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Master of Malt Blog

Category: Cocktails

Cocktail of the Week: The Bramble

This week we show you how to make this modern classic inspired by a childhood spent foraging for blackberries. The origins of most great cocktails are lost in the mists…

This week we show you how to make this modern classic inspired by a childhood spent foraging for blackberries.

The origins of most great cocktails are lost in the mists of time. Not the Bramble though – it was invented in the mid-’80s by Dick Bradsell when he was working at a bar in Soho called Fred’s Club. Bradsell tended bar in some of London’s most notorious venues including Zanzibar in the ‘80s and the Atlantic Bar in the ‘90s. You might remember seeing photos of Noel Gallagher or Kate Moss falling out of the Atlantic. Ah, happy daze!

Bradsell wasn’t just barman to the stars. He pioneered a return to cocktails made from scratch with fresh ingredients when everyone else was making luridly coloured concoctions with syrups. Bradsell was an inspiration to a new generation of bartenders and put London on the cocktail map. As well as perfecting the classics, he invented dozens of cocktails including the Espresso Martini (coming soon to Cocktail of the Week) and this week’s cocktail, the Bramble. How many bartenders can say that they have invented two stone-cold classics? Sadly, Bradsell died in 2016 of brain cancer aged only 56.

The Bramble was inspired by the British pastime of brambling in late summer and early autumn when the blackberry bushes that grow like weeds in hedgerows and on wastelands come into fruit. Back in 2001, Bradsell wrote the following for Difford’s Guide:

“I wanted to invent a truly British drink for reasons that escape me now…. A bramble, by the way, is the bush where the blackberry grows, I know this as I spent an inordinate amount of time in my Isle of Wight childhood cutting and scratching myself on their jaggy thorns in attempts to capture those elusive berries that others had failed to harvest.”

Dick Bradsell

The late, great Dick Bradsell (credit: Diffordsguide.com)

The heart of the Bramble is a liqueur made from blackberries (or you can call them brambles, as they do in Scotland, according to my mother). It’s very easy to make your own: all you need are lots of brambles, some gin or vodka and caster sugar. Steep the fruit with the sugar in alcohol, shaking occasionally every couple of days. After three to six months, strain and bottle. Annoyingly this autumn was terrible for brambles. The intense summer heat meant they ripened too quickly. One day they were nice, the next they were shrivelled, and I had missed my moment. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Luckily, I still have some liqueur left over from the bumper harvest of 2017. But you can buy ready-made crème de mure (blackberry in French), or you can make variations on the Bramble by using cassis, Chambord, or even, Bradsell says, Ribena. Just remember to use the correct fruit to garnish. Next, you need crushed ice. If you don’t have an ice crusher at home, and honestly who does, then put the ice in a plastic bag and hit it with a rolling pin.

Then which gin to use? You could play around with fruit botanical gins (not liqueurs though, they have to be dry). I had a lovely Scottish gin from Darnley made with sloes, rosehips and brambles which would be ideal. But in this case, I used Chase Elegant Gin which is distilled from apples. You don’t get more evocative of a British childhood than blackberries and apples.

The Bramble Cocktail

The Bramble cocktail

Right, that’s enough nostalgia. Let’s make a bloody Bramble!

50ml Chase Elegant Gin
25ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup*
10ml crème de mure

Shake the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup with ice in a shaker, double-strain into a tumbler filled with crushed ice. Drizzle crème de mure on the top and garnish with a lemon slice and a bramble that you have foraged yourself (or more likely bought from a supermarket as it’s January).

*Easy sugar syrup recipe: in a saucepan add 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, heat gently (do not boil) until the sugar dissolves. Decant into a jam jar or bottle. It lasts for months in the fridge.

 

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The Nightcap: 27 July

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap. Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week,…

As a bevy of drinks companies post their full-year results, let’s get down to business with this week’s The Nightcap.

Greetings from another Friday! You’ve made it through a week, which is always an achievement of note and worthy of commemoration. As you settle into the weekend, do so with a brain full of booze news – get ready for another edition of The Nightcap!

