The Friday Tipple: The Resolution

The Resolution

Ah, Boozers, we know how you feel. You rang in the new year with boisterous joy, then resolved to undo all the damage of the holiday season — Grandma’s butter cookies, those three fruitcakes, and a pound or two of chocolate snowmen. Yet here we are, just two weeks into the new year and your good intentions are already a dream deferred.

Our philosophy is to turn any resolution into an excuse for happy hour. Go to the gym, then finish up that final push-up at happy hour. Eat a salad, go to happy hour. Throw out the Christmas tree… well, you get it. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.

So we’ve decided this week to kill two birds with one stone and turn a health drink into our happy hour cocktail of choice. Kombucha, a kind of carbonated tea drink, is popping up everywhere these days, purportedly chock full of probiotics and other healthy junk, and makes a great base for a cocktail. You can even make it at home, although, as it takes a few weeks to properly ferment, you may want to just buy some at the health food store tonight on your way home. Add a slug of good-for-you gin (it’s full of herbs, right?) and you’re good to go. Resolutions be damned.

The Resolution

Kombucha has a lovely vinegary fizzy quality somewhat akin to fermented cider and it pairs really well with a variety of herbs and spices. If you make your own, you can experiment with different ingredients, and if you use a store-bought variety, you can still add some flavors to make it uniquely your own. As to liquor, you can really use whatever you like, but we prefer the herbaceous qualities of gin here.

1 fresh orange

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.5 ounces gin (we enjoy our local Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, which is organic and so, of course, extra healthy)

1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur

chilled Kombucha (when we use store-bought, we like our local Capital Kombucha)

fresh orange peel for garnish

Squeeze the orange directly into the bottom of a tall glass, add the cinnamon and stir well to combine. Add several ice cubes, then gin, St. Germaine, and top off with Kombucha. Stir briskly, garnish with orange peel, and drink to your good health.

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The Friday Tipple: Tex Mex Cocoa

Tex Mex Cocoa

Brrr, Boozers. The end of November may have been unseasonably warm for some of us, but December is quickly making up for lost time. As we bundle up in our Snuggies, our thoughts naturally turn to… tequila.

Yes, dust off those bottles of agave goodness — tequila need not be only a summer refresher, and don’t forget about the triple sec. The natural bite of tequila means that it is perfectly complemented by cinnamon and cocoa, and the triple sec provides a lightly sweet citrus note — combining together for a rich and spicy winter warmer.

Because we do like a little kick to our cocoa sometimes, we chose to add a few drops of hot sauce to the mix — our local favorite is Uncle Brutha’s. It gives that extra little sizzle as you curl up next to a crackling fire. We’re also pretty sure that Tex Mex Cocoa would be the drink of choice for a midnight visitor on Christmas Eve — Santa gets a little tired of milk and cookies.

Tex Mex Cocoa

We make this with almond milk, which adds a nice nutty undertone to the cocoa. Use a good quality ground cocoa — it will add richness to the flavor.

1 heaping teaspoon ground cocoa

1 heaping teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A few drops of hot sauce

1.5 ounces silver tequila

3 ounces hot (but not boiling) almond milk (unsweetened)

triple sec

Mix cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon in the bottom of a mug. Add tequila and hot sauce and stir together into a slurry, then mix in the hot almond milk until well-incorporated. Float a little triple sec across the top. Now that’s what we call holiday cheer!

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: The Coffee Killer

Holy drinking games, Boozers. We are still wiped out from the excesses of The Presidential Pivot game, not to mention a little debate bingo, so we know what we need to help us recover: something hot, sweet, and strong.

Drag your minds from the gutters, Boozers. We’re talking here about a classic Ammazzacaffè, or “coffee killer”, an Italian tradition where a hot demitasse of strong sweet espresso is followed up with a liqueur, to “kill” the taste of the espresso. In Italy, you might partake of this little digestive after lunch or dinner, but we’re Americans, which means we’ll do whatever we damn please, and with a Vice Presidential debate looming in a few days, we may need a few coffee killers in order to steady our nerves. Have it with a boiled egg and call it brunch if it makes you feel better.

Our coffee killer is sweetened with our own Maple Sugar Simple Syrup — we picked up maple sugar from the Amish folks at the farmer’s market the other day and it makes a gorgeous simple syrup when lightly kissed with cinnamon and orange. You could try substituting a good quality maple syrup instead, such as Langdon Wood Maple Syrup aged in Catoctin Creek’s rye whiskey barrels, but don’t succumb to Mrs. Butterworth’s. We added fruit in the form of apple brandy; you could go for some French calvados, but the Italians would hate that, and, besides, we urge you to go local. There are some amazing American apple brandies on the market now — we are, after all, the home of Johnny Appleseed.

