The Friday Tipple: 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 Indianapolis with a portable barbecue brimming with bratwurst? Time for a Tailgater’s Toddy.

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 like to 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 (we like our local DC Brau, Port City, and Chocolate City)

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.

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The Friday Tipple: An Epiphany

Christmas is over, Boozers. Yes, the twelve drummers played their last tune yesterday and those dried-out old trees have been booted to the curb by the purists who waited until Twelfth Night to strip them bare. It’s time for an Epiphany.

Many people think they’ve had an epiphany in the new year, but we think it’s really just a resolution in disguise. However, resolutions tend to get broken while epiphanies can actually stir action. Some epiphanies are sudden revelations, and others steal upon us softly, as if we are waking from a dream. This week’s Tipple is the latter kind — based on a traditional wassail popularized in the Middle Ages known as Lamb’s Wool — and garnished with a lemon “crown”, a nod to the gold paper crowns found on Epiphany cakes in France.

This warm little drink is spicy and not too sweet, with a citrus undertone, and we’re pretty sure that if you drink enough of it, in the company of good friends, you’ll have an epiphany. Cheers!

An Epiphany

For this winter warmer, we trotted out Leopold Bros. truly gorgeous New York Apple Whiskey, added in some Meyer lemons, left over from last week’s Tipple, and dusted off a bottle of Stone’s Ginger Wine, a fortified wine made with ginger and raisins popular in the UK. It’s not hard to find and is actually a nice addition to your cocktail cabinet to splash into a variety of tasty libations.

1.5 cups apple cider

1 cup hard apple cider (we like Crispin’s)

1/2 cup Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine

1/2 cup Leopold Bros. Apple Whiskey (although another good whiskey will still do the trick)

1/2 lemon (a Meyer lemon is nice if you have it)

1/4 teaspoon each: ground cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice

In a two-quart saucepan, add the apple cider, Stone’s Ginger Wine, and the spices, then squeeze in the lemon and drop the lemon into the pot, stirring together until combined. Simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes. Then add the hard apple cider and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the whiskey. Pour into heat-safe glasses, garnish with a slice of lemon, and wait for your epiphany. Serves 4.

The Friday Tipple: Pumpkin Pimm’s

Happy Halloween, Boo-zers! You knew we wouldn’t forget. Actually, we started thinking about this Halloween cocktail several weeks ago, when we resurrected our summertime favorite, Pimm’s No. 1, for the Pear & Pimm’s. We may have even started thinking about it many moons before that when we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and finally got our hands on a bottle of pumpkin juice. The empty bottle has been sitting on our kitchen counter for months, mocking us with delicious memories.

There are many recipes for pumpkin juice out there in the world of J.K. Rowling worshippers, and they are all pretty good, but we wanted something a little less sweet so that our Pumpkin Pimm’s would taste like a proper cocktail. Roasting a fresh sugar pumpkin (that’s the smallish variety that weigh just a few pounds, typically used for pies, not the big ones that are carved into jack-o-lanterns) did the trick, giving a slight smokiness to our housemade pumpkin juice.

Merlin’s Beard, that’s a good drink! Careful not to splinch yourself on the way home from that Hallowe’en Feast.

Pumpkin Pimm’s

It doesn’t take long to make your own pumpkin juice, but, if you’re desperate to try this drink before the Three Broomsticks fills up with tipsy witches, then mix a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin with the pear nectar and apple cider and strain — it should still give you a good flavor. 

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1

1 ounce gin (as always, we recommend Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)

3 ounces pumpkin juice (our recipe here)

small teaspoon of mashed pumpkin (reserved from juice recipe below)

toasted salted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional but worth it)

Place first four ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Top with pumpkin seeds and enjoy.