The Suncatcher: A Riff on the Blueberry Tea Cocktail
Yesterday I shared a drink with you called the Blueberry Tea Cocktail whose aroma and flavor brought to mind blueberries even though there were none in the recipe. It was like pulling a rabbit out of a hat! For my riff on this cocktail I decided to forgo any attempts at magic and actually use blueberries in the drink. What can I say? I have an active imagination but it tends to always be reined in by practicality. Call me a Virgo. I started out with Copper & Vine brandy from Cooper River Distillers made locally right here in Camden, NJ. I’m always happy to use James Yoakum’s products because they’re expertly crafted and have lots of flavor and personality. I’m especially happy these days because I’m going to be working with Cooper River as a brand ambassador and a sales rep in the very near future. The Cooper & Vine is distilled from wine made at Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, NJ that is then aged in rum and rye barrels for about a year. The result is a brandy that’s smooth and warm, with some fruitiness but no sweetness, and just a bit of of the vanilla and oak you’d expect from barrel aging. This is the second cocktail I’m using it in and I love the base it provides for other ingredients. To bring in the blueberry flavor, I chose Element Shrub’s Blueberry Rosemary I wanted tartness over sweetness, and I thought the addition of the rosemary would work well with the oakiness of the brandy. Element Shrub’s products are topnotch and I’m excited to be trying some new flavors in cocktails over the next few weeks. I concentrated next on the sweet component of the drink. I was looking for more of a spice flavor, so I went with Bénédictine rather than an orange liqueur, and a simple syrup made with Orange Pekoe tea and rosemary. Remember that Orange Pekoe tea has nothing to do with oranges; the name refers to leaf size and position on the stem, and the fact that it was once imported for a Dutch royal family called the House of Orange. Fun tea facts. I had the cocktail almost exactly where I wanted it to be but thought it needed just a hint of something else. What do I do when this happens? I reach for the the bitters! Ah, you know me too well. DRAM Apothecary’s Hair of the Dog bitters are a woodsy blend of fennel, cinnamon, and ginger that complemented the Copper & Vine and the Bénédictine perfectly, and accented the rosemary flavors as well. I also loved the fact that these particular bitters are meant to be soothing and a cure for whatever is ailing us. Something about that idea brought me back to the hot toddy concept behind the Blueberry Tea Cocktail. Even though my version is served cold, I felt like it still had a restorative element to it. You can certainly use regular aromatic bitters here, but it won’t be nearly as much fun. DRAM bitters can be purchased at the Art in the Age store if you’re local to the Philadelphia area, or online on DRAM’s website. They make a sampler pack that will give you the opportunity to try all their amazing flavors.
2 oz Cooper River Distillers Copper & Vine brandy
½ oz Bénédictine liqueur
1 oz Element Shrub Blueberry Rosemary*
½ oz Rosemary and Orange Pekoe tea syrup**
1 dash DRAM Apothecary Hair of the Dog bitters
Place the ingredients in the bottom half of a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake for 15-20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with 3 blueberries skewered on a cocktail pick. Enjoy!
*Available locally at MOM’s Organic Market in Cherry Hill, NJ or online through Element Shrub’s website.
**Make an 8 oz cup of Orange Pekoe tea and allow to steep for 5-6 minutes. Add 1/2 cup sugar and heat gently until it’s dissolved. Add a rosemary sprig and seal in a mason jar until cool. Remove the rosemary sprig and store in the fridge for about 2 weeks.