The Friday Tipple: Back to School Shandy

Back to School Shandy

Our nest has emptied, Boozers. As the fledgling stood uncertainly on the edge, we gave a mighty shove right between the shoulder blades, calling behind the offspring’s flapping wings: “For God’s sake, if you must drink beer, at least make it good beer!”. Because there’s really nothing sadder than social media pictures of overeager freshmen clutching cans of Coors Light.

And so now it’s cocktails à deux, as these wayward parental units sit back and contemplate life without PTA meetings, smelly sports equipment, and teen angst. Taking it slowly as we ease into the unknown, we’re starting off with a classic shandy, with a bit of a twist: beer cubes. As our loyal Boozers know, we have a long love affair with cubes of all sorts, as they help change the character of a drink while they melt and meld. Cubes also have the added benefit of looking somewhat innocent at the start, slowly becoming more devious as time goes on — not unlike the fledgling now flapping off into the sunset.

Back to School Shandy

A sparkling lemonade creates the base for this little Tipple, which you can make yourself by making a strong lemonade and then topping it off with seltzer water. We actually used a tasty bottled variety called Spindrift, which was lightly sweet, somewhat tart, and filled with a bubbly effervescence — rather like the offspring.

5 ounces chilled sparkling lemonade
1 ounce limoncello (we like our local Don Ciccio & Figli)
3 – 4 beer cubes (recipe below)

Put all ingredients into a tall glass (or a classic red Solo cup, if you want to relive your college days), stir briskly, garnish with a slice of lemon, and enjoy.

Beer Cubes:

12-ounce can or bottle of beer (for God’s sake, make it good — we used Shift Lager this time)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/4 cup citrus juice (we used both orange and lime)

Put all ingredients into a bowl, whisk together, and pour into an ice cube tray. Freeze until solid, about 4 or 5 hours.

The Friday Tipple: Celebration Shandy

Celebration Shandy

We’re celebrating, Boozers. Graduations, anniversaries, Father’s Day – it all seems to be happening in the next two days, so we’re in the mood for something summery and sparkling, but with a bit less of a kick as we need to pace ourselves. Hello Shandy.

Surely the Shandy was born from those two summertime favorites, lemonade and beer. Common across Europe, the Shandy in its many forms (beer with Sprite, beer with 7-Up, beer with Coca-Cola) is often an accepted low-dose cocktail for the kiddies on special occasions — no sickly-sweet Shirley Temples need apply.

Inspired by our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, we opted to make a puckery fresh lemonade sweetened with the pickled ginger syrup — which led us to think of sushi, and, ultimately, of our favorite Japanese libation, sake. Like beer, sake is a beverage brewed from grains (rice); it has the warmth of whiskey wrapped in the subtle smoothness of a rich wine. The flavor is so hard to describe that it has its own word, coined, of course, by the Japanese: umami, which basically means “Man, that’s so good, I can’t even describe it.”

Tart and fresh with a spicy ginger undertone, the Celebration Shandy is a party in a glass. Kampai!

 Celebration Shandy

1/3 cup fresh chilled lemonade, sweetened to taste with Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup

1/4 cup chilled dry sake (we like SakéOne’s Momokawa Silver — it has nice apple-y undertones that complement the plums)

1 ripe plum, cut into chunks

A few slices of pickled ginger (use the leftovers from the syrup recipe!)

Chilled Japanese beer (we used Kirin)

The key to this drink is for the ingredients to be nice and cold. Put the plum chunks, ginger slices, and sake in the bottom of a tall chilled glass and place it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then add the lemonade and pour the cold beer over the top, preferably with a nice frothy head of foam. You don’t need to wear a silky kimono to enjoy this, but it doesn’t hurt either.

No time to make the pickled ginger syrup? That’s cool. Grate a little fresh ginger into the lemonade — not too much, though, because it can overwhelm quickly.

The Friday Tipple: Mr. Collins

Mr. Collins

We adore a pompous fool, Boozers. In fact, if we are honest, we have strolled down that perilous path once or twice, only to have our balloon of self-admiration popped unceremoniously by a worthy opponent. It’s why we love Jane Austen, and also why we enjoy a tasty little concoction — once known as the official drink of summer — called a Tom Collins.

