Recipe: The Bella Bramble


The Bramble is a British cocktail that has become a contemporary classic in the relatively short period of time since its invention in the mid 80s. 

A gin sour with the addition of sweet blackberry liqueur, the Bramble is the creation of London barman Dick Bradsell in homage to his childhood summers spent blackberry picking on the Isle of Wight.  Dick was a barman at Fred’s Club on Carlisle Street in Soho in the 80’s, which at the time was a fashionable members club frequented by music stars and models.  He wanted to make a truly British cocktail, however ended up finding that the best blackberry flavour came from French crème de mûre, and his preferred vehicle for the blackberry flavour was a gin sour of which neither the sugar syrup or lemons are particularly associated with Britain!  Nonetheless, Bradsell found that the balance of the sweet and sour worked well with the crème du mûre, and that the thick syrupy nature of the liqueur could be negated by using crushed ice which dilutes what would otherwise be a short drink.  Originally, Bradsell used crushed ice because Fred’s club shared a kitchen with the seafood restaurant next-door which had a crushed ice machine for its display counter.  The liqueur is traditionally drizzled over the crushed ice and allowed to “bleed” down into the drink.

The Bramble’s brilliant balance, memorable name (inspired by Bradsell’s childhood scratches from trying to get the best blackberries from the top of the bramble bushes) and relative easy recipe made it a fast favourite.  It now appears on the International Bartenders Association (IBA) list of cocktails for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition, where it is classed as a “New Era” drink.

Here at the Bella we use sloe gin (made in-house each winter using our own Wheadon’s Gin) to add an additional hedgerow element, and muddle soft forest fruits (in homage to Bradsell’s original garnish of a raspberry) with the crème de mûre to thicken it enough to “float” on top of the drink.  We also make our own sweet and sour bar mix, which is equal parts simple syrup and lemon and lime juice – you can purchase this ready-made, but it is easy to make, keeps in the fridge, and allows you to achieve your preferred balance of sweet and sour.

The Bella’s Bramble Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml Wheadon’s Sloe Gin
  • 25 ml Sweet & Sour (homemade)
  • 20 ml Creme de Mûre
  • A couple of raspberries and blueberries, plus a single blackberry to garnish
  • Slice of lemon
  • Crushed ice

Method:

  • Place the raspberries and blueberries in a glass Boston shaker, add the crème de mûre, and muddle together.
  • Add crushed ice to a rocks or old fashioned glass, and pour over the sloe gin and sweet and sour mixture, stirring with a bar spoon. 
  • Carefully drizzle over the crème de mûre and fruit mix, so that it bleeds into the drink. 
  • Garnish with a fresh blackberry (if in season) and a slice of lemon.

Written by:

Bella Luce