Spring is well underway here in East Texas. On a walk yesterday, I noticed the blackberry bushes are in full bloom. Soon berries will replace the blooms. In the 1950s, when I was young -like grammar school young – this was a really big deal. I would head for the “bottoms” along the creek on our place in South Carolina to gather the berries. I’m not sure bug repellant had been invented back then, but I am sure we didn’t have any. One knew one would be in misery from chigger bites.
If you haven’t experienced chiggers, imagine tiny invisible insects burrowing into your exposed skin every few inches. Then imagine small welts that itch like nothing else. Mosquito bites are nothing compared to these things. But, the wild blackberries were well worth it.
At that point in my life, the berries typically went into a cobbler. Now that I am well over 21, I’ve found that wild blackberries are excellent in cocktails. Last year I made a Texas wild blackberry martini. Yes, I am well aware of all the new variations on the original martini and have actually tried a number of them. This doesn’t make me a mixologist, but I have tasted my share of drinks and know a good one.
Wild Blackberry Martini
Texas blackberries demand Texas accompaniments. I used:
- 2 ounces wild Texas blackberry infused Titos Vodka (Recipe Follows)
- 1/4 -3/4 tablespoon Wild Local Honey Syrup (Recipe Follows)
Shake the mixture with ice and strain into a martini glass. Enjoy.
Wild Blackberry Infused Vodka
- 750 mL bottle of Tito’s Handmade Vodka
- 1/2 cup wild blackberries, preferable from Texas forests
Just crush the berries a little in a jar, pour the vodka over them, seal the jar, and refrigerate for two weeks. Then strain the vodka, and it is ready. I used a quart-sized Mason jar, but there are special jars on the market used for infusing vodka.
Wild Local Honey Syrup
Wild blackberries are tart; they are not as sweet as farm grown berries. So, a little balance is needed. I used a half-tablespoon of Wild Honey Syrup. The recipe is simple. It is also great over vanilla ice cream or toast.
- ½ cup of water
- 1/3 cup wild honey, preferably from bees that have access to wild blackberries!
- Juice of ½ lemon
Simmer the ingredients over medium heat until slightly thickened, about three minutes. Pour into a glass container and refrigerate.