In the far-off years of our youth, we recall our first foray into a nightclub, armed with a fake i.d. and a few crumpled dollar bills stuffed into our spandex tights. As the hairy-chested bartender cocked a cynical eye at our underage attempt at sophisticated nonchalance, we stuttered out a request for a Tom Collins — clearly marking us as urbane world travelers.

Alas, what we didn’t realize was that we had immediately marked ourselves as more akin to the inimitable Mr. Collins, the silly social-climbing vicar in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Elizabeth Bennett had him pegged in five seconds flat, and would certainly never have accepted a watery Tom Collins made with a slug of cheap gin and a splash of sour mix, topped off with club soda and a maraschino cherry stabbed with a plastic sword. Just like Elizabeth, we now know we don’t have to settle for second-best.

So we’ve imagined Mr. Collins as he should be, if transformed into a refreshing cocktail: bright, fresh, lightly herbal, and blessed with a sparkling wit. Watch out, Mr. Darcy — there may be competition yet.

Mr. Collins

We’ve made a summery lemonade base for our Mr. Collins, sweetened with a pineapple sage simple syrup. If you don’t have this charming herb growing in your garden or on your windowsill, you can make a simple syrup with mint (especially a pineapple or orange mint), which will impart that sunny herbaceous quality.

4 or 5 lemons, freshly juiced

Pineapple sage simple syrup (see below for instructions)

Chilled club soda

2 ounces good quality gin (like Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin)

Chilled Prosecco or sparkling wine

Orange wedge and sprig of sage or mint for garnish

Make the fizzy lemonade base by combining the fresh lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup, and a 1/2 cup of the club soda. Stir vigorously and add more simple syrup if necessary. Fill a Collins (tall) glass with ice and pour in the gin and up to a 1/2 cup of lemonade. Top with an ounce or so of chilled Prosecco and garnish with orange and sage.

The simple syrup is a snap: one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and several sage (or mint) leaves cooked over low heat until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove sage leaves and cool; can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Mr. Collins

We adore a pompous fool, Boozers. In fact, if we are honest, we have strolled down that perilous path once or twice, only to have our balloon of self-admiration popped unceremoniously by a worthy opponent. It’s why we love Jane Austen, and also why we enjoy a tasty little concoction — once known as the official drink of summer — called a Tom Collins.

In the far-off years of our youth, we recall our first foray into a nightclub, armed with a fake i.d. and a few crumpled dollar bills stuffed into our spandex tights. As the hairy-chested bartender cocked a cynical eye at our underage attempt at sophisticated nonchalance, we stuttered out a request for a Tom Collins — clearly marking us as urbane world travelers.

Alas, what we didn’t realize was that we had immediately marked ourselves as more akin to the inimitable Mr. Collins, the silly social-climbing vicar in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice; Elizabeth Bennett had him pegged in five seconds flat, and would certainly never have accepted a watery Tom Collins made with a slug of cheap gin and a splash of sour mix, topped off with club soda and a maraschino cherry stabbed with a plastic sword. Just like Elizabeth, we now know we don’t have to settle for second-best.

So we’ve imagined Mr. Collins as he should be, if transformed into a refreshing cocktail: bright, fresh, lightly herbal, and blessed with a sparkling wit. Watch out, Mr. Darcy — there may be competition yet.

Mr. Collins

We’ve made a summery lemonade base for our Mr. Collins, sweetened with a pineapple sage simple syrup. If you don’t have this charming herb growing in your garden or on your windowsill, you can make a simple syrup with mint (especially a pineapple or orange mint), which will impart that sunny herbaceous quality.

4 or 5 lemons, freshly juiced

Pineapple sage simple syrup (see below for instructions)

Chilled club soda

2 ounces good quality gin (like Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin)

Chilled Prosecco or sparkling wine

Orange wedge and sprig of sage or mint for garnish

Make the fizzy lemonade base by combining the fresh lemon juice, about 2 tablespoons of the simple syrup, and a 1/2 cup of the club soda. Stir vigorously and add more simple syrup if necessary. Fill a Collins (tall) glass with ice and pour in the gin and up to a 1/2 cup of lemonade. Top with an ounce or so of chilled Prosecco and garnish with orange and sage.

