Summertime in Winchester

by Cameron Correll

Winchester Traditions is a cooking series written by local resident Cameron Correll. Each recipe is inspired by the rich history of Clark County.

Summers in Winchester are sprinkled with memories of picking fresh blackberries, cold Ale-8s, and the feeling of grass on barefoot feet. My mom would fold the fresh blackberries into a mix of oatmeal, sugar, and butter and then baked until bubbly and golden. If you drive down Boone Avenue in the summer, you might notice a lush blackberry plant growing right outside of downtown. When the plant was heavy with berries, we plucked buckets full to can or freeze. I grew up near the old corner market on Combs Ferry Road. My dad would drive me for a sausage biscuit and a frosty Ale-8 for our regular Saturday morning breakfast date. Even today, as a grown woman, he will treat me to lunch once a week, where I’ll order an Ale-8 Zero. These memories are baked in and remembered with each sip of a cold Ale-8 or bite of a blackberry.

Ale-8 has a long history within Winchester. Developed in the 1920s by soda bottler G. L. Wainscott right on Main Street, the soda combined the refreshing pep of ginger and citrus. Some may lovingly refer to the drink as swamp water, and I have been known to convince an out-of-towner that our water tastes so good because they mix Ale-8 in. Today, you can tour the Ale-8 factory, where the bubbly drink is crafted and bottled. 

In the recipe I am sharing today, blackberries and Ale-8 are combined into a refreshing cocktail. I recommend picking the plump berries fresh and finding a frosty Ale-8 to top the drink. You can omit the bourbon for an alcohol-free drink that all ages can enjoy.

Blackberry Mint Smash

– 1.5 oz bourbon
– 1 oz simple syrup
– 6-8 mint leaves
– 2-3 blackberries
– Ale-8
– lime wedge (optional)

In a pint glass, muddle blackberries and mint leaves (and lime if desired). Add bourbon, simple syrup, and ice. Transfer to a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour contents into a rocks or pint glass, and top with Ale-8. Garnish with mint. For a mocktail, leave out the bourbon and top with Ale-8.