Classic Cocktail: The Bramble

The slow slide of summer towards autumn is somewhat sweetened by the fruits of the hedgerows, in particular blackberries.  It’s hard to find somebody who doesn’t have fond memories of foraging in the brambles trying to reach the plumpest blackberries that are always just out of reach, and this is exactly the inspiration behind the contemporary classic British cocktail, the Bramble.

Created in the mid 1980s by Dick Bradsell, barman at Fred’s Club on Carlisle Street in Soho, the Bramble was a quick hit thanks to its easy recipe, perfect balance, and catchy name.  It was soon added to the International Bartenders Association (IBA) list of cocktails for use in the annual World Cocktail Competition, where it is classed as a “New Era” drink.

Bradsell’s aim with the Bramble was to make a quintessential British cocktail inspired by his childhood summers picking blackberries at home on the Isle of Wight.  He soon discovered however that the best base to carry the blackberry’s flavour and balance its sweetness was a gin sour (neither sugar syrup nor lemon juice being particularly associated with Britain), and that the best blackberry flavour came from a French crème de mûre!  Regardless, the end result was what was important to Bradsell.   Apparently the use of crushed ice, which works wonderfully to dilute what would otherwise be a short and somewhat syrupy drink, was simply down to the fact that Fred’s Club shared a kitchen with the seafood restaurant next-door that had a crushed ice machine for it’s seafood display counter, so Bradsell had ready access to a large supply of crushed ice!

We prefer to make our Brambles using sloe gin, which Mr W produces limited stocks of each winter using sloes foraged from the hedgerows of St Martins near our distillery for the bar at the Bella Luce Hotel, but if you can’t wait for sloe gin season then don’t let that stop you enjoying a Bramble!  We suggest making your our own sweet and sour bar mix (equal parts simple syrup and lemon and lime juice) and muddling soft forest fruits (in homage to Bradsell’s original garnish of a raspberry) with the crème de mûre to thicken it enough to “float” on top of the drink and bleed down through the crushed ice.  Not only does it taste delicious, but a well-prepared Bramble is a real eye-catcher too!


  • 50 ml Wheadon’s Sloe Gin
  • 25 ml Sweet & Sour (homemade)
  • 20 ml Creme de Mûre
  • A couple of raspberries and blueberries, plus a single blackberry to garnish
  • Slice of lemon
  • Crushed ice


  • Place the raspberries and blueberries a glass shaker, add the crème de mûre, and muddle together.
  • Add crushed ice to a rocks glass, and pour over the sloe gin and sweet and sour mixture, stirring with a bar spoon. 
  • Carefully drizzle over the crème de mûre and fruit mix, so that it bleeds into the drink. 
  • Garnish with a fresh blackberry if in season and a slice of lemon.

Written by:

Mat Hailer