Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by the US Highbush Blueberry Council.
Recipes and ideas are my own.

The time you spend making cocktails during holiday time should be greatly less than the time spent on enjoying them with friends and loved ones. During this season (roughly September through early January now), I am a huge fan of big batched cocktails. So this week, with just a few days left before Thanksgiving descends upon us, I’ve brought out a little help from my favorite berry to mix up something tasty for you all. No, not the cranberry, the blueberry.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comWe are a family that consumes blueberries in very large quantities. If you ask my kid what is her favorite food, or pretty much what her favorite anything is (she’s two and is still working out the intricacies of the English language), she will say blueberries. We are lucky here in Southern California that we can get them at the market for a selfishly long time, and then when those are gone, we hit up the frozen section. Going without them is just not an option. Blueberries have a lovely balance of sweetness and sour that is always key in a good cocktail. Pair them with your cheeseboard, drink this with the main meal, or just enjoy it after all your guests finally leave. It’s up to you, but, really, this works anytime.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis cocktail combines blueberries, maple syrup, lemons, and sparkling wine for a super easy to make and party pleasing cocktail. I love this recipe for two reasons. One, it’s easy to batch and the base will keep for some time. And two, that leftover syrup makes for some darn tasty pancake topping. Score!

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comFor my cocktail recipe and lots more blueberry holiday inspiration, please visit the US Highbush Blueberry Council here.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com



Blueberry Basil Smash or, how I stopped worrying and just made a damn cocktail

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.comDo you ever look over a cocktail recipe and think to yourself, this is too intimidating? Or maybe, I have no idea what any of these ingredients are! Sorry, I’m sure looking through this site some of you may have had those exact reactions. Although I like to challenge myself, because challenges build character or whatever, sometimes I just want something I can throw together and still think it looks delicious but wasn’t a hassle to make.

Sometimes I need to stop over-thinking these recipes.

This past weekend I challenged myself waaaaaay out of my comfort zone and went away for a few days to a food blogger conference (Big Traveling Potluck). Just so all of you cocktail bloggers know, we are under the vast umbrella that is food blogging (so if you get the chance, GO). Also, when you attend these things, chances are there isn’t another one of you around; you get to feel special in this weird, incestuous, high school-like cliquish group. I may be overstating that sentiment, but it’s close.

After getting over the initial I-don’t-know-anyone-here anxiety, people will just inherently feel pity on you and strike up a conversation. But the following day you can get over yourself and start having real conversations with people who all share the same passion and business questions you do. You can talk about blogging without wondering if the other person thinks you’re a hack or ask questions about CPCs and other acronyms that you’ve already forgotten what they stand for. What struck me as funny, was that there was this underlying anxiety everyone wanted to share: to slow down, give yourself some air to not feel in competition with the THOUSANDS of other people vying for the same internet space; but no one had any kind of answer. Regardless of what you were blogging about, there is always someone else you think you need to beat. Thinking about this sucks the fun out of creating for your site (at least for me…maybe you dig it).

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.comAfter 3 days there I abruptly felt like I had been given my own answer: get out of your headspace and just make a damn drink. If your content speaks to people, they will read it regardless of whether it’s complicated or not. And if you’re not happy with what you did, don’t publish it. Move on to something else.

This conference may have been a tad more personal than some of the larger ones out there. There was probably way more crying (in public) and more opportunities to talk one-on-one with everyone, but for me, it helped clear out some mental blocks that I had been dealing with lately. I’m not seeking out challenges with any regularity, but I find that conquering one at least every once in awhile gets me motivated again.

Also, I appreciate you guys for visiting this site.

So, onto the drink. Basil and blueberries are not an uncommon flavor duo, and frankly, you could probably do an internet search and find some similar recipes. However, today this is what I felt like sharing with you all and what I wanted to make with ingredients not uncommon, and definitely readily available. I also wanted to make a good-looking garnish; I can never leave well-enough alone.

4-6 basil leaves
small handful of blueberries (like, 10 or so)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (more or less to taste)
3 ounces gin, Citadelle Reserve used here*

Garnish: 3 blueberries, 2 basil leaves, lemon zest

  • In the bottom of a double rocks glass, muddle basil, blueberries, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add about an inch of ice, stir, and add gin. Fill glass with more crushed ice. Zest lemon on top of ice and garnish with blueberries and basil leaves on a cocktail pick. Straw is optional.

Basil and lemons florals for the initial aroma. There’s a nice sourness to this that is picked up from the lemon and blueberries. The basil is subtle, but present, adding earthy, vegetal qualities while the gin adds a kick of flavor from the barrel aging. The rich, spicy gin brings the “lightness” of the other ingredients down a bit making the cocktail more robust.

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.