A Springtime Tipple: Persephone’s Dream

Persephone's Dream

We’ve missed you, Boozers. As we finally stretch our limbs after our winter’s hibernation, we’re coated with a thin layer of pollen and immersed in the scents of wisteria on the vine. Dearest Persephone, it’s about time you came to call.

Spring was in full force last weekend in Raleigh, and the Carolinas could not have been more welcoming, cloaked in greenery, humidity, and sunshine, a glimpse of the summer ahead. A visit to the North Carolina State Farmers Market revealed a treasure trove of truly fresh spring produce we can still only dream of in more northern climes: asparagus, ramps, frost collards, and, best of all, spring strawberries.

The strawberries of springtime recall the bittersweet story of Persephone, who was forced to spend four months of each year in the underworld, dreaming of the world she’d left behind; spring could only arrive when she was able to return above ground to be reunited with her mother. Spring strawberries, like Persephone, return hesitantly but joyously to the garden each year, the lightly sweet cousins of their summertime counterparts, holding within them the promise of carefree days ahead.

Persephone’s Dream

Campari tends to be a summertime tipple, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it at any time, especially to provide a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of spring strawberries. We’ve added a floral note with a splash of creme de violette, but you can achieve a similar quality with elderflower, rose, or even maraschino liqueur — start with smaller quantities then add more to suit your own taste.

2 tablespoons fresh strawberry purée

1 ounce Creme Yvette (or any of the substitutions suggested above)

1/2 ounce Campari

2 ounces chilled seltzer water

Fresh lime twist

Make the purée by liquefying 1/2 cup fresh strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1 teaspoon of light agave syrup and 1 tablespoon of water.

To make the drink, put the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake well. Remove the lid, add the chilled seltzer and stir well, then strain into a coupe. Twist the lime over the top of the drink to release the essential oils then drop the twist into the drink. Enjoy immediately.

A Friday the 13th 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 it as a time 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 peachy 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 peachy 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 peachy 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: Shirley’s Valentine

Shirley's Valentine

We’re waxing nostalgic, Boozers. Feeling the need for a special cocktail today, we’ve turned to a childhood classic: the Shirley Temple. A sweet homage to the child star of the same name, the drink is perhaps most adored by generations of children for a typically generous garnish of maraschino cherries more than anything else. Of course, as we age, we learn that love is, indeed, bittersweet, yet we still can delight in its moments of perfection.

Today we’ve gone slightly old-school with Shirley’s Valentine, a kind of Negroni with a twist or two, rather like the twists and turns of love. No matter who you spend your Valentine’s Day with, bring Shirley along for the ride and let love blossom.

Shirley’s Valentine

A classic Negroni is composed of gin, vermouth, and Campari; we like the idea of using gin in our grown-up version of a Shirley Temple because gin was the liquor of choice in the grown-up films of Miss Temple’s heyday, showing up in cocktails sipped by elegantly-dressed women in silk charmeuse and men in black tie. A house-made cherry-ginger soda and Luxardo maraschino liqueur give the whole thing a sweet bite.

1 ounce gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)

1 ounce Luxardo

1/2 ounce Campari

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 teaspoons maraschino cherry liquid (yes, from a jar of maraschino cherries)

chilled club soda

fresh orange peel (for garnish)

In a cocktail shaker, mix together the ginger, maraschino cherry liquid, and 2 ounces of the chilled club soda. Add a few ice cubes and then the gin and Luxardo; stir vigorously, then strain into a tall glass filled with ice (heart-shaped cubes are a nice touch). Add more club soda to fill glass almost to the rim, stirring again, then pour Campari over the top and garnish with fresh orange peel (twist over glass to release essential oils). Enjoy.

 

The Friday Tipple: Cinnamon Margarita

Cinnamon Margarita

The groundhog has spoken, Boozers. Winter will apparently continue to drag on for an additional six weeks, as summer winks at us insouciantly from a distance, teasing us with warm breezes and dining al fresco. And so, we’ve decided we need a margarita, perhaps with a bit of a wintry twist.

You may have encountered a Cinnamon Margarita before, but we find that they tend to be overly sweet, so our version includes cinnamon-infused tequila and a spicy ginger syrup, which combines to make a cocktail that recalls winter spice but promises of warm-weather adventures to come. ¡Salud!

Cinnamon Margarita

For this we’ve simply infused a bottle of tequila — we used Avion Silver, which we like for its clean bright flavor — with a few cinnamon sticks. This took nothing more than dropping the sticks in the bottle and setting it aside for a few days. However, if you are yearning for this margarita right now, then you can easily effect the same concept by adding a few drops of cinnamon extract to each individual portion of tequila; most grocery stores carry the extract in the baking aisle on the same shelf where you’d find vanilla and other extracts.

