The Autumn Tipple: Amaro Ammazzacaffè

Amaro Ammazzacaffè

Keep your voices down, Boozers. It’s possible that last night we took the “Thirsty Thursday” festivities a little too seriously, and we are suffering for it today. A little coffee and hair of the dog is in order, so we prefer to follow the example of the Italians and combine it all in our version of an ammazzacaffè, also known as a “coffee killer”, because the alcohol kills the bitter taste of the coffee. Bitter or not, we need help.

Because tequila was our drink of choice last night — forgive us, for we have sinned — we think we’ll have to toss that back in an effort to regain some equilibrium, but we’re adding some amaro, an Italian digestive, in an effort to settle our wonky tum just a bit. Either that or we’ll just be tipsy again, which may be the only way we’ll make it until happy hour. We’ll rack up a few more Hail Marys in the meantime.

Amaro Ammazzacaffè

If you aren’t familiar with amaro, then it’s time to become acquainted. They range from seriously bitter to lightly sweet, with a syrupy quality that coats the tongue. We are fortunate to have a domestic amaro made by a real Italian right here in the neighborhood, with undertones of autumnal sweet fennel, but some people like to start with an amaro with more of a caramel finish, which can be easier on an American palate.

3 ounces strong black coffee at room temperature

1 ounce amaro (we like Don Ciccio & Figli’s Amaro delle Sirene)

1 ounce tequila (we prefer a botanical silver variety like Avión )

1 teaspoon lemon simple syrup

fresh lemon peel for garnish

Mix the first four ingredients gently over ice, then strain into a glass. Twist the lemon peel over the liquid to release the essential oils and serve immediately. It’s best to drink this down quickly in a few big sips.

The Garden Tipple: Iced Amalfi Americano

Iced Amalfi Americano

We’re preparing for deprivation, Boozers. Apparently there’s a coffee shortage looming, courtesy of drought and disease, so we feel the need to stock up while we can. With the temperatures rising, we began to crave Thai Iced Coffee, but a charming little Cinnamon Basil plant jauntily growing in the windowbox made us consider a more Mediterranean twist — logically bringing us to our friends at Don Ciccio & Figli and their tasty little Italian liqueur known as Concerto, brimming with the flavors of the Amalfi coast.

This summer, as we explore cocktails from the garden, we’re bringing you a Garden Tipple each week, with today’s offering, the Iced Amalfi Americano, featuring one of our favorite tricks: the cocktail cube. A few weeks back, we picked up a Cinnamon Basil plant from the local home improvement store for a couple of bucks, and we’re obsessed with its spicy cinnamon flavor, which adds a zingy essence when chopped up and added to an ice cube. As the cube melts into your drink, the flavors subtly shift and deepen — the easiest way to add new layers to what could be an otherwise ordinary drink. Try it with fresh mint for a mojito, thyme for a gin-and-lemonade, and even garlic chives for an amped-up Bloody Mary.

Iced Amalfi Americano

A confection made from barley and espresso, Concerto is just about perfection when used in a coffee-based cocktail, but another coffee-based liqueur will do just as well, such as a traditional Kahlua or Patron XO Cafe.

3 ounces cold-brewed coffee with a pinch of dried cardamom

1.5 ounces espresso-based liqueur

2 ounces coconut milk half-n-half (we like So Delicious; you can use regular half-n-half)

1 ounce unaged whiskey (this is optional, but we strongly suggest it; we used Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirit)

4 cinnamon basil ice cubes

We like to make sure that every element of this cocktail is well-chilled, so it’s nice to put together some of the elements in advance and put them back in the refrigerator to chill for an hour or so before serving — or mix up enough for four or five drinks and leave it in the refrigerator for up to a week, ready to drink when you are.

First, make the cubes. You’ll need several clean cinnamon basil leaves (other varieties of basil work well also, such as Thai basil), cut into a fine chiffonade. Put the basil leaves and about half a cup of water into a blender and blend on high until the leaves are pulverized and the water is green. Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze until solid.

Next, mix together the coffee and espresso liqueur and put in the refrigerator to chill, then mix together the half-n-half and the unaged whiskey and put that into the refrigerator to chill.

To assemble the drink: Pour the chilled half-n-half mixture into the bottom of a tall glass. Add several of the basil cubes and then pour the coffee mixture into the glass. Enjoy.

 

Fat Tuesday Tipple: Creole Coffee Cocktail

Creole Coffee Cocktail

Laissez le bon temps rouler, Boozers. Beads are flying in New Orleans even as you read this, but most of us are sadly bereft of a true Mardi Gras experience, so we turn instead to the Shrove Tuesday alternative: pancakes.

In the Protestant tradition, pancakes are the preferred meal on the night before Lent, dripping with butter and sugar before 40 days of denial. And, whatever your spiritual beliefs, or non-beliefs, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Even if you don’t participate in a Pancake Race, this is the time to break out your favorite recipe — buckwheat, blueberry, chocolate chip — and load up those carbohydrates.

As excess is the word of the day, a proper cocktail needs to accompany such a treat, something bitter, subtly sweet, and complex enough to balance out the full-fat decadence of a stack of hotcakes. The Creole Coffee Cocktail hits the spot here — we like to use a chicory-based coffee to enhance the nutty flavor, but any dark roast will do. We like to think that this little shot of caffeine will truly help keep the good times rolling until Ash Wednesday sobers us up. Keep your shirts on, Boozers — or not. Carpe Diem!

Creole Coffee Cocktail

2 ounces strong black coffee, cooled

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Nocello walnut liqueur (Frangelico, Kahana Royale, Amaretto, or even Kahlua will work as a substitute)

Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

1/2 a small orange, peeled

orange twist, for garnish

Put the orange in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle; add a couple of ice cubes and the coffee, rye whiskey, Nocello, and bitters, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the orange twist.

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: 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.

Fat Tuesday Tipple: Creole Coffee Cocktail

Laissez le bon temps rouler, Boozers. Beads are flying in New Orleans even as you read this, but most of us are sadly bereft of a true Mardi Gras experience, so we turn instead to the Shrove Tuesday alternative: pancakes.

In the Protestant tradition, pancakes are the preferred meal on the night before Lent, dripping with butter and sugar before 40 days of denial. And, whatever your spiritual beliefs, or non-beliefs, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? Even if you don’t participate in a Pancake Race, this is the time to break out your favorite recipe — buckwheat, blueberry, chocolate chip — and load up those carbohydrates.

As excess is the word of the day, a proper cocktail needs to accompany such a treat, something bitter, subtly sweet, and complex enough to balance out the full-fat decadence of a stack of hotcakes. The Creole Coffee Cocktail hits the spot here — we like to use a chicory-based coffee to enhance the nutty flavor, but any dark roast will do. We like to think that this little shot of caffeine will truly help keep the good times rolling until Ash Wednesday sobers us up. Keep your shirts on, Boozers — or not. Carpe Diem!

Creole Coffee Cocktail

2 ounces strong black coffee, cooled

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Nocello walnut liqueur (Frangelico, Kahana Royale, Amaretto, or even Kahlua will work as a substitute)

Dash of Peychaud’s bitters

1/2 a small orange, peeled

orange twist, for garnish

Put the orange in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle; add a couple of ice cubes and the coffee, rye whiskey, Nocello, and bitters, and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the orange twist.

 

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.