Firstly, let’s look at the week that was here at MoM Towers. Our Annie chatted to whisky industry legend Charles MacLean, and then got us ready for London Mezcal Week by interviewing festival co-founders Thea Cumming and Melanie Symonds. Kristy introduced yet another whisky-based excursion to add to our ever-expanding bucket list with the Hebridean Whisky Trail. Sam said goodbye to Rum Month with a run-down of ace dark rums. Henry showed us why we shouldn’t fear the sommelier, and gave us a look at the new range of Mortlach whiskies due to hit shelves later this year. And finally Sam drilled down into Diageo’s results. On that note, on with The Nightcap booze news and those all-important numbers!

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The Nightcap: 13 July

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here,…

Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some, but not if you follow the world of booze! It’s been an action-packed week, and we have the glorious highlights right here, right now. It’s The Nightcap!

Happy Friday, folks! The weekend is here and it’s time to celebrate with something tasty. Perhaps a delish and straightforward dram. Or, as Beam Suntory was highlighting when we stopped by this week, a Highball in all its glory. Or a G&T, Daiquiri, Margarita… the possibilities are endless. And now we’re distracted.

So. The tumultuous week that was. England tumbled out of the World Cup (at the semi-final stage so we’re still pretty proud here at MoM Towers), Brexit was back in the headlines (did it ever leave?!), and the astonishing Thai Cave rescue came to a successful close (huge respect to the rescue team, and of course we remember Saman Kunan, the brave diver who tragically died while saving others).

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These are the biggest cocktail trends in the UK right now…

Like keeping your finger on the garnish? As Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands’ bartender education roadshow Jigger, Beaker, Glass approaches the final leg of its UK-wide tour, Shervene Shahbazkhani shares four cocktail…

Like keeping your finger on the garnish? As Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands’ bartender education roadshow Jigger, Beaker, Glass approaches the final leg of its UK-wide tour, Shervene Shahbazkhani shares four cocktail trends to look out for now…

London has earned its place as one of the cocktail capitals of the world, but if you’re seeking a tastemaker outside of the M25, you need to be a little more discerning. While there are plenty of cracking bars elsewhere in the UK (that aren’t celebrated enough), by and large, the majority are still playing contemporary cocktail catch-up.

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The Nightcap: 6 July

Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to…

Happy Friday, team! Summer is ON (at least here in the UK) and there’s a certain football match on the agenda tomorrow… But before that comes around, it’s time to get an update from the world of booze. Bring on The Nightcap!

This week brought with it a new month as well as a whole new cohort of booze goings on – and of course a new Dram Club box for our subscribers, too! We took a sneak peek inside those packs of tastiness on Sunday.

On Monday we looked back to Fèis Ìle 2018 when Kilchoman founder Anthony Wills shared his plans for the distillery expansion project, and got part three of Annie’s Bourbon Series – this time it was Rob Samuels from Maker’s Mark in the spotlight.

The Glencairn glass has become synonymous with spirits (whisky in particular), and on Tuesday we met the family behind the business. Sales are soaring – it seems we can’t get enough fancy glassware to hold our boozes!

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All hail the apéritif! Author Kate Hawkings on the art of pre-dinner cocktails

We have a very special guest on the blog today: it’s Kate Hawkings, drinks writer, restaurateur and now author of a book on apéritifs called, controversially, Aperitif. Aperitif contains recipes…

We have a very special guest on the blog today: it’s Kate Hawkings, drinks writer, restaurateur and now author of a book on apéritifs called, controversially, Aperitif.

Aperitif contains recipes and tips but also some interesting history behind brands like Campari as well as drink-based anecdotes from Kate, including one about turning down an Italian smoothie (a suave man, I mean, rather than a thick drink made from fruit) in a Jaguar E-type. What I gained most from the book is that a good apéritif is more than just a drink, it’s a way of life. A sip of vermouth with an olive can transport you to a backstreet bar in Barcelona when you’re actually on an industrial estate just outside Tunbridge Wells.

