The Friday Tipple: Post-Convention Bounce

The political season is in full swing, Boozers. Now that we’ve slogged through two weeks of speechifying, the fun begins in earnest as the presidential debate drinking games start to surface. In the meantime, we, like the candidates, need a Post-Convention Bounce to help get us back on our feet.

In our world, a bounce is a liqueur often distilled from brandy, fruit and sugar — the first First Lady, Martha Washington, is somewhat revered for her own recipe for a Cherry Bounce. However, as it takes several weeks to make a proper bounce, we looked for a quick alternative and were rather taken with the idea of using fruit preserves in cocktails — that’s what we call American ingenuity at its finest.

Our Post-Convention Bounce cocktail is a concentrated nip of bliss, perfect for those early days of autumn when there’s a bit of a snap in the air after sunset but it’s still warm enough to wear flip-flops. Put the campaign rhetoric aside for today — you can rock the vote later.

Post-Convention Bounce

Using fruit preserves in cocktails is more than a shortcut — they bring a concentrated burst of flavor and the pectin helps provide a silky mouthfeel. And, while brandy cocktails are thought by some as rather old-fashioned and by others as sacrilege, we enjoy the warm hug of a brandy-based cocktail, especially when punched up with the brightness of a tart cherry jam. 

2 ounces brandy (we used Catoctin Creek’s 1757 Virginia Brandy)

1 ounce fresh orange juice

1 large teaspoonful of cherry preserves

dash of bitters

Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass and enjoy immediately. You can also serve this over ice and top with an ounce of chilled club soda.

The Friday Tipple: Tomato Water Martini

The leaves are starting to fall, dear Boozers. As the days shorten, we find ourselves with the last of the summer fruits gently rotting on the vine; you’ve probably seen them also, sadly tottering in untidy piles at the farmer’s market: tomatoes. They are usually rather ugly this time of year, coming in an odd assortment of colors, overripe to the point of implosion. These tomatoes are like wrinkled old women at the seaside determined to get one more day of sunshine before winter strips them of their tans. These tomatoes know that they are headed for the compost bin if they can’t attract your attention.

Luckily for them, we were inspired this week in the Good Booze kitchen by a recipe for tomato water in the latest issue of Imbibe and by a brand spanking new bottle of Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka. We treated this cocktail in the simplest way possible, much like our Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur — no need for fussiness here. The cucumber essence of the vodka combined with the slight tartness of the tomato water gives you one last tiny blast of summer, and, if you add a few drops of hot sauce (we like our local Uncle Brutha’s varieties), it turns out to be a pretty good way to combat the first head cold of the season. Either way, it’s a win-win, for you and those last desperate tomatoes of the year. Cheers!

Tomato Water Martini

One cup fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped, any variety

Chilled vodka (we like the Square One Cucumber rye vodka)

Kosher salt

Hot sauce (Uncle Brutha’s No. 9 Chile Verde Garlic & Ginger is our fave)

Kalamata olives for garnish (optional, of course)

Let the tomatoes sit at room temperature for a couple of hours. Wrap them in cheesecloth and squeeze them tightly to extract the juice, or press them through a fine-mesh sieve. Strain them again to remove any errant seeds or pulp. Pour two ounces of the tomato water and two ounces of vodka into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass, then sprinkle a pinch of Kosher salt over the top, add a few dashes of hot sauce, and garnish with Kalamata olives. Enjoy!

The Friday Tipple: Pear & Pimm’s

Somewhere in the world, loyal Boozers, it’s Pimm’s O’Clock. “What?”, you shriek in disbelief, “Surely not! We have packed away our summer whites and Wimbledon is only a faint memory.” True, the bloom of summer is fading here in the northern hemisphere, but we see no reason why we have to give up on Pimm’s; with its subtle notes of citrus and spice, it is a perfect accompaniment to fall flavors. This week, we’ve decided to pair it with pear.

Because we are overachievers in the Good Booze kitchen, we made our own pear nectar lightly infused with cardamom and lavender honey, but you can easily purchase pear nectar in the store — some common brands are Goya and Looza. However, should you choose to give it a go, it is embarrassingly easy to make, so you’ll have to remember to smile modestly when you are showered with accolades from impressed friends, saying “No, really it was nothing. Only too pleased to work my fingers to the bone for you.”

