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.

The Friday Tipple: Washingtoni

A long weekend beckons, Boozers. Ah, it’s true, not everyone gets Monday off in celebration of President’s Day, so we suggest that you pack 72 hours of sale-shopping into 48. Our first president, George Washington, certainly seemed to be a proponent of more is, well, more, so you might follow that example. We thought of this recently when watching “The Crossing”, the tale of Washington’s army crossing the Delaware to rout hungover Hessians out of their beds on a frosty December morning in 1776.

Apparently, Washington, like most of his contemporaries, loved his tipple, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Friday to imbibe. He owned a whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon and was known to have a particular fondness for Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal. Frankly, we always considered Madeira to be an old woman’s drink until Jeff Daniels, in the role of Washington, declares in wonder when surprised with a goblet of this divine liquid, “God be praised. It’s been a year since I tasted such a Madeira.” If that doesn’t make you want to give Madeira a second chance, we don’t know what does.

Sweet with a dry finish, Madeira has a complexity of flavors that makes it a great base for a cocktail. The Washingtoni matches it with a spicy rye whiskey from the Copper Fox Distillery that uses a malted barley flavored with cherry wood smoke (you knew we had to have at least one reference to the whole chopping-down-a-cherry-tree story). Whatever you think of our nation’s flawed leaders, this tipple will put it all in perspective for a few shining moments. God be praised.

Washingtoni

We recently made our own Cherry Bounce, from Martha Washington’s own recipe, and added a soupçon of it to this for a subtle cinnamon undertone; however, a bittersweet Kirsch or cherry brandy will still add just the right note.

2 ounces Madeira

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (Rye whiskey is popping up everywhere these days, so check your local distilleries. We used Wasmund’s Rye for this, but also like it with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Kirsch or cherry brandy

lemon twist

Pour Madeira, rye whiskey, and Kirsch into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

 

 

 

Tipple d’Amour: Valentine Wine

Cupid’s arrow is aiming at you, Boozers. We all search for love on Valentine’s Day, whether we choose to admit it or not; some of us find it in the arms of a significant other, or in a cuddly mutt, or in a well-endowed cupcake and an evening spent watching the Millionaire Matchmaker marathon. Love is in the eye of the beholder.

If you’re a bit of a Valentine’s Day cheapskate still looking to sweep that Special Someone off his or her feet, then our Valentine Wine is for you. It combines inexpensive red wine with a high-quality whiskey for a loving cup that packs a bit of a punch — a perfect libation for spending the night in, perhaps with a gourmet selection of Chinese take-away. Add a Whitman’s Sampler and the double Snuggie: the rest is up to you.

Valentine Wine

As our loyal Boozers know, we’ve been having a bit of a love affair with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye and have found many uses for it — perhaps too many uses… There are several wine cocktails that incorporate rum, brandy, and whiskey, and we love the spicy flavor of rye with a rich red wine. You really can go for a $6.99 bottle of wine here if you like — read the label and pick the one that promises a hint of berries and chocolate.

Red wine (get what you like: a table red is good, as is a pinot noir or even a merlot)

Rye whiskey (yes, we like Catoctin Creek, but you knew that)

Fresh raspberries

Sugar

Place 3 or 4 raspberries in the bottom of a wine glass and sprinkle with a 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Top with 3/4 ounce rye whiskey (a single-malt whiskey like Wasmund’s is nice too, or a small-batch bourbon like Basil Hayden’s) and very lightly muddle the raspberries, but don’t mash them to pieces. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes, then top with red wine. Float an additional raspberry on top if you want to impress. Bon chance!

 

The Friday Tipple: Burns-erac!

We’ve said it before, Boozers, and we’ll say it again: cocktails create community. Derek Brown, the hip mixologist of the Columbia Room in DC, waxes quite poetic about it, actually, and observes an old tradition when whipping up that classic cocktail, the Sazerac, requiring audience participation: a smidge of absinthe is poured into a chilled glass and the glass is thrown gently into the air, and, as the absinthe coats the inside of the glass during its flight, the assembled barflies all shout “Sazerac!”  just before the bartender snatches the glass from mid-air. Now that’s what we call community.

