#Cocktailoftheweekend ~ The ‘Close it Down’! Named for a song & entered in a contest! Update**! I won!

I entered a cocktail into the ‘I’m With Her Band’ contest that ends tonight*. Fingers crossed!

IMG_0495 The contest rules were to sing or dance to one of their tunes. . . (I’m not doing that!) OR! (This is more my speed!) “. . . creating some other ‘I’m with Her’-inspired art.  . . . Tag us and #ImwithHerCreations with your submission and we’ll choose the winners at 5pm ET Friday Aug. 10.” (*Update: I just got mentioned in the band’s Instagram Stories during their announcement that the contest submissions deadline has been extended to Sunday!)

** Update! I won! Woot woot🎉!

So that’s what I did!!! Their latest album is called ‘See you Around’ and I chose to make a drink that I named for the song on the album called ‘Close it Down.’

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I did a Facebook live today down by (more like in) my Mulberry Tree about my experience growing mulberries and if you want to know about my tree head over to Karen England’s Shop Facebook page for some gardening and harvesting information about my Persian Mulberry Tree, Morus nigra sp. From the tag “Small spreading, long-lived tree. Bears large, black tasty fruit similar to blackberries. Height 20-30 feet but can be pruned to a hedge. Birds are highly attracted to berries. Cold hardy to 10 degrees.”

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In the Facebook live video I mention two books that have helped me develop this drink recipe and taught me about the mulberry tree I’m growing. The tree is 4 years old and was probably 7 or 8 years old in the can before it was given to me and planted down by my “pub”/garden shed/old soap shop. I had never tasted mulberries before this tree started producing 2 years ago. They are delicious! Even though they look somewhat like blackberries they are uniquely flavored and more spicy than a sweet blackberry in flavor. The two books are Forager’s Cocktails by Amy Zavatto, Sterling Epicure Press, 2015 and River Cottage A to Z, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016

The inspiration drink, the Mulberry Smash, that is in Forager’s Cocktails was too sweet and sadly one noted and not deeply flavored as I hoped, when I made it exactly as the recipe instructs in the book. It was flat and the unique mulberry flavor was not shining through, still the recipe had lots of potential and I really like the book and use it often even though just not this particular recipe.

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Last summer, with my 2017 mulberry harvest (which was almost two months earlier than this year!) I made the ‘Mulberry Vodka’ recipe from the book River Cottage A to Z. By Christmas time I changed the name to Mulberry Liqueur and served it to guests and received rave reviews. I had some Mulberry Liqueur left over after the holidays so I decided to use it in my version of the Mulberry Smash Cocktail. I also added more zing by adding more fresh mulberries, more lemon zest, and more mint in addition to using the Mulberry Liqueur instead of simple syrup with the bourbon to make a terrific drink! So terrific – I entered it in a contest!

(Side note: Sara Watkins, one of the ‘I’m with Her’ band members wants me to make her a ‘Close it Down’ when she next visits her family in San Diego, and, of course, I can’t say no! But I have used all but a small handful of this year’s crop of mulberries so unless she comes through town this week, and a quick glance at their touring schedule tells me that won’t happen! It’ll have to be another year before I will be able to ‘Close it Down’ again! Sorry Sara!)

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To make the liqueur:

“Quarter-fill a jar with sugar, tip it out into a bowl and half-fill the jar with mulberries, return the sugar to the jar and fill up with vodka. Seal tightly. Invert the jar a few times a week and try to leave for at least 6 months – longer if you possibly can.”

To make one cocktail:

Into a tumbler put 6-8 fresh mulberries, the zest of one small Meyer lemon and a handful of Mint-The-Best (Spearmint) mint, leaves and blossoms. Muddle altogether ’til syrupy and fragrant. Add 2 ounces of Bourbon, I used Wyoming Whiskey, 1 ounce Mulberry Liqueur and ice. Stir to chill and garnish with more mulberries, lemon slices and mint blossoms. Serve and enjoy. If drinking this at sunset as I have, I hope you’ll raise your glass and “Close It Down” for the day in style. Cheers!

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