The lush and fruity Pimm’s can actually be drunk straight up as it is without any mixer, so it is important to have a light hand when using it in a cocktail — the pear should not overwhelm. We added in some extra gin (try the Juniper Green Organic if you want to keep it all strictly British, but we also enjoy Catoctin Creek’s Organic Watershed Gin). Draw your chair up closer to the electric fire, nibble a warm scone with clotted cream, and sip on your Pear & Pimm’s. Lucky blighter.

Pear & Pimm’s

1 ounce Pimm’s No. 1

1 ounce gin (we like Juniper Green or Catoctin Creek)

2 ounces pear nectar

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an apple chip (optional, but delicious). Cheerio!

The Friday Tipple: Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

It’s Labor Day weekend and, after a long sweaty summer, some of us are ready for a margarita. It’s that most classic of summertime beverages, thirst-quenching on that last hot day we get to spend by the pool or at the beach before the onset of autumn activities. However, we also want to keep our svelte summer figures in shape, so that means making our margaritas “skinny”, à la Bethenny Frankel. And, honestly, once you make a really fresh margarita (which is actually what a “skinny” margarita is in reality), it’s almost impossible to drink that bottled mixer ever again. Hold on to your sombrero — you’re about to become a margarita snob.

If you paid attention to our post earlier this week, then you may have already made your own version of the Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur; we infused triple sec with peaches and hot peppers in preparation for today’s Tipple, because, frankly, we knew we were going to need a drink. You can use regular triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau also, so don’t despair if you didn’t make your own infusion, although we encourage you to try it out sometime — the peaches and peppers give a nice little spicy-sweet kick that feels just right on a hot day at the end of summer.

Basically, a “skinny” margarita uses fresh lime juice (we find that it takes about 4 limes per drink — it’s worth the work), light agave nectar (easily found in most grocery stores these days, in the sugar and honey section), silver (clear) tequila, the triple sec or other liqueur, and a little club soda. It will take a few sips to get used to it, because it is not cloyingly sweet like a typical margarita made with sweet-and-sour mix, but you will soon love its refreshing light flavor and turn your nose up at the other stuff. It’s also far lower in calories than a standard margarita (150 calories vs. 550 calories, by some estimates), so maybe we can have two… or perhaps three. It’s been a long week. Cheers!

Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (usually about 4 or 5 limes)

2 ounces silver (clear) tequila

1 ounce Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur, triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau

Light agave syrup to taste (start with 1 tablespoon per glass)

Club soda

Place first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously, taste to check for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Pour it all into a glass, then top with up to 1/4 cup of club soda.

Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur

In the past week, the Good Booze kitchen has made it through both an earthquake and a hurricane. Since bad things tend to come in threes, we think the last thing to threaten us will be… the end of summer. Labor Day is on the way and, with it, the end of juicy fresh raspberries, peaches, tomatoes, and cantaloupes. Don’t get us wrong, we’re looking forward to apples, pears, and pumpkins, but in this bittersweet time of year, we are holding on to summer with a vengeance even as it slips through our fingers.

The hurricane blew down a few plants in the old vegetable plot, leaving us with an assortment of peppers, both hot and sweet, that need to be consumed right away. Add to that the enormous piles of almost-overripe peaches being sold at rock-bottom prices at our local farmer’s market, and we knew what we needed to do: make an infusion for this Friday’s Tipple.

A lot of cocktail recipes call for really beautiful liqueurs; we often covet them at the local liquor emporium, where they beckon to us in their glistening bottles clad in designer labels. But making your own infusions gives you the chance to be really creative while using seasonal products — and it’s much less expensive. We still buy the occasional artisanal liqueur — in fact, we’re seeking out Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia right now, with autumn cocktails in mind — but, for now, we’re sealing our summer memories in a jar.

Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur

There are no rules to this, make what you like. Use any fruit, vegetable, or herb combination and use with brandy, vodka, gin, bourbon, or whatever. Here’s what we did, because we wanted to make something to specifically complement this Friday’s Tipple recipe:

One ripe peach, sliced

One hot Italian pepper, split

1 tablespoon lavender honey

Triple Sec

Place peach slices and whole pepper into a 12-ounce mason jar; cover with triple sec and let sit in a cool place for a few days, or even a few weeks. Add to cocktails to taste.