The Friday Tipple: Hair o’ the Dog

We’re in a bit of a pickle, Boozers. Last weekend, we noticed droves of you already filling up the pubs to get your Irish on, even though it was still a full fortnight until that most hallowed holiday for boozers, St. Patrick’s Day. At first we turned up our noses at the premature shamrocks and green beer and the endless shots of whiskey, but eventually we succumbed. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Which is why Thirsty Thursday left us with a bit of an aching head this fine morning. Recognizing that we still have another week of Celtic carousing to go, a sure-fire hangover cure was a necessity. Pickle juice has long been touted as a perfect remedy for alcoholic excesses, chock full of the salt and minerals that your body craves after a night of debauchery. We were inspired to create our own Hair o’ the Dog by a jar of spicy Whiskey Sour Pickles from Brooklyn Brine Co. — with Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Rye Whiskey incorporated into the brine, it seemed a shame to waste a drop.

Try slamming this with the greasy eggs and bacon that you hope will coat your stomach before you stumble off to the morning staff meeting. Then you might want to lay low in the cubicle for the rest of the day.

And you’re not even Irish, are you? Sláinte, you drunk poseur.

Hair o’ the Dog

Love Potion Number Brine is a local hangover cure popular in our ‘hood at Peregrine Espresso, featuring seriously strong coffee and pickle juice from our local pickle purveyor, Gordy’s Pickle Jar. We’ve taken that notion to the next level by adding a smidge of Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye and our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, which, we believe, helps soothe a queasy tum.

2 ounces really strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature

3/4 ounce whiskey (we like to go local, but go Irish if you prefer)

1 ounce sour pickle juice

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (or simple syrup will do)

A few drops of hot sauce (we like Uncle Brutha’s No. 9)

pickle wedge, for garnish

Mix pickle juice, ginger syrup, and hot sauce together and pour into the bottom of a lowball glass. Pour coffee and whiskey in a cocktail shaker, add an ice cube, and shake well. Strain over the pickle juice and down it in one shot, then eat the pickle wedge.

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The Friday Tipple: Carrot Top

We’re gripped by spring fever, Boozers. Never mind that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an extended winter or that we see snowflakes in Monday’s forecast— we are now firmly planted in meteorological spring and nothing can turn us back even as the clocks move forward just a week from now. Spring has sprung.

Building on last week’s exploration of root vegetable cocktails — and an unintentional nod to 1980s pop culture — we were inspired yet again by the fresh produce delivered by our friendly green grocer. Nothing heralds spring more than a cheerful bunch of carrots, sweet and crunchy and topped by a frothy head of green fronds. Carrots are particularly sweet in the early spring, when frosty nights help concentrate their natural sugars and the warm sunny days allow them to deepen in flavor.

The pairing of carrots with rye whiskey is a perfect match for spring, which, as Charles Dickens said, is a time “when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade” — the rye has a comforting spicy warmth while the carrots lend a welcome note of bright sunshine. The Carrot Top is a necessary shot of spring; go ahead and put on the flip flops that you’ve been eyeing longingly in your closet. You might want to throw on a pair of toe socks with them, just in case. Cheers!

Carrot Top

This lovely little infusion makes a fabulous aperitif on its own, but also makes a smashing cocktail when poured over ginger beer on ice (and, even better, throw in a splash of Stone’s Ginger Wine to add another layer of flavor). If you don’t have crystallized ginger, then substitute a couple of small chunks of fresh ginger and about a 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar.

1/2 cup rye whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1 carrot, freshly grated

3 chunks of crystallized ginger, about 1-inch each

Place all ingredients in a jar and set aside for two hours. Strain liquid and discard carrot and ginger. To serve, put two ounces of infused rye into a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake vigorously. Strain into an aperitif or shot glass and sip responsibly.

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: Jane’s Affliction

Ahoy there, Boozers! We’ve just returned from a bit of a jaunt to the Big Apple where we roughed it at The Jane, that most hipster of hotels overlooking the Hudson. It has a rather illustrious history as a classy hotel for sailors and actually hosted survivors of the Titanic immediately following that infamous sinking. If that’s not inspiration for a drink, we don’t know what is.

Imagining ourselves as proper British passengers, if we’d had to abandon ship in the middle of an iceberg-covered Atlantic, we’re quite sure we’d want a nice cup of strong sweet tea to help us cope with the shock once our rescuers had deposited us in the cozy confines of The Jane. And a generous measure of something somewhat stronger would not go amiss, leading to the creation of Jane’s Affliction.

The Titanic sank in 1912, the same year that absinthe was banned in the United States. Absinthe has had a bit of a resurgence, and we’ve been intrigued by several small-batch varieties, including Great Lakes Distillery’s Amerique 1912 Absinthe Rouge; its delicate undertone of hibiscus and anise recalls round-the-world voyages to exotic islands. The next time you’re in need of rescuing, Jane’s Affliction will surely come to your aid. Bottoms up!