Drink up, Boozers — three more debates to go.

Coffee Killer

2 ounces hot strong coffee, preferably served in a demitasse (no espresso machine needed, just filter 2 heaping teaspoons of ground coffee with 2 ounces of hot water and add a smidge of cinnamon if you like)

1 teaspoon Maple Sugar Simple Syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces apple brandy, served in a small liqueur glass or a shot glass (Laird’s Apple Brandy is a tasty option; we prefer younger varieties so that the apple flavor is more prominent)

fresh orange twist

Here’s how to properly kill your coffee: stir the maple syrup into the hot coffee, throw in the orange twist, and drink the coffee down in one or two gulps. Suck down about half the apple brandy, then pour the remainder into the espresso cup. Swirl to capture the last dregs of coffee and maple, then swallow it down. Now you’re ready to face more questions about slow economic growth.

Maple Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup maple sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

fresh orange peel (one hefty piece, not zest)

Set sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar liquifies, being careful not to let it burn. Add water slowly and stir. Add cinnamon and orange peel and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove orange peel and cool completely. Yields about a cup; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.

The Friday Tipple: Washingtoni

A long weekend beckons, Boozers. Ah, it’s true, not everyone gets Monday off in celebration of President’s Day, so we suggest that you pack 72 hours of sale-shopping into 48. Our first president, George Washington, certainly seemed to be a proponent of more is, well, more, so you might follow that example. We thought of this recently when watching “The Crossing”, the tale of Washington’s army crossing the Delaware to rout hungover Hessians out of their beds on a frosty December morning in 1776.

Apparently, Washington, like most of his contemporaries, loved his tipple, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Friday to imbibe. He owned a whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon and was known to have a particular fondness for Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal. Frankly, we always considered Madeira to be an old woman’s drink until Jeff Daniels, in the role of Washington, declares in wonder when surprised with a goblet of this divine liquid, “God be praised. It’s been a year since I tasted such a Madeira.” If that doesn’t make you want to give Madeira a second chance, we don’t know what does.

Sweet with a dry finish, Madeira has a complexity of flavors that makes it a great base for a cocktail. The Washingtoni matches it with a spicy rye whiskey from the Copper Fox Distillery that uses a malted barley flavored with cherry wood smoke (you knew we had to have at least one reference to the whole chopping-down-a-cherry-tree story). Whatever you think of our nation’s flawed leaders, this tipple will put it all in perspective for a few shining moments. God be praised.

Washingtoni

We recently made our own Cherry Bounce, from Martha Washington’s own recipe, and added a soupçon of it to this for a subtle cinnamon undertone; however, a bittersweet Kirsch or cherry brandy will still add just the right note.

2 ounces Madeira

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (Rye whiskey is popping up everywhere these days, so check your local distilleries. We used Wasmund’s Rye for this, but also like it with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Kirsch or cherry brandy

lemon twist

Pour Madeira, rye whiskey, and Kirsch into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

 

 

 

The Friday Tipple: Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Achoo, Boozers! We’ve just suffered through our first sniffles of the season and were sorely in need of relief — so we grabbed the bottle of rum faster than you can say “decongestant”. It being the holiday season, we wondered if we could combine our purely medicinal hot toddy with a somewhat more festive hot buttered rum. The verdict? Why, yes you can.

Many people associate hot buttered rum with the winter season, but most have never actually had one. Granted, it does sound a little odd: boiling water, rum, butter, sugar, and spices. It seems even more strange to drink butter, but when you consider that you’ll happily dollop whipped cream — a close cousin of butter — on a hot chocolate (or, even better, our Tex-Mex Cocoa), then it begins to sound more palatable.

For our Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, we chose to use an orange spice herbal tea; we also think it would work equally well with an apple spiced tea, or a holiday-inspired tea like Comfort and Joy. We used Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but you could substitute your favorite liquor, from a spiced rum to gin to bourbon to Grand Marnier. Forget the Nyquil — mix up your toddy and tuck yourself up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a few classic holiday movies. You might almost enjoy yourself. Gesundheit!

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

The key to this drink is, naturally, the spiced butter compound. If you prefer to make this dairy-free, you can easily substitute a vegan butter spread.

