Try this cocktail in celebration of blueberry season
Pound for pound, no single fruit has more health claims connected to it than the blueberry.
Rich in anthocyanin, a flavonoid molecule with antioxidant properties, those little blue guys have been touted as a way to lose weight, prevent cancer, cure heart disease and high blood pressure and even stave off osteoporosis.
Truth be told, there’s no real science backing any of that up. No research has ever confirmed that the antioxidants stay active after we eat the berries. But since they’re so delicious, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution. And where better to find out how to max-out our intake during blueberry season than Newfoundland’s Fogo Island? On the Atlantic coast, wild, low-brush blueberries are not only considered a health tonic but practically a way of life to many. They’re in baked goods, sauces and, most important for the lazy mixologist, even tasty berry cocktails, which are in season at the Fogo Island Inn every summer.
“Every season, I’m reminded of when I moved here a few years ago,” recalls Sandy Crawford, bar manager at Fogo Island Inn. “It was fall, the start of my wife’s teaching job, and, pretty much every evening, we went for a walk to go blueberry picking. They’re plentiful here in Newfoundland and really resilient, growing under bushes and near rocks. They sure don’t need a lot of tender loving care.”
Newfoundland blueberries are probably the most famous berries from the province and some claim them as the best in the world. They used to be an important agricultural export, but now they’re (also) important as a tourist draw, with berry-picking excursions and the weekend-long Brigus Blueberry Festival (mid-August), marked with plenty of blueberry “buckle,” “duff” and “grunt” (essentially, cake, pudding and biscuits).
Fogo Island Inn celebrates blueberry season with a three-day “Berry Wild Time” itinerary that sees visitors picking wild berries along the Lion’s Den Trail, where smart foragers can stumble upon a wide range of indigenous rare berries, including bakeapples, bearberries, crackerberries and cloudberries. After a hard day foraging, guests relax in the bar area to learn about berry cocktails and infusions from the bar staff.
Crawford says the local berries are on the fat side and have a robust, occasionally earthy flavour that you really want to let shine. As such, he doesn’t recommend adding too many complicated ingredients to the cocktail — the simpler, the better. “The taste of the berry itself is beautiful and we wanted to show that off, so we used a Newfoundland vodka and two other spirits,” Crawford says, referring to his Blue Lion’s Den, the cocktail recipe he shared with us. “So it turns out this really beautiful reddish-purple colour.”
Blue Lion’s Den
1 oz Iceberg Vodka
1/2 oz St Germain
1/2 oz Campari
3 oz unsweetened pure blueberry juice
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker tin and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with fresh blueberries. If you can’t get fresh, wild blueberries, Crawford says bottled blueberry juice, now fairly widely-available, will work just fine.