The Friday Tipple: Margarita Memory


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 this day 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 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 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 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.


Fat Tuesday Tipple: Creole Coffee Cocktail

Laissez le bon temps rouler, Boozers. Beads are flying in New Orleans even as you read this, but most of us are sadly bereft of a true Mardi Gras experience, so we turn instead to the Shrove Tuesday alternative: pancakes.

In the Protestant tradition, pancakes are the preferred meal on the night before Lent, dripping with butter and sugar before 40 days of denial. And, whatever your spiritual beliefs, or non-beliefs, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Even if you don’t participate in a Pancake Race, this is the time to break out your favorite recipe — buckwheat, blueberry, chocolate chip — and load up those carbohydrates.

As excess is the word of the day, a proper cocktail needs to accompany such a treat, something bitter, subtly sweet, and complex enough to balance out the full-fat decadence of a stack of hotcakes. The Creole Coffee Cocktail hits the spot here — we like to use a chicory-based coffee to enhance the nutty flavor, but any dark roast will do. We like to think that this little shot of caffeine will truly help keep the good times rolling until Ash Wednesday sobers us up. Keep your shirts on, Boozers — or not. Carpe Diem!

Creole Coffee Cocktail

2 ounces strong black coffee, cooled

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Nocello walnut liqueur (Frangelico, Kahana Royale, Amaretto, or even Kahlua will work as a substitute)

Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

1/2 a small orange, peeled

orange twist, for garnish

Put the orange in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle; add a couple of ice cubes and the coffee, rye whiskey, Nocello, and bitters, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the orange twist.