Explosions of red in Hudson Valley Julys mean two things: fireworks and wineberries.
While fireworks are a one-off along the river, wineberries—at least for a couple of weeks—are everywhere. A close cousin to raspberries, they’re actually considered invasive in New York, notorious for overrunning numerous native species and habitats.
That said, the berries themselves are delicious, and, because they are everywhere, easily foraged. I’m not even secretive about my favorite spots. Take a walk along the Old Croton Aqueduct in early to mid-July and you’ll fill a basket easily.
And while you can cook up tarts or jams or any other imaginable confection with your bounty, my favorite application is for cocktails. Wineberry syrup is so versatile and easy to make. Whether you’re a fan of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, or whiskey, the flavor is so pronounced that it stands up to any spirit. Color-wise, it’s also a showstopper. Substitute wineberry syrup for cranberry juice to make an extra-vibrant Cosmo.
Or, for palates so inclined, add to your Sherry Cobbler along with chocolate bitters and mint—it really runs the spectrum of possibility. Best of all, you can feel good about your wineberry cocktail for having foraged and prepared it yourself.
Rye of the Tiger
Makes 1 cocktail
2 ounces rye whiskey
¾ ounce wineberry syrup*
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
¼ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao
1 long dash Tabasco
Combine ingredients in a tumbler. Fill with ice, shake, and double strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
*Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, and 1 cup wineberries in a stove-top pot. Bring to a near boil, stirring regularly. Cool and filter for pulp.