The Friday Tipple: Smokey Sour

Smokey Sour

Fire up the grill, Boozers. It’s been too hot to cook indoors, so we’re livin’ large in the backyard, armed with charcoal, a pair of tongs, and a few toe-tapping R&B tunes. Of course, we see no reason to restrict our grilling glory to chunks of protein or marshmallows on a stick, so we decided to grill us up a cocktail. Welcome to the Smokey Sour.

Inspired by our own Whiskey Cherry Syrup, a jar of which now resides in the fridge from last Friday’s delectable Michigan Cherry Beer, we felt in the mood for riffing off a classic Whiskey Sour. A basic sour mix consists of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, creating a lip-puckering base, but we mixed things up a little by throwing several different kinds of citrus straight onto the barbecue. Lightly charred, these lemons, limes, and oranges plump up with an intensified flavor that is fragrant with both smoke and sunshine. Should you be deprived of a backyard grill, don’t despair — an open flame of any kind will do the trick. Just crank up some Motown and get groovin’.

Smokey Sour

While this grilled sour base is a mix of citrus fruits, we prefer to keep it lemony with a hint of orange for sweetness, then we add our favorite local rye whiskey from Catoctin Creek to give it a peppery undertone — the result is a perfect combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and smoky.

6 large lemons, halved

3 limes, halved

1 orange, halved

Whiskey Cherry Syrup (click here to find the recipe)

2 ounces whiskey

a whisper of Grand Marnier (triple sec will work, too)

chilled lemon-lime soda (we love small-batch varieties like Maine Root)

slices of grilled lemon and orange for garnish (technically optional, but do it anyway)

Place citrus fruits flesh-side down onto a hot grill over a medium-high flame. Grill for a minute or two until the flesh just starts to blister and char, then place into a large heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the fruit to cool. When cooled, juice the fruit, mix all the juices together, and discard the seeds. The juice may now be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

In a cocktail shaker, add 3 ounces of the juice, 2 teaspoons of the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, 2 ounces of whiskey, and the barest splash of Grand Marnier. Add several ice cubes, cover, and shake vigorously. Pour contents into a highball glass, add a few cherries from the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, and top with a generous splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with grilled citrus slices.

The Friday Tipple: A Cold One

Crack one open, Boozers. You heard us — grab a cold can of beer, hold its icy aluminum goodness against your sun-warmed cheek, and then pop that top. It’s Memorial Day weekend and, frankly, we’re not in the mood for any fancy high-falutin’ cocktails. Sometimes you just want A Cold One.

Canned beer is enjoying quite a renaissance these days. Local breweries across the country are embracing the can, which has finally overcome the stigma of being the vessel of cheap, crappy beer. In fact, cans help protect beer from sunlight while also being airtight, and they’re lightweight enough to throw into a backpack or, dare we say, a cute clutch.

We happen to be pretty partial to a cold DC Brau ourselves and you’ll probably find some rather tasty local canned craft beer in your own stomping grounds by checking the Beer Map at CraftCans.com. Some of the ones we think would be just about right for a backyard barbecue include Hell or High Watermelon, The Crisp, or Summer Honey. Because a hot dog roasted over a charcoal grill deserves A Cold One. And so do you.

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.