Are you ready for summer berry season? I am so ready.

It may only be mid-June, but it's warming up and I'm ready for something cold and bubbly. I've pretty much given up on beer at this point, and a girl on my budget can't live on when fizzy cravings kick in, I usually reach for the simple treat of a homemade soda. This one plays the sweet, jammy fruitiness of barely cooked blackberries off the tart kick of fresh lemon juice, with subtly herbal hints from the thyme. 

It's refreshing. It's a teeny bit decadent. It's a mystical, deep purplish red. It's the fruity essence of summer in a glass.

Would you like one now? I'm already halfway through pouring myself one as I type this.

Blackberry, Lemon & Thyme Syrup

Makes about 4 cups of syrup, enough for quite a few sodas

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
3 half pints of blackberries (approx. 18 oz.)
a dozen sprigs of fresh thyme (plus more, if using for garnish)
juice of 5 lemons (about 1 cup)

Combine sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Bring just to a boil, add blackberries and thyme, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Place mixture in blender and pulse a few times until just blended. Straining mixture through a fine mesh strainer* to catch thyme stems, blackberry seeds & solids, slowly pour into a storage container that can hold at least 5 cups of liquid. Pour lemon juice through the strainer to catch pulp & seeds, directly into the blackberry syrup. Stir or shake (depending upon whether you are or are not James Bond) to combine, refrigerate until cold.

To serve, pour one part syrup into a glass and top with three parts seltzer or club soda. Garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme for fanciness. Other ways to serve: I think this would be truly lovely as a more grown-up beverage. A splash of gin over ice before adding the syrup and soda would be perfect, pairing the herbal notes in the gin against the blackberry and thyme flavors sounds just heavenly. If gin's not your cup of tea, I think a touch of this syrup in a chilled glass of prosecco might just be the ultimate summer refreshment. 

Try it! Tell me what you think! Happy summer to all! :)

 [ *This step will take a while, because the syrup is thick and full of seeds and some leftover fruit that won't want to make it through the strainer. Take your time, although you can press on some of the fruit solids with the back of a spoon to hurry the process up a bit. ]