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. 


The Autumn Tipple: Lame Duck


It was inevitable, Boozers. Whenever the party in power nears the end of its second term, the populace — those who bother voting, of course — becomes restless, embracing a “throw the bums out” mentality, regardless of what the long-term outcome may be. So be it, you reap what you sow — time to prepare for two years of filibusters, vetoes, and legislative inaction. Welcome to the world of the lame duck.

In the meantime, the inevitable olive branches are tenuously creeping out, with the president mildly suggesting sitting down over a bourbon with the incoming majority leader, who professes to like his bourbon in a Manhattan. Sacré bleu! A proper Manhattan is, of course, made with rye whiskey, but these are not times to quibble overmuch about being quite proper. There are deals to be made, cigars to be smoked, cloakrooms to be haunted. If the man wants bourbon in his Manhattan, let him have it.

We prefer to stick with the rye, however, and, in the spirit of  being rather improper, we decided to ditch the vermouth and add a dash of our Roasted Apple Shrub, while also eschewing sweet cherries for a couple of wedges of orange. Because, like republicans and democrats, we enjoy the tension created between apples and oranges, the pull-and-push between opposing ideals. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, but have a glass in your hand to help dull the pain.

Lame Duck

A shrub, of course, is a blending of fruit, vinegar, and sugar — perfectly tart and sweet all at once. Our Roasted Apple Shrub lends itself really well to the spicy kick of rye whiskey, but we would not recommend it with a bourbon, which tends to be sweeter and would create a syrupy mess. As a riff on a Manhattan, normally this would not include any ice cubes, but, with the addition of the shrub, this cocktail actually benefits from just a couple of ice cubes, which help to cut the acidity just slightly as you sip.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we prefer Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye)

1 ounce Roasted Apple Shrub

2 small orange wedges

2 dashes of bitters (you can use the classic Angostura; orange bitters are nice as well)

Fresh orange peel, for garnish

Put the two orange wedges in the bottom of a glass and muddle very lightly, just to break the skins open. Add two ice cubes and the whiskey, shrub, and bitters. Stir gently, twist the orange peel over the glass, and then add the orange peel as garnish. Serve immediately.


The Friday Tipple: Shutdown Shandy

Shutdown Shandy

We’re shaking our heads, Boozers. In days of yore, political opponents secreted themselves away in wood-paneled cloakrooms with a bottle of bourbon, a box of cigars, and a fistful of favors, trading  barbs until a deal was done. This modern game of I’ll-hold-my-breath-until-my-face-turns-blue does not sit well with us, as the trash begins to pile up and valuable medical research is abandoned and firefighters are forced to cool their heels at home. We think it’s time for Congress to suck it up and suck one down.

And so we present the Shutdown Shandy for consideration. Because hot air is still hovering over the nation’s capital, in more ways than one, we’ve opted for a cold one, combining it with a hefty shot of whiskey for good measure. However, it’s the Melting Pot Simple Syrup that brings it all together, a melding of everything that makes America great – sweet, spicy, sour, salty – coming together for the common good. Mix one up, Congress, and get it together.

Shutdown Shandy

We love a good garnish, so for this Tipple we went for some oven-dried orange slices. Simply slice an orange into round disks, dust them with confectioner’s sugar, and place them on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. Once they’re dried out with a brilliant orange hue, you can store them for a week or two in an airtight container.

12 ounces chilled lager or ale (we used DC Brau’s The Corruption)
1.5 ounces whiskey (support your local economy – we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)
1 large spoonful of Melting Pot Simple Syrup (recipe below)
Oven-dried orange wheel for garnish (optional, but you should do it)

Put first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker, stir briskly, strain into two rocks glasses (because this is not meant to drink alone), and spoon a dollop of the foam left in the shaker on top of each drink. Garnish and toast to your continued friendship and cooperation.

