A healthier twist on a classic cocktail
Think following a healthy diet means saying goodbye to your favorite cocktails? Think again! Here is a delicious yet nourishing twist on an old favorite, the gin bramble. Instead of blackberry liqueur, this recipe uses a natural blackberry juice that you can whip up in just a few minutes. With the innate sweetness of the blackberries and some local honey, there’s no need for any processed sugary syrups. Swapping the gin for sparkling water or freshly squeezed apple juice makes for an equally delicious alcohol-free version. With either option, you can enjoy a cocktail or two and get a nutritional kick at the same time.
Gin’s surprising health benefits
Alcohol is usually something we try to avoid when choosing a healthier diet. But in fact, when consumed in moderation, gin has some surprising benefits, largely due to the antioxidant content of the juniper berries from which it’s made. These berries can help to fight infection, rejuvenate skin, reduce joint inflammation, and improve blood circulation. Juniper berries are also a known antiseptic and can be great for fighting off coughs and colds. As a natural diuretic, gin limits water retention and can flush out toxins which offers benefits for the liver and kidneys.
In addition, the lower sugar content in gin compared to other drinks, such as wine and beer, means less bloating and fewer calories. At around 97 calories a shot, gin is definitely a sensible choice if you’re watching your weight. Just don’t enjoy too many!
Lower the sugar content without compromising on taste
Refined sugar can have several negative effects on our health. It causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar which can, in turn, cause sluggishness and headaches and can ultimately lead to diabetes. Because processed sugars have had much of their nutritional content removed, they are often considered ‘empty calories’, meaning our bodies have to work hard to digest them with little nutritional return.
Reducing your consumption of refined sugars often means sweet, syrupy cocktails are a no-go. However, by switching a few key ingredients, you can cut down on calories and sugar and still indulge now and then. By making your own fruit syrups, you can squeeze in some extra goodness too, for a healthier party treat. Here, the combination of blackberries, mint, lemon, and honey creates a refreshing, fruity drink with a perfect balance of sweet and sour.
For an extra surprise to impress your guests, try making your own strawberry ice cubes to garnish these naughty-but-good-for-you cocktails. Simply cut strawberries in half, put them in an ice cube tray and top them up with water before putting them in the freezer for a few hours. You can do the same with blueberries, red currants, or mint leaves for an extra splash of color.
Mint Bramble Cocktail (serves 2)
1/3 cup of blackberries, sliced
3 tsp locally-sourced organic honey
2 Tbsp mint leaves, torn into small pieces
5.25 oz. cold mineral water
3.5 oz. of your favourite gin
Juice from half a lemon
Strawberry ice cubes to garnish
- Put the blackberries, honey, and torn mint leaves in a small pan with the cold water and set it to boil. Once you see pink, frothy bubbles, lower the heat and simmer for ten minutes, then leave it to cool.
- Using a fine sieve or strainer, pour the liquid into a cocktail shaker along with the gin and lemon juice and a spoonful of crushed ice. Shake well.
- Spoon crushed ice into two glass tumblers until they are about half full. Pour the cocktail over the ice and garnish with decorative ice cubes, some frozen blackberries, or a sprig of mint.
- Serve immediately.
- If you’re entertaining, simply scale up as needed.
- For an alcohol-free version, swap the gin for sparkling water or freshly squeezed apple juice.
- Agave nectar is a good substitute for honey. It’s a little sweeter though, so you’ll probably only need 2 teaspoons.
- No need to waste the leftover blackberry pulp – it makes a delicious topping for oatmeal or can be added to a fruit smoothie.
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