The Friday Tipple: Swedish 75

Swedish 75

It’s a snow day, Boozers. An unexpected snowfall means that our frosty breath hangs in the air as we tramp through mounds of the fluffy stuff, imagining that we are traversing through the Scandinavian countryside. If we were truly of Nordic blood, we’d laugh at this paltry little showing of Mother Nature, but  instead we are as excited as schoolchildren. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

During the recent holiday celebrations, we were lucky enough to be gifted with a tantalizing pine-based gin from St. George Spirits which perfectly suits a wintry day. Prior to that, we were already fascinated by pine syrup, which you can purchase online or simply make yourself (this is how we prefer to recycle a Christmas tree); additionally, you can infuse any gin (like Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin, our local favorite) with clean pine needles to get the same fresh woodsy flavor.

And so today we bring you the Swedish 75, a Scandinavian twist on the French 75 that truly should be imbibed while sitting in a hot tub on a frosty winter evening. Gott Nytt År!

Swedish 75

For this happy little cocktail, we like to use a splash of lingonberry juice for a truly Swedish flair, but if you can’t find lingonberry juice, then you can substitute cranberry juice — just be sure to use a light hand with it, because cranberries have a somewhat stronger flavor than lingonberries.

1 ounce gin, preferably pine-infused*

1 ounce lingonberry juice

a few drops of orange bitters

2 ounces sparkling wine, champagne, or Prosecco

fresh orange peel

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir briskly. Strain into a champagne coupe (you can also serve in a tall glass over crushed ice) and top with the sparkling wine. Twist orange peel over the glass to release the oils and drop into the drink. Serve immediately.

* If you don’t have a pine-infused gin, do not fret. You can also create a quick pine-infused simple syrup and add a teaspoon of it to your cocktail to create a similar effect.

 

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The Friday Tipple: Mother’s Little Helper

Mother's Little Helper

Mamma mia, Boozers. Mothers everywhere are steeling themselves for an onslaught of sappy Hallmark cards, flowers stuffed into coffee mugs emblazoned with “World’s Best Mom”, and crowded brunch buffets. It’s the thought that counts.

Motherhood is no easy gig, and whether the nurturing woman in your life has been a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, or a family friend, it is nice to thank her for her contribution to your existence. What she probably needs is a stiff drink, but, like any true maternal figure, she doesn’t want to be too obvious about it. The Mother’s Little Helper is an excellent way to add a special kick to any drink, in the guise of a booze-filled fruity ice cube. She can add it discreetly to a glass of seltzer water or enjoy it with a proper glass of bubbly. Have a toast in her honor and give her a call — she’s always there, ready to offer advice and blushingly brush off your words of gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Little Helper

A nice light spirit adds the right note to these cute little cubes. Vodka tends to have a crisp taste while gin provides a slightly herbaceous undertone, so either lends itself well to the strawberries. As always, we suggest you support your local distillers, which are seemingly popping up everywhere these days. We enjoy Smooth Ambler vodka and Catoctin Creek gin — local and flavorful!

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/4 cup vodka or gin

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Champagne or sparkling wine

Mint sprig, for garnish

Place strawberries in a blender and roughly chop, then add vodka or gin and sugar. Blend together on high until smooth (you can strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds if you want, but this is entirely optional); pour into ice cube tray (a silicone ice cube tray comes in handy here) and freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months at this point. Yield: about 6 cubes.

Put a cube in a glass of chilled champagne, garnish with mint, and kiss that special woman on the cheek.

The Friday Tipple: Champagne Creamsicle

Champagne CreamsicleWe’re feeling fancy, Boozers. During this festive season, we like to try out new recipes and a tasty Blood Orange Soup with Frozen Sabayon that we whipped up for Christmas dinner spawned a thought: wouldn’t this make a lovely cocktail, perhaps to ring in the New Year? Oh yes indeed.

And so the Champagne Creamsicle is born. Don’t be afraid of the sabayon, even as you ask yourself “What the heck is a sabayon anyway?”. Basically, it’s a custard, and, when you freeze it, it becomes a frozen custard. It’s luscious and creamy, yet, when paired with citrus, is perfectly balanced. If you’re looking for a way to inspire a new year that is rich, light, and fresh, then look no further than the Champagne Creamsicle. Happy New Year!

Champagne Creamsicle

The frozen sabayon can be made a day ahead and frozen, and will keep in the freezer for a week or two before it becomes a bit crumbly. We added sweet vermouth to provide some contrast in flavor, then created a citrus simple syrup for the champagne, lightly kissed with Bittermens Hiver Amer bitter orange liqueur. If you can’t find Hiver Amer (although we highly recommend it), you can use Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec instead — or even an orange-infused vodka.

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1.5 ounces Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1 large spoonful Frozen Sabayon (recipe below)

Stir first three ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne coupe (or wide-mouthed wine glass). Top with spoonful of Frozen Sabayon and serve immediately.

Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup: Place a half of a grapefruit (chopped roughly) and a whole clementine (halved) into a small saucepan. Cover with water and add 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until liquid has thickened and reduced by half. Strain and cool, then add 3 ounces orange liqueur. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Frozen Sabayon with Sweet Vermouth

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sweet vermouth

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

a few drops of lemon juice

Put the egg yolks, vermouth, and sugar in a heatproof bowl; bring a cup of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and reduce heat to low. Place heatproof bowl over the saucepan and whisk until mixture becomes thick and creamy — this will only take a few minutes. When the custard is thick enough to hold its shape (i.e. you can pull the whisk through the custard and see a pattern), place the bowl in a bowl of ice water and continue whisking for another minute to cool it down.

In a stand mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the custard into the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated, and add a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a container and freeze for 8 hours before serving. Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.

The Friday Tipple: Breakfast Bellini

Breakfast Bellini

We feel like celebrating, Boozers. Whether it’s for the holidays or the end of the world as we know it (the day is still young), sometimes you just want a glass of bubbly. And, as we want it for breakfast, we like to make it easy: we are not at our most alert early in the day.

Enter the cube, which, loyal Boozers, we like to employ whenever we can, as cubes of fresh juice or fruit can be made in advance and stored in the freezer for use at any time. Our Breakfast Bellini needs some peach, but you could use any berries or citrus that you like. So whip up some cubes and pop the cork — take a moment to celebrate whatever your heart desires.

Breakfast Bellini

Some people put a shot of peach schnapps into a Bellini, which ain’t bad at all, but this is also a great time to break out that special bottle of peach brandy — we’re lucky enough to have some from Catoctin Creek on hand — for an extra little kick of goodness.

One peach cube

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1 ounce peach schnapps or peach brandy

To make the cube: you can do this two ways, either by filling an ice cube tray with peach nectar or by pureeing some peaches in a blender and then freezing into cubes. As fresh peaches are not in season, you can use thawed frozen peaches, canned peaches (preferably in their own juice, not a syrup), or even some lovely preserved peaches if you are fortunate enough to have some.

Place a peach cube in a champagne flute, top with champagne, and float some peach schnapps or brandy over the top.

The Friday Tipple: Mother’s Little Helper

Mamma mia, Boozers. Mothers everywhere are steeling themselves for an onslaught of sappy Hallmark cards, flowers stuffed into coffee mugs emblazoned with “World’s Best Mom”, and crowded brunch buffets. It’s the thought that counts.

Motherhood is no easy gig, and whether the nurturing woman in your life has been a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a sister, or a family friend, it is nice to thank her for her contribution to your existence. What she probably needs is a stiff drink, but, like any true maternal figure, she doesn’t want to be too obvious about it. The Mother’s Little Helper is an excellent way to add a special kick to any drink, in the guise of a booze-filled fruity ice cube. She can add it discreetly to a glass of seltzer water or enjoy it with a proper glass of bubbly. Have a toast in her honor and give her a call — she’s always there, ready to offer advice and blushingly brush off your words of gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Little Helper

A nice light spirit adds the right note to these cute little cubes. Vodka tends to have a crisp taste while gin provides a slightly herbaceous undertone, so either lends itself well to the strawberries. As always, we suggest you support your local distillers, which are seemingly popping up everywhere these days. We enjoy Smooth Ambler vodka and Catoctin Creek gin — local and flavorful!

1 cup frozen strawberries

1/4 cup vodka or gin

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Champagne or sparkling wine

Mint sprig, for garnish

Place strawberries in a blender and roughly chop, then add vodka or gin and sugar. Blend together on high until smooth (you can strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds if you want, but this is entirely optional); pour into ice cube tray (a silicone ice cube tray comes in handy here) and freeze until solid, about 3 hours. Will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months at this point. Yield: about 6 cubes.

Put a cube in a glass of chilled champagne, garnish with mint, and kiss that special woman on the cheek.

The Friday Tipple: Midnight in Paris

Break out the bubbly, Boozers. With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, we knew that champagne was on order for today’s Tipple, even though we’re happy to enjoy it any day of the week. Our inspiration is the French 75, also known somewhat more elegantly as the Soixante-Quinze, a truly classic cocktail which made its first appearance in New York in 1915. We like it for its international flair, mixing gin with champagne, but have updated it with our usual American sensibility, rather like Woody Allen’s view of Paris: romantic, fresh, slightly absurd, eminently practical.

The foundation of our Midnight in Paris is a Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup; the Meyer Lemon is named for Frank Meyer, an “agricultural explorer” and employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who came across the fruit while on a trip to China in 1908. Its intensely vibrant lemon flavor and rich color creates a sweetly tart syrup that perfectly compliments the juniper undertones of a good gin — this is not a time to skimp on the liquor; we happen to prefer Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin, which is local to our area, but there are many good varieties out there, from Hendrick’s to Juniper Green to Sipsmith.

As to the bubbly, it need not be strictly French champagne — we are a global society, after all — but any dry sparkling wine will do, and we particularly like using a variety from a local winery when we can, like Thibaut-Janisson’s Virginia Fizz, a fruity sparkling Chardonnay which mixes well into a cocktail.

