This post is made in partnership with Pure Leaf Iced Tea.
I love how certain rituals of summer tickle the nostalgia bone, calling on the memories of our past to mark the passing of the month, the season, the year. Blackberry picking is among my favorite of these seasonal rituals, and every year I am reminded of the time, as kids in the mountains, my sister and I leaped over a huge-to-us snake, sunning in the middle of the road, because our blackberry-picking goal was that important. There are photos of us, faces and fingers stained deep purple with berry juice, the kind of activity that simply can’t be hidden.
This year has seen some challenging rites of passage. The trials of romance, home, parents, love, belonging and work have all been called into question. It has been a hard year, though I know a lot of growth will come out of this. And it has been harder to lean on the rituals of leisure that I associate so deeply with summer, simply because there has been less time for leisure. It feels like a thing I must accept, but the kid inside of me is a little frustrated about that. I am deeply attached to summer as a period of leisure.
It was good to be reminded by my friend Demetria that some folks’ summers are defined not by leisure but by work: the summer economy. I visited her a couple weeks back, capturing a thin sliver of her life as part of my larger Women’s Work project (more on that soon!), standing by and documenting the process of an intense marathon of pie-making for the Saturday farmers’ market. We began by picking blackberries.
No matter where I am doing it, all of the good moments and barely-conscious memories I associate with this activity flood me with good feels. Maybe this is the secret of adulthood? That joy is found in the tiniest moments, and it’s a fight – a good fight – to hang onto those moments in the in-between, the periods marked not by leisure but by all of the trappings of our daily lives – the commute, the chores, the bills, the work, the hustle and the hassle.
Here is a cocktail in honor of hanging on to those tiny moments: summer and its bounty of blackberries, the work day and its end, a moment to pause and take in the good. Cheers, friends. To those brief moments, as many of them as we can get.
Blackberry Sage Smash
Pure Leaf Iced tea invited me to create a summer cocktail with one of their new line of organic Pure Leaf Tea House Collection Teas, and I was instantly all over the Wild Blackberry Sage flavor. It’s refreshing all on its own on a hot day, and pretty much the perfect match with whiskey. I amplified its signature flavors with both wild blackberries and (not wild) culinary sage. Sage is a strong flavor; this would still be good without it, or you can substitute fresh mint leaves if you’d like. But I love this combo together.
For each cocktail:
1/4 cup fresh blackberries, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon cane sugar
1 fresh sage leaf, thinly sliced or torn, plus garnish
Juice of 1/2 fresh lime
4 ounces Pure Leaf Tea House Collection Wild Blackberry and Sage flavor iced tea
1.5 ounces whiskey
In a 12-ounce glass, muddle the blackberries, sugar, and sage together by lightly pounding or crushing them with a spoon, preferably wooden. Add the lime juice and stir. Pour the tea and the whiskey into the glass, stir, and top with a handful of ice. Garnish with a blackberry and more torn sage, if desired. Serve immediately.
As always, I only accept sponsorships that align with my own philosophy around food, and these partnerships sustain me as a self-employed freelancer. Thank you for reading!