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 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 Thanksgiving Tipple: Cranberry Jelly Shot

Cranberry Jelly Shot

Ready for the big day, Boozers? With just under a week until the great Thanksgiving feast, our lists are made and the prep has begun. Naturally, we started with cocktails.

Mama Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish, a blindingly bright pink concoction of cranberries and horseradish that has been the butt of many jokes on NPR for at least a couple of decades, was a surprising source of inspiration. As strange as it may seem, why could it not be the basis for a perfect palate cleanser during a heavy meal?

And so we present you with the Cranberry Jelly Shot. You may recall that we love a jam cocktail, as the pectin from the jam creates a lovely silky mouthfeel; we then pickled some cranberries with horseradish for a garnish, using the resulting liquid — essentially a shrub — to give the shot a bit of a kick. Sit back and give thanks.

Cranberry Jelly Shot

You can use your choice of alcohol for this shot, as it could work equally well with vodka, tequila, or gin, but we suggest an unaged whiskey, often known as moonshine, for its quintessentially American properties, which seem appropriate for Thanksgiving; our local favorite is Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirit.

1 tablespoon cranberry jelly (homemade or storebought)

1 ounce white whiskey or other liquor of your choice

1 ounce cranberry-horseradish shrub (recipe below)

pickled cranberries, for garnish (recipe below)

Put first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake very vigorously so that the cranberry jelly dissolves into the liquid. If the liquid seems overly thick, dilute with a scant teaspoon of water. Strain into a shot glass and garnish with a few pickled cranberries on a toothpick. Can be shot down in one gulp or sipped, and is also delicious if served over ice in a rocks glass and topped off with chilled club soda.

Pickled Cranberries and Cranberry-Horseradish Shrub:

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 cup sugar

2 heaping tablespoons grated horseradish (from a jar is fine)

1 small cinnamon stick

Put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, just until cranberries begin to pop. Reduce heat to quite low and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Remove cinnamon stick and put the cranberries and liquid (known as a shrub) into a food storage container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

The Autumn Tipple: Old Henry’s Constitutional

Old Henry's Constitutional

We’re feeling old, Boozers. It seems as if the world is shifting ever more toward the delights of youth and we find ourselves shaking our fists at the young’uns traipsing across the lawn in their neon-laced stacked booties, finding ourselves a sad parody of Grumpy Old Men. Yet then we were reminded of our celebrated ancestor, Old Henry Francisco, and knew that it was time for us to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Old Henry is reputed to have lived to the ripe old age of 134, finally succumbing to a fever in 1820, having played the drum at Queen Anne’s coronation in 1702 as a young man before coming to America, where he later fought in both the French & Indian and Revolutionary Wars — the latter while in his 90s.

Appropriately chastised, we’ve now decided to follow in Old Henry’s footsteps and capture the secret to his longevity. After spending a lovely fall day in the orchards at Ridgefield Farm, we felt rejuvenated and knew just what to do. Back when he was Young Henry, our ancestor was known to enjoy his tipple, and as he aged, lived largely on baked apples and black tea. So we’ve created Old Henry’s Constitutional, a healthful mixture of brandy, mead, apples, and tea, specifically designed to get us into the 22nd century. Live long and prosper.

Old Henry’s Constitutional

You may think of mead, which is, at its most basic, a fermented honey water, as something only to be consumed at Ye Olde Renaissance Faire, but this libation can bring cocktails to new levels with its subtle yeastiness. You can use either a flat or carbonated mead, depending on your preference. Mead is not always as sweet as one might think and can be made with a variety of fruits and spices — many mead producers are popping up across the country, so find out what’s available in your area and invest in a bottle. No mead to be found? Try this with a hard cider instead.

2 ounces mead (we used Charm City Meadworks Original Dry)
2 ounces honey-sweetened black tea, at room temperature
1 ounce brandy (we used Catoctin Creek 1757 Virginia Brandy — Old Henry would have been just 71 back then)
Several chunks of roasted apple (directions below)

First, roast the apple: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Core an apple (choose sweet or tart, depending on the flavor you want) and cut the apple into hefty 1-inch chunks. Place chunks on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes; the chunks should still be firm at this point, so reserve a few pieces for garnish, then take the remainder and wrap them loosely in some aluminum foil, returning to the oven for 10 more minutes. At this point, they should be fairly soft, so remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

To assemble the drink: Put the completely softened apple pieces into the bottom of a cocktail shaker with the brandy and muddle thoroughly. Add mead and black tea and shake well. Strain into a glass, being sure to press all the juices out of the muddled apple. Garnish with reserved pieces of baked apple. May be served at room temperature or chilled, with or without ice.

