The Friday Tipple: Tequila Kiss

Tequila Kiss

Life can be complicated, Boozers. While we missed you dreadfully when we were on vacation last week, it felt good to strip away our responsibilities for a scant few days and dig our toes into the sand. Our new mantra since returning to the grownup world of deadlines, bills, and dirty dishes: Keep It Simple, Stupid, a.k.a. KISS.

While we trailed our fingers in the warm waters surrounding a drifting kayak, we sipped on tequila. There is something about tequila that just says “Let it all go”, and we were only too happy to comply. It didn’t hurt that we’d just recently read that tequila would help us lose weight, meaning that we could indulge in that extra slice of chocolate-raspberry cheesecake with mango coulis. No matter if we didn’t exactly return from vacation noticeably thinner, albeit much more relaxed.

As you dear Boozers know, we like a drink that is not overdone, especially at the end of a long week, so we made this drink simple and to the point — because sometimes we overlook the simplest solutions to life’s complexities. Enjoy.

Tequila Kiss

There are a lot of tequilas out there and a recent visit to New Mexico proved to us that there is a wide range of subtle flavors in the Tequila Canon. Use a clean silver tequila for this cocktail; we used Avión today because it has a light herbaceous quality with a citrusy undertone that suits our spring fever.

2 ounces silver or blanco tequila

3 ounces chilled club soda

1 fresh lime, halved

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

We weren’t joking when we said this was simple. Fill a glass with ice and pour in tequila and squeeze half of the lime into the bottom of the glass. Add club soda and agave nectar and stir briskly, then squeeze other lime half over the top. That’s it.

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: Stormy Mojito

Stormy Mojito

We’re waterlogged, Boozers. It’s been a particularly rainy and stormy summer, which hasn’t helped deepen our tan, but has certainly produced a bumper crop of mint. As we always say, when life hands you mint, make mojitos.

Mojitos, of course, need rum, and it occurred to us that there must be a way to incorporate two of our favorite rum-based summer cocktails, namely the Dark n’ Stormy and the classic Mojito. So we grabbed an umbrella and stood over the grill to fire up some ginger, which gave it an intensified spicy-smoky flavor for a perfect weekend happy hour. Don’t let the rain get you down. Drink up.

Stormy Mojito

Mojitos are basically sugar, mint, lime, rum and club soda, and a Dark n’ Stormy is simply ginger beer, dark rum, and lime, so combining the two drinks isn’t rocket science. However, to get the best flavor, we like to grate a little of the grilled ginger into the bottom of the glass (in addition to throwing in a whole chunk) and grind it into the mint with some superfine sugar. Although cane syrup is usually called upon for a mojito, we like the way the granulated sugar helps bruise the mint leaves and heighten the flavor of the ginger.

one thickly-sliced two-inch disk of ginger

handful of clean mint leaves

2 teaspoons superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar will do fine as well)

3 ounces chilled club soda

1.5 ounces rum, preferably Gosling’s Black Seal 151 proof

2 wedges of lime

additional mint leaves, for garnish

Grill the ginger over an open flame, about 30 seconds per side. Put into a cocktail shaker or a small bowl with the mint leaves and cover for about 5 minutes. Then grate a little of the ginger into the bottom of a highball glass and add the rest of the ginger disk, the mint leaves, and the sugar. Squeeze one wedge of lime over all, then use a muddler or a spoon to lightly bruise the mint leaves. Add several ice cubes and chilled club soda; stir briskly. Pour rum over the top and garnish with another wedge of lime and additional mint leaves.

 

The Friday Tipple: Smokey Sour

Smokey Sour

Fire up the grill, Boozers. It’s been too hot to cook indoors, so we’re livin’ large in the backyard, armed with charcoal, a pair of tongs, and a few toe-tapping R&B tunes. Of course, we see no reason to restrict our grilling glory to chunks of protein or marshmallows on a stick, so we decided to grill us up a cocktail. Welcome to the Smokey Sour.

Inspired by our own Whiskey Cherry Syrup, a jar of which now resides in the fridge from last Friday’s delectable Michigan Cherry Beer, we felt in the mood for riffing off a classic Whiskey Sour. A basic sour mix consists of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, creating a lip-puckering base, but we mixed things up a little by throwing several different kinds of citrus straight onto the barbecue. Lightly charred, these lemons, limes, and oranges plump up with an intensified flavor that is fragrant with both smoke and sunshine. Should you be deprived of a backyard grill, don’t despair — an open flame of any kind will do the trick. Just crank up some Motown and get groovin’.

