I thought it would a fun challenge to create three summer berry cocktails – one red, one white and one blue – for the 4th of July. So I went out and bought every type of berry I could- raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries- along with white cherries and got to work.
July is National Berry Month and right now all these berries are super sweet and very affordable, even the organic ones from Driscoll, a huge family owned berry company in central California. Besides being delicious, berries are one of nature’s superfoods. They’re low in calories and packed with Vitamin C, fiber and all sorts of antioxidants, plant substances that fight ailments like cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure. Studies have shown that the purplish-blue hue of blueberries and blackberries means they have particular helpful plant chemicals, while red berries like strawberries and raspberries are loaded with other good antioxidants.
The RED cocktail is a Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade that started with a simple syrup flavored with fresh rosemary from my garden mixed with juice from fresh organic strawberries. It’s easier if you have a juicer, but if you don’t just puree the berries in a blender and strain. Once you’ve created this syrup, you’ll find it useful as a base for all manner of drinks or to drizzle over vanilla ice cream. Start with 1.5 ounces of Strawberry Rosemary Syrup and, according to your taste:
- Mix with sparkling water for a tangy Italian style soda
- Add regular water for lemonade
- Add water and freeze the lemonade to make popsicles.
- Drizzle it into a glass of champagne or sparkling wine
- Mix with 2 ounces gin, vodka or white rum and shake over ice to create a martini
- Blend with 2 ounces tequila and ice to make an unforgettable margarita
Strawberry Rosemary Lemonade
Makes 3 cups syrup
1 cup fresh strawberry juice
1 cup lemon and/or lime juice
1 cup Rosemary Syrup (see below)
Combine the strawberry juice with the lime or lemon juice and the Rosemary Syrup. Pour into a clean bottle and cap. Syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. To make Rosemary Syrup, mix two cups water with one cup granulated sugar in a pot over medium heat. Bring it to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add needles from 4 sprigs fresh rosemary and simmer for a couple minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the syrup.
The WHITE cocktail is a White Elderflower Berry Sangria that’s spiked with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur made from these fragrant white flowers that bloom in the French Alps and every berry I could find. The bitters add a note of complexity while the lemon juice keeps it from being too sweet. The secret to good sangria is time. The fruit needs time to sit in the liqueur and absorb its flavors and vice versa, so if at all possible, start your sangria the day before you plan to serve it.
White Elderflower Berry Sangria
Makes 6 servings
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1 cup white cherries, halved and pitted
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1 cup St. Germain White Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 cup gin or vodka
1/4 cup orange liqueur like Cointreau
1/4 cup Homemade Sour Mix (see Recipes page)
2 teaspoons orange bitters
1 bottle brut sparkling wine, well-chilled
handful fresh mint, torn
Add the strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries and blackberries to a large pitcher. Top with the St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, gin or vodka and orange liqueur. Let sit for a few hours in the refrigerator or overnight if possible. Or if you’re in a hurry, add the sour mix, orange bitters and sparkling wine to the pitcher. Add a cup of crushed ice. Top with the freshly torn mint and serve by ladling some fruit into each glass and then pouring sangria on top.
The BLUE drink isn’t technically blue as that shade really doesn’t exist in nature. The Blue Basil Fizz is more of an inky purple thanks to all those antioxidants in blackberries and blueberries. These berries shine when mixed with Chambord black raspberry liqueur imported from France and muddled with fresh basil. Top it off with prosecco, the light sparkling wine from Italy for the refreshing fizz.
Blue Basil Fizz
Makes 1 cocktail
3 leaves basil
splash Homemade Sour Mix (see Recipes page)
1 ounce Chambord
3 to 4 ounces prosecco, well chilled
sprig basil for garnish
drinking straw (optional)
In a heavy pint glass or mixing glass, add the blueberries, blackberries, basil and Homemade Sour Mix. Muddle until the mixture is very pulpy and fragrant. Pour it into a tall Collins style glass. Add the Chambord and fill three-quarters with ice. Top off with prosecco and garnish with the sprig of basil and a straw.
Cocktails created by Maria Hunt aka The Bubbly Girl, author of The Bubbly Bar: Champagne & Sparkling Wine Cocktails for Every Occasion on Amazon.com