Melting Pot Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
1/2 cup fresh clean basil leaves (we used Thai Basil for an extra spicy note)
Big pinch of Kosher salt

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Squeeze lemon into the pan, then drop in the lemon and add the ginger, basil, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to very low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Can be strained and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Der Kommissar

Der Kommissar

We’re on the run, Boozers. Well, not exactly, but we are certainly feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era, what with fugitives slinking around Moscow airports and the amping up of 80s-style commentary from the Kremlin. Falco is suddenly relevant again.

So you can imagine how we were intrigued by the discovery of an Eastern European drink known as Kompot, a sweetened fruit juice that is almost embarrassingly easy to make. You can prepare it with any fruit you like; we chose peaches because they are so plentiful these days. Pair it with a good vodka and being in hiding suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

Der Kommissar

There’s a certain peasant-like austerity to this cocktail, appealing to our need for simplicity on steamy summer days, when we like to keep a refreshing drink handy while we are hiding out next to the air conditioning vent.

4 ounces Peach Kompot (recipe below)
2 ounces vanilla-infused vodka (we infused our favorite Boyd & Blair with a vanilla bean)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add ingredients. Shake vigorously. Can be served with or without ice.

to make the Peach Kompot:

1 cup fresh peaches, pits removed and quartered (you don’t need to remove the skins)

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

juice of half a lemon

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a high simmer. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 – 45 minutes until reduced by about a third. Cool completely, strain, and add lemon juice. Can be refrigerated at this point for up to two weeks. Save the fruit — tastes delicious on its own or spooned over yogurt or ice cream!

Many thanks to Punk Domestics, which inspired us with this recipe from The Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter.

The Friday Tipple: Breaking News

Breaking News

It has been quite a week, dear Boozers. In times such as these, as we huddle near the glow of the evening news telecast or sit in the driveway unable to switch off the car radio, it is difficult to think of anything but sharing in community together. As we have always advocated, cocktails create community and support the local economy. Disasters of many kinds, both natural and man-made, can disrupt the life of a town and its people indefinitely.

After we’ve had our morning coffee, a beer may be in order as we try to absorb the news of the day. For us, it may be the satisfying fizz of our local DC Brau’s aptly-named The Citizen; in Connecticut, the choice might be Thomas Hooker’s Liberator Doppelbock, while Texans might reach for Namaste Brewing’s Post Colonial IPA. Whether you are in Boston, or Aurora, or Oklahoma City, or the south side of Chicago, this is a time to celebrate our communities, embracing our differences without passing judgement.

Support your local breweries by checking out The Beer Mapping Project.


The Friday Tipple: Lincoln’s Oscar

Lincoln's Oscar

We’re heading back to the red carpet, Boozers. Last week we celebrated the excellent judging in at least one category at the Grammy Awards, and today we begin preparing for the Academy Awards. Oscar night should rightly be observed with glamorous gowns, trays of canapés, and a special cocktail. Or two.

Film aficionados seem to agree that Steven Spielberg’s monumental “Lincoln” will win big at the Oscars this year, which led us to wonder “What would Lincoln drink?”. People often characterize the 16th president as a teetotaler, but it is perhaps more accurate to say that he was not much interested in indulging in alcohol or tobacco, preferring to imbibe typhoid-inducing water. However, Lincoln was known to have spent a certain period of time drinking lager, which had been recommended to improve his health. Ah, how we love 19th-century medicine.

Lincoln’s Oscar is, therefore, a beer-tail that is an ode to a complex American born in a log cabin who loved to dance at balls — lager combined with liquor and elegantly served, red-carpet ready, in a coupe. And the winner is…

Lincoln’s Oscar

Lager has a light refreshing fizziness — the champagne of beers — that lends itself to festive cocktails. We chose to combine it with a rye-based gin, such as Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin and St. George Dry Rye Gin, because it has a certain bold peppery quality that we find quintessentially American, but it could work just as well with a more floral variety like Green Hat Gin or Dry Fly Dry Gin.

