By The Gentleman
I have to warn you, dear reader, that if you continue on things may get a little weird here. Don’t worry I don’t mean emotional weird…that would be too weird. THERE WILL BE NO BREAKDOWNS OR TEARS! Okay? Okay. Good. Things are going to get weird because we straight up put balsamic vinegar in our drink…and we liked it. Now we’ve shrubbed before and we will shrub again, but this was different. We didn’t mix any fruits or herbs, we just syruped together some balsamic vinegar and simple syrup. Then we got liquored up, a sugar cube or two may have been involved. It was an experience and one we are happy to share with you, the Ballsy Berry.
60ml Four Pillars Gunpowder Gin
15ml Balsamic Syrup
2 Blood Orange Bitters Sugar Cubes
4 Basil Leaves + 3 for Garnish
2 strawberries halved + 1 for garnish
Fever Tree Club Soda
Make your balsamic syrup by bringing together a 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with a 1/4 cup of simple syrup. Bring to the boil then turn down to a medium heat for about a minute. It should get thick and syrupy. Take off the heat and leave to cool before bottling. Whip up your sugar cubes by mixing caster sugar with bitters on a ratio of 1 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon bitters. This will make a lot of cubes so you can halve or even quarter the mix to your needs. Mix the sugar and bitters until the liquid has combined with the sugar then pack the sugar into a mini ice cube tray. If you are super prepared you can leave the sugar in the tray overnight to harden, but if you need them in a flash place the tray in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Check to see how firm before turning them out because they may need a touch longer to harden up. You’re now ready to cocktail.
Muddle strawberries, 1 sugar cube, a few grinds of pepper, and basil leaves in balsamic syrup. Mash it up real good. Add gin and ice then shake like crazy. Grab a large wine glass and ice and the other sugar cube then pour in the goodness. Top with about 100ml club soda and garnish with a strawberry and basil leaves.
We warned you things would get weird and they did. The balsamic syrup and pepper make this one of the most savoury cocktails, outside of a Bloody Mary, we’ve ever tried. It’s maybe not everyone’s cup of tea (there really needs to be a better cocktail equivalent), but we definitely think you owe it to yourself to be a little adventurous and try it out. It smells amazing. Anyone who has ever had some strawberries tossed with a little balsamic vinegar will know what we’re talking about. The balsamic is quite noticeable, giving it a savoury, tangy vinegary flavour, and the strawberries just give it a touch of sweetness. The sugar cubes, apart from smelling divine in your kitchen, add needed sweetness to help balance the savoury flavour. Also the Gunpowder Gin earns its stripes here, providing a necessary punch to cut through the other bold flavours. The balsamic syrup gives the Ballsy Berry a dark, interesting colour which makes it quite impressive when serving to guests. They’ll try to puzzle out what gives it the colour. On a personal note I really need to get a proper cocktail strainer, but hey all those extra bits of strawberry and basil just give it extra character right?
This is definitely a drink to engage your more adventurous side, throwing up some flavour combinations and aromas you may not normally associate with cocktails. We liked it though and look forward to adding the interesting flavour of balsamic syrup to more drinks in the future.