HEROES & HERETICS

Bramble 2.0 – No Experience Necessary

Sometimes you just need to be lucky (I should be so lucky, Lucky, lucky, lucky, I should be so lucky in love). Being in the right place and the right time is all about luck. Yet, the more I practice the luckier I get – (as told by Lee Trevino or Arnold Palmer or a huge list of other people, see here …when he hit a magical iron shot, one that appeared to curve around a tree trunk, duck under branches, soar over a bunker and bite a few feet from the pin. “Signor Trevino,” called a Roman from the gallery, “are you always that lucky?” “Signor,” replied the U.S. Open champion, “the more I practice, the luckier I get.”

It was a dark and dreich night in Newtown, Edinburgh on 15th January 2020. The right place in this case, was stumbling (not literally) into Brambles bar (16a Queen Street, Edinburg EH2 1JE)) after a tip-off at another wonderful bar, called Lucky Liquor (39a Queen Street). We found ourselves at the unveiling of a new cocktail. 

Well, the re-invention of a classic anyway. The Bramble is a blackberry-based cocktail that’s rather simple to make and is nicely balanced in its sweet and sour tones. The cocktail is on its way to modern classic status if it hasn’t already reached it, frequenting more bars than Ernest Hemingway and Oliver Reed combined.

It was a cocktail created by Dick Bradsell in 1984 in London. At the time, Bradsell worked at a bar in Soho called Fred’s Club, and he wanted to create a British cocktail. Memories of going blackberrying in his childhood on the Isle of Wight inspired the Bramble. Dick Bradsell, aka ‘The Cocktail King.’ 

I would describe it as a spring cocktail, the Bramble brings together dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre, and crushed ice. Bradsell also suggests finishing off the cocktail with some fresh red fruits (such as blackberries, cranberries) and a slice of lemon. It closely resembles the popular Gin Fix. The drink is said to take its name from the winding nature that the liqueur takes when it’s poured from the top to the bottom of the glass, as though it were dodging through brambles.

Dick Bradsell was acclaimed for inventing several new cocktails, including the Espresso Martini, the Treacle, the Carol Channing, the Russian Spring Punch and the Wibble. It was reported that Bradsell could rarely enter a bar without an enthusiastic bartender thrusting his version of the (Espresso Martini) drink at him. He was born in England in 1959 and tragically died of a stroke in 2016. The Observer described him as the ‘cocktail king’, while Waitrose Food Illustrated compared him to celebrity chefs and the San Francisco Chronicle credited him with single-handedly (changing) the face of the London cocktails scene in the 1980s.

So, the new version was seen and tasted by my partner in crime (as I was carrying on from an early Whisky tasting and a true professional). Pictures and review as below from the night.

‘The classic Bramble Cocktail. The way the Creme de Mure, when poured, meanders through the crushed ice to meet the Gin giving that deep purple colour and just the right amount of sweetness is to me perfection. 

However, an innovative and exciting new Bramble has arrived. Very different in appearance and the first thing you notice is there’s no ice! Served in a different shaped glass too. A sugar cube in the bottom of the glass slowly dissolves creating a stream of bubbles rising to the surface and releasing the sweet flavour (a bit too sweet for me). The contents of the glass slowly turning to a lovely pink/purple colour… Not obvious though in a dark cocktail bar but impressive and exciting all the same.’

The Classic Bramble Cocktail Recipe

Gin is definitely in high fashion, scores of Gin distilleries have been popping up across the UK in recent years. There are numerous gins on the market all with their flavours and fascinating stories, which gin you use is up to your personal taste.

You will need:

  • Cocktail shaker 
  • Strainer
  • Crushed Ice
  • Old fashioned glass
  • Fresh Blackberries
  • Lemon

Ingredients:

  • 2 shots (50ml) London Dry Gin 
  • 1 shot (25ml) Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 shot Sugar syrup
  • 1/2 shot Creme de Mure

Method:

  1. Pour the Gin, Lemon Juice and sugar syrup into your shaker, half-fill with ice, and shake until ice cold
  2. Strain into an old fashioned rock glass filled with crushed ice
  3. Drizzle the Creme de Mure over the top so it trickles through the ice
  4. Garnish with fresh blackberries and a slice of lemon
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