Accidental cocktail: The Western Rambler

Botanist Islay-distilled gin

A couple of weeks ago, while still in Golden, CO, I drove down to a liquor shop in Littleton called “Tipsy’s” upon the recommendation of a fellow camper.  Since we’ve left CA and AZ, we’re out of BevMo territory, and after CO, we’re headed into the kind of places where people just don’t sell a bunch of liquor.  And it’s not that I need a bunch—it’s just that I like some harder to find stuff, which will be even harder to find in the areas we’re around lately.  So anyway.  This place was bigger than BevMo.  And it had a fireplace. And what’s more, it had some bottles of Botanist Gin. I’m usually not a gin girl — though I’ll have a Hendricks martini now and then — the stuff generally tastes to me like I’d imagine drinking perfume would taste. But this stuff had me curious since I first heard of it.  It’s made in Islay — where all my favorite single malt whiskys comes from — at the Bruichladdich distillery (a whisky distillery).  Not to mention that the packaging is just so simple and lovely, and it matches the Airstream. (As a graphic designer, you’d think I’d be immune to that, but it just makes me more of a sucker).  So enough things made me take notice enough to pick up a bottle.  And… I actually liked it.  It’s incredibly clean and floral, and rather sweet.  This photo shows it with an olive, but I think that’s really a wrong choice for this particular gin.

This is a perfect gin and tonic gin.  And also, perfect for a Blackberry Bramble, which I’d never made before, but decided I must, since it was hot, and just sounded so refreshing. Unfortunately, when I rushed out to buy some fresh blackberries, I neglected to notice that the bramble also requires crème de mûre. Not something you can just run out and get in This-Whole-Town-Closes-On-Sundays Town. So I improvised with what I had and came up with a drink that’s so tasty and refreshing we’ve been having it with and without gin on a daily basis.  It’s seriously just as good without the gin. Okay, nearly just as good.

Western Rambler with gin (left) and without (right)

The Western Rambler

4 oz tonic water
1.5 oz. gin (optional)
A handful of fresh blackberries
Juice from one fresh lemon
Simple Syrup (or sugar, if you don’t have any) – to your taste
Mint sprig (optional)

The “I have a real home with all the tools I need” way:
Put the blackberries, lemon juice and simple syrup in the bottom of a glass and muddle until the blackberries are mostly pulverized.  Fill the glass with ice, shake the gin and tonic water with ice, strain over fruit and ice-filled glass and stir. (Or do some better combination of steps). Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The “I travel light and without many tools” way (the way I do it):
Add the tonic water (still room temperature) and sugar to the bottom of a glass and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Add in the lemon juice.  Squish the blackberries through your fingers into the glass (wash hands first!). Add ice and stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint.


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