé to rival many.
Head over to Henners’ website and get your hands on a bottle (or 2) of their fizz, and, while you’re at it, maybe try some of their still wines too. You won’t regret it.
Like most chicks my age, I first happened upon the Cosmopolitan (or Cosmo as its affectionately known) when I began watching Sex & The City. Desperate to be Carrie Bradshaw, I knew that I wanted to only drink Cosmos going forward... (I was 16, I have since learned that there are many other drinks out there and also that Carrie Bradshaw is a bit of a bitch!).
I had my share of cosmopolitans during my formative years which were OK, however, it wasn’t until I started making cocktails myself that I started to actually appreciate how great this drink actually is. When treated with respect and great ingredients used, it’s a damn fine cocktail. And we all know how much those SATC girls love a good COCKtail.