If you want to distill Pacific Northwest summers into a cocktail, this is your secret ingredient.
If you’re outside the Pacific Northwest, you may never have tried the marionberry — a juicy, flavorful berry beloved in Oregon, a cross between two blackberry varietals. (The Olallie and Chehalem, for those of you familiar with berry genealogy). But you don’t need to head to Oregon in the summer to try this Marionberry Liqueur, produced by Clear Creek Distillery.
Like all great liqueurs, it tastes vividly of the fruit — making it ideal for shaking up marionberry cocktails, even if you can’t get your hands on fresh berries. If you do find yourself with marionberries, of course, they make an ideal garnish. But a plain old blackberry will do the trick, too.
Easy: Lemon & Berries
We love San Pellegrino sodas, like the Limonata and Aranciata, as mixers — they’re not too sweet and have a bright citrus flavor that’s great for cocktails. Add some berry liqueur and vodka to the Limonata and you’ve got a perfect summer berry lemonade that comes together in seconds.
Instructions: In a tall glass with ice, combine an ounce of vodka, 3/4 ounce of marionberry liqueur, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Stir briefly, then top with four ounces of San Pellegrino Limonata soda and stir again. Garnish with a few lemon wheels and blackberries.
Intermediate: Marionberry Gimlet
When we think of summer cocktails, we immediately think of gin. The spirit pairs perfectly with just about every fruit we can think of — and marionberries are no exception. Thin lime wheels and one big berry make for a perfect garnish.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine an ounce and a half of gin, an ounce of marionberry liqueur, an ounce of fresh lime juice, and 3/4 ounces simple syrup. Shake until well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a few lime wheels and a blackberry.
Advanced: Marionberry Whiskey Sour
True whiskey sours are often made with egg white — which doesn’t make them taste eggy, at all, but does give the drink a light, silky texture. A richly flavored berry liqueur is a great addition to bourbon and lemon, proving that whiskey can be just as delicious in the summer as it is in the winter.
Instructions: In a cocktail shaker without ice, combine an ounce of bourbon, an ounce of marionberry liqueur, 3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice, half an ounce simple syrup, and one egg white. Shake all that up without ice to aerate it — that’s called a “dry shake” — and then add ice and shake again for a “wet shake,” to chill it down. Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a thin lemon wheel and a blackberry.