The bramble was invented in London in 1890—a strange drink of choice for England, whose gray skies don't always conjur up images of tumblers filled with crushed ice and blackberries. But it works well for LA; the mix of gin, lemon, sugar and crème de mûre (a blackberry liquor) is ideal for drinking on rooftop bars or cocktail lounges by the beach. We took advantage of our warm weather and cool breezes and tried out some of the best brambles in the city—perfect for, well, any day of the year.
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Where to find the best brambles in LA
This Downtown haunt is a perfect mix of high and low, where you can come for a quick PBR or stay with a fancy, well-made cocktail. One of those cocktails? A traditional bramble that bar manager Francois Houlard attributes to his memories as a child collecting berries in the Belgian countryside. It's a straightforward version made with gin, blackberries, simple syrup and lemon juice—but really, what else do you need?
This stunning restaurant resides in Downtown LA, in the old rectory of Vibiana—a Roman Catholic cathedral turned events space. The sultry lounge is a swell place to enjoy one of head bartender Tobin Shea's creative cocktails, but if you're here for brunch, order the Spring Forward, Fall Back alongside a plate of pastries in the main dining room. Shea's unique take on a bramble is made with gin, pear brandy, lemon, pear mostarda and mint, and comes with a metal straw for smooth sipping.
Roosting in the formerly dark and dingy back room of Little Toni's, an old-school Italian joint straight out of The Godfather, BarToni's is a suburban cocktail oasis. Inside the small and lean watering hole, an impressive list of both signature and classic cocktails populate the menu, including BarToni's classic bramble. Using Beefeater gin, lemon and muddle blackberries, the concoction is stirred and strained over crushed ice. It's straightforward and delicious, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
It would be easy (and understandable) to sit at Scopa's bar and just stare at its gorgeous, illuminated collection of quality liquor that lines the shelves. But, uh, quit taking up room and order something, will ya? We'd recommend Scopa's classic bramble, a refreshing medley of gin, blackberries, lemon and sugar. Now you can go back to staring.
Live music, burgers, beer, cocktails—what more could you want in a casual neighborhood bar? Located in Downtown's Arts District, this friendly hangout hosts a steady stream of blues, rock and bluegrass musicians, all of which you can enjoy with one of our favorite brambles in hand: the BellaDonna. Villain's version uses Maker's Mark, mint, lemon, orange juice and bitters, and features a sweet blackberry bramble on top.
The Eclectic, a casual restaurant in North Hollywood that offers brunch, lunch and dinner, has a cocktail list that harkens back to Prohibition days. You'll find swills like a Penicillin, Black Manhattan and Midnight Stinger, along with a killer Whiskey Bramble: Maker's Mark, lemon juice, simple syrup and a muddle of fresh blackberries on top. Pair with a couple of appetizers and you've got yourself a solid night out.
Take a trip back to the ‘60s and drink like you have a first-class ticket with your name on it at this snazzy, aeronautical-themed West Hollywood boîte. Now Boarding's version of a bramble is an off-menu item, but say the name "Indian Summer" at the bar and they'll be able to whip one up for you. Made with Indian Summer gin, lemon juice, cardamom simple syrup and blackberry crème de mûre, the cocktail is served over crushed ice and garnished with blackberries.
The Varnish does a lot of cocktails well—their old-fashioned is a true rockstar—so the bramble, a more simple drink, might fly under the radar here. It shouldn't. First, fresh blackberries are muddled into a pulp, then mixed with lemon juice, simple syrup and London Dry Gin. Poured into a glass, the mixture is then topped with crushed ice and garnished with a blackberry for a gorgeous, refreshing and oh-so-classy beverage.