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger

Tea of your choice

Boiling water

Rum, or other liquor, of your choice

To make the spiced butter compound: mix the softened butter, sugar and spices in a small bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.

Steep the tea in 5 ounces of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Add up to two ounces of rum (depending on how bad your cold is), stir well, then top with a spoonful of the chilled butter compound. Enjoy!

The Friday Tipple: Tex-Mex Cocoa

Brrr, Boozers. The end of November may have been unseasonably warm for many of us, but December is quickly making up for lost time. As we bundle up in our Snuggies, our thoughts naturally turn to… tequila.

Yes, dust off those bottles of agave goodness — tequila need not be only a summer refresher, and don’t forget about the triple sec. The natural bite of tequila means that it is perfectly complemented by cinnamon and cocoa, and the triple sec provides a lightly sweet citrus note — combining together for a rich and spicy winter warmer.

Because we do like a little kick to our cocoa sometimes, we chose to add a few drops of hot sauce to the mix — our local favorite is Uncle Brutha’s. It gives that extra little sizzle as you curl up next to a crackling fire. We’re also pretty sure that Tex Mex Cocoa would be the drink of choice for a midnight visitor on Christmas Eve — Santa gets a little tired of milk and cookies.

Tex Mex Cocoa

We make this with almond milk, which adds a nice nutty undertone to the cocoa. Use a good quality ground cocoa — it will add richness to the flavor.

1 heaping teaspoon ground cocoa

1 heaping teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A few drops of hot sauce

1.5 ounces silver tequila

3 ounces hot (but not boiling) almond milk (unsweetened)

triple sec

Mix cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon in the bottom of a mug. Add tequila and hot sauce and stir together into a slurry, then mix in the hot almond milk until well-incorporated. Float a little triple sec across the top. Now that’s what we call holiday cheer!

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.

A Monday Tipple? The Coffee Killer

Surprise, dear Boozers! Feeling a bit bleary-eyed as Monday smacks you in the face? We feel your pain. Inspired by a call for breakfast cocktail recipes by Mixology Monday and  Cocktail Enthusiast, we considered what exactly we need to get us going as the weekend fades away: something hot, sweet, and strong.

Drag your minds from the gutters, Boozers. We’re talking here about a classic Ammazzacaffè, or “coffee killer”, an Italian tradition where a hot demitasse of strong sweet espresso is followed up with a liqueur, to “kill” the taste of the espresso. In Italy, you might partake of this little digestive after lunch or dinner, but we’re Americans, which means we’ll do whatever we damn please, and with another week in the cubicle looming ahead, we may need a little coffee killer for breakfast in order to steady our nerves. Have it with a boiled egg and call it brunch if it makes you feel better.

Our coffee killer is sweetened with our own Maple Sugar Simple Syrup — we picked up maple sugar from the Amish folks at the farmer’s market the other day and it makes a gorgeous simple syrup when lightly kissed with cinnamon and orange. You could try substituting a good quality maple syrup instead, the type you’d pour over those frozen waffles before dashing off to your commute, but don’t succumb to Mrs. Butterworth’s. We added fruit to our breakfast drink in the form of apple brandy. You could go for some French calvados, but the Italians would hate that, and, besides, we urge you to go local. There are some amazing American apple brandies on the market now — we are, after all, the home of Johnny Appleseed.

Drink up, Boozers — Tuesday’s just around the corner.

Coffee Killer

2 ounces hot strong coffee, preferably served in a demitasse (no espresso machine needed, just filter 2 heaping teaspoons of ground coffee with 2 ounces of hot water and add a smidge of cinnamon if you like)

1 teaspoon Maple Sugar Simple Syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces apple brandy, served in a small liqueur glass or a shot glass (Laird’s Apple Brandy is a tasty option; we prefer younger varieties so that the apple flavor is more prominent)

fresh orange twist

Here’s how to properly kill your coffee: stir the maple syrup into the hot coffee, throw in the orange twist, and drink the coffee down in one or two gulps. Suck down about half the apple brandy, then pour the remainder into the espresso cup. Swirl to capture the last dregs of coffee and maple, then swallow it down. Now go out and face the masses.

Maple Sugar Simple Syrup

1 cup maple sugar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

fresh orange peel (one hefty piece, not zest)

Set sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar liquifies, being careful not to let it burn. Add water slowly and stir. Add cinnamon and orange peel and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove orange peel and cool completely. Yields about a cup; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three months.