Drinks

Bramble

Bramble. Beitragsbild.© Le Lion - Swetlana Holz.

Dick Bradsell’s Bramble is a great, fruity take on a gin fix and a neo-classic that is deservedly on many bar menus.

50 ml Hayman’s Royal Dock gin
20 ml lemon juice
5 ml sugar syrup
20 ml Cartron crème de mûre
Blackberries as garnish

Preparation: Pour gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup into a guest glass over crushed ice, stir well. Top up with crushed ice and float with blackberry liqueur. Garnish with blackberries.

The Bramble can be classified as a fix and is based on other classic predecessors. In his “Bartender Guide” from 1862, Jerry Thomas describes how to make a fix: [2] [3]

Gin Fix. Jerry Thomas, 1862.

(use small bar glass.)
1 table-spoonful of sugar.
1/4 of a lemon.
1/2 a wine-glass of water.
1 do. gin
Fill two-thirds full of shaved ice. Stir with a spoon,
and ornament the top with fruits in season.

Here the berry is still missing, and in 1887 Jerry Thomas prepares his gin fix as follows:

Gin Fix. Jerry Thomas, 1887.

(use small bar glass.)
Take 1 large tea-spoonful of powdered white sugar
dissolved in a little water.
2 dashes of Raspberry syrup.
The juice of a quarter of a lemon.
1 wine-glass of Holland gin.
Fill up the glass two-thirds full of shaved ice, stir
thoroughly, and ornament the top with berries in
season. Old Tom gin may be used if preferred.

Throughout the decades there have been variations of the fix, [2] [3] for example also the Canadian Blackberry Fix from the 1960s, which corresponds to the Bramble, with the difference that Canadian whiskey is used instead of gin. [2]

It is very interesting, however, that Jacques Straub published the blueprint for a Bramble in his 1913 book “A Complete Manual of Mixing Drinks”: [9]

Gin Daisy. Jacques Straub, 1913.

Juice 1/2 Lemon.
1 Jigger Gin.
1/2 Jigger Raspberry Syrup.
In Goblet Fine Ice.
Fruits.

Dick Bradsell, on the other hand, claims that his Bramble is based on a Singapoore Sling, as he would have made them at the Zanzibar. This was made with gin, lemon, sugar in a tall glass with soda and topped with crème de mûre and Bénédictine. [1] [4] [5]

He created it at Fred’s Club in Soho and was inspired by the fresh blackberries he snacked on as a child. It is unclear when the drink was created. Some sources speak of the mid-1980s, others get more specific and mention 1984, or alternatively 1991 or 1992. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] However, since Fred’s Club only opened in 1987, 1991 or 1992 seems most accurate. [6]

Bramble is the name for a blackberry bush. [4] At the time, an importer of liqueurs insisted on tasting his liqueurs. Dick Bradsell remembers that they were liqueurs from Cave de Bissey. Dick first refused, saying that they already had other good brands; at that time they used Marie Brizard. But finally he gave in and tried the blackberry liqueur. He immediately felt transported back to his childhood on the Isle of Wight, when he went blackberry picking and was stung by blackberry thorns: [4] [6]

„And, immediately, I had my “madeleine moment”. I was back in my childhood on the Isle of Wight, going blackberrying, and being pricked by the brambles, and picking only the topmost fruit – you don’t eat the bottom ones, of course. During carnival time on the Isle of Wight, we were all covered in tiny scratches from the brambles and bright purple from the blackberry juice.“ [4]

At that moment, the desire to create a British cocktail arose in him. His first thoughts were gin, sugar syrup and lemon juice, but neither are really English. So he took a sour as a base, added blackberry liqueur, shook it and tried it in a Martini glass. But it wasn’t really successful: [4]

„So I made it again. And this time I put it in my favourite glass, which is a small old-fashioned: we loved those Mai-Tai glasses, and we had plenty at Fred’s. I put crushed ice into a small old-fashioned in a volcano shape, and poured the lemon juice mix in it. I dropped two little straws in it, and decided that this volcano shape looked rather nice, so I placed a raspberry on top of it and drizzled mûre around it. Not too much mûre, of course: the drink has got to balance. That’s the art of The Bramble: to include enough lemon to balance the mûre. Why was it a raspberry? Because I didn’t have any blackberries. Fruits weren’t as available in those days.“ [4]

For reasons he could no longer remember in 2001, he wanted to create a truly British drink. He was unable to do so because he could not find an acceptable British blackberry liqueur, and of course lemons are not native to Britain. In Dick Bradsell’s opinion, the drink is also so successful because it is simple. It’s basically a gin sour with blackberry. [4]

A drink called Bramble has been published before, in 1965 in “The U.K.B.G. Guide to Drinks”. There it is a mixture of Scotch whiskey with lime juice and ginger ale. This mixture is said to have been particularly popular in Glasgow. [8]

