The Bramble

Photo courtesy of aida mollenkamp, some rights reserved.

The Bramble stands somewhat alone as arguably the most successful creation of the cocktail dark ages of the 1980s.  This, in my view, is closely related to the fact that unlike many concoctions of that era, the Bramble is not garishly couloured, hideously sweet and does not have a name a schoolboy would titter at.

To that extent then, the Bramble is the atypical eighties cocktail, and it is therefore no stretch to say that the classic nature of its composition has contributed to its longevity.

Foolishly in my early days as a dipsologist I was led to believe that the drink was named for the bar of the same name in Edinburgh, rather than the bar being named for the drink.  As much as I wish this to be true, I have subsequently learnt that the drink was born at Fred’s Club, Soho, London in the mid-1980s, and was the child of ‘cocktail king’ Dick Bradsell.

The Bramble benefits from a clean, crisp and berry-heavy nature, and is effectively a simple Gin Fix with the addition of a decorative swirl of blackberry liqueur.

To make The Bramble:

  1. Add a large measure of (dry) gin, a measure of lemon juice and half a measure of sugar syrup to a shaker of ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a rocks glass of crushed ice.
  3. Drizzle half a measure of creme de mure over the built drink and garnish with some blackberries and a slice of lemon.
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The Cosmopolitan

Photo courtesy of quinn.anya, some rights reserved.

The Cosmopolitan was introduced to a generation of young women as Carrie Bradshaw’s drink of choice, but before it found fame on the Upper East Side, it had its beginnings in the mid-1980s as a pretty pink (and easy-drinking) alternative to the Martini for those who wanted the glamour of drinking from a martini glass, but weren’t fans of the eponymous drink itself.  As a result, the “Cosmo” gets a lot of bad press among ‘serious’ cocktail writers who dismiss it as a cocktail for people who don’t like cocktails.

The Cosmopolitan is now usually listed as one of the ‘sours’ family of cocktails, alongside the Margarita (which replaces vodka with tequila), and the Kamikaze (which excludes the cranberry juice).  In many ways therefore, it is a useful gateway drink to a world of cocktail discovery, and it is certainly more popular in my house than a large number of ‘more serious’ drinks.

The other side to that coin is that the drink has started to become a victim of its own success.  In its celebrity champion’s own words:

Miranda: “Why did we ever stop drinking these?”

Carrie: “’Cos everyone else started.”

By the time Sex and the City had reached its peak, the Cosmopolitan was found on every basic cocktail menu around the world.  This spawned a world of below par Cosmos that suffered from the use of cheap ingredients, sour mix and an over-reliance on too much cranberry juice.

I was always taught that a Cosmopolitan should be mostly vodka, with considerably less triple sec and cranberry juice, and consequently follow a 2:1:1 ratio.  If you’re looking for something a little easier on the palate, don’t move further than a 1:1:1.5 ratio:

  1. Pour a large measure of vodka, a measure of cranberry juice and a measure of triple sec into a shaker of ice.
  2. Add the juice of half a lime and a dash or two of orange bitters.
  3. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a flamed twist of orange.
Citrus vodka works best if you have it, and a wedge of lime perched on the edge of the glass is also acceptable in place of the twist of orange but not nearly as much fun.

If you’re looking for a more grown up version of the Cosmpolitan, you could do worse than mix yourself a Xanadu Fancy – a drink that I discovered on the menu of the much lamented Raconteur Bar in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge neighbourhood:

  1. Add a large measure of vodka, a measure of aperol, orgeat, fresh lime juice and cranberry juice to a shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker 2/3 full of ice and shake hard for twenty seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled martini glass
  4. Garnish with a flamed twist of orange.