Crafting Cocktail Flavors: Tequila and Ginger Ale with a Blackberry Shrub

I love making batch cocktails for parties. Beer and wine can get the job done, but I like to take that extra step to make things a bit more special. Last month I threw a surprise party for one of my closest friends, and knew I wanted to create something that she would really enjoy.  While I'm more of a bourbon girl, she's partial to tequila drinks.  I've always stuck to the classics when it comes to tequila: margaritas, la palomas, and other citrus based cocktails.  For this recipe, I decided to get a little more creative and experimented with a new combination [to me!], tequila and blackberries.

I could have made a blackberry simple syrup, but neither of us are huge fans of overly saccharine drinks.  Instead, I opted to create a blackberry shrub. You've probably had cocktails made with a shrub before, but just didn't know you were drinking it! At its core, a shrub is a combination of fruit and vinegar [and typically sugar], which when either cooked or cold-processed, creates a delicious syrup that adds a real depth and intensity to any cocktail.

Though I did make some tweaks to my own shrub [added some thyme to the berries], I followed this Serious Eats article to create this particular shrub. I tasted the shrub mixed into club soda, ginger ale, and tonic, and preferred ginger ale by far. [in fact it makes an excellent non alcoholic cocktail!] To develop the exact proportions of tequila to shrub to ginger ale, it's all really subjective.  I didn't want these drinks to knock anyone over [no need for THAT crazy of a night!], but I did want it to feel balanced and have a bit of a punch to it.

I made a massive batch of the tequila/shrub combination and then minutes before people began to arrive, added in the ginger ale.  Normally, I'd prefer to serve this just chilled in the fridge, maybe with a frozen blackberry for interest and a chill. For a party where it may be sitting out for a while, a few cubes of ice are a nice addition.  I've finally just run out of this blackberry shrub [a little goes A LONG way!], so looking forward to playing around with some new ingredients this week for a shrub with some fall flavors mixed in!