Blueberry season is in full swing here in Georgia and the tasty little nuggets are finding their way into pies, muffins and, um, did I mention pies? Although I adore fresh blueberries, I recognize they don't always translate well into beverages, ice cream and other dishes where their subtle flavor is easily overwhelmed.
So it was refreshing to find Miller Union serving the Tangled Up in Blue, a summery concoction that seeks to showcase my favorite berry without resorting to artificially enhanced flavors or cloying sweetness. On the menu for about a month now, it's ranked among the Westside restaurant's most popular summer offerings.
Mixologist Cara Laudino confirms that blueberries were her starting point — not an afterthought or fruity garnish — when she set about to create the drink. After that, the rest of the cocktail ingredients fell quickly into place.
"Sometimes I get lucky," she says. "This one was easy."
It certainly goes down easy. First, she muddles a handful of berries into ginger syrup, which she makes in-house by blending stained ginger with simple syrup. For the gin base, Laudino opts to use a small-batch gin produced by the celebrated Leopold Brothers distillery in Denver. Unlike London gin, which can be overly dry and juniper-like, this handcrafted American version is smoother, with pleasant citrus notes. The ginger brings a spicy tartness to the cocktail for a measure of complexity, while lemon juice helps tone down the sweetness. A splash of ginger ale — by the British-made Fever Tree, the new choice among in-the-know bartenders — adds a spritz of carbonation to keep things bubbly.