It didn’t take long for summer to pack it up. It went from T-Shirts to raincoats practically overnight, the temperature dipped into the long pants zone and no-one is still wearing flip flops in all this muck. *sigh*It’s time for me to stay inside and organize all the late summer fruit ‘n veg harvested from our garden and out in the wild.
The latest bit of foraging I did yielded three large mason jars full of Oregon Grape Syrup, which retains much of the wild berry’s natural sourness tempered with just a hint of cane sugar. It’s very similar in taste to a Blackberry-Balsamic Shrub which is a type of fruit and vinegar syrup or cordial used to give cocktails a sexy sweet ‘n sour kick.
Just a bit of back story: Shrubs and their cousin Squashes have been around a loooooong time. There are versions of the classic American fruit and vinegar shrub that date back to the 15th century and a couple of recipes that lay claim to being the great-grandparents of the shrub all the way back in ancient Persia and Rome. It seems all throughout the history of cuisine and distillation there has always been a cottage industry of drinking vinegars and sour fruit syrups alongside to add a splash of extra flavour.
So with my oh, so sour Oregon grape syrup in one hand and a big bundle of fresh thyme in the other I decided to mix up a simple, classic smash cocktail that has all the characteristics of blackberries and shrubs without the addition of either. *laughs* It came out perfectly light, fruity, slightly sour and herbal without any cloying or tongue-coating nastiness that I sometimes associate with fruit syrups.
I could have named it the Cascadian Shrub, Squash or Smash… I went with Smash.
The Cascadian Smash Cocktail (Serves 1)
- 2-3 Fresh Thyme Fronds
- 1 Medium-Sized Piece of Orange Zest
- 1 oz. (30ml) Oregon Grape Syrup
- 1 ½ oz. (45ml) Vodka
- Soda Water
- Crack open your cocktail shaker and muddle up the thyme, orange zest and syrup until well blended… I tend to use a chopstick and bash it around for a minute or so.
- Pour in the vodka, lock up the shaker and shake the bejeezus out of it for about 40 seconds or until it’s well chilled and condensation forms on the outside.
- Strain through a fine sieve into a chilled rocks or coupe glass and top with splash of soda water. Garnish with thyme or if you’re a crazy person like me, garnish with Oregon grape leaves and nearly slice your lip open… Stick with the thyme.
Music to Mix Cocktails To:
Primal Scream – Screamadelica