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The Nightcap: 29 June

Down those tools and pick up a dram: it’s Friday, folks! And with the last day of the working week comes your regular round-up of delicious developments from the wonderful…

Down those tools and pick up a dram: it’s Friday, folks! And with the last day of the working week comes your regular round-up of delicious developments from the wonderful world of booze. It can only be The Nightcap!

Happy Friday, team! We made it. Perhaps you’ve been following all the highs and lows of the World Cup (soz, Germany) and are relishing today as a football-free period of recovery. Or maybe you’ve eschewed all things FIFA and have been basking in the summer sunshine instead (it’s been SIZZLING here in the UK). Either way, there’s a high chance some of this week’s biggest stories might have passed you by. Which is why we’re here to help!

So before we dig into the main Nightcap round-up, let’s look back over the last seven days of all things booze…

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Kombucha: What is it and why is everyone drinking it?

Kombucha is touted as something of a health elixir, but the effervescent fermented tea has plenty in common with the drinks industry. Brewed like beer, as complex as wine and…

Kombucha is touted as something of a health elixir, but the effervescent fermented tea has plenty in common with the drinks industry. Brewed like beer, as complex as wine and the ultimate cocktail mixer – here’s why the world is jumping on the ‘booch bandwagon…

Thirsty for the next big booze obsession? Your best bet is to slide onto a bar stool and flick through the drinks list, because few people know the industry better than the folks behind the stick. If you’re a seasoned menu-scanner, by now you’ll have clocked the influx of kombucha food pairings, tasting flights and cocktails gracing global bar and restaurant menus – as well as a whole host of ‘booch brands.

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In pictures: Behind the scenes at The Art of Campari exhibition

Partial to a Negroni? Then feast your eyes on The Art of Campari exhibition, coming to North London’s Estorick Collection next month. Not in the capital? No worries! Enjoy a…

Partial to a Negroni? Then feast your eyes on The Art of Campari exhibition, coming to North London’s Estorick Collection next month. Not in the capital? No worries! Enjoy a sneak peek right here…

This summer art meets alcohol at the Estorick Collection in London. From 4 July to 16 September the Italian art-focused haunt will be showing a selection of classic Campari posters from 1901 up until the 1960s in its The Art of Campari exhibition.

This was a golden age for Italian commercial art. Davide Campari, the son of the company’s founder, commissioned a series of cutting-edge artists to help sell the Milanese company’s products. At the exhibition we can see how the posters progressed from Art Nouveau before World War I, to Futurism, Surrealism, Cubism and, after World War II, Pop Art.

Looking at these beautiful pictures, it’s hard to disagree with one of the artists, Fortunato Depero, that “the art of the future will largely be advertising”. And they look even better with a Negroni in your hand.

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The Nightcap: 22 June

Another week comes to a close, so it’s time for a round-up of booze stories to help you start your weekend with a brain full of knowledge – it’s The…

Another week comes to a close, so it’s time for a round-up of booze stories to help you start your weekend with a brain full of knowledge – it’s The Nightcap!

It’s Friday! Unless you’re in Australia, where it’s probably next Wednesday. For those of you in Oz, keep powering through hump day. For everyone else, it’s time to grab a tasty beverage and have a gander at the booze news from this week with The Nightcap.

And today has been a news fest! If the Nightcap wasn’t enough for you, Macallan owner Edrington announced its financial results with a bit of a bang: as well as posting 7% growth, it also announced plans to sell Glenturret and Cutty Sark. Wowzers.

Elsewhere on the Master of Malt blog this week; Annie looked at the world of Bourbon alongside Jim Beam master distiller Fred Noe and picked out the blends you’ll want to boast about. Sam took a glance at Tomatin’s turnover (of the money variety, nothing to do with delicious baked goods). Kristy headed (just) north of the border to taste the first whiskies from the Annandale Distillery, and looked at how everyone goes to the pub when it’s sunny.

Henry didn’t quite share the enthusiasm for the sunny weather this week, as he introduced us all to Light Strike Awareness Day (it’s a thing), as well as showing off his knowledge of popular Scotch whiskies around the world, and exploring an upcoming Island distillery.

Phew. On the with booze news!

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