Beer Syrup

Beer Syrup

Simple syrups are generally just sugar and water reduced and thickened; you can play with these flavors by using different kinds of liquids, adding fruit or vegetables, and a variety of spices. A beer syrup is just what it sounds like — substituting beer for water to create an intensified sweet beer flavoring for cocktails, like our own Dilbert’s Dilemma, a new twist on the classic Boilermaker.

8 ounces of beer (we prefer a dark beer, and since it will be in a 12-ounce bottle or can, you can enjoy the remaining four ounces while you make the syrup)

1/2 cup raw sugar (use any sugar you like, of course)

a few whole cardamom pods

one small vanilla bean, split

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring gently. Reduce heat to low and allow to reduce by half, generally about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, remove cardamom pods and vanilla bean, and cool thoroughly. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

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Published in: on March 14, 2014 at 11:27 am  Comments (6)  
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The Friday Tipple: Dilbert’s Dilemma

Dilbert's Dilemma

Feeling downtrodden, dear Boozers? We understand. In a world where there are those who delight in stepping on the backs of others to achieve their petty goals, it’s hard to be the guy who just wants to quietly punch the clock and pick up a paycheck. Not everyone cares about movin’ on up, but try telling that to the eager beaver who just assigned you a 200-page analysis of the efficacy of traditional paper clips versus mini binder clips, in the hopes that it will bump them up in the estimation of some pencil-pushing muckety-muck who never heard of paying overtime.

Sigh.

All this means that you’re really going to need a drink when you get home from a weary day of banging your head softly against the wall of your cubicle. A classic drink of the workingman is the Boilermaker — essentially just a beer and a shot of whiskey, clearly designed to take the pain away before the factory whistle has even finished blowing at the end of the workday. We call our version Dilbert’s Dilemma, a slightly more subtle combination that can be savored as you slump gratefully in the La-Z-Boy in front of a flickering screen. Don’t let The Man get you down.

Dilbert’s Dilemma

While a beer syrup forms the basis of this cocktail — a simple combination of beer, sugar, and some spices — it’s the simple act of coating the interior glass with a small amount of orange liqueur that creates a new depth of flavor.

2 ounces of whiskey (or 3 if it’s been a rough week; we like Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Beer Syrup (recipe here)

1/4 ounce orange liqueur (Don Ciccio & Figli Mandarinetto, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec will work)

orange peel for garnish

Pour the whiskey and beer syrup into a cocktail shaker and stir briskly to combine. Pour the orange liqueur into the glass and swirl it all around the inside of the glass to coat completely. Add the blended whiskey and beer syrup to the glass and garnish with orange peel. Drink up.

The Friday Tipple: Potlikker Sangria

Potlikker Sangria

We’re on a warm drink kick, Boozers. The chill has set into our bones and we crave a hot cup in our hands as we sit by a crackling fire. What inspired us this time, however, was a sip of a local fennel-laced liqueur at Sixth Engine, a cozy bar close to our ‘hood; Don Ciccio & Figli’s richly dark liqueur, thick as molasses, made with cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and a host of spicy elements, poses a conundrum that we couldn’t resist: how can you mix it into a cocktail? And for those of you who bought that bottle of Root on a whim, we’ve got you covered.

So we started with a potlikker. Usually, this is the highly-nutritious liquid that is boiled down from a pot of collard greens, but our version is made with fruit, which is simmered into a concentrated liquid that forms the base for a winter sangria. This is guaranteed to be the drink of choice for your flask as you tramp through the snowy woods in search of the perfect tree — or sit on the stoop bah-humbugging at the carolers.

Potlikker Sangria

We happened to have licorice root on hand to toss into our pot, which perfectly complements root-based liqueurs, but you can use a chunk of fresh fennel or some star anise instead, or, in a pinch, a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean.

1 large orange, cut into quarters with the rind on

2 lemons, cut into quarters with the rind on

1/2 cup pitted cherries (frozen is fine)

1 can of mandarin oranges in syrup (lychees would also work)

4-inch piece of licorice root, or a chunk of fresh fennel

cinnamon stick and/or split vanilla bean

2 cups water

1 bottle of red wine (go for something rich and fruity)

Root- or anise-based liqueur (we recommend Don Ciccio & Figli Concerto, if you can get it, or Root — or Sambuca, Ouzo, Pernod, Pastis, or Galliano otherwise).

Put the fresh, frozen, and canned fruit into a 3-quart saucepan; be sure to include the syrup from the canned mandarin oranges or lychees. Add the licorice stick or fennel and the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and cover with the 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for 30 – 60 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain out solid ingredients. Return liquid to the pan and add wine. Warm gently over very low heat.

To serve: Warm a wine glass; pour one ounce of liqueur into the bottom of the glass, then top with 3 ounces of the warm sangria. Garnish with half of a fresh clementine or mandarin orange.

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.

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: 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!