When I was growing up and it was blueberry season, my mom would make a dessert called a blueberry buckle. I no longer have the original recipe because we lost it somewhere along the way, but it was very similar to other blueberry buckles that I’ve been able to find online. The batter had lemon peel in it and there was a brown sugar cinnamon spice topping that finished the whole thing off. Prime time for blueberries in NJ runs the entire month of July right into the first week of August, so this particular dessert became synonymous with summer for me. Even now when I think of it, I cannot help but remember family barbecues, 4th of July celebrations, and hardshell crab Friday nights where the blueberry buckle was the much anticipated dessert. Like many of my mom’s recipes, this one was written in her handwriting on a piece of looseleaf paper that had been folded a thousand times. It had been passed on to her from “the cousins in Ohio,” seemingly mythical relatives that I never laid eyes on, but were somehow responsible for a fair number of our family recipes, especially those that involved baking.
For today’s drink, I wanted to create a cocktail version of that blueberry buckle that revolved around Element Shrub’s Blueberry Rosemary, which I picked up along with the fresh curry leaves at Mom’s Organic Market. I decided to go with Plymouth gin as my base spirit because it has nice citrus notes and was mild enough to allow the shrub to really shine through. Meyer lemons are available at the moment and I thought they were perfect for the actual citrus component of this drink because their flavor is less tart and more rounded, like what you’d find in a baked good that had lemon peel in it. To further intensify the lemon flavor I made a Meyer lemon peel simple syrup, and to bring in that streusel topping I had a few options, but the one that I liked the best was Dolin’s Genepy des Alpes. It has just a hint of warm spice without being too much, and its distinct herbal streak helped bring out the rosemary in the shrub. The final result was a very refreshing, dangerously easy to drink cocktail that echoed the flavors of that buckle and brought me back to summertime memories on an overcast day in February.
Lemon Blueberry Buckle
Combine all the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for about 20 seconds until cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel and blueberries on a cocktail skewer. Enjoy!
*Dissolve equal parts water and sugar in a pan, heating gently until the liquid is clear. Pour into a mason jar, add Meyer lemon peels and seal. Let steep until cool and then remove the peels. Store in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.