The Garden Tipple: Sneaky Snally

Sneaky Snally

The beast is unleashed, Boozers. Here in the DC area, we’re preparing for a visit from the Snallygaster, a mythical creature that apparently once terrorized the region and now stops by once a year for a whole lotta beer. Seems reasonable.

The Snallygaster festival does have a whole lotta beer, but the one we’re most interested in this year is named for the festival itself and features a tasty little morsel that we’ve been growing in our cocktail garden this year: ground — or husk — cherries. Similar in appearance to yellow cherry tomatoes, these beauties grow in a paper husk like a tomatillo, and have a sweet pineapple-like flavor. To honor this year’s Snallygaster, we’ve gathered some of the ground cherries from our own garden and created a beer syrup for an end-of-summer cocktail that says “Bring it on,  you beast — bring it on.”

Sneaky Snally

We know, we’ve already frightened you off because you have no idea where you’ll find a ground cherry, and, admittedly, they are a bit of a specialty item. Be not disheartened, however; as we said, they taste very much like pineapple — which we also grew in the cocktail garden this year, even though we are hundreds of miles from the tropics — so we advise substituting a 1/2 cup of chopped pineapple when you make the syrup.

1 ounce Ground Cherry Beer Syrup with fruit

1.5 ounces chilled gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)

4 ounces chilled beer (we chose a summery, hoppy ale by DC Brau)

Several sprigs of fresh pineapple sage (regular sage or lemon balm also work nicely)

Put Ground Cherry Beer Syrup in the bottom of a tall chilled glass, being sure to include some fruit. Pour gin into the glass and stir well. Top with chilled beer and garnish with pineapple sage. Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

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The Garden Tipple: Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch

Midsummer Night's Beer Punch

We have had a most rare vision, dear Boozers. Sunlight slanting low and golden across quiet orderly rows of tomatoes, beans, and peppers, suddenly distorted by the higgledy-piggledy madness of raspberry canes, climbing every which way in tangled curls of green and crimson. Warmed by the late-day sunshine, the scent is intoxicating and you find your fingers and lips stained with their sweetness. Such is a midsummer night, when inhibitions are thrown out into the soft breeze and a magical stillness settles into a contented soul.

Midsummer is an important time in many cultures, as the longest day of the year arrives with great fanfare, only to be immediately followed by gradually shortening days that herald the inevitable coming of winter. Fueled by a sense of urgency, we feel the need to gather our friends and dance with abandon in the open air, surrounded by barbecues and beer cans as we chase our dreams through the shadows. We like to celebrate such folly with our Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch, a heady blend of raspberry-infused gin, limoncello-spiked lemonade, and crisp summer ale. Consider yourself forewarned: though she be but little, she is fierce.

Midsummer Night’s Beer Punch

Here in the U.S., we tend to come just a bit late to the party by celebrating midsummer on the Fourth of July, and this punch is just right for a crowd. The trick is to try to keep everything well-chilled until just before serving — go rustic by mixing the lemonade and gin together in a large mason jar, then add a couple of cold beers to the jar as your guests begin to arrive. To keep it extra cold, try throwing in a few beer cubes.

2 cups chilled lemonade with 3/4 cup limoncello added (we like our local Don Ciccio & Figli limoncello)

1 cup chilled gin infused with raspberries and lemongrass (recipe here)

3 chilled beers (we used a summery ale by our local DC Brau)

Several slices of fresh orange and lemon

Using a punch bowl or a large mason jar, add all ingredients and stir together well. Serve immediately and replenish as necessary. Garnish with fresh lemongrass stalks if you have it.

 

The Friday Tipple: Fresh Strawberry Ale

Fresh Strawberry Ale

Summer breezes are blowing, Boozers. With Memorial Day just around the corner and farmers markets bursting at the seams with spring fruit, we’re flushed with that heady anticipation of early summer delights, before the humidity settles in to dampen our enthusiasm. “Grab it while it lasts” is our mantra.

For the next few months, we’ll be offering up a series of cocktail recipes we like to call Good Booze in the Garden, and today we’re giving you a bit of a preview. Strawberries are growing in our cocktail garden right now, sweet little morsels of sunshine beckoning to us with their insouciant freshness. Recently, we noticed an advertisement for a commercial brand of strawberry ale and thought how nice it would be if our own favorite local brews had a bit of a strawberry twist. It was only a tiny little leap for us to realize that we had everything we needed for our own Fresh Strawberry Ale — literally in our own backyard.

It’s embarrassingly simple, but let that be our little secret. Enjoy.

Fresh Strawberry Ale

You don’t have to grow your own strawberries to make this treat — pick them up at the farmers market, steal them from your neighbor’s garden, visit a pick-your-own farm, or just get them at the grocery store. However, we strongly advise that you procure locally-grown strawberries simply because they will have the sweetest and freshest flavor now that they are in season.

