Mid-July is when blackberries come in around here. I spent about 30 minutes yesterday morning picking at a nearby public park. About 80% of the berries were still not ripe, but I was able to come away with about 3 cups of good looking ones. Later we went by the weekend city tail gate market to pick up some odds and ends. I came away with 3 more cups of farm grown blackberries that were bigger and sweeter than the wild ones.

Wild  vs. Cultivated Blackberries

Wild vs. Cultivated Blackberries

I have been thinking about what to do with the berries once I had some. I still have a bit of last year’s blackberry liqueur left. That’s a fairly straight forward way to use them. I could do it again, this time cutting back on the sugar. I’m also still taken by the rye whiskey cherry bounce from July 4th.  It was really good. I was thinking about all of this while working in the yard yesterday afternoon when one of neighborhood black bears lumbered by. They’re coming down into populated areas looking for food. The first big crop every year are the blackberries. That clicked – it struck me that a blackberry infused rye could be very good, call it:  Black Bear Rye. I’m not sure there’s much connection between bears and rye whiskey, but they do like blackberries and the name sounds pretty cool. Using last year’s creme de cassis recipe, I had enough berries (6 cups) to infuse two bottles (750 ml each) of whiskey. I added equal parts wild and cultivated berries along with about a 1/4 of a cup of sugar to help the wild berries along. I’ll let it go all summer and hold off on drinking it until the fall. I’m thinking Manhattans, or whatever the flavor combo leads me to-

Black Bear Rye

Black Bear Rye

The Amateur Cocktail Spouse has a neat system for making one-off screened t-shirts. I’m working on a logo for the rye. Watch this space for info on getting yourself a copy.

Addendum

Here it is:

Found a place that will make one or several shirts for $25 each. Any takers?

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