The Concord Crush — Grape Gimlet

This Concord Crush (aka, a grape gimlet) is my current cocktail obsession. If you like the sweet-tart flavor of concord grapes and the piney scent of gin, read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

Concord grapes are one of those foods I love, but rarely ever eat. Year after year I forget how much I like them, and let their short season pass me by. It’s only when they show up on a cheese plate somewhere that I suddenly remember, dang these are good!

This year I was determined not to let them get away, and started pestering my produce manager about a week before they were available.  There’s just nothing else quite like concord grapes. They’re worlds apart from any other type of fruit — sweet at first, then sour, like nature’s take on sour-patch kids. Like candy, minus the food coloring and sugar crash. Yes please.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends
Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: mixing cocktails has quickly become a favorite little hobby of mine. I am not a big drinker (like, at all) but on the occasion when I do, I take so much pleasure in playing with different flavor combinations. (Like concord grapes and gin… *swoon*.)

When my brother and I were kids, we would make “potions” and pretend they could give us special powers. Now as an adult, mixing drinks holds that same sense of fun and wonder, only instead of imaginary super powers, I end up with some very real deliciousness.

But don’t worry, I’m still working on the whole super powers thing.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

As much as I love making boozy beverages, though, I hate actually buying the booze. There’s just something about going to the liquor store that feels like such a drag. Perhaps I’m spoiled by big supermarkets where I can get almost everything I need in one trip, but if I have to go to another store for just one item? Not happening.

Lucky for me, a new company reached out to me recently because they plan on expanding into my area. They’re called Drizly, and they make booze shopping as easy as ordering a pizza. All you have to do is pick out what you want online, and they deliver it to your door, often times within an hour or less.


Seriously. I cannot wait for them to come to Ann Arbor. (This post is sponsored by Drizly, but if you’ve been following me for a while, you know I only ever promote companies or products I personally use or am excited about.) Also, I just noticed they deliver extras like fresh limes and club soda, too. SO SMART.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

While we’re on the subject of booze, let’s talk about gin for a minute.

For this cocktail, I started off using St. George Terroir, which I love for its super piney intensity. (It has douglas fir on top of the juniper berries that traditionally give gin its distinctive flavor.) However, I found it a little overpowering in this case, hiding the rosemary more than I would have liked. In lieu of this, I’d recommend a slightly lighter, more citrusy gin like the St. George Botanivore, or even Bulldog brand gin. (I’m not paid by any of these brands, by the way, they’re just ones I’ve personally tried and enjoyed.) If you have a certain kind of gin you already know and love, go ahead and use that — and if you don’t know where to begin, I do think that St. George is a good entry-level starting place, and they actually offer a sample pack so you can try their three different varieties without a big bottle commitment.

As much as the booze does matter, I have yet to find a gin that doesn’t work at least decently well in this drink, so feel free to experiment to find what you like best.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends
Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

This Concord Crush is a fruity take on a French style Gimlet. You might be familiar with the classic Gimlet — a mix of gin (or vodka), club soda, and lime juice. Well, a French gimlet is similar, except they add in a splash of elderflower liqueur, which brings a little sweetness and some floral notes to the party. Try to hold that image in your head, and now add a glug of fresh concord grape juice and a sprig of rosemary, and you’ve got what I’ve dubbed The Concord Crush. (Inspired by this cocktail from Gramercy Tavern.)

Normally when I get my hands on concord grapes, they go straight into my piehole. What can I say; they’re delicious, I’m compulsive. If you can hold off eating them long enough, though, I highly recommend turning them into this little sipper. But I’m warning you, it’s kiiiind of delicious, so drink responsibly.

Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends
Concord Crush Cocktail | Will Cook For Friends

Do you have a favorite gin cocktail? I can’t decide between this and a classic gimlet. Let me know yours in the comments below!

5.0 from 7 reviews
The Concord Crush -- Grape Gimlet
A tasty twist on a french style gimlet. This recipe makes one drink, and enough grape puree for several. Feel free to scale up as needed, and store leftover puree in the freezer for future use.
Serves: 1 cocktail
For the cocktail (makes one drink):
  • 1½ oz. gin (such as St. George Botanivore)
  • 1 oz. fresh grape puree (recipe below -- or 100% unsweetened concord grape juice, see recipe notes for details)
  • ½ oz. elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain)
  • ½ oz. fresh lime juice (about ½ a lime)
  • ¼-1/2 oz. simple syrup (see recipe notes)
  • 1 two-inch sprig rosemary, plus more for garnish
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off the glass
For the grape puree (makes ¾ cup puree, or enough for 6 drinks):
  • ½ lb. fresh concord grapes, removed from the vine
  • ½ tsp. fresh lime juice
For the grape puree:
  1. Blend both ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pass through a fine mesh seive, pressing with a flexible spatula or spoon to get as much liquid out of the solids as possible. Discard the skins/seeds left in the sieve. Grape puree can be stored for several days in the fridge, or frozen for future use.
For the cocktail:
  1. Add the gin and rosemary sprig to a cocktail shaker, and muddle gently to release some of the rosemary oils. Add all the remaining ingredients and a handful of ice, and shake vigorously for 5-10 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice (or serve in a coupe glass without ice, like a traditional gimlet) and top off with club soda. Garnish with an extra sprig of rosemary, or a couple concord grapes.
You can make this cocktail with homemade grape puree, or store-bought 100% concord grape juice (look for a bottle that lists nothing but concord grapes in the ingredients, not even water). I can't say what the difference is between the two -- they're both made from pure concord grapes -- just that there is a difference, and it's a big one. The fresh puree has a lighter flavor and retains more of the fresh concord grape tartness, while the store-bought juice has more of a "grape popsicle" flavor, as I like to call it; sweeter, and somehow more "grapey." I definitely prefer the homemade puree, but both are delicious, and the store-bought juice will work in a pinch if concord grapes are too pricey or just out of season. That said, if you're using store-bought juice in place of the puree, I recommend using a little less simple syrup to make up for the sweetness.

