Prior to moving to the City of Trees last year, I had precisely two references to huckleberries. 1) huckleberry pie, which I have yet to taste. 2) Huckleberry Hound, that lovable 1970s cartoon character with a slight Southern drawl. Now that I’m here and pouring drinks, some of my guests at Capitol Bar bring me goodies. My latest grab is a bag of freshly picked huckleberries from a couple who love harvesting these tangy, tart and slightly sweet natural treats, despite the fact that bears are busy doing the same thing.
Of course, once in hand, my mind immediately turned to cocktails and I grabbed my muddler and gently pressed 10 or so huckleberries, added bit of citrus and my favorite gin of the moment (Prairie Organic Gin from Minnesota). I added ice and topped with soda water (or tonic, either works) and viola! — boozy huckleberry magic in a glass.
Of course, that was only the beginning. I then played around with a few other concoctions and arrived at this little number, an easy-to-make knock off of the standard lemon drop, served either in a cocktail glass with a sugared rim, or as a shot that shall heretofore be named the Huckleberry Hound.
Kevin Hopper will never harvest huckleberries for fear of getting eaten by bears. He’s more comfortable pouring drinks at Capitol Bar on West State Street
2 tbsp. fresh huckleberries
.5 oz. Lemon juice
2 oz. Premium vodka
1 oz. Simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar boiled until sugar dissolves)
Sugar (to rim the cocktail glass)
In a cocktail shaker, muddle huckleberries. Add simple syrup, lemon juice, vodka. Shake for 30 seconds and double strain into cocktail glass with a sugared rim. Alternately, pour contents into 6 shot glasses with sugared rims. Rinse glass and repeat.