We were reminded of this again while greedily lapping up the new Ken Burns‘ documentary “Prohibition”. Clearly, alcohol can create community in myriad ways — everything from temperance unions to drinking clubs to inebriate asylums — and leave it to the ever-youthful Burns (we suspect he still gets carded) to make it all completely enthralling.

So, we salute Ken Burns this week with the Burns-erac: a whisper of whiskey (apparently an old favorite), chilled Prosecco (he told Liquor.com that it’s his current drink of choice), and a colorful nip of Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (a simple syrup we made with Peychaud’s Bitters — the addition of gum arabic gives a lovely mouthfeel that you get right in the last sip). Gather together a group of friends while enjoying this cocktail salute, and don’t forget to shout out: “Burns-erac!”

Burns-erac

Chilled Prosecco

Whiskey (we’re still obsessed with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe below)

Lemon twist

Fill a champagne flute with ice and water and allow to chill for a few minutes. Empty the flute and pour in a small splash of whiskey, then swirl it around quickly to coat the inside of the glass (you can shout “Burns-erac” here if you like). Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe and an alternative below) in the bottom of the glass, then carefully fill the rest of the glass with Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist. Burnserac!

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup: Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to boiling in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Mix one tablespoon gum arabic with one tablespoon hot water and stir until dissolved into a sticky paste; add to sugar-water mixture and stir until dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters and stir well. Allow to simmer over very low heat for another 15 minutes, still stirring occasionally. Cool completely before using.

No time to make this luscious syrup? Okay, then just place a teaspoon of simple syrup and several drops of Peychaud’s in the bottom of the champagne flute and mix together. Or use a sugar cube and soak it in the Peychaud’s, then loosen it with a cocktail spoon. It won’t have the same gorgeous mouthfeel as the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup, but it will provide the right flavor!

The Friday Tipple: The Wild Card

We’re heading into the last week of September, loyal Boozers, and that means that the Hunt for Late October is on. In other words, a handful of baseball teams are vying to make it into the playoffs, and Red Sox fans can’t believe their team is now fighting to maintain Wild Card status. Damn Yankees.

Hence, our Friday Tipple: The Wild Card. Because we’re still in love with Catoctin Creek’s Rye Whiskey (they really made us believers) and because we may need a stiff drink to get through the last few games, we’ve opted to riff on the Whiskey Sour, with a classic fall twist. On the side, we’re adding a shot of beer (we’re going for Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale) for every home run by our favorite team. But don’t worry — if you happen to be an Astros fan, you probably won’t even catch a buzz.

The Wild Card

This cocktail has a few fresh elements, but they are worth the effort and don’t take a lot of time.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek)

Crackerjack Syrup

Fresh apple cider (we made ours fresh inspired by a recipe from Imbibe Magazine, but you can use commercial cider too)

Chilled club soda

Dash of bitters (we use our own house-made Indian Summer Bitters, but there are many excellent bitters on the market, including Bittermens and even the classic Angostura)

Put three or four ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add rye whiskey, 1/4 cup of fresh cider, and a teaspoon of Crackerjack Syrup. Shake vigorously and pour into a glass (with or without ice, it’s up to you). Top with a splash of club soda and a dash of bitters. Enjoy!

To make fresh apple cider: cut an apple into chunks and process into a fine pulp in a food processor with a few teaspoons of water and a dash of cinnamon or apple pie spice. Let sit for half an hour then squeeze pulp through a cheesecloth. Yields about half a cup.

To make Crackerjack Syrup: Set one cup of raw turbinado sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar liquifies, being careful not to let it burn. Add 1 cup of water slowly and stir. Cut corn kernels off a cob, scraping the cob with the edge of the knife and put all kernels into the sugar syrup. Add a large pinch of salt and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain and cool completely. Yields about a cup; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

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