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Make berries the center of a sweet cocktail

Perhaps nothing is more relaxing on a warm summer night than sipping a cocktail as the sun sets. Some cocktails, such as the following recipe for “Blueberry Crush” from Susan Elia MacNeal’s “Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails” (Chronicle Books), even evoke the twilight hours of summertime with their unique look.

Blueberry Crush

Serves 1

4            or 5 ice cubes

2            blackberries

2            blueberries

2            raspberries

3            ounces Blueberry Vodka (see below)

Dash of lime juice

1            cup cracked ice

1⁄2            cup sparkling water or club soda (optional)

Place the ice cubes in a chilled old-fashioned glass. Place the berries in a small bowl and crush with a fork. Add to a shaker with the vodka, lime juice and cracked ice. Shake for 10 to 15 seconds, then strain over the ice cubes. For a lighter version of the drink, add the sparkling water.

Blueberry Vodka

1            750-ml. bottle of vodka

1            quart fresh blueberries

1⁄4            to 1 cup Sugar Syrup (optional; see below)

Decant the vodka into a clean 2-quart glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Soak the original bottle to remove the label. Let dry.

If using frozen berries, allow them to thaw. Place the fresh or thawed frozen berries in a bowl, crush with a fork and add to the vodka. Allow the vodka to infuse away from direct sunlight and intense heat for 3 months. Shake the container a few times each week.

When you’re satisfied with the intensity of flavor, strain the liqueur through a metal sieve into a bowl. Discard the berries. Add the sugar syrup to taste, if desired.

Using a funnel, pour the liqueur into the original bottle (or another container). Label with the name of liqueur and the date. Age for 1 month away from light and heat.

Sugar Syrup

1            cup water

2            cups granulated sugar

Put the water in a small saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring the water to a boil while stirring. Reduce the heat and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves. Cool to room temperature. Select a clean container that will hold at least 11⁄2 cups. Using a funnel, pour the sugar syrup into the container, seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.