2 ounces cinnamon-infused tequila (or just tequila and a few drops of cinnamon extract as noted above)

2 ounces chilled club soda

1 tablespoon ginger simple syrup (recipe below)

a very light splash of triple sec

a squirt of fresh lime juice

fresh lime twist

Make the ginger simple syrup: put 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, and a couple of 1-inch pieces of fresh ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a low boil and then simmer over low heat until reduced into a thick syrup. Remove ginger pieces and allow to cool completely. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Make the Cinnamon Margarita: Put tequila, club soda, ginger syrup, triple sec and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir well. This can be served with or without ice. Add a twist of lime over the top and enjoy.

 

The Super Bowl Tipple: Tailgater’s Toddy

Tailgater's Toddy

Hang onto your helmets, Boozers. Yep, it’s time for that most hallowed of all American days: Super Bowl Sunday. Even as we write, tortilla chips are being crisped for homemade queso, pots of Mom’s secret chili are bubbling, and charcuterie enthusiasts are eagerly stuffing sausage casings. Let the games begin.

We’re pretty sure that you can’t enjoy football without a beer — or two — and a nice cold one can be tasty when you’re tucked up by the telly with a plate of nachos. But what if you’re tailgating in Arizona with a portable barbecue brimming with Southwestern Wings? Time for a Tailgater’s Toddy, even if the temps are balmy by Boston and Seattle standards.

If you’ve ever trekked through the frosty Eastern European countryside and stopped off at a roadside pub, then you’ll have encountered what can only be described as mulled beer — basically a strong beer that has been simmered with spices and is served warm in a large mug. The flavor is smooth and dark and brimming over with bone-warming richness; with the explosion of craft breweries across the United States, it’s easy to find a lovely local amber or brown ale or perhaps even a porter to serve as the base for this brew. We also add just a tot of brandy, although a bit of bourbon would do just as nicely — it helps ease the pain, just in case your team doesn’t grab that trophy. Touchdown!

Tailgater’s Toddy

We like to use a beer that is somewhat malty but with a bite of hops to it — basically providing a balance of bitter and sweet that melds with the fruit and spices. Check out your local brewery and pick up a growler or two to bring home — brewers love to talk about flavor profiles and can suggest which of their beers will work best in this recipe.

4 cups beer

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 slice of fresh ginger, about an inch in diameter

2 wedges of apple, such as Granny Smith

1 small orange, sliced in half

2 TB honey (an orange blossom honey is nice if you have it)

1/4 cup brandy or bourbon (we used Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia Brandy for an extra kick of fruit)

Orange wedges for garnish (optional)

Put all ingredients except brandy into a 4-quart saucepan and simmer over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and add brandy just before serving in mugs or heat-proof glasses with a wedge of orange. Serves 2 – 4; okay, maybe just 1.

Published in: on January 31, 2015 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Winter Storm Tipple: Warm Drinks for Cold Weather

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Apparently a storm’s-a-comin’, Boozers, so while you’re frantically gathering bread, milk, and toilet paper, don’t forget to stock up at the liquor store. A snow storm is truly just an excuse to have a party with the neighbors, so prepare to help shovel each other out and then warm up with a toasty cocktail or two. Be careful out there.

An Epiphany

Daisy’s Cup

Earl’s Cup

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Lavender Lemonade with Hot Gin

Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

Nutella Whiskey Dream

Parade Punsch

Potlikker Sangria

Sick Day

Sochi Dreams

Tailgater’s Toddy

Tex-Mex Cocoa

And, for those who are feeling a tad more adventurous:

Arctic Char

Blizzard Shot

Gin Mickey

incidental musings on moonshine

Robert Frost-ini

Sochi Dreams

Holiday Cocktails

Robert Frost-ini

Whatever holidays you choose to celebrate in December, it’s always nice to have a cocktail in your hand while communing with friends and neighbors. There’s something here for everyone on your list. Cheers!

Breakfast Bellini

Champagne Creamsicle

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Mexican Cocoa Martini with Drunken Fluff

Midnight in Paris

Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

Pear Champagne Cocktail

Potlikker Sangria

Robert Frost-ini

Swedish Margareta

Tex-Mex Cocoa

 

 

The Holiday Tipple: Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

Papa Elf's Cranberry Daiquiri

Ho ho ho, Boozers. The holiday season has managed to arrive amid all the usual hoopla and hypocrisies, yet somehow we still maintain our childlike wonder at a season full of magic and mystery. Off in a distant winter wonderland, elves are scurrying through sawdust-covered workshops in the rush of preparing for a global gift-giving extravaganza, and we imagine Papa Elf trudging back to his icicle-draped gingerbread cottage at the end of the day, wearily longing for an icy cocktail.

