The Friday Tipple: Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

Mexican Cocoa Martini

We’re snow-weary, Boozers. Winter seems to be hanging on with a vengeance and we feel the need to burrow down until spring, so we set out in search of sweet salvation. Believe us, one sip of our Mexican Cocoa Martini and that Doppler radar will be just a distant memory.

And, as if that weren’t enough, we had to top the whole thing off with a dollop of our Drunken Fluff, which, admittedly, is a bit over the top, but we know you’ll agree that it’s as necessary as a shiny red bow on a beautifully-wrapped box. In fact, we predict that you’ll be looking for excuses to add it to waffles, ice cream sundaes, and your morning cup o’ joe.

Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

This little cocktail packs a powerful punch, so eat a snack before you suck it down. The Drunken Fluff can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the freezer — it won’t freeze solid, and can be scooped out whenever you need a little boozy puff of happiness.

2 ounces vodka (we like Boyd & Blair, but please support your own local distillery)

1 ounce Kahlua

Splash of Creme de Cacao

1 teaspoon cocoa powder mixed with  1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 large spoonful Drunken Fluff (recipe below)

Put vodka, Kahlua, and Creme de Cacao in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and cinnamon until it is thoroughly blended and the liquid is hot but not boiling. Warm the martini glass slightly and pour in the Mexican Cocoa; top with the Drunken Fluff.

to make the Drunken Fluff:

3 egg whites at room temperature

1 cup castor sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye — you could also use bourbon, rum, or whatever strikes your fancy)

First, make the whiskey sugar syrup. Put the sugar, corn syrup, water, whiskey, and vanilla bean into a saucepan and heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Bring to a low simmer and check the temperature with a candy thermometer — you want to heat it to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, but not any higher than that. Remove the vanilla bean.

While the syrup is coming up to temperature, whip the egg whites for about 5 minutes in an electric mixer, until they form soft peaks. Add the hot syrup slowly in a continuous stream with the mixer running at a medium speed, then increase the speed to high for several minutes until the mixture has a consistent creamy and fluffy texture. Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the freezer.

The Friday Tipple: Nutella Whiskey Dream

Nutella Whiskey Dream

We’ve found the new Dream Team, Boozers. Forget sports, we’re talking about a creamy liquid confection that will knock your socks off — although this week’s hot cocktail would be just about perfect to sip on the slopes while watching snowboarding in Sochi. We call it a Nutella Whiskey Dream — but don’t pinch yourself, because it’s real and ready for imbibing even as the Polar Vortex swirls around your ears.

Nutella, that lovely Italian hazelnut spread that French bébés love to slurp off their toasted baguettes before trooping off to school, was in the news a year ago because of a French tax on products that contain palm oil, thereby increasing the cost of Nutella to the French populace. Sacre bleu! Our advice to French senators: beware of renewed interest in the guillotine.

Luckily for Americans, our own senators don’t mind a bit if we want to liberally slather palm oil all over every morsel, so we feel compelled to enjoy Nutella at any moment. Of course, you can also prepare your own homemade version without that nasty palm oil, and thumb your nose at Big Government and Big Industry at the same time. A hipster coffee bistro in the Good Booze ‘hood specializes in a tasty Nutella latté, so naturally we wondered how we might riff off of this in the comfort of our own home. Say hello to the Nutella Whiskey Dream, a tasty little slice of heaven on those long winter evenings by the fire dreaming of Olympic glory. A votre santé!

Nutella Whiskey Dream

We like this with whiskey, cuz we’re ‘Merican, but if you’re feeling particularly Russian, you could try it with vodka (Boyd and Blair would be our choice then). Drink up.

4 ounces hot milk (cow, soy, coconut, whatever you like)

1.5 ounces whiskey (we prefer the spicy goodness of Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1 heaping tablespoon Nutella

Freshly whipped cream spiked with Frangelico liqueur (optional… no, really it isn’t. You need this.)

Powdered unsweetened cocoa, for dusting the whipped cream

Put the Nutella in the bottom of a mug or heat-safe glass; add 1/4 cup hot milk and mix thoroughly, then add the rest of the milk and the whiskey. Stir well, then top with whipped cream and dust with cocoa. Serve immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Swedish 75

Swedish 75

It’s a snow day, Boozers. An unexpected snowfall means that our frosty breath hangs in the air as we tramp through mounds of the fluffy stuff, imagining that we are traversing through the Scandinavian countryside. If we were truly of Nordic blood, we’d laugh at this paltry little showing of Mother Nature, but  instead we are as excited as schoolchildren. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

During the recent holiday celebrations, we were lucky enough to be gifted with a tantalizing pine-based gin from St. George Spirits which perfectly suits a wintry day. Prior to that, we were already fascinated by pine syrup, which you can purchase online or simply make yourself (this is how we prefer to recycle a Christmas tree); additionally, you can infuse any gin (like Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin, our local favorite) with clean pine needles to get the same fresh woodsy flavor.