On youtube Dick Bradsell shows how he prepares his Bramble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuP3YWHnBk8

Sources
  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuP3YWHnBk8: Dick Bradsell and his Bramble.
  2. https://sites.google.com/site/bourbongeorge/cocktails/the-bramble: The Bramble. By George Sinclair.
  3. http://cocktailmusings.com/2010/10/the-bramble/: The Bramble. By Erich Empey, 18. October 2010.
  4. https://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/recipe/305/bramble: Bramble.
  5. Tristan Stephenson: The Curious Bartender. The Artistry and Alchemy of Creating the Perfect Cocktail. ISBN 978-1-84975-437-8. Ryland Peters & Small, London, New York, 2013.
  6. Robert Simonsson: A Proper Drink. ISBN 978-1-60774-754-3. Ten Speed, 2016.
  7. Anonymus: Anatomy of a Drink: Bramble. In: Imbibe, issue 60, march/April 2016, Page 20.
  8. Anonymus: The U.K.B.G. Guide to Drinks. 4. Auflage. London, United Kingdom Bartenders‘ Guild, 1965. Page 158.
  9. Jacques Straub: A Complete Manual of Mixed Drinks For All Occasions. This book contains over 675 clear and accurate directions for mixing all kinds of popular and fancy drinks, served in the best hotels, clubs, buffets, bars and homes. Added to this there is a splendid introduction on wines, their medicinal value, when and how to serve them, kinds and styles of glasses to use and other valuable information and facts of great importance to every user of wines and liquors. Chicago, R. Francis Welsh Publishing Co., 1913.

Recipes

1965 Anonymus: The U.K.B.G. Guide to Drinks. Seite 158. Bramble.

Scotland recommends the following, which is particularly popular in
Glasgow:

1 oz. Lime Juice 1 oz. Scotch Whisky Top up with ginger ale
Decorate with slices or orange and lemon.

Dick Bradsell on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuP3YWHnBk8: 2 oz („shots“) gin, 25 ml lemon juice, 1 cl (?) („2 barspoons“) sugar syrup, laze with cremé de mûre.

https://sites.google.com/site/bourbongeorge/cocktails/the-bramble: The Bramble. Von George Sinclair. Bramble (“that is the way Dick Bradsell showed me how to make them”) . 1 1/2 shots Plymouth Gin; 3/4 shot fresh lemon juice; 1/2 shot sugar syrup; Build over crushed ice, in a whisky glass. Stir, then pour over 3/4 shot of cremé de mûre; garnish with a lemon slice and two raspberries.

https://sites.google.com/site/bourbongeorge/cocktails/the-bramble: The Bramble. Von George Sinclair. Bramble. The “other” recipe. 50ml Gin; 25ml Fresh Lemon Juice; 1/2 shot sugar syrup; Build over crushed ice, in a tall glass. Stir, then pour over 1 shot of cremé de mûre; garnish with a lemon slice and a blackberry.

https://www.diffordsguide.com/cocktails/recipe/305/bramble: 2 shots Gin; 1 1/2 shots Freshly squeezed lemon juice; 1/2 shot Sugar syrup; 1 shot crème de mûre.

2004 Douglas Ankrah: Shaken & Stirred. Seite 59. Bramble. For 2 Highball glasses: 100 ml Plymouth or Tanqueray No. 10 gin; 50 ml lemon juice; 50 ml gomme syrup; 25 ml crème de mûre; garnish: blackberries.

2011 Helmut Adam, Jens Hasenbein, Bastian Heuser: Cocktailian 1. Seite 380. Bramble. 5 cl Gin; 3 cl Zitronensaft; 1,5 cl Zuckersirup; 1 cl Brombeerlikör; Garnitur: Brombeere, Zitronenschnitz.

2012 Tom Sandham: World’s Best Cocktails. Seite 77. Bramble. 50 ml gin; 25 ml lemon juice; 3 teaspoons sugar syrup; crème de mûre; garnish: blackberry & lemon wedge.

2013 Tristan Stephenson: The Curious Bartender. Seite 89. Bramble. 40 ml Tanqueray gin; 20 ml lemon juice; 10 ml sugar syrup; 15 ml crème de mûre; garnish: blackberries or raspberries.

2016 André Darlington & Tenaya Darlington: The New Cocktail Hour. Seite 178. Bramble. 45 ml gin (Plymouth); 22 ml crème de mûre or crème de cassis; 22 ml lemon juice; 15 ml simple syrup; garnich: 3 blackberries, lemon twist.

2016 Robert Simonson: A Proper Drink. Seite 31. Bramble. 2 ounces gin; 3/4 ounce lemon juice; 1/2 ounce simple syrup; 1/2 ounce crème de mûre; garnish: blackberry, lemon wedge.

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About

Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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