Like Papa Elf, Papa Hemingway also longed for a cocktail at the end of — or perhaps during — a long day of creating the gift of stories for the masses. Being in a somewhat warmer clime, Papa H was all about the daiquiri, tart with lime, warm with rum, then chilled, shaken and served straight up — devilishly simple. This is no syrupy Slurpee of a drink, but rather an elegant end to a day well spent in serving others. Now it’s time to serve yourself.

Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

The basic concept of a true Hemingway daiquiri is that it should be mostly tart, but lightly sweet, possibly like the demeanor of a busy elf. While a classic daiquiri is made quite simply with lime juice, sugar, rum, and Maraschino liqueur, we’ve introduced some tart cranberry to give it a seasonal flair.

2 ounces silver rum (we like our local Lyon Distilling Company‘s white rum)

1.5 ounces fresh cranberry-ginger juice (recipe below)

.5 ounce Maraschino liqueur

wedge of fresh lime

Pour first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Squeeze in lime juice, stir once, then strain into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass.

to make the fresh cranberry-ginger juice: It may be tempting to use commercial cranberry juice — and you could — but don’t. You’ll be glad you did this. Take 1/2 cup fresh cranberries and a couple of 1/2-inch slices of fresh ginger and put them in a small saucepan with enough water to cover and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then pour into a blender with 3/4 cup of water. Blend on high until completely liquified, then strain out the solids — you may need to strain twice to get a nice clear liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

 

 

The Hashtag Tipple: #societyisacocktailparty

Hashtag Tipple

Life is no joke, dear Boozers. We often celebrate absurdity with a drink, but some issues are too big to solve with a chuckle over a cocktail. In a world riddled with injustice, happy hour just doesn’t seem quite so cheerful anymore.

Justice is, of course, a tricky subject, as it is perceived differently by each of us. However, it is our view that a truly functioning society is something like a really good cocktail party. A guest at a cocktail party should feel like they are not an outsider but completely accepted – even welcomed – to interact with everyone else on equal terms. Everyone has the same opportunity to partake of a tasty libation and a handful of Chex Mix. Differing opinions on art, politics, childrearing, and the Real Housewives franchise are respectfully discussed, if not universally agreed upon. 

Most importantly, when the guests leave this bastion of acceptance for the outside world, they do not fear for their safety. Women do not feel the need to tug their skirts down a fraction of an inch. Children do not fear the bully lurking in cyberspace. Gay men do not run from sudden footsteps in the darkness. Black teenagers do not have to answer the question “Why are you in this neighborhood?”. Parents do not worry that their children will never come home.

Because in a world of justice, even when you leave your comfort zone, you should still feel comfortable. We are all guests at the same party. 

#everylifematters

The Black Friday Tipple: Fizzy Friday

Fizzy Friday

You’ve done it again, Boozers. You told yourself “I will not have a third helping of mashed potatoes” and you stuffed yourself on stuffing and then there were three kinds of pie. We know how you feel: bloated, bleary, and blubbery.

After sucking down a bottle of Grampa’s homemade dandelion wine and those shots of Wild Turkey with your cousin Gerry behind the garage, Black Friday is a bit of a blur. What you need to do is soothe your tum. Enter bitters. There are two types of bitters: digestive bitters and cocktail bitters. Both types are basically herbs and roots that are used to flavor alcohol, usually having a bitter or bittersweet taste. Cocktail bitters, like AngosturaBittermensFee Brothers, and Urban Moonshine, are generally used sparingly to flavor cocktails, much as you might add salt and pepper to your food. Digestive bitters, like CampariPimm’s No. 1, and Cynar, can be drunk straight up or on the rocks as well as in cocktails.

We like to make our own cocktail bitters and just finished up a batch of what we call Chocolate Stout Bitters (want a bottle of your own? drop us a line), featuring fresh hops, espresso beans, and cocoa nibs, but don’t be intimidated by our ingenuity. Drag yourself to the local liquor store and grab any bottle of either cocktail or digestive bitters, along with some tonic water or club soda. Down the Fizzy Friday in one go and you’ll be back in fine fettle before you can say “Alka Seltzer“. Cheers!

Fizzy Friday

There are as many ways to make a Fizzy Friday as there are recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers. You can choose to go the digestive route and pour a generous slug of Campari (our personal favorite) over ice and top it off with a splash of club soda. However, we’re going the other direction today, for reasons that will soon become clear.

Tonic water or club soda

Cocktail bitters (Bitters, Old Men Restorative Tonic is good here)

Gin (as always, we’ll be reaching for the Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin)

Fill a lowball glass with ice and add 4 ounces of tonic water or club soda. Add 20 drops of bitters — yes, that’s right, we said 20 — and drink it down quickly. Then fill the glass with more tonic or soda, throw in some gin, and you’re good to go. Great Aunt Joan’s waiting for you to drive her to Walmart.

 

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