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When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: The only cocktail you'll ever make with leftovers you can spread on toast.
It all starts when my brother offers to float a few drops of olive oil on top of my martini.
Why should I let you do that to my drink?
For years, my brother has been trying to infect my perfect cocktail with all manner of produce. I’ve told him numerous times to get the heck away from my gin with his peach purée. His cucumbers. His tangerines.
Just trust me.
Why should I trust you?
Because I’m your brother.
I’m trying not to be such a control freak.
Just this once.
The immiscible pairing of alcohol and oil produces glistening yellow-green circles that bumper-car about on the gin’s surface. I am delighted. And besides a subtle fruitiness and a small oil-slick in my mouth, it still tastes like my beloved martini.
On my brother’s next visit, I am out of martini olives. He proposes capers as an alternative garnish. Lovely. Dirty. Different. (It’s true. We drink together a lot. We have young children. We are overwhelmed.)
Next up, caperberries -- in they go. Pickled jalapeños come after that. Then some cocktail onions. Some plums.
Join me. Let go. Muck up your gin. It won’t hurt.
It has been a particularly good year for blackberries. I’ve put them in everything from pies to tarts to galettes to salads, so it was only a matter of time before they ended up in my gin. I made a few versions on my own and they weren’t quite right, so I convinced my brother to help me develop a recipe. This is what we came up with. And don’t worry if the blackberries are a bit tart -- shocking them in hot sugar will perk them right on up.
For the Blackberry Jam:
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup blackberries
2 ounces gin (use a gin that's not perfumey or intense, like Beefeater or Tanqueray)
1/4 ounce Grand Marnier (or 1/2 ounce if you want a sweeter drink)
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon blackberry jam (or a bit less if you want a tarter drink)
1 basil leaf
Photos by Phyllis Grant