When we moved to Portland, we were ready for a lot of great things: wine, coffee, mountains and ocean within an easy drive. What we did not know about was the berries. Oh man, the berries here are like nothing else. Hood strawberries, boisenberries, marionberries, blueberries – and my personal favorite – black raspberries (also called black caps).
This morning, I took my two youngest berry picking while my oldest was at camp. Although we didn’t pick too much before heat and tiredness forced us to cash out, we ended up with about four cups of black raspberries, which was the perfect amount for this sweet, summery cocktail.
Black Raspberry Basil Cocktail (makes 2)
1 cup lemonade
3 ounces vodka
1.5 ounces black raspberry basil syrup (recipe follows)
Squeeze of lemon
Mix all ingredients together. Serve over ice.
Black Raspberry Basil Syrup
Inspired by recipes from the Blue Book Guide to Preserving
4 cups black raspberries
1 cup loosely packed, very roughly chopped basil
3 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Mash black raspberries and combine with 1 cup of water in a medium sauce pot. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the basil and simmer for an additional two minutes.
Strain the black raspberry mixture by placing it in a fine-meshed strainer set atop a medium mixing bowl. Occasionally stir the mixture. After about 30 minutes, you should get roughly 1.5 cups of juice.
Meanwhile, make a simple syrup by bringing the remaining two cups of water and the sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pot over medium high heat. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 230 degrees. (This will probably take at least 20 minutes.)
Add the juice to the simple syrup, and boil for 5 minutes. (Be sure to stir nearly constantly, to avoid boiling over.) At the end of 5 minutes, turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
At this point, you can decide whether to freeze or can. If canning, leave 1/4 inch headspace and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. It will make about 24 ounces of syrup. If freezing, put them in ice cube trays and then store in an air-tight container.
I used these super cute 4 oz Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars (affiliate link) and then put the extra in a jar I previously used for strawberry syrup. The jars will make good gifts if I can stand to part with them.
The syrup also works great with just lemonade. I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it would also taste great with Proseco.