Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bramble Ale

The holiday season can sure be a busy one! Both Joe and myself found our respective selves preoccupied beyond the point of making a blog post feasible!

With great effort, however, we brought our "Holiday Hiatus" to a conclusion and have returned with many a great recipe lined up for your reading and drinking pleasure!

Our first offering for "Twenty-Eleven," (its way cooler to call it "twenty-eleven" I am told!) is The Bramble Ale. Enjoy!

The Recipe:
into a cocktail shaker full of ice add:

- A 4 count of Bombay Gin,
- A 2 Count of Cointreau,
- A 2 count of current "bar-star" Ribena Blackcurrant,
- The juice squozen freshly from 1/2 of a large lemon,

- Shake to living daylights outta that thing,
- Strain over fresh ice,

- Top with soda,

- Garnish with a slice of lemon and maybe a maraschino cherry.

Joe's notes: The Bramble Ale is our variation on the classic English cocktail, The Bramble. As creme de mure (blackberry liqueur) is not so readily available on these shores, I have chosen to go with Ribena.

Now I know what you are saying. Ribena is blackcurrant, not blackberry and it also contains no alcohol. But I believe that the addition of cointreau not only makes up for the lack of alcohol in Ribena it also adds a very nice flavor combination.

Those of you that are regular readers of this blog probably realize by now that the H.Q.of TGDitWTW, (The Passage Lounge ) is a hang out for many ex-pats, both British and Irish. We spend many an evening reminiscing of the days when we happily ate fried offal in damp kitchens, or lay awake dying of the heat, sharing the bed with numerous siblings in an un-air conditioned bedroom.

The cure for a sore throat was to have an aspirin, a pair of your fathers (worn) socks wrapped around your neck and a cup of warm Ribena.

A story about Blackcurrants and other things:

When I was a boy, my friend Jeremy and I scrummed the blackcurrant foliage hanging over the wall of the local convent.

Inevitably, a nun was going to appear. She did in the form of sister Bernadette. Mouths and pockets stuffed with blackcurrants we awaited the tirade of anger and accusations. "Boy's," she said, "If you want some blackcurrants why don't you just knock on our garden gate?"

Being boys we said nothing. "Follow me." We followed her through the doors of the convent. Polished wood and stone met our eyes, the smell of boiled cabbage and lilac powder awoke our prepubescent terror. The nuns, silent but surprisingly young, smiled and waved us through. We arrived at a garden with the biggest and most heavily laden blackcurrant bushes I have ever seen to this day." Take what you want, but return tomorrow and help is in the garden".

Jeremy never went back (I think he became a lawyer.)

I went back the following week. I spent a summer drinking tea in fine china cups and eating very small sandwiches with the crusts cut off. They never actualy needed my help with the garden, but rather extended their love to one very small and insignificant boy.

Ribena, nuns in a bottle.

Chris's Notes: It was a frosty, windswept evening when I made it to the Passage Lounge that night. Senior Research Assistant, Kerry, was already seated at our usual seats with guest researcher, Sharon Mc.
They greeted me as they shuddered with the blast of wind that followed me in.

I told Joe that I was in the mood for something with gin in it. As I explained that gin always reminded me of winter, Kerry reminded me that "always" was only for about a year or so, since we had been blogging.
Whatever. It is a good cold weather spirit and what I wanted. So there!

Joe grinned as he bustled about his "other" job responsibilities and explained that he had a nice gin drink already in mind. A variation of a classic cocktail from back home, England-way, calledThe Bramble.

The gin and the orange of the Cointreau created a flavor almost bordering on the grapefruit spectrum, but the sweetness of the Ribena, Joe's current booze-muse, (or "mooze!") and the tangy sour of the lemon bring the tastes to all interested tastebuds.
The sparkle of the soda, (another deviation from the original Bramble, and the reason for the "ale" in the name, akin to "ginger ale,") send a wake-up call to the palate that really drives this baby home!

So, Cheers, and Happy New Year!

This week's video goes WAY back to 1945. An appropriately named little number by Spike Jones: "Cocktails for Two."
Cheers - C:


  1. Dad had that song on vinyl. Remember how we loved it?

  2. Yeah. That's what made me look for it!

    I've been meaning to post that one for a while!