crushed blackberry negronis with star anise ice cubes | vernal rumblings

cocktails, drinks, fruits, gin, other spirits, spring

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It’s a cozy, gloomy Sunday afternoon here at the house. Little pops of pink are peeking through, amidst the few remaining brown leaves from last fall that, for some reason, still want to cling to winter. Some part of me does, too. The colder, darker winter months demand us to don multiple layers of insulation and protection. A hibernation of sorts. A time to reflect and center ourselves or, perhaps, to hide and retreat.

Spring’s arrival signals an energetic shift. Longer days shed light on dormant soil, beckoning sleepy seedlings and perennials to emerge with renewed vigor. I feel that pulse within myself, but like those lingering, brown leaves in the garden, I am also a little stubborn to embrace the change. There is something satisfying about being able to blame the winter season on any lack of energy or delayed starts on projects. I even revel in avoiding tedious tasks in the colder months – like not shaving my legs, for example. It’s another chore I can put off and cover up with layers and boots. Maybe that’s TMI, but you see the parallel of avoidance here.

crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora

As a gardener, I can’t get away with hiding under the covers and putting off tilling the soil, prepping the raised beds, turning the compost, or neglecting the seedlings. Spring won’t let me avoid these tasks. So, I’ve been trying to wake up a little earlier each day, reset my morning routines, and move about a little more. After a few hours of hard work this past week, Steve and I looked out on our backyard with smiling approval. Spring had already been waiting for us, and now we were ready for it.

And, yes, I made sure to shave my legs, when those shorts and flops came out to play this week. My sister would be proud of me.

crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora

So, to brightly welcome spring’s arrival, I have a crushed blackberry Negroni for you. For those of you, who are still unfamiliar with this favorite cocktail of mine, a Negroni is an Italian classic cocktail with three distinct ingredients: equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It is a beautiful balance of bitter, savory, herbaceous, and sweet. The texture is something I crave, and when I combined these classic ingredients with ripe blackberries, I reached another dimension of deliciousness. I didn’t think it was possible, especially after I posted these frozen blood orange Negronis over at the Kitchn a week or so ago.

Both of these iterations are simple and dang good. Do yourself a solid and make it a spring resolution to give both of them a go.

And definitely take the time to make the star anise ice cubes. They’re not only a beautiful garnish, but they also slowly impart a complementary licorice aroma and flavor, as the ice cubes melt. Star anise is the perfect match for the blackberry fruit and the complexity of the sweet vermouth.

crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora


crushed blackberry negronis with star anise ice cubes

  1. In a mixing glass, using a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon, pulverize the blackberries, extracting as much juice, as you can.
  2. Fill the glass with the gin, Campari, sweet vermouth, and a handful of ice cubes {the regular kind}.
  3. Stir well, chilling the mixture fully.
  4. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with one large star anise ice cube.
  • To make the star anise ice cubes, fill a large ice cube tray halfway with filtered water and drop in one star anise pod. Freeze for a couple of hours. Fill up the tray with water and, optionally, add another star anise pod. Freeze until solid, preferably overnight. I used this cocktail ice cube tray.

crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora crushed blackberry negronis | holly & flora

Cheers to another Monday, another fresh start. I’m taking it. I need a do-over from last week’s craziness, in fact. I’ll close with some snippets from the garden. Things are definitely turning greener and brighter, and my spirits are taking cue.

And about those bitter cocktails? Are you as much of a fan as I am? Do you have a favorite twist on a Negroni or a recipe for a Campari-centric cocktail? Even if you claim to lean toward sweeter cocktails, this particular riff on a Negroni might sway your point of view. The muddled blackberries bring just the right amount of fruity sweetness to the mix, bringing a little more balance to the classic recipe.

Heck, just make both versions – the classic and the twist – and call it a day. A very good kind of day.



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  1. Book Haunt says:

    Yummy sounding and a gorgeous presentation! Can’t beat it! Wonderful post!