For the simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water (1 cup each) in a small saucepan or microwave safe container, and heat until sugar has dissolved. Once cool, syrup can be stored in a jar in the fridge and used for future cocktails. Feel free to adjust the amount in this recipe according to your tastes (I like ½ an ounce if I'm using homemade concord grape puree, or just ¼ ounce if I'm using store-bought grape juice).

You can also feel free to swap the rosemary for any other herb you like or happen to have. I tried using fresh sage, and also lavender, and both were delicious.

Cocktail adapted from and inspired by this grape gimlet from Gramercy Tavern, via Serious Eats.

This post is sponsored by Drizly, but all opinions are my own. As you guys know, I never promote a product or brand that I wouldn’t personally use or recommend to my own friends and family!

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19 Responses to The Concord Crush — Grape Gimlet

  1. Jovita @ Yummy Addiction September 24, 2016 at 2:26 am #

    Wow, that’s what I call a perfect cocktail. Gin, licquer, grape puree… Oh my goodness! Your photos are amazing too :)

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2016 at 12:22 pm #

      Thanks Jovita! They really do make such a great combo. :)

      • Melisende April 6, 2021 at 7:15 pm #

        Concord gapes and St. George Botanivore were not available in my city so I used so used Sun Red South African Seedless Grapes ( a dark purple grape) and London Dry Gin by Long Table Distillery. Because I was getting 8 cocktails ready, I also completely forgot to add the club soda, however the cocktail was delicious and popular. The grape juice on its own is too intense, but once shaken with ice nd mixed with the other ingredients, it’s perfect.

  2. Mama Harris September 24, 2016 at 3:05 am #

    Oh my goodness, gimme that glass! This looks so amazing and refreshing, I will be checking into that service as well!

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2016 at 12:23 pm #

      Haha, *passes cocktail*. Yes, definitely check out drizly and see if they’re in your area! I was so bummed when I needed to get more Elderflower liqueur and they weren’t here to deliver it. :P

  3. Emma September 24, 2016 at 7:01 am #

    How did you know gimlets were my favourite cocktails :D this looks fab! (You’re so talented at caligraphy too!!!)

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2016 at 12:24 pm #

      Just a wild guess, haha! And thank you — I’ve been practicing handlettering for just a couple months now and it’s so much fun to see myself improving. Thought it was about time I start putting all that practice to use.

  4. Platter Talk September 24, 2016 at 7:28 am #

    Wow! It’s way too early for this drink but your pictures sure do make me want to have one. Breath taking & beautiful, very interesting and well written. Thanks.

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

      Thank you! I maaaay have had one of these for breakfast when I was recipe testing, so… never too early, haha!

  5. Elizabeth September 24, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    What a stunning looking drink! It sounds so posh and elegant and so very incredibly drinkable too!

    • Willow Arlen September 24, 2016 at 12:26 pm #

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I hadn’t thought of it being posh and elegant, but you hit the nail on the head. It’s hard not to feel fancy with one of these in your hand!

  6. movita beaucoup September 25, 2016 at 8:08 am #

    Dear lord, woman. Every time I think you can’t up your photo game any more, you do. I will slurp some gin in your honour.

    • Willow Arlen September 25, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

      Oh, thank you, Rachael! I have good days and bad (photography-wise) and this was definitely a good day. Cheers! *raises a glass*

  7. Jeff Bannow September 26, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    Made another of these over the weekend, and it is a lovely cocktail. Made mine with Bulldog, one of my new favorite gins. Thanks for sharing!

    • Willow Arlen October 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

      Oh that’s so awesome! I’m glad you liked it enough to make it again. I really enjoyed the Bulldog, I have to get my own bottle!

  8. annie@ciaochowbambina October 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    And now I’m thirsty! This is stunning and delicious! A real show stopper!

  9. Phoebe March 27, 2020 at 3:33 pm #

    How did you know I had 1.5 pounds of uneaten grapes on my counter? I’m making a load for medicinal purposes to fight Covid19.

  10. Melisende April 6, 2021 at 7:14 pm #

    Concord gapes and St. George Botanivore were not available in my city so I used so used Sun Red South African Seedless Grapes ( a dark purple grape) and London Dry Gin by Long Table Distillery. Because I was getting 8 cocktails ready, I also completely forgot to add the club soda, however the cocktail was delicious and popular. The grape juice on its own is too intense, but once shaken with ice nd mixed with the other ingredients, it’s perfect.

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