Purple Rain


(Note: this post was originally published on May 20, 2021. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

My Inspiration

Floral, refreshing, and a bit sweet, this easy sipper is an ode to all things purple. It's such a wonderful cocktail for spring and summer. But can you guess the inspiration behind it?

If you're a fan of Prince, then I imagine the title of this cocktail caught your eye right away. It's named for Prince's song Purple Rain, which is one of his most iconic and popular tracks.

Dave and I are both huge Prince fans and love his music and the message of love and acceptance that he worked so hard to spread. Last month was the five-year anniversary of his death. After listening to his music throughout the day, I heard Purple Rain and for some reason it popped into my head: this would be an excellent name for a cocktail! Hence the idea for this drink was born, but we could alternatively call it a Blackberry Lavender Gin & Tonic.

A Purple Rain Story

Purple Rain became especially meaningful to me after a very long, hard, and rainy walk. I was in San Francisco for work and finished early, so I had a full day free. I know the city really well and love to walk there, so I set out to walk 26.2 miles. I've since done appreciably longer days, but at the time it was my first marathon-length walk. Unfortunately it rained steadily all day and was chilly, windy, and overall pretty miserable.

About 18 miles in I was hurting pretty bad, completely soaked, and fighting some blisters from being in soaked shoes all day. I stopped in at Tacolicious down in the Mission District, which is one of my favorite restaurants and areas of town. I sat at the bar alone, just happy to be out of the rain, and had a couple margaritas and tacos. I really didn't want to go back outside and was worried I wasn't going to be able to finish.

When I went back out, I put in my headphones and set my phone to shuffle through my Prince collection (which is vast). As the rain poured down and I sloshed along Market Street, Purple Rain came on and was so fitting. It gave me so much motivation, and right then I knew I'd be able to finish. Even though the rain kept coming down, I finished my 26.2 miles and was so proud.

Purple Flair and Flavors

This cocktail is an ode to Prince's amazing music, to his philosophy of universal love and acceptance, and to Purple Rain. It is a celebration of all purple ingredients, which I think speaks to the eclectic and multi-dimensional nature of Prince's music.

The flavor powerhouse in this cocktail is a blackberry-lavender simple syrup that you can easily make at home. It's a delightful mix of floral and fruit notes, which echoes the complex nature of the botanicals in gin. The blackberry-lavender syrup (look at the beautiful purple colored liquid in the small jar in the photo above!), combined with gin and some refreshing tonic, then garnished with an assortment of purple fruit, makes for a light and versatile summer drink.

One very important purple element that certainly needs to be mentioned is Empress 1908 Gin. Its purple hue comes naturally from butterfly pea flower. I love the bright, citrusy flavors in this gin and it's a perfect fit for this cocktail. I hope you can get your hands on a bottle of this gin, since it's so special and unique! If you can, check out my Unicorn Cocktail too.

The only proper way to finish this cocktail off is with some purple flowers. I'm already excited to make it with edible purple violets when they start to bloom in our yard. I feel like Prince would definitely be into the purple flowers.

Making a Simple Syrup

This cocktail relies upon a simple syrup to get all that wonderful flavor into a drinkable form. While you can get blackberry flavor into a cocktail just by muddling those beautiful, juicy berries, lavender is a very different story; a syrup is essentially the only way to translate that flavor into a liquid. If you've never made a simple syrup before, don't let the fancy name intimidate you! If you can boil water, you can do it.

A simple syrup is just a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water, cooked down until it becomes thick and syrupy. It's a great way for capturing flavors that are difficult to get into a liquid form otherwise... for example, lavender! That's why the simple syrup is a very powerful tool in mixology!

The recipe below will walk you through making a blackberry lavender simple syrup. But this concept will work for just about anything you can dream up, so don't be afraid to experiment! Herbs, warming spices like cinnamon, and edible flowers all yield wonderful simple syrups.

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this cocktail, as well as some thoughts and tips.

  • Blackberries. I've made this simple syrup with both fresh and frozen berries, and both work fine, so use what you prefer. But given that some fresh berries make for a really nice garnish, I suggest buying yourself some fresh ones to really make this drink feel special.
  • Lavender
  • Sugar. A simple syrup is pretty much the only time I use straight white sugar. It's important for the color! Please don't try this with brown sugar, coconut sugar, or equivalent, since your syrup will turn out brown.
  • Tonic water. I suggest using a low-sugar tonic water since you'll be adding sweetness through the simple syrup. I love the "Refreshingly Light" one from Fever Tree.
  • Empress 1908 Gin. See more detail above on this beautiful spirit. The cocktail will be just as delicious if you can't find it, but it will lack that purple top layer.
  • Garnishes. I like to use blackberries and purple grapes, but anything within a purple theme will be great.

Closing Thoughts

The first time I made this drink was a few days after the five-year anniversary of Prince's death. We enjoyed a couple of these and a bunch of casual finger foods for a really nice Friday date night. We of course listened to a lot of Prince's music too, and watched a few videos. It was definitely the right way to celebrate his memory and all the wonderful art and inspiration he created.

I hope you have a blast with this one! It's definitely a cocktail in which more is more. Do Prince proud and make it over-the-top and fun.

Share It!

It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.

Suggested Pairings

Snack Board Guide

Unicorn Hummus

Unicorn Cauliflower

Grilled Stone Fruit, Goat Cheese, and Pistachio Salad

Summer Picnic Chick Pea Salad

Disclosure: I received free product from Empress 1908 Gin. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.

Purple Rain

This whimsical gin cocktail is an ode to Prince and his song Purple Rain. It's essentially a Blackberry Lavender Gin & Tonic... but with all the Prince flair!



For the Blackberry Lavender Simple Syrup

  • Large handful of blackberries
  • 1 tbsp lavender
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c granulated white sugar

For the Cocktail

  • 0.5 oz blackberry-lavender simple syrup
  • 3 oz low-sugar tonic water
  • 2.5 oz Empress 1908 Gin
  • Blackberries and purple grapes for garnish


  1. To make the simple syrup, combine the blackberries and lavender with the water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low boil. Use a fork to carefully smash each berry so that it releases its colorful juice. Boil until the mixture has reduced significantly and turned a dark pink-purple color. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep an eye on it and don't let it go too far.
  2. Strain the simple syrup through a fine-mesh sieve to remove all of the berry seeds and bits of lavender.
  3. Put the simple syrup in a jar or container and chill it for at least several hours.
  4. Add the simple syrup to the bottom of a highball glass.
  5. Add some large ice cubes into the glass, as well as blackberries and purple grapes interspersed throughout the ice.
  6. Pour a few oz of tonic water over the ice.
  7. Gently float the gin on top of the tonic.
  8. Garnish with a few additional blackberries and grapes.
  9. Serve with a straw (ideally a purple one!) for mixing and/or for tasting the different layers separately.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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July 30, 2021
Seductive!! The perfect ode to Prince. Love all the purple ingredients.