The Friday Tipple: Fall Classic

Fall Classic

We’ve fallen and we can’t get up, dear Boozers. Autumn appears to have truly arrived, as leaves of every color are whipped around in a stiff wind and the storm windows are shut against the chill. And apples, apples are everywhere, stacked up in untidy piles on the kitchen counter, challenging us in their cheerful hues of red and green: “We dare you to do something with us besides make pie.”

Oh, we’ll take that challenge, and we’ll make a fresh apple shrub out of it. Some of you might call it a drinking vinegar, but the term “shrub” sounds weirdly sexier, in a Colonial sort of way, and we all know how Ben Franklin felt about apples. Not only that, it couldn’t be easier to make, because a shrub is little more than fruit, vinegar, and sugar, simmered into a lovely spicy syrup (there’s a cold-brew method as well, which we will detail below, but it was nippy in the kitchen and we wanted to warm up). When diluted with club soda, it’s a perfect mixer for a fall evening by the fireplace. Gather round it with your friends and boost the immune system at the same time. Cheers.

Fall Classic

It’s so easy to make a shrub that we decided to make a tasty garnish as well — a caraway seed brittle, to be precise. Brittles are not always as easy as they look, but basically it’s simply a cup of water, two cups of sugar, a small knob of butter, and a couple of tablespoons of caraway seeds cooked over medium heat until it becomes thick and syrupy (if you stop cooking too soon, you’ll end up with a caramel). Whisk in a teaspoon of baking soda, then spread it out onto an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle a little sea salt over the top, and let it harden. Voilà.

to make the fresh apple shrub:

3 apples, grated

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup sugar (we used maple sugar)

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

a pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain, pressing grated apple thoroughly to get out all the liquid. Cool completely; can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. To cold brew, simply place all the ingredients in a mason jar and put it in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, then strain as directed.

to make the Fall Classic:

1.5 ounces fresh apple shrub

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

1/2 ounce fennel or anise liqueur (we used Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto)

chilled club soda

caraway seed brittle for garnish (optional, but just right)

Combine first three ingredients in a tall glass with ice and stir well. Top with club soda, stir briskly, and garnish with caraway brittle.

Other options: While we like rye in this drink, it also works well with bourbon or rum. Some anise liqueurs that will work well include absinthe, galliano, ouzo, pastis, and sambuca.

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The Friday Tipple: This Little Figgy

This Little Figgy

We’re feeling figgy, Boozers. The neighbors just dropped off a giant bag of fresh figs, because their tree is overflowing and it is, after all, fig season. You may have seen these funny little wonders in the farmer’s market and wondered what to do with them. Fig bars? Figgy pudding? Toasted under the broiler with gorgonzola? The list is endless, really.

We, of course, lean toward the cocktail. Figs lend themselves to cocktails quite well, actually — when added into alcohol, their texture provides a certain silky mouthfeel which makes any drink seem quite sexy. They also have a luscious sweetness which combines well with many other flavors. For our concoction, which we fondly call This Little Figgy, we like the addition of Finocchietto, a fennel liqueur made by one of our favorite local distillers, Don Ciccio & Figgli, but you could substitute another anise-based liqueur such as absinthe or even dust off that bottle of Galliano that you are never quite sure how to use. Get your fig on.

This Little Figgy

On a recent trip to the great state of New York, we were intrigued to discover Core Vodka, which is distilled from apples. The flavor is clean and crisp — this is not an apple-flavored vodka, but simply the essence of apples distilled into vodka. Paired with the fresh fall flavors of fennel and fig, This Little Figgy is like a bright September day poured into a glass.

2 fresh figs

3 ounces vodka

1 ounce Finocchietto or other anise liqueur

2 dashes orange or grapefruit bitters (The Bitter Truth has good varieties of each)

Cut the figs in half and use a spoon to remove the flesh from three of the halves, setting the final half aside for garnish. Put the fig flesh into a cocktail shaker and add the vodka, mashing together. Set aside for a few minutes, then add the Finocchietto, bitters, and a couple of ice cubes. Shake vigorously. Remove the larger pieces of fig (this makes it easier to strain) and strain into a cosmopolitan glass. Garnish with the remaining half of fig.

