They not only grow wild there; they're freaking rampant. I miss all that free food! I have to buy blackberries here in Florida, and it makes me ill how much they go for. However, sometimes, it's worth it. This liqueur is so beautiful, fragrant, and satisfying. While I'm sure it would taste better with vine ripened berries from Washington, I've found I can make do with frozen berries from Wal-Mart.
The only bad thing about this recipe is that you have to be patient. This isn't one of those, "Hmmm, I think I'll make some blackberry liqueur for that party this weekend," kind of things. It needs time to steep. It needs time to mature. Ideally, you need to give it six months. I know that's asking a lot, but - trust me - it's worth it. This liqueur is as great to give as it is to enjoy. Whenever I use up some ingredient that comes in a nifty bottle, I clean it out and hang on to it so that I have something nice to decant my liqueur into when it's ready.
Yield: approx. 4 cups
4 cups blackberries
zest of one lemon
2 whole cloves
2 cups vodka
1 cup brandy
1 cup sugar syrup (2:1 sugar to water)
Lightly crush the berries with a fork. If they are refrigerated or frozen, let them come to room temperature first. Using a vegetable peeler, zest one lemon. You can use a knife but be sure to remove any pith, which is bitter. In a large jar (I use a half-gallon canning jar), mix together the blackberries, lemon zest, cloves, vodka, and brandy. Place a lid on the jar and set in a cool, dark place for about three months.
After it has steeped, pour it through a strainer, then through a coffee filter (multiple times is better). Make a cup of sugar syrup and let it cool to room temperature. Add the sugar syrup to the liqueur until it is sweet enough to your taste. Mature in a cool, dark place for another 4-6 weeks. Decant into a pretty bottle. Store for up to one year.