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Day Seven: Cooking Up Cocktails

Posted on Saturday, Apr. 25, 2015


There are not enough words to describe how grateful I am to work with the talented chefs in the Metropole kitchen. I am constantly drawing inspiration from them, and they really push me and my imagination past the boundaries of what cocktails are and can be. One of the main reasons I love creating cocktails is because I love to cook and, of course, eat. Really, nothing is better than eating and drinking, so that is how this particular stream of consciousness led me to the world of cocktails. I’ve learned that approaching cocktails in the method you would approach creating an entrée or dessert is one of the best ways to innovate and push boundaries. I live for savory cocktails, and while they may not be for everyone, I love seeing the look of delight on a guest’s face when they try a cocktail that has flavor combinations that read as if it were in a stew or salad, rather than served in a glass. And yes, I am working on not creepily staring at guests as they take the first sip of their cocktails. Baby steps.

At Metropole, we love – no, are obsessed with pickles, and frankly, we’re wondering why you aren’t obsessed too! Seriously, get on board! I almost wrote, “get on board the pickle train” and quickly decided against it. We pickle everything from watermelon rind, to green strawberries, to kumquats. So today I will be sharing with you a basic pickle brine that is easy to make and so full of flavor. So I know you’re probably thinking, “Pickle brine? Why are we talking about pickles and cocktails? I know this crazy lady is not going to teach me a warm weather cocktail with pickles.” Well, yes, that is exactly what I’m going to do, and the only crazy thing is how delicious this cocktail actually turned out to be. Today’s cocktail is inspired by the national cocktail of Brazil, the Caipirinha, which is made with cachaça muddled with sugar and lime. Cachaça is a spirit similar to rum and is made from fermented and distilled fresh sugarcane juice, whereas rum is made from the byproduct of sugar cane, most commonly molasses. The flavor profile of cachaça reminds me of the perfect duet of tequila and rum, slightly fruity with nice notes of smokiness. The fun thing about cachaça, aside from trying to pronounce the dang word, is that it adds so many layers to a cocktail. Its sweet and vegetal flavor profile helps it stand up to a variety of mixers. Which brings us back to pickles: I bet you were hoping I wasn’t coming back to that, right? Today’s cocktail blends cachaça with a mint simple syrup, muddled orange and pickled blackberries. The brine I’m sharing with you is a sweeter brine that really brings out the tart and ripe flavor of the berries. I am in love with the little bursts of saltiness in this cocktail, and I promise if you give this cocktail a chance you will be swept off your feet!

16 oz sugar
16 oz red wine vinegar
1 oz water
½ tbsp. fennel
½ tbsp. coriander
1 tsp chili flake
½ tbsp. salt

Combine all ingredients together in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Heat through until sugar dissolves. Take pot off heat and allow to cool completely before using to pickle. Store pickle brine in an airtight container in your fridge. Shout out to Chef de Cuisine Jason Campbell for the awesome brine recipe!


Add enough chilled pickle brine to cover your berries by at least ½ an inch. Store the berries and pickling liquid in an airtight container in your refrigerator for at least 48 hours before using. Make sure you store the berries in their pickling liquid to keep them from drying out.

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves

Stir together first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and boil 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and let stand 30 minutes. Pour liquid through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container, discarding mint leaves. Cover and store in refrigerator.

GLASSWARE: rocks glass
GARNISH: pickled blackberry, and sprig of mint
1 orange slice
2-3 pickled blackberries
1 oz mint simple syrup
2 oz Cachaça

Add orange slice and pickled blackberries to a shaker tin, and muddle slightly. Add Cachaça and mint simple syrup, add ice and then shake. Pour entire contents into rocks glass. Drink. And repeat many times.

NO WORRIES: Listen if you’re not quite up to the adventure of drinking a beverage with a pickled berry in it, you can just swap out for regular blackberries. Bonus it’s still just as tasty! If you don’t have a shaker tin at home, you can make this by muddling in the glass, adding rest of ingredients, then ice, and then transferring the cocktail from one glass to another a couple times. Be advised home bar street cred always goes up with the addition of some shaker tins.

DOUBLE DUTY: Once you master this pickle brine, there is no limit to what you can pickle and I will happily volunteer to taste all your unusual experiments. These blackberries are so delectable on top of rich burrata with a drizzle of olive oil on top, I’m almost angry I don’t have a plate of it front of me right now. These berries are also a great topper for rich chicken liver mousse. The mint simple syrup is a great staple for your spring/summer home bar, for easy to make mojitos, and cool additions to classics such as a gin and tonic, or margarita.

I hope you’ve all had as much fun during our Cocktail Spring Break as I have, and I hope you’ve all found a go-to cocktail to pound back on your patios. I’m always so thankful for the opportunity to share my kooky thoughts and hopefully tasty cocktails. Leave comments or questions, and photos of your recreations on our Facebook page! Sunday School will be back next month, on May 31st for a techniques class followed by a Chopped-style cocktail competition where students will get a chance to shake it up! Let’s raise our glasses to these glorious months ahead, and for any of you with a pool, I will gladly bring and mix cocktails in exchange for a reserved lounge chair.


Cheers, and here is to drinking up new things!

Your neighborhood bartender,
Catherine Manabat