  2. Laurie says:

    I am hard pressed to know what to love and covet more…..the gorgeous drink, the shy mint….the dandelion peeking out to say hello…..gorgeous post, gorgeous writing….maybe I should shave my legs this week! Lol! 💛💚🦄💚💛

    • Oh, my gosh, Laurie! I am dying laughing right now. I’m so happy you saw some beauty and a little humor in this post. Defying concepts of beauty is something I try to do regularly. The whole leg-shaving thing is so annoying, but I always like the results when I take the time to do it. But I’d much rather be put gardening. 😂

  3. Such deep and enticing colours! Elinor x

  4. Christine says:

    I smiled when I read that your sister would approve of you shaving your legs – this past winter, all four of my sisters scolded me at the same time when they saw a glimpse of mine! WInter somehow makes this much more acceptable to me. The negroni is probably my favourite cocktail! I really, really love the idea of this one with blackberries and star anise and will have to give it a try very soon. You make it look so beautiful Jayme! xo

    • HAHAHAHAAAAA! I have to show my sister your comment. I’m giggling and smiling with satisfaction. Winter DOES make it all so much more acceptable. I am happy that I finally broke down and did something about the forest on my legs; I can definitely quickly don a sundress for an inpromtu lunch or walk now. Although, I really think all of those kinds of tasks are time-suckers. I’d rather be doing something fun or productive, instead! 😉 And HOORAY for Negronis! You’ll have to try this version, Christine. It’s like a Negroni with a spring makeover – just like our decision to break down and pick up the razor. XO to you!

  5. This looks really beautiful

    • Thanks so much, David! The garden really does its thing well this time of year. I savor these first few weeks of spring, where I don’t really have to do anything to it, in order to make it beautiful.

  6. paulathomas2015 says:

    I have never had a negroni {i know, how embarrassing!} and keep thinking i’d like to try one but always back away from it out of fear it would be too strong, maybe something like this, with fruit, might be the perfect place to start.
    It has been sooooooooooo {O} long since I last checked my reading list and social media outlets, but I’m glad to catch a glimpse of what’s going on in your {always} beautiful garden, so much inspiration! Bisous Bisous

    • Let’s get some coffee or that cocktail we talked about very SOON! I want to hear about your travels and teaching! There is so much to catch up on. And yes, I think that this Negroni iteration is just for you. I hope you guys are surviving the snow down at your place. We got a little over a foot of snow, but the spring daffodils and tulips seem to be surviving! Xs and Os to you, Paula! Hey, and I still have some of that pumpkin butter waiting for you at work. I can just bring it to you the next time we meet up!

  7. These are stunning. Drink art. I love the ice cubes. Almost too beautiful to drink… 😉

    • Laura, thank you!! I had a mini-meltdown {pun intended}, when the ice cubes were melted and gone. I’ll just have to make another tray’s worth of them. Muddled strawberry Negronis are turning out to be just as good. 😉

  8. […] the right herb, fruit, or even vegetable for cocktail inspiration. Spirits-heavy cocktails, like the Negroni or a Manhattan, definitely have their place in a cocktail repertoire, but why not add a healthier […]

  9. anne says:

    Your cocktails are always so beautiful. And what happy peeks of your garden, too.

    I can totally relate (definitely with the leg shaving), but I’ve found that once I’m outside after months of being stuck inside the energy to work in the garden just sort of springs up from a deep, sleepy place hidden away. Spring is when I can accomplish more than I thought possible.

    Having fun catching up with your blog. I hope you’re thoroughly enjoying the spring!

    • Thank you SO much, Anne. The garden is seriously pumping right now. We are planting the last tomato starts into the garden tomorrow. The last possibilities of frost are gone, but it is now hail season. We are hoping to miss it all. It’s crazy how the hail passes in such little bands. Our neighbors got a lot of hail damage, and we narrowly missed it all. Crazy how that works out, right? How is your garden going/growing so far this spring? I am playing catch-up on my blog reading – in between the plantings – tomorrow. Like I mentioned earlier, have a great holiday weekend. Big hugs your way.

  10. […] shared my affection for the Negroni here on the blog before, and the drink itself is having is day in the sun. It’s actually having […]

  11. nancyg says:

    2 years later and I found your recipe pinned on Pinterest board. You had me at “Negroni” and I clicked at the gorgeous image of your cocktail. I’m home sick, so going to try your version. Yes, I adore a Negroni and was introduced to an upper-shelf version that I love for that time when I feel like a little splurge. I make my splurge substituting Gran Classico for the Campari and Carpano Antica for the vermouth. Don’t leave out the orange twist. I would be interested to know what that blackberry colored flower and lovely, silvery green foliage is in your cocktail photos. Cheers!

  12. […] know of my affinity for the Negroni, a 1:1:1 ratio of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Give a read here, here, or here for a few of my favorite iterations. I even have a frozen blood orange Negroni that […]

  13. […] Crushed Blackberry Negroni | a summery version with star anise ice cubes […]

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