The Friday Tipple: La Primavera

La Primavera

We’re back on the spring bandwagon, Boozers. It keeps creeping ever closer, little by little, and we’re not about to argue. Flowers are blossoming, bees are buzzing, and the farmers markets are starting to feature fresh vegetables that did not grow under the ground — not that we don’t enjoy a good root vegetable as much as the next person. What we’re crushing on this week are those little darlings of spring, fresh sweet peas.

Before you recoil in horror, let us say that these are not cafeteria peas, cooked down to mush with a color that can only be described as, well, pea green. These are those charmingly cherubic spheres that are the brightest hue of spring green, like a new blade of grass and just as sweet. And, yes, they make a lovely cocktail. We know it’s hard to fathom, but open your minds, just like you are opening your windows to a soft spring breeze — if you must drink your vegetables, then this is surely the way to do it.

La Primavera

We created this recipe for Don Ciccio & Figli, an absolutely wonderful distiller of seriously hand-made Italian liqueurs in Washington, DC. Each flavor is like a jewel-toned work of art; this particular drink features limoncello, and a good limoncello should be a clear lemon-yellow color (not day-glo yellow, which likely means artificial colors have been added) and you should be overwhelmed with the scent of fresh lemons when you open the bottle — if it smells like Country Time Lemonade, then something has gone seriously wrong.

1 ounce fresh pea juice
2 ounces limoncello
1 ounce gin (we always use Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin; please support your local distiller)
chilled club soda (optional — see below)

Make the fresh pea juice: take 1/2 cup clean peas (you can use frozen peas if fresh are not available, just defrost them first) and put them in a blender with 1/2 cup water. Purée thoroughly, then strain completely so that you have just a clear green liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two days.

Place first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake thoroughly. At this point, you have two options: strain into a cosmopolitan glass and drink it as is, or pour into a tall glass filled with ice and top with chilled club soda. It’s preferable to garnish with early spring strawberries, sweet cherry tomatoes, or a few fresh pea shoots, but a lemon wedge will do just as well.

 

The Friday Tipple: Tall, Dark, and Handsome

Faith and begorrah, Boozers — St. Patrick’s Day is looming large. Ireland has brought us some lovely things: Guinness, Bono, Enya, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Guinness, Baileys… did we mention Guinness? The good people of Ireland will tell you that St. Patrick’s Day is not a day to spend in drinking and carousing, but rather in attending religious services and communing with family. We’re not buying it.

Normally, we’d sink ourselves into a pint or two of creamy Beamish, perhaps accompanied by a dram of whiskey, but the groundhog seems to have made a mighty mistake this year on his weather predictions. Spring sprang some weeks back and we have moved onto summer at a pretty fast clip. Which made us long for a classic Dark & Stormy, that harbinger of warm weather fun.

Today’s Tipple is the best of all worlds, we think — a bit of a Shandy crossed with a Stormy, perfect for an unseasonably warm St. Patrick’s Day. Go ahead, get your green on. Beannachtam na Femle Padraig!

Tall, Dark, and Handsome

We tend to think of the Irish as being magically beautiful with lilting accents that will charm the socks off us. Of course, that could just be the alcohol talking, but why quibble? You could substitute a shot of Irish whiskey for the black rum, but we think it adds a splash of warm sunshine to the richness of the stout.

3 ounces chilled ginger beer (we prefer a Bermuda-style like Barritts)

3 ounces chilled stout (we do love the aforementioned Irish brands, but also enjoy local varieties, such as Dogfish Head Chicory Stout)

1 ounce Gosling’s Black Seal Rum (150 proof)

Pour the ginger beer into a tall glass. Layer the stout over the top to maintain a little golden glow at the bottom of the glass. Pour rum over the top. Take a cab when you go out to hit the pubs.

 

The Friday Tipple: Carrot Top

We’re gripped by spring fever, Boozers. Never mind that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an extended winter or that we see snowflakes in Monday’s forecast— we are now firmly planted in meteorological spring and nothing can turn us back even as the clocks move forward just a week from now. Spring has sprung.

Building on last week’s exploration of root vegetable cocktails — and an unintentional nod to 1980s pop culture — we were inspired yet again by the fresh produce delivered by our friendly green grocer. Nothing heralds spring more than a cheerful bunch of carrots, sweet and crunchy and topped by a frothy head of green fronds. Carrots are particularly sweet in the early spring, when frosty nights help concentrate their natural sugars and the warm sunny days allow them to deepen in flavor.

The pairing of carrots with rye whiskey is a perfect match for spring, which, as Charles Dickens said, is a time “when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade” — the rye has a comforting spicy warmth while the carrots lend a welcome note of bright sunshine. The Carrot Top is a necessary shot of spring; go ahead and put on the flip flops that you’ve been eyeing longingly in your closet. You might want to throw on a pair of toe socks with them, just in case. Cheers!

Carrot Top

This lovely little infusion makes a fabulous aperitif on its own, but also makes a smashing cocktail when poured over ginger beer on ice (and, even better, throw in a splash of Stone’s Ginger Wine to add another layer of flavor). If you don’t have crystallized ginger, then substitute a couple of small chunks of fresh ginger and about a 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar.

1/2 cup rye whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1 carrot, freshly grated

3 chunks of crystallized ginger, about 1-inch each

Place all ingredients in a jar and set aside for two hours. Strain liquid and discard carrot and ginger. To serve, put two ounces of infused rye into a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake vigorously. Strain into an aperitif or shot glass and sip responsibly.

The Friday Tipple: Beetlejuice

Spring is in the air, Boozers. We hear that snow is falling across the Midwest, but, for today at least, it’s practically sultry in our neck of the woods. Daffodils are rearing their scrawny necks and ducks are eyeing each other amorously. The breeze is redolent with the scent of raw promise.

A box of fresh produce from Washington’s Green Grocers landed on the doorstep yesterday, inspiring us with some of its early spring offerings — namely, lovely little beets, bursting with rosy goodness. Their earthy sweetness is, we believe, a perfect complement to the bright woodsy notes found in gin, culminating in an infusion that recalls springtime hikes through primeval forests, where crocuses peep through the detritus of winter and toadstools beckon innocently from the shadows.

While we tend to think of vegetables as used only occasionally in more savory cocktails — the Bloody Mary, for instance — there are many that also lend a subtle sweetness to hand-crafted drinks. Our little box of produce also yielded several gorgeous watermelon radishes, which, with their sugary spiciness are sure to find themselves more intimately incorporated into an upcoming concoction, rather than only being relegated to a pretty garnish.

Throw off the confines of winter, Boozers — spring awaits.

Beetlejuice

Our housemade St. Germain-based lemon soda is a tasty complement to our beet-infused gin, which we think lends a floral undertone to our homage to spring. It’s incredibly easy to make, but you can substitute a commercial lemon soda if you prefer.

1 small raw beet, peeled and grated

1/2 cup gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin)

raw sugar (regular granulated sugar is fine as well)

juice of one fresh lemon

1 ounce St. Germain liqueur

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

3 ounces club soda or mineral water

To make the beet infusion: Put grated beets in a cup or jar with a large pinch of raw sugar. Top with gin and allow to sit, uncovered, for one or two hours. Strain and set aside.

To make the lemon soda: Put the lemon juice, St. Germain, agave nectar and club soda in a glass and stir vigorously until well-incorporated. Do this just before assembling the cocktail to maintain the carbonation.

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the lemon soda. Pour 1.5 ounces of beet-infused gin over the top — do not stir, but leave it layered. Garnish with lemon, fresh herbs, or a slice of watermelon radish (optional). Drink up.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 544 other followers