By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Cathead Distillery
Summertime blues take on a whole new meaning with this blueberry and herb-enhanced cocktail from Cathead Distillery.
One of the best things about summer is the proliferation of berries and herbs fresh out of the garden, many of which create delicious — and colorful — cocktails. Blueberries and basil, for instance, spice up vodka in one of Cathead Distillery’s most popular recipes. The Jackson, Miss., distillery combines fresh crushed blueberries, a nip of basil, simple syrup, and lemon juice for its decorative “Blues Cat.”
“Aside from it being one of our original cocktail recipes — going on 11 years old now — it’s a tried-and-true crowd pleaser, easy to drink, and can appeal to a sophisticated palate as well,” says Richard Patrick, co-founder of Cathead Distillery.
After mixing the ingredients in a cocktail shaker to create the Blues Cat, it’s imperative to infuse the combination with lots of ice for a cool refreshing drink, Patrick says.
“I prefer pellet ice when crafting a refreshing cocktail,” he recommends. “Ice, in general, is a big factor for any summertime cocktail, and pellet ice in particular adds a little more depth and mouthfeel.”
Blues Cat calls for regular Cathead Vodka, but for other fruity summer cocktails try Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, which received a 2021 Good Food Foundation Award in the spirits category alongside two other Southern distilleries, Blue Sky Distillery and Roulaison Distilling Co. A fun way to enjoy the award winner is to blend watermelon in a food processor and mix with the Honeysuckle Vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup, then top it off with fresh mint. It’s enlivening enough to cool off even the hottest day. Or mix Honeysuckle Vodka with frozen strawberries, rosé wine, simple syrup, and lemon juice for a unique Frosé.
The newly released Cathead Bitter Orange is another great complement to summer’s best, especially with fruit bought at farmer’s markets or roadside stands. These fruit additions can also work as substitutes to basic syrups.
“Always use fresh ingredients,” Patrick says. “I recommend, especially with Cathead Bitter Orange, utilizing fresh fruits for sweetness as opposed to a simple syrup.”
In addition to the new Bitter Orange Vodka, Cathead launched this summer Cathead Sparkling, a line of ready-to-drink canned cocktails. And there’s more great news coming, Patrick says. “We’re also excited to be adding some new bourbons to our portfolio this summer.”
The following Blues Cat recipe shows how easy it is to utilize fresh produce for a cool summer cocktail. Patrick insists that making great cocktails at home should be as simple as combining a few mixers such as these.
“Keep ingredients to a minimum,” he says, “and stock frequently used items, like lime and soda water, so you can make cocktails at your leisure.”
And isn’t that just what’s called for on a hot summer afternoon?
For more great ideas, check out Cathead’s numerous recipes on its website.
2 ounces Cathead Vodka
5 basil leaves
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
Directions: Muddle blueberries, basil, lemon juice, and simple syrup in cocktail shaker. Add Cathead Vodka and ice. Shake well. Strain and serve over ice in a cocktail glass. Garnish with fresh blueberries and basil.