The Cascadian Smash Cocktail

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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

(Pick it up Here @ Amazon)


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