Build a Bombay Bramble

Brian Rung

    Have you ever been offered a shot of “Dutch Courage?”  Or, have you ever been accused of having too much of it?
    The phrase “Dutch Courage” refers either to the invincible feeling one gets after consuming an adult beverage, or to the alcohol itself.
    The phrase originated during the Thirty Years' War during which the English army would regularly consume gin before battle. Gin originated in the Netherlands and the soldiers appreciated its warming properties during cold weather along with that extra bit of “courage” prior to battle.
    The Thirty Years' War came to an end in 1648, but Britain's love affair with gin was only beginning. Those that survived the war took their battle scars and their gin home to England.
    King William III came to the English throne in 1689 and began to encourage the distillation of English spirits. Gin was available in England prior to 1689, but you literally had to visit your local chemist shop (pharmacy) to get it.
    Driven by a love for gin and potential tax revenue, King William III issued a proclamation that anyone, (yes, anyone) is allowed to distill gin so long as public notice was posted and the aspiring distiller waited 10 days.
    By the 18th century gin was booming in England, a trend that has continued for over 300 years. In fact, London Dry gin is the most popular gin variety the world over. There are several sub-categories of gin, the two main types are London Dry gin and distilled gin.
    London Dry gin is most likely what you think of when you think of gin.  London Dry gins are an excellent showcase for citrus, juniper and other botanicals.
    To be classified London Dry a gin must be all natural with no added coloring or flavor. Some of the world's most popular brands such as Beefeater, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are London Dry.
    Distilled gin is made in the same way that London Dry gin is made, but flavoring may be added after the distillation process. Distilled gins have been gaining popularity over last quarter century as distillers grow increasingly creative with the infusion of citrus and botanicals.
    Anytime that I hear someone utter the words “I don't like gin”, I always ask for clarification. Come to find out, when someone says that they don't like gin what they are usually saying is “I don't like cheap gin” or “I don't like Martinis.”
    You are not giving gin a fair shake if you base your opinion of gin on that plastic bottle that you bought in college. Also, Martinis are wonderful but they're not for everyone. They're “spirit forward” drinks that contain very little (if anything) other than gin.
    When introducing someone to gin it is best to start with the classic gateway gin, Bombay Sapphire. Launched in 1987, Bombay Sapphire exploded onto the scene and became one of the most popular gins in the world, and also one of the most polarizing among gin purists.
    Bombay Sapphire is an incredibly complex mix of 10 botanicals culminating in a light, floral taste. The flavor is so light that those in the traditionalist camp will tell you that it doesn't even taste like gin.
    Bombay Sapphire tastes like gin to me and shines in most gin cocktails, especially an extra dry Martini with a twist of lemon.
    Perhaps the greatest showcase for Bombay Sapphire gin is in the blackberry-flavored Bramble. The Bramble is a modern classic gin cocktail, invented in London in 1984.
    Legendary Soho bartender Dick Bradsell wanted to create the ultimate British cocktail. Bradsell used his cherished childhood memories of blackberrying on the Isle of Wight as inspiration for the drink. As for the name, blackberry bushes are called brambles.
    At first glance the Bramble is simply a gin sour with an added dash of blackberry liqueur. That's not entirely the case as the drink must be built in the correct order to achieve the light purple, marbled appearance.  
    The drink is built in the glass using gin, fresh lemon juice, 1:1 simple syrup, and a splash of blackberry liqueur.
    The key to getting the desired marble effect is to first combine the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup in the glass, then adding crushed ice. After a gentle stir, add more crushed ice until the glass is nearly full.
    With the glass nearly full, drizzle some blackberry liqueur over the top. The end result will be one of the most beautiful presentations in mixology. The drink will have almost a layered look with a dark purple hue on top and iridescent lines of lavender running through the crushed ice.
    By the way, the Bramble tastes every bit as good as it looks. Immensely popular in Britain, the Bramble is not as popular in the United States but the drink has achieved cult status among gin lovers.
    I prefer DeKuyper blackberry in the Bramble and other cocktails that call for blackberry. DeKuyper liqueurs are quality spirits and are widely available in the US market. If you would like to go full Britis”, the original Bramble used crème de mure.  
    The Bombay Bramble is built and served in a rocks glass.
    Add 1 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire.
    Add 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice.
    Add 1/2 oz simple syrup.
    Add crushed ice to glass and lightly stir 1-2 times.
    Add more crushed ice to glass until nearly full.
    Top with a drizzle of 1/2 to 3/4 oz of blackberry liqueur.
    Garnish with lemon wedge and blackberry.
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.