Mx Monday: Local Flavour

Darcy O'Neil :: August 11, 2008 10:05 PM

MxmologoThis month, Mixology Monday is on local drinks, either a drink that originated in your area, or one based on local ingredients. I doubt that any good, or interesting, cocktail has ever come from the city I reside in, but local ingredients are abundant. At this time of year blueberries are the fruit to be picked and I, with some help, picked 22 pounds of the these little berries. It is a job that requires patience, but these farm berries are nothing like the puny wild blueberries, so I'm not complaining.

It just happens that every year, around this time, I’m either canoeing in Algonquin Park, or wishing I was canoeing in Algonquin Park, or picking blueberries at a local farm. The later seems to be more common lately. But, this is the time when wild blueberries are all over the place in the north. It may take you a good hour to pick a pint, but wild blueberry pancakes, at 7AM, in the middle of the wilderness, is something you don’t forget.

If you can find wild blueberries, they may be expensive, but worth it. If not, picking them at a local farm is a great option. Because they are selectively bred, these blueberries are fairly large in size and easy pickin. They’d don’t pack as much flavour, but they are still very good.

Berry-blue-smash

Every year I pick as much local fruit, and vegetables, as possible. I generally pick strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, peaches, tomatoes, etc. etc. It isn’t because I’m some militant environmentalist, even though I do my fair share for the environment, more because it just makes sense.

First, fresh picked always tastes better than stuff shipped from five thousand kilometers away. Secondly, you can’t beat the price. In the middle of winter a pint of blueberries costs four to five dollars. At the local farm they sell for $2.00 per pound. They also freeze really well. Third, supporting your local farmers is great.

There are not a lot of cocktails that utilize blueberries. Why? I’m not sure. Obviously there are more people using them as an ingredient today, but it is rare to find many blueberry cocktails in vintage recipe books.

Blueberries are not very acidic and tend to have a “flat” taste, for lack of a better word. You need to ad some acidic component to help them achieve their full potential.

Because this is Mixology Monday, and I usually start writing just before the deadlines, I rarely ever have time to experiment and fine tune my recipes. Well, it’s par for the course again and I’m just going to create a drink  based on what I think should work.

Blueberry Crush

1 oz Applejack
½ oz Benedictine
¼ oz Fresh Lime Juice
¼ oz Simple Syrup (2:1)
1 tsp Amaretto
15 Fresh Blueberries
Dash Bitters

Instructions: In a shaker filled with ice add all of the ingredients, including the blueberries. Shake vigorously, this will pulverize the blueberries, and skips the muddling step. Fine strain into a glass packed with ice. Garnish with blueberries and a lime wedge.

Berry-blue-smash-2

This is a drink I could sip on a patio. The flavours combine nicely and the Amaretto was a last minute touch up, as the drink need a hint of contrasting flavour. No one component stands out, but they are there. The lime adds some much needed acidity. The blueberry flavour is subtle, but unmistakable. If you have lots of them, use more.

As to why Applejack, it just seemed a good spirit to use. Blueberries seem to go really well with apples.

One of the nice things about using fresh blueberries is that when you muddle / crush them they release pectin which gives the drink a nice smooth texture. Pectin is what makes jam jell. In small quantities it will give body to a drink.

Kevin, over at Save the Drinkers!, is our host so now that you are done reading this, go check out the roundup.


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