Since the weather seems very danged determined to keep rolling out those summer temps, I thought I’d tell you about a nice refreshing cocktail that we have been enjoying – The Black Jack. It is made with a delicious blackberry shrub, a little glug of lemon and orange juice, and Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey served with a splash of tonic water over crushed ice. The perfect thing to cool you down while you’re waiting for the season to change!
So what is a shrub? It is not that small ornamental bush out in the yard. Well, technically it is I suppose. The Shrub that I’m referring to is a concentrated syrup which is made by combining fruit, sugar and vinegar. Just between me and you, when I first read about shrubs all I could think about was the Knights Who Say “Ni” of Monty Python fame. In Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail” these knights will not let King Arthur pass unless he brings them a shrubbery as toll. But I suppose I digress…
So shrubs (the drink) have their roots (yeah, I know I said roots, but I am still talking about the drink, not the plant) in England where vinegar was traditionally used to preserve fruit. This practice then arrived in Colonial America with the settlers. Sailors would take shrubs along with them on sea voyages. These fruity elixirs, being full of vitamin C, helped to protect them from scurvy. In no time folks started mixing that vinegary fruit juice with spirits. Pirates were undoubtedly mixing it with rum. (When in doubt, always blame pirates). But then, for some reason shrubs fell out of fashion in the 1800s. Lucky for us, shrubs have recently made a big comeback on the cocktail scene.
Several years ago I planted a blackberry bramble in our yard. His name is Chester and this year he grew quite a lot of blackberries. Not enough to make any preserves, or a pie or anything like that, but it was enough to make several batches of blackberry shrub. It is quite easy to make and in addition to mixing it into a cocktail, it can also be used as a glaze in cooking or to liven up a salad dressing. While I did use Jack Daniels for this creation, I must admit mixing the blackberry shrub with some vodka and a splash of tonic is also quite nice. Of course you can also just mix it with plain ole tonic water, without adding any alcohol at all, though I’m not sure why you’d want to do such a thing. I assure you, the Husband and I have been mixing up the high-test adult beverage versions of this drink. It is deee-lish! On any given night , you might be able to find us out sitting on the porch, toasting to each others health and the much wished for yet slow to arrive Fall temperatures with a hardy heartfelt “Ni!”
Black Jack Cocktail
recipe adapted from: Today Show
For the Blackberry Shrub:
- 4 cups blackberries
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 pinch kosher salt
For the Cocktail:
- 1 1/2 ounces Jack Daniels
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 ounce blackberry shrub
- Fever Tree Refreshingly light Tonic Water
- crushed ice
- fresh mint for garnish
Prepare the shrub: Place blackberries in a nonmetal bowl. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir well and cover with plastic wrap. Place mixture in the refrigerator and let it sit for 2 days.
Transfer the berry mixture to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Allow it to cook for 10 minutes or so, skimming away any foam that should form.
Strain the berry mixture through a fine-meshed sieve, pressing any remaining berries against the sieve to extract as much juice as possible. Discard any remaining solids. Store shrub in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. This makes approximately 1 quart of concentrate.
For the Cocktail: Combine the Jack Daniels, lemon & orange juices along with the blackberry shrub in an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake it up until it is chilled and thoroughly combined. Strain over cocktail glasses filled with crushed ice. Fill glass 1/2 way and then top with tonic water. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.
Black Jack Cocktail brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Black Jack Cocktail: