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Eric Akis: B.C. blackberries make a magnificent margarita

These cool, refreshing margaritas are richly flavourful and hued with fresh B.C. blackberries.
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B.C. blackberries are blended into this icy, refreshing margarita. ERIC AKIS

There are many inviting ways to prepare fresh B.C. blackberries, whether you bought them from a farm market, grew your own or harvested wild ones down a country lane. But if you’re in the mood for a striking-looking summer cocktail, blending them into margaritas will prove to be a cool and palate-pleasing thing to do.

I discovered that to be very true many summers ago when a friend of mine, Dev, introduced me to this drink. It was a warm, late B.C. summer afternoon, we were in her backyard, she offered drinks and came out with some deep-purple looking, icy concoctions — a.k.a. blackberry margaritas. They were such a treat, as the ripe blackberries blended into the drink added a deep, beguiling, fruity flavourful to the cocktail that paired perfectly with the tequila and citrus juice in it.

I eventually started whirling up my own blackberry margaritas at home and, as I did recently, usually do so when I have a generous amount of fresh blackberries on hand.

As you’ll see in my recipe, to make two generous servings of drink, I put three cups of blackberries in a blender and pureed them. I then strained the puree to get the seeds out, which blackberries have many of. The strained puree, which was about one cup, is then blended with tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, orange juice and ice cubes, into a chilly glass, perfect for summer cocktail.

If you like a salty accent, you could salt the rims of the glasses before pouring in the blackberry margarita mixture. The recipe could be doubled if you want to make a larger batch. If you can’t have alcohol, see the Eric’s options part of the recipe.

Blackberry Margaritas

Cool, refreshing margaritas richly flavourful and hued with fresh B.C. blackberries.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: None

Makes: two generous servings (see Eric’s options)

3 cups (1 1/2 pints) fresh blackberries

3 Tbsp icing sugar, plus more to taste, if needed

• flaked sea or kosher salt, to taste (optional)

2 lime wedges or slices for garnish, plus 1 for the rims of the glasses, if needed

3 oz tequila (see Eric’s options)

1 ozorange liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or Triple Sec

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp orange juice

12 ice cubes

2 small skewers of fresh blackberries (optional; see Note)

Set a large fine sieve over a bowl. Place blackberries and 3 Tbsp icing sugar in a blender, mash berries down with a fork, and then pulse and puree them. Pour blackberry puree into the sieve. Use a small whisk to vigorously whisk and push the blackberry puree through the sieve, removing the seeds from it. You should get about one cup or so of strained blackberry puree. If not, top up with a bit of water to get that volume. You can make the strained puree many hours in advance. Transfer to a jar or bowl, cover and keep refrigerated until needed.

You don’t need to do this, but if you want to salt the rim of each glass, spread a thin layer of salt on a small plate. Moisten the rims of two margarita, large martini or other decorative glasses with one of the lime wedges or slices. Twist and coat the rim of each glass in salt. Set glasses upright.

Place strained blackberry puree, tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, orange juice and ice cubes in a clean blender. Pulse until well blended and a slightly slushy margarita mixture is created. Taste and sweeten mixture will a little more icing sugar, if you find it too tart.

Pour the blackberry margarita mixture into the glasses, garnish each drink with a lime wedge or slice and a skewer of fresh blackberries, if using, and then serve. If all the blackberry margarita mixture didn’t fit into the glasses, top them up when you need a refill.

Note: You can make skewers of fresh blackberries by threading some blackberries on cocktail picks, small wooden skewers and sturdy sprigs of rosemary with their lower leaves removed.

Eric’s options: If you want a smaller serving size, simply divide the blackberry margarita mixture between three smaller glasses, instead of two larger ones. To make an alcohol-free version of this drink, replace the tequila and liqueur with fruit juice, such as cranberry, apple or a berry-flavoured one.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.