Composition wise, a Bramble is nothing more than a Gin Sour - or Gimlet with lemon juice - over crushed and blackberry liqueur (aka creme de mure) drizzled over the top. But on the spectrum of deliciousness, it is so much more than that. The Bramble is an impossibly refreshing blend fruity, sweet and tart that - when served ice cold - disappears so fast, you don’t know it’s gone until you hear your straw gasping for more.
Along with the Penicillin and Cosmopolitan, it is one of a handful of cocktails invented in the modern era that legitimately deserves to be included in the classic cocktail canon. It hits all the requisite notes: it’s simple to make, easy to drink, and loved by all.
It was created by Dick Bradsell when he was working at the Fred’s Club in London in the 1980s. Bradsell was one of the most influential bartenders of his day - he also invented the Espresso Martini, another darn good drink - and sadly passed away in 2016. You can read some are some of his recollections on the Bramble and it’s inception in this wonderful Difford’s Guide article.
2 oz gin
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
¼ oz creme de mure
blackberries for garnish
Combine the gin, lemon and simple syrup in a frozen rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice and stir, or just plunge the spoon to the bottom of the glass 5 or 6 times while twisting it. It doesn't need much. Top with a little more crushed ice. Pour the mure into a jiggle and slowly pour it around the top of the drink, covering as much ground as possible. Let the mure trickle down on it's own, don't mix it in. Garnish with the blackberries and a straw.
If you make a Bramble, let me see!
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That's a lot of Sweetener...
Looking at the recipe, you may be thinking it’s going to be too sweet. When you add a liqueur to a basic sour template, the conventional logic is to compensate by pulling back on the simple syrup. But in this case, all ¾ oz of it is needed to get the most blackberry flavor out the creme de mure. That being said, to keep it from getting too sweet, this drink really requires crushed ice, or something close to it. This is for the same reasons crushed ice is important to a Mint Julep. Without it, the flavors are too concentrated and become cloying. The added dilution and colder temperatures from crushed ice offset the perception of sweetness and lengthen the drink.
With finely crushed ice or pebble ice there’s no need to shake it beforehand. The small cubes of ice will chill and dilute the drink very quickly.
Though if you have larger cubes or cracked ice. Then you may want to shake the gin, lemon and simple syrup briefly first to get a little extra dilution going. Of course, you’ll still reserve the mure to float at the end.
Creme de Mure Recommendations
For the blackberry liqueur, I recommend Massenez, Merlet, Giffard and Combier. Though there are others quality options. As always with liqueurs, stay away from the plastic bottles with bright neon lables. And in case you are wondering, Chambord is a raspberry liqueur, so you can’t make a proper Bramble with it. Though the drink won’t be terrible or anything.