The Garden Tipple: DMV Iced Tea

DMV Iced Tea

We’re feeling sweet, dear Boozers. Here in the DMV — and for the uninitiated, we’re referring to the DC-Maryland-Virginia vortex, not the Department of Motor Vehicles — we straddle, sometimes uncomfortably, that line that divides the North and the South. We have a certain Northern can-do entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a Southern take-your-time-and-do-it-right mentality which often leads to short bursts of frantic activity followed by long hours of intense reflection.

What we do like is our sweet tea on a hot summer day, but we tend to enjoy it half-and-half style, like the rest of our existence: not too sweet, not too plain. When presented with that perennial summer cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea, we tut-tut at its lack of actual tea and emphasis on “more is more”. So we’ve created the DMV Iced Tea, a blend of energizing teas infused with fresh peaches and local brandy — a perfect sipper for those last days of summer lounging in the city parks dreaming of beach days gone by.

DMV Iced Tea

A combination of green tea and Earl Grey-infused vodka provide the tea base here, and, as it’s peach season here in the Almost South, we’re enjoying every juicy moment. A soupçon of lavender honey is all that’s needed to heighten the just-picked flavor of the peaches — any more would turn this into a Deep South Iced Tea.

4 ounces Fresh Peach Green Tea (see below)
1 ounce brandy (we like to use Catoctin Creek’s Peach Brandy, but DMV perennial favorites like Courvoisier and Hennessey will certainly do the trick)
1 ounce Earl Grey-infused vodka (recipe here)
fresh sliced peaches for garnish

Put a chunk or two of the tea-soaked peaches from the Fresh Peach Green Tea in the bottom of a tall glass. Add several ice cubes, then top with the chilled tea, brandy, and vodka. Stir briskly and garnish with a fresh peach slice — or two.

to make the Fresh Peach Green Tea:
1/2 cup fresh peaches, roughly chopped
4 cups freshly brewed green tea (we like a minty variety like Tazo Zen)
2 tablespoons lavender honey

Put the peaches in a pitcher and muddle lightly, then add green tea and honey. Stir well, then refrigerate for at least two hours or until well-chilled. Can be kept refrigerated for three or four days.

The Garden Tipple: Watermelon Moonshine Shooter

Watermelon Moonshine Shooter

We’re celebrating independence, Boozers. Some days, the weight of responsibility can be crushing, as the gimlet-eyed gaze of a soulless COO leaves you wondering if you can survive another day in corporate America. And then you push through those gleaming glass doors into the hot sunshine of a late summer afternoon and you raise your arms to the clear blue sky and you scream, “I’m mad as hell — and I’m not gonna take it anymore!”

Or you just go to the corner and buy a bottle of moonshine.

Because at least you’ve got a three-day weekend ahead of you, and a hometown parade, and fireworks exploding in the darkness. And good friends who will share a shot — or two — and remind you that there’s always another way to get to the finish line. Grab your independence and run with it.

Watermelon Moonshine Shooter

Watermelon are a dime a dozen this time of year, whether in the garden or the farmers market, and, as you can imagine, they make a tasty drink on a hot day. We like to use a white whiskey — also known as moonshine — but it would be equally good with tequila.

1 cup fresh watermelon chunks

4 ounces white whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirit, but support your local distillery)

1 fresh lime

a few dashes of citrus bitters (optional, but we like Hella Citrus)

Kosher salt

Put watermelon and whiskey into a blender and liquify. Strain the liquid, then squeeze fresh lime juice into it and add a few drops of bitters. Mix well and let chill for an hour. Stir again before pouring into shot glasses, and sprinkle a few grains of salt over the top before drinking it down.

 

 

The Garden Tipple: Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch

Midsummer Night's Beer Punch

We have had a most rare vision, dear Boozers. Sunlight slanting low and golden across quiet orderly rows of tomatoes, beans, and peppers, suddenly distorted by the higgledy-piggledy madness of raspberry canes, climbing every which way in tangled curls of green and crimson. Warmed by the late-day sunshine, the scent is intoxicating and you find your fingers and lips stained with their sweetness. Such is a midsummer night, when inhibitions are thrown out into the soft breeze and a magical stillness settles into a contented soul.

Midsummer is an important time in many cultures, as the longest day of the year arrives with great fanfare, only to be immediately followed by gradually shortening days that herald the inevitable coming of winter. Fueled by a sense of urgency, we feel the need to gather our friends and dance with abandon in the open air, surrounded by barbecues and beer cans as we chase our dreams through the shadows. We like to celebrate such folly with our Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch, a heady blend of raspberry-infused gin, limoncello-spiked lemonade, and crisp summer ale. Consider yourself forewarned: though she be but little, she is fierce.

Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch

Here in the U.S., we tend to come just a bit late to the party by celebrating midsummer on the Fourth of July, and this punch is just right for a crowd. The trick is to try to keep everything well-chilled until just before serving — go rustic by mixing the lemonade and gin together in a large mason jar, then add a couple of cold beers to the jar as your guests begin to arrive. To keep it extra cold, try throwing in a few beer cubes.

2 cups chilled lemonade with 3/4 cup limoncello added (we like our local Don Ciccio & Figli limoncello)

1 cup chilled gin infused with raspberries and lemongrass (recipe here)

3 chilled beers (we used a summery ale by our local DC Brau)

Several slices of fresh orange and lemon

Using a punch bowl or a large mason jar, add all ingredients and stir together well. Serve immediately and replenish as necessary. Garnish with fresh lemongrass stalks if you have it.

 

The Friday Tipple: The Good Friday

The Good Friday

TGIF, Boozers. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, an emphatic TGIF. For many people across the globe, this week also represents the observation of Passover and Easter, a time for reflection upon and appreciation of all that is both bitter and sweet.

We always find Fridays, in general, to be bittersweet, as we struggle to stay focused on the work necessary to pay the bills while already lamenting the scant few hours ahead that allow us to escape the daily grind. We find ourselves easily distracted, rushing headlong into the weekend and the joys of sleeping in because we sat up in the wee hours watching infomercials while munching on microwave pizza in bed.

For this particular Friday, it feels right to come home to a special cocktail that we’re calling, appropriately enough, The Good Friday. By turns bitter, sweet, celebratory, and slightly numbing, it could set the tone for your two days of respite – or simply give you a few moments of blissful ignorance.

The Good Friday

Most people think of Campari only in connection with club soda and a wedge of lime, but Campari adds a silky bittersweet note to many cocktails and is particularly nice when paired with flavors that are sweet, fruity, and botanical.

1 ounce silver tequila (we like Avion, which is rather herbaceous and gin-like with a bite)

1 ounce Campari

1/2 large fresh orange

chilled Prosecco or sparkling wine

Place tequila and Campari in a cocktail shaker and squeeze the orange into it thoroughly, including some pulp. Add an ice cube, stir briskly, and strain into a chilled coupe. Top with an ounce or so of Prosecco and enjoy.

 

The Friday Tipple: Frosted Boilermaker

Frosted Boilermaker

We’re feeling adult, Boozers. And by “adult”, we mean, of course, that we’re in the mood for an adult milkshake. It’s been that kind of week.

Actually, the term “adult milkshake” does seem a bit silly, sort of like referring to coq au vin as “adult chicken” simply because the recipe calls for wine, or implying that milkshakes are meant only to be enjoyed by children. However, we do enjoy an alcohol-enhanced frosted beverage as much as the next adult, so we decided to continue playing around with the Boilermaker, as we did last week with Dilbert’s Dilemma, and inspired by a brief encounter we had with a Guinness Float at Good Stuff Eatery on St. Patrick’s Day. We call it the Frosted Boilermaker, but call it “Dilbert’s Delight” if you wish, a perfect way to wallow at the end of another week of tedium and toil.

Frosted Boilermaker

We made a Beer Syrup for our Dilbert’s Dilemma cocktail, and it called to us piteously to use it again. Many milkshakes are made with chocolate, butterscotch, or strawberry syrups, so it seemed like a no-brainer to use a beer syrup in the same fashion. You can use ice cream, but we actually like the slightly tangy flavor that comes with a frozen yogurt, which complements the malty undertone of the beer syrup.

2 scoops of vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream

2 ounces whiskey (we used our favorite Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1 large tablespoon Beer Syrup

Splash of half-n-half (Coconut half-n-half is a nice touch)

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Whiskey-whipped cream (optional, but you’ll regret not doing this)

Nocello-glazed walnuts for garnish (also optional, but do it anyway)

Place first five ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and garnish with whipped cream and walnuts.

Whiskey-whipped cream: whip together one cup of chilled whipping cream, 1 ounce of whiskey, and 1 heaping teaspoon of brown sugar.

Nocello-glazed walnuts: put a small handful walnuts into a bowl with an ounce of Nocello liqueur (or whiskey or bourbon) and sprinkle with a little sugar. Mix together, then pour into a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Allow to caramelize while stirring frequently, about 3 – 5 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

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