3 ounces chilled lager (we chose Flying Dog’s UnderDog Atlantic Lager, because Lincoln loved an underdog)

1 ounce gin

1 ounce reduced apple cider (instructions below)

1/2 ounce St. Germaine liqueur

few drops of celery bitters (yes, invest in this — perfect combination with the apple cider, and with gin in general)

one apple slice soaked in Leopold Bros. New York Apple Whiskey (apple brandy or calvados will also work)

Put one cup of apple cider in a small saucepan and simmer over very low heat until reduced by half. Cool completely before using. Soak the apple slice in an ounce or so of the apple whiskey or brandy for about 30 minutes.

In a cocktail shaker, mix together the gin, apple cider, and St. Germaine, then add the beer and stir briskly. Add the bitters (without stirring) and pour directly into a chilled coupe or a wide-mouthed wine glass. Float the apple slice on top and make your entrance.

The Friday Tipple: Parade Punsch

Parade Punsch

Start waving your flags, Boozers. Some 800,000 people are expected to descend upon Washington, DC on Monday for the Presidential Inauguration festivities and the weather will actually be somewhat seasonable for a change, i.e. nippy.

Of course, even if you’re not anywhere in the vicinity of an Inaugural parade in the next few days, you may soon find yourself shivering at a some other parade (President’s Day is on the horizon), or at a football game, or while shoveling snow off the driveway. For any of these, we recommend a hot drink. Even better, we suggest you break out Kronan Swedish Punsch.

Because if the Swedes don’t know how to keep toasty in the frosty outdoors, then who does? Savvy bartenders know that Swedish Punsch is a must-have ingredient, a kind of sweet rum liqueur that was popular for a couple of centuries until it was killed off by Prohibition. Its lush flavor — like smoky cane sugar scented with frangipani blossoms — makes a sultry base for a twist on hot buttered rum that we like to call Parade Punsch. Fill up a thermos and get out there.

Parade Punsch

Using a caramel syrup gives this drink a buttery flavor without actually using butter, but feel free to dollop with freshly-whipped cream (we suggest unsweetened, to create more flavor contrast) if you’re feeling the need for added decadence.

4 ounces hot citrus herbal tea (we used a lemon tea)

1.5 ounces Kronan Swedish Punsch

1 ounce rum (Gosling’s Gold is always nice, although we suggest grabbing some Muddy Riverif you happen to be in North Carolina)

1 ounce caramel syrup (storebought or homemade)

pinch of nutmeg

fresh lemon twist

Put the caramel syrup and nutmeg in the bottom of a heat-safe cup and stir to combine. Add the rum and Kronan Swedish Punsch, top with hot tea, and stir briskly. Add a twist of lemon and serve immediately.

The Friday Tipple: The Coffee Killer

Holy drinking games, Boozers. We are still wiped out from the excesses of The Presidential Pivot game, not to mention a little debate bingo, so we know what we need to help us recover: something hot, sweet, and strong.

Drag your minds from the gutters, Boozers. We’re talking here about a classic Ammazzacaffè, or “coffee killer”, an Italian tradition where a hot demitasse of strong sweet espresso is followed up with a liqueur, to “kill” the taste of the espresso. In Italy, you might partake of this little digestive after lunch or dinner, but we’re Americans, which means we’ll do whatever we damn please, and with a Vice Presidential debate looming in a few days, we may need a few coffee killers in order to steady our nerves. Have it with a boiled egg and call it brunch if it makes you feel better.

Our coffee killer is sweetened with our own Maple Sugar Simple Syrup — we picked up maple sugar from the Amish folks at the farmer’s market the other day and it makes a gorgeous simple syrup when lightly kissed with cinnamon and orange. You could try substituting a good quality maple syrup instead, such as Langdon Wood Maple Syrup aged in Catoctin Creek’s rye whiskey barrels, but don’t succumb to Mrs. Butterworth’s. We added fruit in the form of apple brandy; you could go for some French calvados, but the Italians would hate that, and, besides, we urge you to go local. There are some amazing American apple brandies on the market now — we are, after all, the home of Johnny Appleseed.

