The Great Toronto Cocktail Challenge: The Bramblish

Heaps of praise - and a little griping - have already been bestowed on Claudio Aprile's newest restaurant Origin. His wildly creative cuisine takes its inspiration from across the globe and is then transformed into something entirely his own. Lucky for him - and those looking for a little tipple - the bartenders here follow much the same ethos.

Today's cocktail, the aptly named "Bramblish", takes its name from a drink with roots in mid-eighties London. The Bramble is a gin-based cocktail sweetened with sugar syrup and finished with a Crème de Mure (blackberry) float. It's a satisfyingly spring cocktail that impresses as much as it refreshes. The Origin version takes that idea and - as the name suggests - pushes it a bit into left field. The Bramblish isn't a fruity cocktail; it's a floral one.

Rather than Crème de Mure, the bartenders here add a little rose water and julienne cucumber, creating something that's familiar, but still absolutely unique Does it work? Lets see.

Bramblish - 2oz, $13.00

Hendrick's Gin
Rose Water

Top Notes - 9/10
Even though the thermostat has only been just a hair over freezing lately, the Bramblish has enough summery oomph to convince the biggest scrooge it's patio season. This cocktail is served in a rocks glass piled to the brim with crushed ice and a gradient that goes from deep rose at the bottom of the glass and slowly fades its way to the top. It's then finished with some julienne cucumber. Like virtually everything at Origin, it tastes as good as it looks and it looks really good.

The Back End -- 9/10
Obviously it's the rose water that steals the show - it's what gives the drink its unique slant and is the first thing you taste in every sip. But the rose water is only the showiest of the ingredients; the remaining elements are what give the drink its depth.

The drink is balanced perfectly with the gin super-present in the background with its piney-ness peaking through and pairing perfectly with the rose. In addition to juniper, Hendricks also infuses cucumber into the spirit which just makes it about the most refreshing thing around (it's pretty stellar in gin and tonics as well). Add to that some julienned cucumber for garnish and a little added freshness and you've got yourself patio season in a glass.

Finish - 7/10
In a few short weeks the thermostat will be routinely in the double digits and I can think of no better way to spend an afternoon with my clothes on than sitting on the corner of King and Church on that big beautiful patio and sipping on a Bramblish. I can just imagine a sticky mid-summer day when the air is thick with humidity, the one saving grace of suffering through an unbearable heatwave is finding those brief moments of refreshment--this drink is summertime.

Now to be fair, at $13.00 a pop, it could very quickly turn into a pretty pricey afternoon if you're going to make a session out of it. But sometimes you just need to splurge.

Total Score: 25/30 (83%)


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