The Bramble Was One Of The Simplest Cocktails To Come Out Of The 1980s

In the industry, the '80s are a sort of universally looked-down-on as a bad, weird period in bartending history. As esteemed bartender Simon Difford of Difford's Guide puts it, "There's no glossing over it, the 1980s were grim for cocktail culture." Mixologists swapped simple ingredients and fresh produce for sugary sour mixes and neon color palettes, often achieved by blue curaçao, frozen packed orange juice, or bright green melon liqueur. Loud colors and loud flavors were the names of the game.

It was, in retrospect, very emblematic of the decade's aesthetic sensibilities and birthed such fun, playful creations. Not all of the cocktails invented during the period were quite so flamboyant, either. Few of the cocktails to come out of this period have aged so gracefully as the Bramble — an understated gin cocktail with enough pizazz to gain popularity but with enough class to hold onto that popularity decades later. So, what made the Bramble a gem of the period?

The Bramble came from equal parts class and debauchery

The Bramble was created in 1984 by legendary bartender Dick Bradsell, also credited with inventing the Espresso Martini and the Treacle. Perhaps fittingly, the fashionable, metropolitan cocktail emerged at Fred's Club in London, which during the '80s was a pillar of Soho's world-famous lively, sleazy, thrilling nightlife scene. Before revolutionizing the cocktail world forever, Bradsell grew up on the Isle of Wight, where he would pick the wild blackberries that later on inspired him to create the Bramble. 

The Bramble is uncomplicated, elegant, and well-balanced — classic while still retaining its modernity. The Bramble is also a killer way to take advantage of in-season produce. Blackberries grow from May through September, and they are in peak season in the dog days of summer: July and August. Here's how to get the most out of the too-short blackberry season and whip up a timeless cocktail you can get excited about all year long.

Fruity and fashionable with simple ingredients

The Bramble is essentially an elevated Gin Sour. It's a combination of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, crème de mûre, a type of blackberry liqueur. All the ingredients are shaken except for the crème de mûre. Serve the cocktail over crushed ice in an Old Fashioned glass, and slowly drizzle in the crème de mûre at the end. For an impressive visual (and to avoid overdoing it on the slug), pour the crème de mûre in a slow, circular motion.

Stay away from perfumier gins for the Bramble. Opt for a London dry gin here, ideally an offering with more understated flavor notes so as not to take away from the delicate blackberry taste of the star ingredient: the crème de mûre. If you're feeling ambitious, you could even whip up homemade blackberry syrup instead. A blackberry shrub would amp up the fruitiness here, as well.

To serve, garnish with fresh blackberries and a lemon wheel. You might even skewer three or four blackberries together on a large toothpick and drape it across the rim of the glass. Some bartenders swap the gin for pisco (South American white grape brandy), and other folks use lime juice instead of lemon, so feel free to take a little creative license.