Fresh Juices Are the Key to This Summertime Whiskey Cocktail

The Drink: Blackberry Smash, The Bar: Brick & Bourbon, The Tender: Gary Sivyer

I recently stopped in for a nightcap with a friend at Brick & Bourbon in Stillwater, established just last year by Gary Sivyer and partners Branden Warner and Adam Dreher (the space that formerly housed The Green Room). Admittedly, I’d been sucked in by the promise of excellent whiskey and smoking drinks (literally cocktails infused with a smoking gun for a great campfire essence on both nose and tongue), but my friend is not a dark liquor drinker. While Brick & Bourbon does have beer, wine and a full bar, I encouraged my friend to try something new, and the blackberry smash was the exact entre for someone just getting into whiskey cocktails.

The inspiration, Sivyer says, comes from a summer-inspired drink with a bourbon base. “Most people think tequila, vodka or gin when the weather turns warm,” he says. “We wanted to showcase a bourbon drink that was a patio, pool or beach sipper. I have always enjoyed using fresh ingredients, and this drink is no exception.”

Key to this recipe is Sivyer’s mint simple syrup: “I put together a house-made simple syrup that uses about 2 cups of mint with stalks and leaves that cooks down with equal parts of about 8 cups of water and sugar,” he says. That mixture helps keep the mint flavor profile without overpowering the fresh juices of the blackberries and limes.

2 oz. Evan Williams black whiskey
1 oz. mint simple syrup (see above)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
6 blackberries + 3 blackberries (garnish)
1 oz. mineral water
1 mint sprig (garnish)

Muddle the blackberries to extract the freshest juice, then add fresh lime juice and the mint simple syrup to a mixing tin. Continue to muddle to combine flavors. Add the bourbon, followed by ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds to combine. Sivyer uses a Hawthorne strainer on the tin, so the liquid goes through another mesh strainer before the glass (to avoid clumps of blackberries or lime pulp). Add ice into a double old-fashioned glass, then add about 1 oz. of fresh mineral water on the surface. Garnish with a bamboo knot skewer that has 3 blackberries and a fresh mint sprig.

This drink has been a summer hit, thanks to its fresh juices, hint of mint and, of course, bubbles. With just a slight sweetness from the syrup, the cocktail is well-balanced between the wonderful base bourbon and a little tartness from the blackberries and lime. “It smells like vacation, tastes like heaven and finishes like a sunset,” Sivyer says. My friend and I concur.