And so today we bring you the Swedish 75, a Scandinavian twist on the French 75 that truly should be imbibed while sitting in a hot tub on a frosty winter evening. Gott Nytt År!

Swedish 75

For this happy little cocktail, we like to use a splash of lingonberry juice for a truly Swedish flair, but if you can’t find lingonberry juice, then you can substitute cranberry juice — just be sure to use a light hand with it, because cranberries have a somewhat stronger flavor than lingonberries.

1 ounce gin, preferably pine-infused*

1 ounce lingonberry juice

a few drops of orange bitters

2 ounces sparkling wine, champagne, or Prosecco

fresh orange peel

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir briskly. Strain into a champagne coupe (you can also serve in a tall glass over crushed ice) and top with the sparkling wine. Twist orange peel over the glass to release the oils and drop into the drink. Serve immediately.

* If you don’t have a pine-infused gin, do not fret. You can also create a quick pine-infused simple syrup and add a teaspoon of it to your cocktail to create a similar effect.

 

The Friday Tipple: Robert Frost-ini

Robert Frost-ini

We’re waxing poetic, Boozers. As we cozy up into the holiday season and the darkest days of winter, we yearn for snowy woods and horse-drawn sleighs, even as some profess a preference for global warming. There is something about the chill stillness of a December night that unites us all to transcend the boundaries of religion, geography, and culture.

And so we bring you the Robert Frost-ini. His poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” inspired us to create this December night in a glass, by combining our quick rosemary-infused vodka (we enjoy Boyd & Blair) with a splash of Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia pear brandy. At the bottom of the glass, like a bright red cardinal perched on the snowy branch of a birch tree, is a soupçon of cranberry simple syrup, beckoning to you with its lip-puckering tartness.

Though your friends and family may be flung far and wide, you can all share in the welcoming darkness of December, as the days slowly begin to lengthen again into the promise of spring. Enjoy the moment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep/And miles to go before I sleep.

The Robert Frost-ini

2 ounces rosemary-infused vodka (recipe here)

1/2 ounce Pearousia or pear brandy

a few drops of Italian sweet vermouth

scant teaspoon cranberry simple syrup (recipe below)

reserved cranberries

Put vodka, Pearousia and vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour cranberry simple syrup and a single cranberry into the bottom of a chilled martini glass. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the glass and enjoy.

To make cranberry simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup frozen cranberries

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon gum arabic mixed with 1 teaspoon water (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens into a syrup*. Reserve cranberries and strain the syrup, then allow to cool.

* Optional: at this point, you can take the pan off the heat and mix in gum arabic paste, which will make the syrup thicker. Not necessary, but it has a nice texture.

The Friday Tipple: Tex Mex Cocoa

Tex Mex Cocoa

Brrr, Boozers. The end of November may have been unseasonably warm for some of us, but December is quickly making up for lost time. As we bundle up in our Snuggies, our thoughts naturally turn to… tequila.

Yes, dust off those bottles of agave goodness — tequila need not be only a summer refresher, and don’t forget about the triple sec. The natural bite of tequila means that it is perfectly complemented by cinnamon and cocoa, and the triple sec provides a lightly sweet citrus note — combining together for a rich and spicy winter warmer.

Because we do like a little kick to our cocoa sometimes, we chose to add a few drops of hot sauce to the mix — our local favorite is Uncle Brutha’s. It gives that extra little sizzle as you curl up next to a crackling fire. We’re also pretty sure that Tex Mex Cocoa would be the drink of choice for a midnight visitor on Christmas Eve — Santa gets a little tired of milk and cookies.

Tex Mex Cocoa

We make this with almond milk, which adds a nice nutty undertone to the cocoa. Use a good quality ground cocoa — it will add richness to the flavor.

1 heaping teaspoon ground cocoa

1 heaping teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A few drops of hot sauce

1.5 ounces silver tequila

3 ounces hot (but not boiling) almond milk (unsweetened)

triple sec

Mix cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon in the bottom of a mug. Add tequila and hot sauce and stir together into a slurry, then mix in the hot almond milk until well-incorporated. Float a little triple sec across the top. Now that’s what we call holiday cheer!

The Friday Tipple: Swedish Margareta

Swedish Margareta

We’re feeling Scandinavian, Boozers. There’s something about the scent of pine trees and impending snow that makes us want to pull on a Nordic patterned sweater and dust off the cross-country skis, while a bottle of aquavit chills in a snowbank awaiting our return from the frozen countryside.