Drink up, Boozers — three more debates to go.

Coffee Killer

2 ounces hot strong coffee, preferably served in a demitasse (no espresso machine needed, just filter 2 heaping teaspoons of ground coffee with 2 ounces of hot water and add a smidge of cinnamon if you like)

1 teaspoon Maple Sugar Simple Syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces apple brandy, served in a small liqueur glass or a shot glass (Laird’s Apple Brandy is a tasty option; we prefer younger varieties so that the apple flavor is more prominent)

fresh orange twist

Here’s how to properly kill your coffee: stir the maple syrup into the hot coffee, throw in the orange twist, and drink the coffee down in one or two gulps. Suck down about half the apple brandy, then pour the remainder into the espresso cup. Swirl to capture the last dregs of coffee and maple, then swallow it down. Now you’re ready to face more questions about slow economic growth.

Maple Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup maple sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

fresh orange peel (one hefty piece, not zest)

Set sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar liquifies, being careful not to let it burn. Add water slowly and stir. Add cinnamon and orange peel and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove orange peel and cool completely. Yields about a cup; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Debate Tipple: The Presidential Pivot

It’s debate time, Boozers. Drinking games abound at this time of year — because who doesn’t enjoy slamming a shot every time the President bashes millionaires or his opponent glorifies Reaganomics? A lot of people will be very, very drunk tonight.

Our own drinking game will require us to actually pay attention to the substance of the debate, which means we may not last too long. We’ll be watching the art of The Pivot, a device by which the candidate cleverly dodges answering the actual question by seamlessly switching to a new topic: for example, a candidate might be asked to explain his opposition to (or support of) universal health care and ends up pushing his concept for lowering taxes for small business owners. If it’s done well, they get away with never answering the original question. If they do it less elegantly, Jim Lehrer slaps them around verbally until they actually have to give an opinion.

To participate in our Presidential Pivot drinking game, you’ll need several shot glasses filled with a variety of liquors, and one filled with water. Each time you identify a pivot, shout “Pivot!” and drink from one of the glasses. The next time you spot another pivot, shout “Pivot!” and drink from a different glass. If the moderator catches the candidate and forces a response, shout “Fail!” and drink some water.

Yes, we think it’s likely you’ll get drunk, so don’t forget cab fare.


The Friday Tipple: Post-Convention Bounce

The political season is in full swing, Boozers. Now that we’ve slogged through two weeks of speechifying, the fun begins in earnest as the presidential debate drinking games start to surface. In the meantime, we, like the candidates, need a Post-Convention Bounce to help get us back on our feet.

In our world, a bounce is a liqueur often distilled from brandy, fruit and sugar — the first First Lady, Martha Washington, is somewhat revered for her own recipe for a Cherry Bounce. However, as it takes several weeks to make a proper bounce, we looked for a quick alternative and were rather taken with the idea of using fruit preserves in cocktails — that’s what we call American ingenuity at its finest.

Our Post-Convention Bounce cocktail is a concentrated nip of bliss, perfect for those early days of autumn when there’s a bit of a snap in the air after sunset but it’s still warm enough to wear flip-flops. Put the campaign rhetoric aside for today — you can rock the vote later.

Post-Convention Bounce

Using fruit preserves in cocktails is more than a shortcut — they bring a concentrated burst of flavor and the pectin helps provide a silky mouthfeel. And, while brandy cocktails are thought by some as rather old-fashioned and by others as sacrilege, we enjoy the warm hug of a brandy-based cocktail, especially when punched up with the brightness of a tart cherry jam. 

2 ounces brandy (we used Catoctin Creek’s 1757 Virginia Brandy)

1 ounce fresh orange juice

1 large teaspoonful of cherry preserves

dash of bitters

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and enjoy immediately. You can also serve this over ice and top with an ounce of chilled club soda.