Smokey Sour

While this grilled sour base is a mix of citrus fruits, we prefer to keep it lemony with a hint of orange for sweetness, then we add our favorite local rye whiskey from Catoctin Creek to give it a peppery undertone — the result is a perfect combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and smoky.

6 large lemons, halved

3 limes, halved

1 orange, halved

Whiskey Cherry Syrup (click here to find the recipe)

2 ounces whiskey

a whisper of Grand Marnier (triple sec will work, too)

chilled lemon-lime soda (we love small-batch varieties like Maine Root)

slices of grilled lemon and orange for garnish (technically optional, but do it anyway)

Place citrus fruits flesh-side down onto a hot grill over a medium-high flame. Grill for a minute or two until the flesh just starts to blister and char, then place into a large heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the fruit to cool. When cooled, juice the fruit, mix all the juices together, and discard the seeds. The juice may now be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

In a cocktail shaker, add 3 ounces of the juice, 2 teaspoons of the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, 2 ounces of whiskey, and the barest splash of Grand Marnier. Add several ice cubes, cover, and shake vigorously. Pour contents into a highball glass, add a few cherries from the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, and top with a generous splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with grilled citrus slices.

The Friday Tipple: Masala Moonshine

Masala Moonshine

We’re spicing things up, Boozers. An interesting ingredient recently came our way and we simply couldn’t resist the idea of incorporating it into a cocktail: turmeric. To be precise, fresh turmeric root, which looks a bit like a fingerling potato until you cut it open to reveal its bright marigold interior and get hit with its lovely fresh scent, which has a certain earthy ginger quality.

What we did with it was to make a turmeric juice, purported to have amazing health benefits for people with arthritis or diabetes, among many other ailments. While fresh turmeric is best for this recipe (and can be found at many ethnic markets, so we suggest a road trip), we’ve also included a way to make it with ground turmeric powder, which is readily available at any grocery store. Because turmeric has a strong flavor, we decided to turn up the volume when creating our Masala Moonshine — this is no time to be shy. Instead, we included the flavors of lime, bitter orange, fresh mint, and a healthy dose of unaged whiskey, or moonshine, to create a cocktail that really packs a punch. And, if you’re getting ready for Cinco de Mayo, you can easily turn this into a Masala Margarita by substituting tequila for the moonshine. Go global.

Masala Moonshine

As our dear Boozers know, we love to use a flavored ice cube to shake things up — what better way to add a new layer of flavor to a drink than with an ice cube that deepens the essence of the cocktail as it melts into the glass? For this particular recipe, we made a lavender honey and ginger cube for an added kick of spice.

2 ounces fresh turmeric juice (recipe below)

2 ounces unaged whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirits)

1/2 ounce Triple Sec

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 ounces chilled club soda

several fresh mint leaves

wedge of fresh lime and fresh mint for garnish

3 – 4 honey-ginger ice cubes (recipe below)

Put first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Place mint leaves in bottom of a tall glass, lightly bruising, and add honey-ginger cubes. Pour turmeric juice-whiskey blend into glass, top with chilled club soda, and stir thoroughly with a bar spoon. Garnish with fresh lime and mint.

Turmeric Juice:

Peel several small turmeric root* and place into a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until turmeric is soft and liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Put the turmeric and liquid into a blender, add 1 cup cold water and 1/4 cup light agave nectar. Blend on high until completely liquified. Add more sweetener to taste. Strain liquid several times through a sieve until you get a smooth liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

* note: if you can’t find fresh turmeric root, you can create a similar liquid by substituting two tablespoons of ground turmeric for the fresh ingredient — add the first tablespoon and mix up the liquid, then add the remaining tablespoon a little at a time until you get a flavor that is gingery but not overpowering.

Honey-ginger cubes

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons lavender honey (or sweetener of your choice)

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup cold water

Mix first three ingredients together in a small bowl until well-blended, then add cold water and blend again. Pour into ice cube tray and freeze until solid.

The Friday Tipple: Margarita Memory

margarita

The Ides of March is upon us, dear Boozers. Historically speaking, it marks the day that Caesar was assassinated — “Et tu, Brute?” — although the term “Ides” simply refers to either the 13th or the 15th day of the month, as the Romans couldn’t make anything simple. We like to use this day to lift a glass in memory of friends and loved ones — and as our dear ones all seem to have had a penchant for margaritas, that most communal of libations — we are celebrating today with a Margarita Memory.

