Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur

In the past week, the Good Booze kitchen has made it through both an earthquake and a hurricane. Since bad things tend to come in threes, we think the last thing to threaten us will be… the end of summer. Labor Day is on the way and, with it, the end of juicy fresh raspberries, peaches, tomatoes, and cantaloupes. Don’t get us wrong, we’re looking forward to apples, pears, and pumpkins, but in this bittersweet time of year, we are holding on to summer with a vengeance even as it slips through our fingers.

The hurricane blew down a few plants in the old vegetable plot, leaving us with an assortment of peppers, both hot and sweet, that need to be consumed right away. Add to that the enormous piles of almost-overripe peaches being sold at rock-bottom prices at our local farmer’s market, and we knew what we needed to do: make an infusion for this Friday’s Tipple.

A lot of cocktail recipes call for really beautiful liqueurs; we often covet them at the local liquor emporium, where they beckon to us in their glistening bottles clad in designer labels. But making your own infusions gives you the chance to be really creative while using seasonal products — and it’s much less expensive. We still buy the occasional artisanal liqueur — in fact, we’re seeking out Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia right now, with autumn cocktails in mind — but, for now, we’re sealing our summer memories in a jar.

Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur

There are no rules to this, make what you like. Use any fruit, vegetable, or herb combination and use with brandy, vodka, gin, bourbon, or whatever. Here’s what we did, because we wanted to make something to specifically complement this Friday’s Tipple recipe:

One ripe peach, sliced

One hot Italian pepper, split

1 tablespoon lavender honey

Triple Sec

Place peach slices and whole pepper into a 12-ounce mason jar; cover with triple sec and let sit in a cool place for a few days, or even a few weeks. Add to cocktails to taste.

The Friday Tipple: Raspberry Vinegar Rickey

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Good Booze kitchen, you might be expecting us to break out the rum and passionfruit to make that classic New Orleans cocktail consumed by the gallon up and down Bourbon Street. However, we’ve decided to adopt a rawther British stiff upper lip and stockpiled gin instead.

The Gin Rickey was recently named as the official cocktail of Washington, DC; this classic combination of gin, lime juice, and club soda is native to DC, created in 1893 by Colonel Joe Rickey and bartender George Williamson at Rickey’s bar, Shoomaker’s, just a stone’s throw from the White House. DC drinks guru Derek Brown likes to call the Rickey “air conditioning in a glass”, as it is particularly refreshing in the midst of our swampy summers, but we think it’s pretty tasty in any weather.

This Friday’s Tipple, the Raspberry Vinegar Rickey, takes advantage of the abundance of late-summer fruit that we used in our recent Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar. Raspberry pairs beautifully with gin, its tart sweetness combining with the gin’s juniper berry essence to create a cool pine forest freshness. We caramelized some lime wheels as a garnish, which add a slightly burnt sugar undertone to counter the acidity of the vinegar.

Mix up a Rickey anytime you’re caught in the middle of a natural disaster. It somehow makes it seem much more… civilized. Pip-pip!

Raspberry Vinegar Rickey

Gin (try Juniper Green Organic or, here in the DC area, Catoctin Creek Watershed)

Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar (didn’t make it yet? we have an alternative below)

Club soda

Lime wheels

Sugar

To make the caramelized limes: Dredge the lime wheels in sugar. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat; when the pan is hot, cook the lime wheels on each side until just lightly golden. They will be a little sticky; set aside to cool (they can also be refrigerated at this point for a day or two).

To assemble the drink: Place the caramelized lime wheel in the bottom of in a tall glass or a large wine glass and lightly muddle the fleshy center, then remove and set aside. Add one tablespoon of Raspberry Vinegar, 1.5 ounces of gin, and stir. Add several ice cubes and top with club soda. Stir well, then top with the reserved lime wheel.

No Raspberry Vinegar? Shame on you. Luckily, we are steeped in American ingenuity, just like old Colonel Rickey, and have a plan. Take four or five fresh raspberries, a 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and a teaspoon of sugar and muddle together in the bottom of the glass (after you’ve muddled the lime wheel). Let the sugar dissolve, then complete the rest of the above recipe.

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