Although the Northern Lights are but a distant dream, we do at least have IKEA, and there, amidst the Swedish meatballs and umlauts, we found lingonberry juice. Similar to the cranberry, lingonberries are, by turns, both tart and sweet, conjuring up images of frosty drinks from warmer climes, namely, the margarita. And thus we bring you the Swedish Margareta, a salute to the Scandinavian warmth you can find in the depths of a chilled glass as your rosy cheeks thaw next to a roaring fire. Skål!

Swedish Margareta

We often like to offer cocktail recipes that allow for our dear Boozers to take some creative license. While we chose to use an unaged whiskey (AKA moonshine) and mandarinetto from two of our favorite local distillers for our version, you can easily substitute vodka, tequila, or, yes, aquavit, for the unaged whiskey, and triple sec or Grand Marnier for the mandarinetto. The key to success for this drink is that each ingredient and the glasses need to be frosty cold.

2 ounces chilled lingonberry juice

1 ounce chilled unaged white whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit)

1 ounce chilled Kronan Swedish Punsch (cachaça is a good substitute, or even rum)

1/2 ounce chilled orange liqueur (we used Don Ciccio & Figgli Mandarinetto)

Salted Swedish Fish, for garnish

Put first four ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a frosted coupe and garnish with the Salted Swedish Fish.

 

 

The Friday Tipple: Champagne Creamsicle

Champagne CreamsicleWe’re feeling fancy, Boozers. During this festive season, we like to try out new recipes and a tasty Blood Orange Soup with Frozen Sabayon that we whipped up for Christmas dinner spawned a thought: wouldn’t this make a lovely cocktail, perhaps to ring in the New Year? Oh yes indeed.

And so the Champagne Creamsicle is born. Don’t be afraid of the sabayon, even as you ask yourself “What the heck is a sabayon anyway?”. Basically, it’s a custard, and, when you freeze it, it becomes a frozen custard. It’s luscious and creamy, yet, when paired with citrus, is perfectly balanced. If you’re looking for a way to inspire a new year that is rich, light, and fresh, then look no further than the Champagne Creamsicle. Happy New Year!

Champagne Creamsicle

The frozen sabayon can be made a day ahead and frozen, and will keep in the freezer for a week or two before it becomes a bit crumbly. We added sweet vermouth to provide some contrast in flavor, then created a citrus simple syrup for the champagne, lightly kissed with Bittermens Hiver Amer bitter orange liqueur. If you can’t find Hiver Amer (although we highly recommend it), you can use Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec instead — or even an orange-infused vodka.

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1.5 ounces Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1 large spoonful Frozen Sabayon (recipe below)

Stir first three ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne coupe (or wide-mouthed wine glass). Top with spoonful of Frozen Sabayon and serve immediately.

Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup: Place a half of a grapefruit (chopped roughly) and a whole clementine (halved) into a small saucepan. Cover with water and add 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until liquid has thickened and reduced by half. Strain and cool, then add 3 ounces orange liqueur. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Frozen Sabayon with Sweet Vermouth

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sweet vermouth

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

a few drops of lemon juice

Put the egg yolks, vermouth, and sugar in a heatproof bowl; bring a cup of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and reduce heat to low. Place heatproof bowl over the saucepan and whisk until mixture becomes thick and creamy — this will only take a few minutes. When the custard is thick enough to hold its shape (i.e. you can pull the whisk through the custard and see a pattern), place the bowl in a bowl of ice water and continue whisking for another minute to cool it down.

In a stand mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the custard into the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated, and add a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a container and freeze for 8 hours before serving. Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.

The Friday Tipple: Breakfast Bellini

Breakfast Bellini

We feel like celebrating, Boozers. Whether it’s for the holidays or the end of the world as we know it (the day is still young), sometimes you just want a glass of bubbly. And, as we want it for breakfast, we like to make it easy: we are not at our most alert early in the day.

Enter the cube, which, loyal Boozers, we like to employ whenever we can, as cubes of fresh juice or fruit can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for use at any time. Our Breakfast Bellini needs some peach, but you could use any berries or citrus that you like. So whip up some cubes and pop the cork — take a moment to celebrate whatever your heart desires.

Breakfast Bellini

Some people put a shot of peach schnapps into a Bellini, which ain’t bad at all, but this is also a great time to break out that special bottle of peach brandy — we’re lucky enough to have some from Catoctin Creek on hand — for an extra little kick of goodness.

One peach cube

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1 ounce peach schnapps or peach brandy

To make the cube: you can do this two ways, either by filling an ice cube tray with peach nectar or by pureeing some peaches in a blender and then freezing into cubes. As fresh peaches are not in season, you can use thawed frozen peaches, canned peaches (preferably in their own juice, not a syrup), or even some lovely preserved peaches if you are fortunate enough to have some.