The Friday Tipple: Jane’s Affliction

Ahoy there, Boozers! We’ve just returned from a bit of a jaunt to the Big Apple where we roughed it at The Jane, that most hipster of hotels overlooking the Hudson. It has a rather illustrious history as a classy hotel for sailors and actually hosted survivors of the Titanic immediately following that infamous sinking. If that’s not inspiration for a drink, we don’t know what is.

Imagining ourselves as proper British passengers, if we’d had to abandon ship in the middle of an iceberg-covered Atlantic, we’re quite sure we’d want a nice cup of strong sweet tea to help us cope with the shock once our rescuers had deposited us in the cozy confines of The Jane. And a generous measure of something somewhat stronger would not go amiss, leading to the creation of Jane’s Affliction.

The Titanic sank in 1912, the same year that absinthe was banned in the United States. Absinthe has had a bit of a resurgence, and we’ve been intrigued by several small-batch varieties, including Great Lakes Distillery’s Amerique 1912 Absinthe Rouge; its delicate undertone of hibiscus and anise recalls round-the-world voyages to exotic islands. The next time you’re in need of rescuing, Jane’s Affliction will surely come to your aid. Bottoms up!

Jane’s Affliction

The base of this cocktail is a tea-infused liquor; we’ve done it with both Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit and Boyd & Blair’s Vodka, so take your pick. You can do a quick infusion by adding a teabag (Earl Grey works well, but Lifeboat Tea might be even better) to 4 ounces of liquor and letting it sit for an hour. For the more ambitious, add four or five teabags to the whole bottle and leave it in a dark place for two weeks — the tannins from the tea help give the liquid a lovely silkiness.

2 ounces tea-infused liquor, such as an unaged whiskey or vodka

3/4 ounce St. Germain liqueur (because every $14 cocktail in New York has to have St. Germain in it, and why not?)

Absinthe

2 or 3 orange wedges

1 sugar cube

piece of orange peel

Muddle the orange wedges in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and pour in the St. Germain. Let sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, rub the rim of a cocktail glass with the orange peel. Put the sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and sprinkle a few drops of absinthe over it. Add a few ice cubes and the tea-infused liquor to the cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass.

The Friday Tipple: Cain’s Mutiny

It’s not easy being a presidential candidate, Boozers. One day you’re a mild-mannered millionaire singing about the glories of pizza, the next day you’re getting skewered by the left-wing bloggers for your fondness for Pokemon. But, really, what’s not to love about a guy whose campaign commercials feature smokin’ and drinkin’? Political correctness need not apply — as the world continues to shrink, Americans may be yearning to follow in the footsteps of our European brethren, who aren’t afraid of leaders who like to let it all hang out.

When you prefer to fly first-class, there’s nothing like having a chilled martini as your wingman. Cool and classic, the Cain’s Mutiny chuckles at convention, marrying absinthe with rosemary-infused gin or vodka — because we don’t believe in Big Government telling you what kind of liquor to drink — and then topping it all off with extra-salty olives stuffed with anchovies. Anchovies may be a long-shot with most Americans, but you can’t count them out — they could surprise us all by suddenly shooting to the top of the polls. Bottoms up!

Cain’s Mutiny

We like liquors infused with herbs, but fresh rosemary can be oily and strong, so we do a quick infusion here that leaves just a subtle taste of rosemary that doesn’t overwhelm the clean flavor of the martini.

4 ounces gin or vodka (we recommend Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin or Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka)

Absinthe (or feel free to substitute dry vermouth, if you prefer)

4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary

olives stuffed with anchovies

Place the rosemary in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and bruise it with a muddling stick. Pour in the gin or vodka and let sit for 15 minutes. Splash a bit of absinthe into a chilled martini glass and swirl around to coat the inside of the glass. Add a couple of ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with olives.

 

 

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!