Jane’s Affliction

The base of this cocktail is a tea-infused liquor; we’ve done it with both Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit and Boyd & Blair’s Vodka, so take your pick. You can do a quick infusion by adding a teabag (Earl Grey works well, but Lifeboat Tea might be even better) to 4 ounces of liquor and letting it sit for an hour. For the more ambitious, add four or five teabags to the whole bottle and leave it in a dark place for two weeks — the tannins from the tea help give the liquid a lovely silkiness.

2 ounces tea-infused liquor, such as an unaged whiskey or vodka

3/4 ounce St. Germain liqueur (because every $14 cocktail in New York has to have St. Germain in it, and why not?)

Absinthe

2 or 3 orange wedges

1 sugar cube

piece of orange peel

Muddle the orange wedges in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and pour in the St. Germain. Let sit for a few minutes. Meanwhile, rub the rim of a cocktail glass with the orange peel. Put the sugar cube in the bottom of the glass and sprinkle a few drops of absinthe over it. Add a few ice cubes and the tea-infused liquor to the cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into the glass.

The Friday Tipple: The Wolfhound

Holy Mozart, Boozers. It’s the great composer’s 256th birthday and it got us to wondering what kind of cocktail that celebrated imbiber might have enjoyed on his special day. Except, of course, that cocktails were invented long after Mozart’s death, but the well-traveled musician must surely have been introduced to spirits such as vodka and gin, and most certainly tipped a glass or two of grappa with his friend Salieri.

In the days of Amadeus, a refreshing treat would have been the earliest version of carbonated soda — created by adding a pinch of common baking soda to lemonade. This fizzy delight piqued our interest and seemed like a perfect historical base for a modern cocktail. Now that it is late winter, the produce aisles at the grocery stores are piled high with seasonal ruby red grapefruit; we think Wolfgang would have loved the exotic color and sweetly tart flavor, as complex as his Piano Sonata No. 13.

The grapefruit juice naturally led us to the addition of vodka, a cocktail traditionally known as a Greyhound, but that sprinkling of bicarbonate of soda gives it an unexpected edge: say “Wilkommen” to the Wolfhound. Salty, sour, sweet, seductively simple — a veritable symphony of taste sensations. Prost!

The Wolfhound

The addition of baking soda gives this cocktail a slightly salty flavor — and perhaps even soothes a hangover before it has begun. Be careful to add just a small amount or the drink will begin to take on a bit of an Alka-Seltzer quality. If you are not a fan of vodka, don’t despair: this drink is wonderful with gin as well, which pairs perfectly with the grapefruit.

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice (about 1 whole grapefruit)

2 ounces vodka (we love Boyd & Blair, which is local to our area, but Square One and Twenty 2 are also terrific American-made vodkas)

scant 1/2 teaspoon light agave nectar

a large pinch of baking soda (no more than 1/4 teaspoon)

Put the grapefruit juice, vodka (or gin if you prefer), and agave nectar in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and quickly stir in the baking soda until it dissolves and the liquid begins to foam. Enjoy immediately.

The Friday Tipple: The Boxcar

We’re lucky bastards, Boozers. The nice folks at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company blessed us with an early sample of their 1757 Virginia Brandy — still young and not quite ready for prime time — and we’ve been contemplating it for several weeks.  Richly mellow and lightly fruity, brandy can truly elevate winter cocktails to a new level of warm delight.

There are several cocktails that feature brandy, such as the Brandy Alexander and the Vieux Carré, but we weren’t inspired until we decided to check out the Boxcar Tavern, a new establishment in our area. As always, we eagerly examined the signature cocktail menu, and, while we were intrigued by the nutmeg syrup used in the whiskey-based Warm Winter Night, we were surprised that a place called the Boxcar wouldn’t have a signature Sidecar. Just seems like a natural fit.

So we’ve created it ourselves: the Boxcar. A classic Sidecar features brandy (or cognac, and we’re sure you know that all cognac is brandy but not all brandy is cognac), Cointreau, and lemon juice. But that nutmeg syrup just begs for brandy, and, with images of boxcars trundling north through the swamps of central Florida piled high with citrus, we felt that fresh oranges were a natural complement. The result is a gorgeous little burst of winter spice with subtle notes of spring break sunshine. Santé!

Boxcar

As you know, we hate to see dusty bottles of so-called “seasonal” liquors languish in the cupboard, so we eschewed the Cointreau, generally used in a traditional Sidecar, in favor of triple sec. You may only think of triple sec as used in summer margaritas, but its softly bitter orange flavor works just as well as Cointreau in this application.

3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice (we used a couple of clementines; mandarins and tangerines would also work quite well)

3/4 ounce triple sec

1.5 ounces brandy or cognac

Scant teaspoon nutmeg syrup (basically, just add a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to 1/4 cup of simple syrup)

Sugar and lemon, for coating the rim of the glass

Run a slice of lemon around the edge of a martini or cosmopolitan glass and dip in sugar. Put the orange juice, triple sec, brandy, and nutmeg syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and enjoy.