So even if you find yourself sitting in your flannel pyjamas watching the ball drop on television at midnight (and what’s wrong with that?), you can still feel suitably elegant with this drink at your side while you ring in the new year. Bonne Année!

Midnight in Paris

We like to serve this in an old-fashioned champagne goblet — it makes us feel so French, somehow — but it’s just as lovely in a flute. If you can’t find Meyer Lemons, don’t despair — you can make the syrup with regular lemons, just add a little extra juice to increase the flavor.

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup (recipe below)

Gin

Champagne or sparkling white wine

Thinly-sliced lemon wheels coated in sugar, for garnish

Put one tablespoon Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup and 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne glass, then fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Float the lemon wheel on top and enjoy.

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup

One large Meyer lemon, cut in half and juiced

3/4 cup water

one cup sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a low simmer, then add the lemon juice and the two halves of the lemon. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool; will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

 

 

 

 

The Friday Tipple: Pear Champagne Cocktail

TGIF, Boozers. We’ve had a long week and so we were already in a celebratory mood before we spotted this little message on Twitter: “Pearousia pear brandy is HERE!”. We may have even heard a choir of angels sing. Did we mention it’s been a long week?

‘Nuff said, Boozers, we need no more encouragement than that to crack open a bottle of bubbly. Our friends at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company make a luscious pear brandy known as Pearousia, and if you live in the DC area, we suggest that you run, not walk, to snag one of the 402 bottles now available. We already have a bottle, and in fact had planned a different Pearousia cocktail coming to you in a couple of weeks, but we pulled this together today because we couldn’t wait another minute.

If you can’t get Pearousia, don’t despair. As you know, we encourage you to buy local, and our loyal Boozers are spread far and wide; pear brandy pops up in small distilleries across North America, so we suggest that you check in your local area. Also known as an eau-de-vie, pear brandies are made at Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon, Harvest Spirits in New York, and Bartlett Winery in Maine. However, most liquor stores will carry a bottle of pear brandy, perhaps just slightly dusty, somewhere on their shelves. Grab it.

Pear Champagne Cocktail

We like to use a little turbinado sugar with this, borrowing from an Italian tradition of dropping a sugar cube into a glass of champagne, symbolizing the sweetness of life. Steal a few packets of Sugar-in-the-Raw the next time you’re buying a pricey cup of coffee and keep them at home for this tipple.

Chilled champagne

Pear Brandy

Fresh pear, chopped (remove the skin first, if you like, but we don’t)

Turbinado (raw) sugar

Drop a few pieces of pear into the bottom of a champagne flute and sprinkle some sugar over the top. Let sit for a few minutes while the sugar softens, then pour 1 ounce of pear brandy over the pear. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes, then top with chilled champagne. Salut!

The Friday Tipple: Burns-erac!

We’ve said it before, Boozers, and we’ll say it again: cocktails create community. Derek Brown, the hip mixologist of the Columbia Room in DC, waxes quite poetic about it, actually, and observes an old tradition when whipping up that classic cocktail, the Sazerac, requiring audience participation: a smidge of absinthe is poured into a chilled glass and the glass is thrown gently into the air, and, as the absinthe coats the inside of the glass during its flight, the assembled barflies all shout “Sazerac!”  just before the bartender snatches the glass from mid-air. Now that’s what we call community.

We were reminded of this again while greedily lapping up the new Ken Burns‘ documentary “Prohibition”. Clearly, alcohol can create community in myriad ways — everything from temperance unions to drinking clubs to inebriate asylums — and leave it to the ever-youthful Burns (we suspect he still gets carded) to make it all completely enthralling.

So, we salute Ken Burns this week with the Burns-erac: a whisper of whiskey (apparently an old favorite), chilled Prosecco (he told Liquor.com that it’s his current drink of choice), and a colorful nip of Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (a simple syrup we made with Peychaud’s Bitters — the addition of gum arabic gives a lovely mouthfeel that you get right in the last sip). Gather together a group of friends while enjoying this cocktail salute, and don’t forget to shout out: “Burns-erac!”

Burns-erac

Chilled Prosecco

Whiskey (we’re still obsessed with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe below)

Lemon twist

Fill a champagne flute with ice and water and allow to chill for a few minutes. Empty the flute and pour in a small splash of whiskey, then swirl it around quickly to coat the inside of the glass (you can shout “Burns-erac” here if you like). Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe and an alternative below) in the bottom of the glass, then carefully fill the rest of the glass with Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist. Burnserac!

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup: Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to boiling in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Mix one tablespoon gum arabic with one tablespoon hot water and stir until dissolved into a sticky paste; add to sugar-water mixture and stir until dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters and stir well. Allow to simmer over very low heat for another 15 minutes, still stirring occasionally. Cool completely before using.

No time to make this luscious syrup? Okay, then just place a teaspoon of simple syrup and several drops of Peychaud’s in the bottom of the champagne flute and mix together. Or use a sugar cube and soak it in the Peychaud’s, then loosen it with a cocktail spoon. It won’t have the same gorgeous mouthfeel as the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup, but it will provide the right flavor!