NOTE: Sorry for the strange name, we will explain more below. But please read on, this cocktail is basically a Mint Julep variant that combines bourbon, vodka, simple syrup, mint and crowberry liqueur (substitute blackberry liqueur or crème de Cassis).
Meanwhile, one of the unexpected (but positive) surprises of cocktail blogging is our friends’ willingness to bring us fun, and sometimes rare, spirits to play with. Booze is always welcome here at the farm. And last week Carolyn’s Dad, and my good friend, Bill brought us two liqueurs from Reykjavík Distillery in Reykjavík Iceland (thanks Bill!). The first liqueur was a very tasty blueberry cordial. But the second was a crowberry liqueur, and we had never heard of crowberries. So we decided almost immediately that a crowberry cocktail was in order. Challenges are good, it means we get to experiment.
And after a few minutes of internet research we had at least some information on crowberries. Crowberries are the fruit of a dwarf evergreen shrub found in temperate and sub-arctic regions- basically they grow where it gets cold. Not surprisingly, they are a common food of the Sami in Finland and are also widely found in Iceland. Crowberries have lots of vitamin C and antioxidants, but are often lightly flavored. Their flavor is often described as watery blueberry with some tannic or black currant notes. But while the fresh fruit might be watery, fermentation and distillation concentrate flavors. So we were hopeful the liqueur would be tasty.
Happily, the crowberry liqueur is quite good and tastes somewhat like a sweet mix of blueberries, blackberries and a little currant. So now that we had a good flavor to work with, we needed the cocktail. And since the liqueur is from Reykjavík, we wanted a theme based on the city. But the only thing we know about Reykjavík is that it was the location of the 1980’s meeting between Reagan and Gorbachev where they negotiated some of the IBT, but got hung up on SDI and the delayed approval of SALT II and then zzzzzzzzzzzz….. Let’s just say it was where Reagan and Gorbachev realized that both sides were open to broad concessions and they developed a personal relationship. This led to some good things; Soviet collapse, walls coming down, Maseratis in Moscow, etc….
As for the cocktail, we wanted to include both American and Russian spirits with the crowberry liqueur. Bourbon and vodka were the obvious choices. And as for the julep variant, there are many good blackberry juleps out there, so using crowberries isn’t a stretch. The vodka is not only Russian, but it lightens the bourbon without diluting the alcohol and helps the mint and crowberries shine through. Sometimes we think the bourbon overwhelms in Mint Juleps, but the vodka brings a sense of, ummm…detente (ugh, eye-roll).
Overall this is a lighter, fruitier version of a Mint Julep that still has plenty of flavor. And you can substitute any dark fruit liqueur for the crowberry. So while we don’t expect many people to have crowberry liqueur, give this version of the Mint Julep a try, it may lead to good things.
Reagan Meets Gorbachev:
- 1 oz. bourbon
- 1 oz. vodka
- 1/2 oz. crowberry liqueur (or substitute dark fruit liqueur like blackberry or crème de Cassis)
- 1/3 oz. Demerara or simple syrup
- 6 mint leaves
- Sprig of mint, for garnish
- Crushed ice
- Place the mint and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and lightly muddle. Then add the bourbon, vodka, crowberry liqueur and ice to the shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a lowball glass or Julep cup filled with crushed ice.
- Stir and top with extra crushed ice, if needed. Garnish with the mint sprig. Serve.
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