It’s been drink-y kind of weather lately. You’ve probably noticed, based on the sheer number of beverages appearing on this here blog. Actually, by that logic, it’s been a drink-y kind of year. You remember that first cocktail recipe I posted around Thanksgiving last year? I’ve made almost a dozen more since then. Which is strange, because I’m not a big drinker.
I usually include a non-alcoholic version whenever I write a cocktail recipe, but this time I thought I’d do it the other way around. Because really, on an average Tuesday afternoon, I’m not sipping a rhubarb mojito, or a grilled peach & rosemary prosecco… I’m sipping a soda. A soda that I might, maybe, possibly pour some rum or tequila into when I have friends over on the weekends.
One of my favorite parts of drink-making, whether they be boozy or not, are flavored syrups. Not only are they easy to make, they are also super versatile. For instance, this blackberry syrup is great in sodas or cocktails, but I’m warning you, if you pour it over vanilla ice cream, you might not survive the explosion of deliciousness. You can also drizzle it over yogurt, stir a little into a cup of tea, or pour it straight over crushed ice, snow-cone style. Or, mix it with some juice and pour it into a popsicle mold.
One thing I should probably warn you about, though, is that this stuff stains. I suggest wearing a sturdy apron to protect your clothes when making it, and setting your bowl in the sink when you strain the syrup. Also, if you make popsicles or snow-cones and give them to children, I recommend doing as my mother did when I was a wee one: strip ’em down to their underwear and throw ’em outside, then hose ’em off when their done.
A little unconventional, perhaps, but at least you won’t be stuck scrubbing everything with bleach afterwords.
And, of course, if you want to make these sodas tipsy, you’re more than welcome to do so. I like a little white rum, tequila, or gin if I’m in the right kind of mood, but feel free to play around and use what you like. Just remember to enjoy responsibly — as a friend pointed out the other night, after his third boozed-up soda, these are dangerously drinkable.
Willpower, m’kay? Willpower.
- 2 cups fresh blackberries, washed
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ lime, juice and zest
- Sparkling water (or ginger ale, or lemon-lime soda, or other sparkling beverage you want to add flavor to)
- Fresh blackberries or lime wedges, for garnish
- In a pot over medium heat, add the blackberries, sugar, water, lime juice, and zest. Let cook for 4-6 minutes, or until the blackberries have softened and can be easily squished against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. Then, do that. Squish the berries with the back of the spoon until all of the berries are broken down. Make sure you're wearing an apron to protect your clothes from potential spatters.
- Once the sugar is completely dissolved and the berries are broken down, pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. I suggest setting the bowl in the sink to help mitigate splashes. Oh, and definitely make sure you're wearing an apron for this part. Did I mention this stuff stains? Reserve the berry pulp for mixing into vanilla ice cream (you can thank me later), or spreading on toast.
- Let the syrup cool, then transfer to a tightly lidded bottle or jar and store in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks.
- Add 2-4 TBSP blackberry syrup to a glass with ice. Top with sparkling water (about 8-12 oz., or to taste), and stir gently to combine. Garnish with fresh berries or a wedge of lime, and enjoy!
To make these sodas boozy, add about an ounce of white rum, tequila, gin, or other liqueur. Enjoy responsibly.