 

The Friday Tipple: Stormy Margarita

It’s Friday the 13th, Boozers. We’re not superstitious but a stiff drink on this gloomy winter day would certainly be most welcome. Our thoughts naturally turned to a Dark and Stormy, which is truly a season-less cocktail, but then we came across a rum punch recipe from Padma Lakshmi, the goddess of Top Chef, when she also commented about a salted lime juice popular in India. The rest, they say, is history.

The base of our Stormy Margarita is a lime-ginger soda that we quickly whipped up and topped off quite simply with a big shot of Gosling’s 151, a lovely dark rum that matches our mood. Astonshingly, the first sip seems to help the skies to clear, and, by the time you drain the last drop, you’ll be dancing across the rooftops in joyous abandon. Or singin’ in the rain.

There’s nothing like a stormy drink to put a little pep in your step. Dust off those tap shoes, Boozers.

Stormy Margarita

Fresh ginger and lime are key to the bold flavors of this drink. We made our soda with a slug of Stone’s Ginger Wine, which adds complexity, but we also think it would work well with a splash of dry sherry. We also used light agave nectar, because it is not cloyingly sweet, but you could substitute sugar or honey to taste.

1 fresh lime, juiced

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 ounce Stone’s Ginger Wine (or dry sherry)

1 tablespoon light agave nectar (adjust to your taste)

large pinch of Kosher salt

1/4 cup club soda

2 ounces Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum

lime wheel for garnish

Place first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and let sit for 10 minutes, then add ice and shake vigorously. Add club soda and swirl to combine, then strain into a glass over ice (this step removes some of the grated ginger so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth, but still leaves a strong ginger essence). Carefully pour rum over the top and garnish with lime. Cheers!

 

The Friday Tipple: Cain’s Mutiny

It’s not easy being a presidential candidate, Boozers. One day you’re a mild-mannered millionaire singing about the glories of pizza, the next day you’re getting skewered by the left-wing bloggers for your fondness for Pokemon. But, really, what’s not to love about a guy whose campaign commercials feature smokin’ and drinkin’? Political correctness need not apply — as the world continues to shrink, Americans may be yearning to follow in the footsteps of our European brethren, who aren’t afraid of leaders who like to let it all hang out.

When you prefer to fly first-class, there’s nothing like having a chilled martini as your wingman. Cool and classic, the Cain’s Mutiny chuckles at convention, marrying absinthe with rosemary-infused gin or vodka — because we don’t believe in Big Government telling you what kind of liquor to drink — and then topping it all off with extra-salty olives stuffed with anchovies. Anchovies may be a long-shot with most Americans, but you can’t count them out — they could surprise us all by suddenly shooting to the top of the polls. Bottoms up!

Cain’s Mutiny

We like liquors infused with herbs, but fresh rosemary can be oily and strong, so we do a quick infusion here that leaves just a subtle taste of rosemary that doesn’t overwhelm the clean flavor of the martini.

4 ounces gin or vodka (we recommend Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin or Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka)

Absinthe (or feel free to substitute dry vermouth, if you prefer)

4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary

olives stuffed with anchovies

Place the rosemary in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and bruise it with a muddling stick. Pour in the gin or vodka and let sit for 15 minutes. Splash a bit of absinthe into a chilled martini glass and swirl around to coat the inside of the glass. Add a couple of ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with olives.

 

 

The Friday Tipple: Birthday Cake Shot

Happy birthday, Boozers! Well, maybe it’s not your birthday yet, but we had a birthday here at Good Booze this week, and we are still celebrating. You may enjoy a little special libation on your own birthday, and we couldn’t agree more. So, we went trolling around on the glorious Google world looking for the legendary Birthday Cake Shooter. It’s purported to taste like a birthday cake — who could resist?

The basic recipe calls for either citrus or vanilla vodka, paired with Frangelico and a sugar-coated lemon slice on the side. However, with apologies to Frangelico, we find it a bit too sweet, so we went for Nocello instead — an Italian walnut liqueur that is slightly more subtle. And, while there are plenty of vanilla vodkas on the market, it’s a breeze to infuse your own, and, because it was our birthday, we wanted a really good vodka, not just some run-of-the-mill variety. We recently came across Boyd & Blair Vodka in our quest to drink local first; they are not exactly right around the corner, but their distillery is close enough to fall into what we like to call the Mid-Atlantic Liquor Watershed.

While we’re not quite sure that the Birthday Cake Shot tastes exactly like a slice of birthday cake, it is certainly a tasty little morsel that may help distract you from your advancing age. Just don’t forget to blow out the candle first. Many happy returns!

Birthday Cake Shot

1 ounce Vanilla Vodka (we like to infuse Boyd & Blair vodka —instructions below)

1 ounce Nocello liqueur

1 lemon slice, coated in sugar

Shake vodka and Nocello in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a shot glass, with the lemon on the side. Shoot down the Birthday Cake, then suck on the lemon. Yum.

How to infuse vodka with vanilla:

It’s embarrassingly easy. Put a cup of vodka in a mason jar. Add a vanilla bean that has been split down the center. Let sit in a cool dark place for a few days, remove the vanilla bean, and enjoy.

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.