The simple syrup is a snap: one cup of water, one cup of sugar, and several sage (or mint) leaves cooked over low heat until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove sage leaves and cool; can be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.

The Friday Tipple: The Wolfhound

Holy Mozart, Boozers. It’s the great composer’s 256th birthday and it got us to wondering what kind of cocktail that celebrated imbiber might have enjoyed on his special day. Except, of course, that cocktails were invented long after Mozart’s death, but the well-traveled musician must surely have been introduced to spirits such as vodka and gin, and most certainly tipped a glass or two of grappa with his friend Salieri.

In the days of Amadeus, a refreshing treat would have been the earliest version of carbonated soda — created by adding a pinch of common baking soda to lemonade. This fizzy delight piqued our interest and seemed like a perfect historical base for a modern cocktail. Now that it is late winter, the produce aisles at the grocery stores are piled high with seasonal ruby red grapefruit; we think Wolfgang would have loved the exotic color and sweetly tart flavor, as complex as his Piano Sonata No. 13.

The grapefruit juice naturally led us to the addition of vodka, a cocktail traditionally known as a Greyhound, but that sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda gives it an unexpected edge: say “Wilkommen” to the Wolfhound. Salty, sour, sweet, seductively simple — a veritable symphony of taste sensations. Prost!

The Wolfhound

The addition of baking soda gives this cocktail a slightly salty flavor — and perhaps even soothes a hangover before it has begun. Be careful to add just a small amount or the drink will begin to take on a bit of an Alka-Seltzer quality. If you are not a fan of vodka, don’t despair: this drink is wonderful with gin as well, which pairs perfectly with the grapefruit.

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (about 1 whole grapefruit)

2 ounces vodka (we love Boyd & Blair, which is local to our area, but Square One and Twenty 2 are also terrific American-made vodkas)

scant 1/2 teaspoon light agave nectar

a large pinch of baking soda (no more than 1/4 teaspoon)

Put the grapefruit juice, vodka (or gin if you prefer), and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and quickly stir in the baking soda until it dissolves and the liquid begins to foam. Enjoy immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Sake Shandy

Surely the Shandy was born from those two summertime favorites, lemonade and beer. Common across Europe, the Shandy in its many forms (beer with Sprite, beer with 7-Up, beer with Coca-Cola) is often an accepted low-dose cocktail for the kiddies on special occasions — no sickly-sweet Shirley Temples need apply.

In the Good Booze test kitchen, we tried out a commercial sparkling lemonade with our beer, but it wasn’t quite right (ah, how we sacrifice for you, loyal Boozers). Inspired by the Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, we opted instead to make a puckery fresh lemonade sweetened with the pickled ginger syrup — which led us to think of sushi, and, ultimately, of our favorite Japanese libation, sake. Like beer, sake is a beverage brewed from grains (rice); it has the warmth of whiskey wrapped in the subtle smoothness of a rich wine. The flavor is so hard to describe that it has its own word, coined, of course, by the Japanese: umami, which basically means “Man, that’s so good, I can’t even describe it.”

Tart and fresh with a spicy ginger undertone, the Sake Shandy is a staycation in a glass. Kampai! 

Sake Shandy

1/3 cup fresh chilled lemonade, sweetened to taste with Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup

1/4 cup chilled dry sake (we like SakéOne’s Momokawa Silver — it has nice apple-y undertones that complement the plums)

1 ripe plum, cut into chunks

A few slices of pickled ginger (use the leftovers from the syrup recipe!)

Chilled Japanese beer (we used Kirin)

The key to this drink is for the ingredients to be nice and cold. Put the plum chunks, ginger slices, and sake in the bottom of a tall chilled glass and place it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then add the lemonade and pour the cold beer over the top, preferably with a nice frothy head of foam. You don’t need to wear a silky kimono to enjoy this, but it doesn’t hurt either.

No time to make the pickled ginger syrup? That’s cool. Grate a little fresh ginger into the lemonade — not too much, though, because it can overwhelm quickly.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 544 other followers