The Friday Tipple: Pumpkin Pimm’s

Pumpkin Pimms

Happy Halloween, Boo-zers! You knew we wouldn’t forget, even if October 31st is still a few days away. Actually, we started thinking about this Halloween cocktail long 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 sat 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 called for in our pumpkin juice recipe 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)

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.

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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: 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.

The Friday Tipple: The Wild Card

We’re heading into the last week of September, loyal Boozers, and that means that the Hunt for Late October is on. In other words, a handful of baseball teams are vying to make it into the playoffs, and Red Sox fans can’t believe their team is now fighting to maintain Wild Card status. Damn Yankees.

Hence, our Friday Tipple: The Wild Card. Because we’re still in love with Catoctin Creek’s Rye Whiskey (they really made us believers) and because we may need a stiff drink to get through the last few games, we’ve opted to riff on the Whiskey Sour, with a classic fall twist. On the side, we’re adding a shot of beer (we’re going for Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale) for every home run by our favorite team. But don’t worry — if you happen to be an Astros fan, you probably won’t even catch a buzz.

The Wild Card

This cocktail has a few fresh elements, but they are worth the effort and don’t take a lot of time.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek)

Crackerjack Syrup

Fresh apple cider (we made ours fresh inspired by a recipe from Imbibe Magazine, but you can use commercial cider too)

Chilled club soda

Dash of bitters (we use our own house-made Indian Summer Bitters, but there are many excellent bitters on the market, including Bittermens and even the classic Angostura)

Put three or four ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add rye whiskey, 1/4 cup of fresh cider, and a teaspoon of Crackerjack Syrup. Shake vigorously and pour into a glass (with or without ice, it’s up to you). Top with a splash of club soda and a dash of bitters. Enjoy!

To make fresh apple cider: cut an apple into chunks and process into a fine pulp in a food processor with a few teaspoons of water and a dash of cinnamon or apple pie spice. Let sit for half an hour then squeeze pulp through a cheesecloth. Yields about half a cup.

To make Crackerjack Syrup: Set one cup of raw turbinado sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar liquifies, being careful not to let it burn. Add 1 cup of water slowly and stir. Cut corn kernels off a cob, scraping the cob with the edge of the knife and put all kernels into the sugar syrup. Add a large pinch of salt and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Strain and cool completely. Yields about a cup; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.