The Bramble On, the Nickel Taphouse

September 09, 2014|By Meekah Hopkins, For The Baltimore Sun

I'm a sucker for cocktail names. The more obscure, random or puzzling, the better.

Like "Bramble." I've noticed it on several drink menus across Baltimore this summer and finally found one worth ordering — the Bramble On at the Nickel Taphouse in Mount Washington.

It turns out the Bramble has a pretty storied history. One might even call it a modern classic.

"The Bramble was — and still is — a cocktail that was popular in England in the 1980s. Basically, it's a gin sour with blackberry liqueur. It's probably my favorite fruity cocktail," said bar manager Danny Onaga. And apparently, it's also the public's favorite. Onaga noted that his Bramble has been one of the bar's top- selling orders this summer.

A traditional Bramble uses a niche bar ingredient, creme de mure, made with blackberries, and typically has a dry London gin as the base ingredient. Onaga's version is a lighter, more seasonally appropriate take on the original. "I try to keep a balance on the list of 'challenging cocktails' and cocktails that everyone can [drink]. We're constantly trying to create cocktails we feel people will enjoy." With the Bramble On, Onaga opted for Magellan gin and muddled basil, giving the drink a more approachable, botanical base.

Magellan is made with iris flowers and just "seemed to work well with basil," Onaga said.

Instead of blackberry liqueur, Onaga substituted Combier fruits rouge, a raspberry- and strawberry-infused liqueur that brightens the drink without overdoing the "gin sour" of the original recipe. A dash of rhubarb bitters finish the drink, adding just a touch of tartness.

The Bramble On is officially on the late- summer menu, though Onaga said Nickel Taphouse plans on keeping it around as they move to a cold-weather menu. Good move. This drink has everything you could possibly ask for right now, with flavor that's both light and dark, refreshing and tangy.

In other words, it's the perfect transition cocktail.

How to make the Bramble On

2 oz. Magellan gin

1/2 oz. simple syrup

3/4 oz. lemon juice

2 or 3 basil leaves

1/2 oz. Combier fruits rouge

Soda water

2 or 3 dashes of rhubarb bitters

Muddle basil leaves with the simple syrup and lemon. Add ice and gin, top with soda water and float the Combier on top. Finish it with a basil leaf, lemon twist and a few dashes of bitters.

Where to get the Bramble On

The Nickel Taphouse

1604 Kelly Ave., Mount Washington



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