A margarita is really a classic blend of sweet and sour, to which we like to add notes of spice — creating a perfect representation of a life well-lived. It can be made with a variety of citrus, from traditional lime to blood oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit, and its flavor can be subtly altered by the type of tequila you use — blanco, mixto, reposado, and so forth — or you could even substitute with an unaged whiskey (we’ve done this often with Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit with excellent *hic* results) or even a smoky mezcal. Most importantly, to make a Margarita Memory really sing, choose ingredients that really reflect the person you are remembering — sweet, smooth, fresh, rich, perky, snarky, optimistic — and then savor every drop.

Margarita Memory

Our version today contains some muddled peach and a blend of lime and orange juice, because it reminds us of happy days drinking margaritas on the beach with special people. We added a pink peppercorn syrup to pack a bit of punch  — because peaches are not in season now, we actually used the syrup from canned peaches as our base.

2 ounces silver tequila

1 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Amaretto

2 ounces fresh lime and orange juice

Slice or two of peach (canned is fine if peaches are out of season)

1 tablespoon pink peppercorn syrup, or to taste (recipe below)

dash of citrus bitters (such as Urban Moonshine or even Bitter Ends Thai Bitters)

Wedge of lime or other citrus for garnish

Muddle a couple of slices of peach in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, cointreau, citrus juices, syrup, and bitters; add a few ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into a margarita glass (salt optional) filled with ice and float a little Amaretto over the top. Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

To make pink peppercorn syrup: Strain syrup from canned peaches into a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of whole pink peppercorns and simmer over very low heat for about 30 minutes. Cool completely, then strain and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

 

The Friday Tipple: The Hipster

Boozers, we’re hip. As if we didn’t know that already, it was confirmed this week by Forbes Magazine, which named our ‘hood as number 6 on their list of America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods. Imagine that.

Whether you’re hitting the hotspots in FishtownEcho Park, or Montrose (and since you’re a hipster, we’re sure you’ve got the down-low on these hallowed hangouts), it’s critical that you have an ironic twist on a classic cocktail to complement those vintage “Revenge of the Nerds” eyeglasses. We’ve got it, and we call it The Hipster, a modern update on The Boulevardier (what they called the most elegant of cool people at the turn of the last century).

In DC, the hipsters will be heading in droves this weekend to H Street, hopping from the Rock and Roll Hotel to Little Miss Whiskey’s while sampling the Epcot-themed delights of The Queen Vic and Biergarten Haus.

With a resurgence of interest in the beverages consumed by our forebears, this Friday’s Tipple features rye whiskey — we prefer to go local and use Catoctin Creek’s Organic Roundstone Rye, which has a rich caramel undertone perfect for that first crisp fall day when you get to pull on Grandpa’s argyle cardigan with your BDG cigarette jeans — and Italian sweet vermouth. And while we know that hipsters shy away from calling themselves by that moniker (because it would be, well, unhip), it’s okay: just have the drink. Your secret is safe with us.

The Hipster

Since the hip are always looking to spice things up, we muddled some peppercorns into the mix and added a smidge of our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup. The result is a perfect sipping cocktail — sour, sweet, spicy, just like a real hipster.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth (add more if you like a sweeter drink)

1/4 teaspoon black or pink peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (optional — we like the kick)

juice of 1/2 fresh lime

club soda

1 lemon wheel

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a wineglass. Top with 1 or 2 ounces of chilled club soda and lemon wheel. Enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Goin’ to a Go-Go

We’re bustin’ loose, Boozers. Here in our neck of the woods, we take our go-go music pretty seriously and, with the passing of Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go, earlier this week, we’re feeling the need to get a little funky.

Washington, DC, that geographical amalgamation of all peoples, does not have much that it can truly call its own. In fact, its indigenous culture extends to just three things: go-go, half-smokes, and political gridlock. After that, it’s pretty much Anytown, USA, albeit with a lot of cool monuments and free museums.

Goin’ to a Go-Go is funk in a glass — we recently became intrigued with the concept of a beer simple syrup and felt compelled to try it out with some local brews from Chocolate City and DC Brau. We created a malty little treat from porter with a smoky undertone, which pairs well with whiskey, bourbon, and, in this case, brandy, but a lighter ale syrup is perfection with tequila.

Here’s a toast to you, Chuck Brown. Get, get, get, get on down.

Goin’ to a Go-Go

We used a local brandy from Catoctin Creek in this funky little nod to a Pisco Sour, and added some tart pickled cherries, which can be whipped up quickly and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

2 pickled cherries

2 ounces brandy (a young or unaged brandy works best)

1/2 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1 teaspoon beer simple syrup (recipe below)

dash bitters (a citrus-based variety like Scrappy’s Lime Bitters is good here)

Another cherry for garnish (optional)

Put two cherries in the bottom of a rocks glass and crush lightly with a spoon or muddling stick. Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add brandy and beer syrup, then squeeze the orange and lime into the shaker. Cover and shake vigorously then pour it all into the glass, including the ice cubes. Add a dash of bitters and another pickled cherry for garnish and drink up.

