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3 Boozy Blackberry Bevs: Do Bartenders Forage For Fabulous Fruit?

"The professional bartender has the convenience of a daily fresh produce delivery to the restaurant or bar room door." ~ Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Picking Blackberries


One skill I acquired by putting myself through a finance program was bartending. Bartending in a significant city empowers the creative ones to up their game on boozy bevs. I remember using vodka to infuse pineapples and cucumbers in giant glass crocks around the bar. We would work with chefs to build a recipe that complemented the daily specials. After 10-30 days of submersion of those decadent beauties, and we used them to round out the cocktail recipe. Back then, my alarm rang at 3:45 am each morning, and I rolled out of bed, threw on my suit, and headed down to the Pacific Options Exchange for work. During the week, I was training in risk management and operations, studying for my Series 7 & 24 Traders Licenses.

As a career backstop, I would spend at least one or two nights bartending, honing my creativity in a glass full of artisanal ice and fermented fruit. Tools were another key to success in the bar game, it was essential to have only the best strainers, shakers, and mix kits to boot. Forgetting not to mention having to learn wines and the regions they grew in. When I leveled up in financial technology, I left bartending with a deep knowledge of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and mixology skills because hand-crafted cocktails weren’t yet part of the narrative.

Hand-Crafted Cocktails

Today, bars and restaurants can access excellent fresh produce and chlorine-free ice. Cocktails and bartending are an art and always have been, in my eyes. Some bartenders go beyond the produce delivery truck, foraging for the perfect accompaniment to the chef’s daily menu. It is imperative to build a symbiosis between food and beverage. A good bartender will prime the taste buds for that dish being prepared in the kitchen.

The hand-crafted cocktail is the prelude to the symphony of flavors on the plate. It may sound hokey, but aligning flavor profiles with the kitchen is vital. Foraging can mean finding a farm where U-pick the berries or other fruits in a limited format. Sometimes, we pull from the wild in environmentally safe places around the local area to access exotic fruit varietals. Wineries and local farms are great places to hunt down that heirloom peach on the back hill or organic strawberries from the periphery of the vineyard or planting field. They, too, create a symbiotic relationship between food and beverage on site.

Foraging Blackberries


Some cocktail creations go more profound, The Wild Crafted Cocktail by Ellen Zachos teaches the use of Sumac in soda and chanterelle mushroom syrup. They are just two of the exotic flavors in her book. Some bartenders will go to lengths to connect with local growers and contract a cultivar of local heritage for their bar. People are using plants readily found on local fields and roadsides to build unique layers of flavor into legacy cocktails from days past.

Can you imagine being a bartender, pulling off the side of the road for some wild Sumac? Or, driving onto a farmer’s field to tap into a random supply of elderberry for syrup making? Now, it is harvest season for blackberries, and bartenders prowl for wild brambles of enmeshed thorn-laden pricker bushes, holding the key to their next creation. Each varietal has its unique flavor and flesh profile. When muddled in a glass with citrus, vanilla, and a hint of rosemary - those flavors explode in your mouth.

3 Blackberry Boozy Bev Ideas

Barry’s Lemon-Lime

Description: A handmade 0% ABV refreshing hand-muddled mocktail crafted with Meyer lemons, organic sugar, “Sweetie Pie” Blackberries, and a touch of vanilla bean. Shaken and strained into a martini glass.

Blackberry Lemonade

The Blackberry Maggie

Description: A refreshingly hand-crafted 1-3 year aged Añejo Tequila, a beverage crafted with fresh lime and zest, a drizzle of Agave syrup, 4 Blackberries, one leaf of cilantro, and a touch of Maldon Sea Salt. Shaken and strained into a bucket glass and a float of Grand Marnier. Gently moisten the rim with fresh citrus, roll through Tajin, and serve chilled.

Blackberry Margarita

Ella’s Bramble Tonic

Description: A distinct Gin cocktail with 45% ABV, muddled blackberries, a spring of

rosemary, the juice of one lime, a splash of orange zest, and one pint of artisanal tonic water. Muddle and strain ingredients into a tall cocktail glass with ice. Gently pour over the tonic, adding a lime wheel and rosemary sprig for garnish.

Bartender pouring cocktails


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