I met the wonderful Kevin at Tales of the Cocktail, though I’ve been reading Save the drinkers for quite a while now. I wish I had more of a chance to chat, but Tales is a hard mistress. He’s hosting this Month’s MxMo — Local flavor. We’re neighbors: Kevin’s over in Idaho and I’m here in Oregon.
Summer means many things in Portland: Block Parties, River boating, Festivals. It also means Berries. Though not botanically berries1 , I will not let semantics get in the way of the berry orgy of summer. Blackberries, Boysenberries, Blueberries, Marionberries. Yum.
Now this is not virgin ground I tread on. The common love of summer berries is wide in portland and naturally many more have gone before me. Yes, great minds think alike and fools seldom differ.
Sauvie Island. It sits in the Willamette mere yards from Portland proper. It’s a destination for nude beach sun worshipers, niche landscapers and fans of produce. Kruger farms has a gorgeous u-pick farm that Heather and I frequent as much as possible each summer. They have bands every Thursday, BBQ on the weekends and rows and rows of delicious summer berries.
Heather and I recently went picking. I for this month’s MxMo, she for jam and pickles. We’ve been Jamming for about eleven years since we lived in Petaluma where our house had an out-of-control Himalaya blackberry bush that over produced. We have to put up jars of jam each year to satisfy the yearly appetite of our family and friends.
Strolling through the vineyards at Kruger on a temperate Saturday is a summer Portland Experience. I have to admit an occasional taste test as we picked – I hope that’s not too frowned apon. With the standard Blackberry, we also picked the long compact Kotataberry (a blackberry varietal), and the upward-growing thorn-free Waldoberry (another blackberry varietal). Blueberries are also a must after the success of our Blueberry-lime jam. I think there might be angry villagers with torches if we fail to get that out for Christmas presents.
So, what’s a mixologist to do with these gorgeous berries? I get crap all the time from some people for the rum-heavy nature of my posts. I’ve also done rum and blackberry before. I wouldn’t dare to think of hiding the delicate flavors of these berries with rum. Vodka would be far too insipid for mixing. Gin? Yes, gin. Aviation Gin2 to be precice. Aviation has a citrus body that I feel mixes well with berries.3
I’ve always loved the illustration for the Julep in Jerry Thomas’s Bon Vivant’s Companion. The bouquet of mint and berries dusted with powdered sugar delights me. You can take the rum out of the Tiki mixologist, but you can’t take the garnish lover out of the … never mind. I get enough crap out of my Rum fixation, I don’t need to give any more ammunition for the simpering anti-garnishers so they can poo-poo as they clutch their pearls.4
So I present to you the Summer Berry Smash. Berries, vanilla, mint, lemon and Gin: A taste of Portland in the Summer. A taste of my Summer. Close your eyes and enjoy. It will soon be raining again.
Summer Berry Smash
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz vanilla syrup
8-10 Oregon Blackberries (I used Waldoberries & Kotataberries)
10-12 Oregon Blueberries
10 mint Leaves
2 oz Aviation Gin
Muddle mint softly with small shot of charged water in mixing glass. Add slice lemon and berries and muddle again. Add ice, Gin, Syrup, and Lemon juice and shake. Strain into pint glass filled with crushed ice and top with Charged water and stir. Garnish with bouquet of mint, lemon wheel, orange wheel and whole berries. Top with a dusting of powdered sugar.
- Don’t get me started: tecnhically, the cane berries we’re fond of are actually aggregate drupes. Blueberries are false berries, similar to the pepo of cucumbers and bananas. This is style of fruit, not genetic family [↩]
- also a local product of House Spirits [↩]
- others agree [↩]
- Notice the pursed mouths and the attitudes the next time one of them goes on their rants, as is their wont [↩]