How to make beer syrup:

1 12-ounce beer

1 cup sugar

a few dashes of hot sauce (we used our local Uncle Brutha’s)

Pour the beer into a 2-quart saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by half; do not boil. Add sugar and hot sauce and stir to dissolve, continuing to simmer over low heat for another 5 or 10 minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Ruby Rhubarb ‘Rita

Hola, Boozers. Here in the old U.S. of A, we’ll take any excuse to have a margarita, which explains why Cinco de Mayo is more popular here than in its country of origin, and why most of the people partaking in the celebrations have likely never even traveled south of the border (unless you count a visit to Pedro’s highway oasis) or can speak nary a soupçon of Spanish. Whatever. It’s a margarita. Bring it on.

The tart freshness of spring fruits lend themselves to margaritas that far surpass the standard variety made with overly sweet mixes. We went a little fancy this week by creating a base from ruby red grapefruit and rhubarb, but the result is well worth the small amount of effort it takes to make a more complex margarita. This is a drink not meant to be insulted with a bowl of Doritos and Cheez Whiz on the side, but would stand up perfectly to a fresh shrimp ceviche or an authentic pozole verde. Go ahead, put on that sombrero and live a little. Salud!

Ruby Rhubarb ‘Rita

Rhubarb is a fruit, or a vegetable, depending upon who you ask, with a texture and flavor often likened to tart celery. Our Ruby Rhubarb syrup is layered with flavors that simply cried out for a layering of liquors; sticking with tradition, we used a silver tequila and a splash of triple sec, but then floated a little white whiskey over the top, our American nod to a fiery aguardiente.

for the Ruby Rhubarb syrup:

1 cup  rhubarb stems, roughly chopped

1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice with pulp, freshly squeezed

1 cup water

1 cup turbinado sugar

4 or 5 pineapple sage leaves (you can substitute with basil leaves)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for one hour, allowing the rhubarb to soften and break down. When the liquid has thickened slightly, remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Strain thoroughly through a fine-mesh sieve; can now be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Yield: about 1 cup.

to make the ‘Rita:

1 lime

2 – 3 tablespoons Ruby Rhubarb syrup (adjust to your taste)

2 ounces silver tequila

1/2 ounce triple sec

1/2 ounce clear whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirits)

Fresh rhubarb, cut into a 4-inch stick for garnish (optional)

Cut the lime in half and squeeze all the juice into a cocktail shaker. Add the Ruby Rhubarb syrup, the tequila, the triple sec, and several ice cubes. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with coarse salt. Top with the clear whiskey, garnish with fresh rhubarb, and drink up.

The Friday Tipple: Stormy Margarita

It’s Friday the 13th, Boozers. We’re not superstitious but a stiff drink on this gloomy winter day would certainly be most welcome. Our thoughts naturally turned to a Dark and Stormy, which is truly a season-less cocktail, but then we came across a rum punch recipe from Padma Lakshmi, the goddess of Top Chef, when she also commented about a salted lime juice popular in India. The rest, they say, is history.

The base of our Stormy Margarita is a lime-ginger soda that we quickly whipped up and topped off quite simply with a big shot of Gosling’s 151, a lovely dark rum that matches our mood. Astonshingly, the first sip seems to help the skies to clear, and, by the time you drain the last drop, you’ll be dancing across the rooftops in joyous abandon. Or singin’ in the rain.

There’s nothing like a stormy drink to put a little pep in your step. Dust off those tap shoes, Boozers.

Stormy Margarita

Fresh ginger and lime are key to the bold flavors of this drink. We made our soda with a slug of Stone’s Ginger Wine, which adds complexity, but we also think it would work well with a splash of dry sherry. We also used light agave nectar, because it is not cloyingly sweet, but you could substitute sugar or honey to taste.

1 fresh lime, juiced

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 ounce Stone’s Ginger Wine (or dry sherry)

1 tablespoon light agave nectar (adjust to your taste)

large pinch of Kosher salt

1/4 cup club soda

2 ounces Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum

lime wheel for garnish

Place first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and let sit for 10 minutes, then add ice and shake vigorously. Add club soda and swirl to combine, then strain into a glass over ice (this step removes some of the grated ginger so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth, but still leaves a strong ginger essence). Carefully pour rum over the top and garnish with lime. Cheers!

 

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