Explorations in Mixology Cocktails Drinking

Hucktini

It’s called the Hucktini, a name that might remind you of stories by Mark Twain but probably comes from cocktail naming “sensibilities” of the relatively recent past—before the modern craft cocktail renaissance. Bars of the 1990s seemed to call every cocktail a “tini” of one sort or another. Vermouth? Never. They weren’t classics, just syrupy sweet vodka drinks of every flavor, poorly named and capitalizing on customers that didn’t know any better. It was a different time for sure. The silver lining is probably the fact that a continually missed naming opportunity has spared us a bloated history of drinks that sound cool but taste awful. But, what about this Hucktini?

Cocktail naming snobbery nearly caused us to pass over this drink a couple years ago when we spotted the Hucktini on the menu at Edgewaters, the best restaurant in the coastal town of Bandon, Oregon. A quick chat with our server confirmed that it’s a customer favorite featuring a house-made huckleberry cordial, fresh lemon, and blueberry-flavored vodka. We ordered a round and they were absolutely delicious, nicely balanced, simple and unique. We would need to set aside our aversion to the name and attempt to recreate it at home.

Huckleberries grow in the Pacific Northwest, but the fruit isn’t exactly a common item at farmers markets. We spotted them once and were told by at least one vendor that they grow in difficult locations and are sometimes too fragile to be collected, carried, and sold at the market intact. This actually makes them perfect for preserving in a cordial, if you can get them.

About the same time we started looking for fresh huckleberries, we found Wild Roots Huckleberry Vodka. Wild Roots is a local distillery that uses all-natural fruit to flavor and color their products, building intense flavor more akin to a liqueur, but without being overly sweet. We have been very impressed with their Marionberry and Raspberry in the past, so we figured their Huckleberry might work well a Hucktini in the off-season or simply avoiding the challenges with fresh fruit and DIY ingredients. If we could pull off a simplified version of this drink without sacrificing flavor it would be worth picking up the bottle.

Hucktini
1 oz Smirnoff Blueberry vodka
1 oz Wild Roots Huckleberry
1 oz lemon juice
.5 simple syrup

Shake with ice, then strain into a chilled, Martini-style, V-shaped cocktail glass.

In addition to huckleberries, the original calls for blueberry vodka. It’s not a common flavor in cocktails, but here it helps bolster the flavor of the huckleberry. Options for blueberry vodka may be limited, but we found Smirnoff Blueberry easily enough. A little lemon juice enhances everything and the simple syrup keeps it from becoming too tart. There’s no garnish, but you could do a sugar rim if you are a little heavy on the lemon. Could you make this using fresh fruit instead of Wild Roots? Certainly. Some huckleberries muddled with sugar would be more authentic. An actual puree would also add a nice texture to the drink that we don’t get in ours, but we are still very satisfied with our rendition. Give this one a try, and if you are ever in Bandon, it’s worth a visit to Edgewaters for the real deal.

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