Place a peach cube in a champagne flute, top with champagne, and float some peach schnapps or brandy over the top.

The Friday Tipple: Potlikker Sangria

Potlikker Sangria

We’re on a warm drink kick, Boozers. The chill has set into our bones and we crave a hot cup in our hands as we sit by a crackling fire. What inspired us this time, however, was a sip of a local fennel-laced liqueur at Sixth Engine, a cozy bar close to our ‘hood; Don Ciccio & Figli’s richly dark liqueur, thick as molasses, made with cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and a host of spicy elements, poses a conundrum that we couldn’t resist: how can you mix it into a cocktail? And for those of you who bought that bottle of Root on a whim, we’ve got you covered.

So we started with a potlikker. Usually, this is the highly-nutritious liquid that is boiled down from a pot of collard greens, but our version is made with fruit, which is simmered into a concentrated liquid that forms the base for a winter sangria. This is guaranteed to be the drink of choice for your flask as you tramp through the snowy woods in search of the perfect tree — or sit on the stoop bah-humbugging at the carolers.

Potlikker Sangria

We happened to have licorice root on hand to toss into our pot, which perfectly complements root-based liqueurs, but you can use a chunk of fresh fennel or some star anise instead, or, in a pinch, a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean.

1 large orange, cut into quarters with the rind on

2 lemons, cut into quarters with the rind on

1/2 cup pitted cherries (frozen is fine)

1 can of mandarin oranges in syrup (lychees would also work)

4-inch piece of licorice root, or a chunk of fresh fennel

cinnamon stick and/or split vanilla bean

2 cups water

1 bottle of red wine (go for something rich and fruity)

Root- or anise-based liqueur (we recommend Don Ciccio & Figli Concerto, if you can get it, or Root — or Sambuca, Ouzo, Pernod, Pastis, or Galliano otherwise).

Put the fresh, frozen, and canned fruit into a 3-quart saucepan; be sure to include the syrup from the canned mandarin oranges or lychees. Add the licorice stick or fennel and the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and cover with the 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for 30 – 60 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain out solid ingredients. Return liquid to the pan and add wine. Warm gently over very low heat.

To serve: Warm a wine glass; pour one ounce of liqueur into the bottom of the glass, then top with 3 ounces of the warm sangria. Garnish with half of a fresh clementine or mandarin orange.

The Friday Tipple: Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

Mexican Cocoa Martini

Yeah, you read that right, Boozers. We are in full holiday mode and nothing will do but a warm chocolate cup of cheer when we get home from a weary day of fighting the crowds of shoppers. Believe us, one sip of our Mexican Cocoa Martini and you’ll forget that tug-of-war you had with some pimply-faced teenager over a discounted Snuggie.

And, as if that weren’t enough, we had to top the whole thing off with a dollop of our Drunken Fluff, which, admittedly, is a bit over the top, but we know you’ll agree that it’s as necessary as a shiny red bow on a beautifully-wrapped box. In fact, we predict that you’ll be looking for excuses to add it to waffles, ice cream sundaes, and your morning cup o’ joe.

Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

This little cocktail packs a powerful punch, so eat a snack before you suck it down. The Drunken Fluff can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container in the freezer — it won’t freeze solid, and can be scooped out whenever you need a little boozy puff of happiness.

2 ounces vodka (we like Boyd & Blair, but please support your own local distillery)

1 ounce Kahlua

Splash of Creme de Cacao

1 teaspoon cocoa powder mixed with  1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 large spoonful Drunken Fluff (recipe below)

Put vodka, Kahlua, and Creme de Cacao in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the cocoa powder and cinnamon until it is thoroughly blended and the liquid is hot but not boiling. Warm the martini glass slightly and pour in the Mexican Cocoa; top with the Drunken Fluff.

to make the Drunken Fluff:

3 egg whites at room temperature

1 cup castor sugar

1 cup corn syrup

1 vanilla bean, split

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye — you could also use bourbon, rum, or whatever strikes your fancy)

First, make the whiskey sugar syrup. Put the sugar, corn syrup, water, whiskey, and vanilla bean into a saucepan and heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Bring to a low simmer and check the temperature with a candy thermometer — you want to heat it to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, but not any higher than that. Remove the vanilla bean.

While the syrup is coming up to temperature, whip the egg whites for about 5 minutes in an electric mixer, until they form soft peaks. Add the hot syrup slowly in a continuous stream with the mixer running at a medium speed, then increase the speed to high for several minutes until the mixture has a consistent creamy and fluffy texture. Allow to cool and then store in an airtight container in the freezer.

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