Spring is deepening and in upstate New York we are already enjoying the bounty of the South. Fresh berries, real berries with natural sweetness and flavor, have arrived. If you ever question the value of modern transportation, take a look at your produce section of your supermarket. Imagine 80% of gone. The smile and grab some berries.

In the coming months, it will be summer cocktail time. And here, I’ll be writing about real cocktails. A long time ago, before corn syrup, cocktails were often fruit based and derived their flavor from nature, not from a stainless-steel processing plant. One of my favorite cocktail books, Hip Sips, emphasizes the fruit base for authentic, delicious cocktails.

A fruit puree is often the base for these drinks and a berry puree is the number one item to have on hand. Here is a lovely recipe to make your own berry puree, ready for use in the beverages to come.

Depending on the nature of your berries and of your personal taste, you may want to adjust the amount of sugar or lemon juice in the recipe. Even if you get “your version” down, the berries will change during the season, depending on heat, sun, and moisture, so be prepared to make some changes.

Berry Puree

Yield: 1 ½ cups


1 cup fresh berries: blueberries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries, or hulled strawberries
5 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons superfine sugar, plus more if needed
¼ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed


Combine the fruit, water, 2 tablespoons sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of lemon juice in a blender and pulse until completely chopped. Puree until quite smooth. Taste the puree and add more sugar or lemon juice if needed. Strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Use immediately, or freeze for up to 6 months.

Source: Hip Sips by Lucy Brennan