Start to finish: 24 hours
Hands on time: 10 minutes
My friend Alison and I hold a Girls in the Garden party in her backyard every summer. This has morphed into quite an event and though we do try to keep it simple, it’s a glorious party with the 100 plus dahlias she lovingly plants every year. So, we essentially have a party for the dahlias with a few ladies invited for chatting and sipping.
The food is always fresh and colorful, light and handheld because the modus is on moving around with a glass of something cool and refreshing. In this venue rosé is a favorite but it wouldn’t be a party without a cocktail and so the Dalloway Dahlia came to be.
I think I had just finished reading Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway again and so was thinking about her and how it would be wonderful to invite her to the party and the thought occurred to me to invite her as a namesake cocktail. I would be so honored if someone created one for me. My life would be almost complete.
The drink is based on a shrub which is simply fruit, sugar and vinegar mixed and then strained. You’ve probably heard of them for years now. The technique was used as a method of preserving fruit before refrigeration and now shrubs are a popular addition to cocktails or most days just a splash added to a tall glass of bubbly water. In this case I wanted the shrub to be colorful (like the flowers) and so used blackberries. I also wanted a note of savory (like Mrs. Dalloway). I had a nice mound of lemon thyme growing so tossed some in but thyme from the grocery would work as well.
The shrub will keep for weeks and weeks in the fridge. I love to spoon a few tablespoons in a glass of La Croix pamplemousse or lemon water when I feel the need for flavor. I’m looking forward to this little taste of summer in the cooler months to come. The dahlias may be gone, but summer may linger as long as I have some shrub in the fridge.
2 cups Bragg’s apple vinegar
2 cups sugar
4 cups (2 pints) blackberries
7 or 8 stems lemon thyme
Bring the vinegar and sugar to a simmer so that the sugar dissolves. Add the blackberries and thyme and let sit until cool. Mash the blackberries and transfer the mixture to a glass jar. Refrigerate overnight and strain, returning the liquid to the glass jar and discarding the solids.
Stir a few tablespoons into soda water for a refreshing mocktail or if you’re feeling more celebratory (or had a bad day) concoct the cocktail below.
The Dalloway Dahlia
Makes 1 drink
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz blackberry shrub
2 oz lemon flavored soda water
1 stem lemon thyme
Very thinly sliced lemon and blackberries for garnish
Combine the shrub, vodka and some ice in a shaker and shake till cold. Strain into a martini glass and top with a little soda water. Garnish with a sprig of thyme, lemon and blackberry.
In my ears: Basia Bulat