Bourbon Bramble Crisp

A seasonal cocktail inspired by a classic Southern dessert

Photo: Stephen Blackmon

Stephen Blackmon.

I was recently given a challenge by a colleague at Garden & Gun to create a cocktail based on a bourbon bramble that the actor Andy Samberg said was his favorite. I’ve been a bartender for five years, so I’m always looking for new drinks to concoct. My inspiration comes from a variety of sources: history, art, music, and food. I grew up in a large family in Marion, South Carolina, and family reunions were always big events, full of some of the most delicious home-cooked Southern fare you could imagine, including some of the best desserts. One of my favorites was peach and blueberry crisp. 

While at a small dinner gathering hosted by a friend in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, I was making frozen piña coladas to beat the Lowcountry heat for everyone as our hostess assembled a peach and blueberry crisp for after dinner. The moment I had the first forkful of that crisp following our meal, it sparked the Southern dessert–inspired cocktail you see here: Bramble Crisp. I bet Andy Samberg would love it.


  • Bramble Crisp (Yield: 1 Cocktail)

    • 1 oz. Meyer lemon juice

    • 8–10 fresh blueberries

    • ½ oz. Saigon cinnamon syrup (recipe follows)

    • 1¾ oz. oat-washed rye (recipe follows)

    • ¾ oz. Mathilde Pêche Liqueur

    • 3 drops vanilla extract

    • Peach circles, blueberries, and freshly grated cinnamon, for garnish

  • Saigon Cinnamon Syrup

    • 1 cup water

    • 1 cup sugar

    • 4 Saigon cinnamon sticks (or 1 tbsp. ground)

  • Oat-Washed Rye

    • ½ cup rolled oats

    • 1 cup rye whiskey (I use James E. Pepper)


  1. Add lemon juice, blueberries, and cinnamon syrup to a shaker and muddle. Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake until chilled. Add crushed ice to a coupe or rocks glass. Double strain cocktail into the glass and top a peach sliced into a circle with blueberries, and grate fresh cinnamon over all.

  2. For the Saigon cinnamon syrup: Bring water and sugar to a boil with Saigon cinnamon sticks (or ground), stirring frequently until sugar has fully dissolved and cinnamon has become fragrant. Remove from heat and let cool covered. Strain, bottle, and refrigerate.

  3. For the oat-washed rye: Add rolled oats to rye whiskey in a mason jar or other sealable container. Give it a good shake and let sit for up to 72 hours, shaking once per day. Your rye should be much lighter in color and milky looking when ready. Strain all through a fine mesh or coffee filter.


Stephen Blackmon works in the IT department at Garden & Gun and bartends at the Macintosh in Charleston, South Carolina.