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh strawberries

1 chilled 12-ounce beer of your choice (support your local brewer — we used DC Brau’s The Public, a citrusy pale ale which complements the strawberries nicely)

Yes, that’s it.

Place strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle with a wooden spoon until the juice begins to run out — they shouldn’t be pulverized, but slightly mashed. Pour in the beer and stir gently. Let sit for a few minutes, then strain into a glass.

The Friday Tipple: Goin’ to a Go-Go

Goin' to a Go-Go

We’re bustin’ loose, Boozers. Here in our neck of the woods, we take our go-go music pretty seriously and today marks the passing of Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go, just two years ago. So we’re feeling the need to get a little funky.

Washington, DC, that geographical amalgamation of all peoples, does not have much that it can truly call its own. In fact, its indigenous culture extends to just three things: go-go, half-smokes, and political gridlock. After that, it’s pretty much Anytown, USA, albeit with a lot of cool monuments and free museums.

Goin’ to a Go-Go is funk in a glass — we happen to adore a beer simple syrup, particularly when made with some local brews from Chocolate City and DC Brau. We created a malty little treat from porter with a spicy undertone, which pairs well with whiskey, bourbon, and, in this case, brandy, but a lighter ale syrup is perfection with tequila.

Here’s a toast to you, Chuck Brown. Get, get, get, get on down.

Goin’ to a Go-Go

We used a local peach brandy from Catoctin Creek in this funky little nod to a Pisco Sour, and added some tart pickled cherries, which can be whipped up quickly and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

2 pickled cherries

2 ounces brandy (a young or unaged brandy works best)

1/2 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1 teaspoon Spicy Beer Syrup (recipe below)

dash bitters (a citrus-based variety like Scrappy’s Lime Bitters is good here)

Another cherry for garnish (optional)

Put two cherries in the bottom of a rocks glass and crush lightly with a spoon or muddling stick. Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add brandy and beer syrup, then squeeze the orange and lime into the shaker. Cover and shake vigorously then pour it all into the glass, including the ice cubes. Add a dash of bitters and another pickled cherry for garnish and drink up.

Spicy Beer Syrup:

1 12-ounce beer

1 cup sugar

a few dashes of hot sauce (we used our local Uncle Brutha’s)

Pour the beer into a 2-quart saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by half; do not boil. Add sugar and hot sauce and stir to dissolve, continuing to simmer over low heat for another 5 or 10 minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Shutdown Shandy

Shutdown Shandy

We’re shaking our heads, Boozers. In days of yore, political opponents secreted themselves away in wood-paneled cloakrooms with a bottle of bourbon, a box of cigars, and a fistful of favors, trading  barbs until a deal was done. This modern game of I’ll-hold-my-breath-until-my-face-turns-blue does not sit well with us, as the trash begins to pile up and valuable medical research is abandoned and firefighters are forced to cool their heels at home. We think it’s time for Congress to suck it up and suck one down.

And so we present the Shutdown Shandy for consideration. Because hot air is still hovering over the nation’s capital, in more ways than one, we’ve opted for a cold one, combining it with a hefty shot of whiskey for good measure. However, it’s the Melting Pot Simple Syrup that brings it all together, a melding of everything that makes America great – sweet, spicy, sour, salty – coming together for the common good. Mix one up, Congress, and get it together.

Shutdown Shandy

We love a good garnish, so for this Tipple we went for some oven-dried orange slices. Simply slice an orange into round disks, dust them with confectioner’s sugar, and place them on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. Once they’re dried out with a brilliant orange hue, you can store them for a week or two in an airtight container.

12 ounces chilled lager or ale (we used DC Brau’s The Corruption)
1.5 ounces whiskey (support your local economy – we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)
1 large spoonful of Melting Pot Simple Syrup (recipe below)
Oven-dried orange wheel for garnish (optional, but you should do it)

Put first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker, stir briskly, strain into two rocks glasses (because this is not meant to drink alone), and spoon a dollop of the foam left in the shaker on top of each drink. Garnish and toast to your continued friendship and cooperation.

Melting Pot Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
1/2 cup fresh clean basil leaves (we used Thai Basil for an extra spicy note)
Big pinch of Kosher salt

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Squeeze lemon into the pan, then drop in the lemon and add the ginger, basil, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to very low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Can be strained and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Breaking News

Breaking News

It has been quite a week, dear Boozers. In times such as these, as we huddle near the glow of the evening news telecast or sit in the driveway unable to switch off the car radio, it is difficult to think of anything but sharing in community together. As we have always advocated, cocktails create community and support the local economy. Disasters of many kinds, both natural and man-made, can disrupt the life of a town and its people indefinitely.

After we’ve had our morning coffee, a beer may be in order as we try to absorb the news of the day. For us, it may be the satisfying fizz of our local DC Brau’s aptly-named The Citizen; in Connecticut, the choice might be Thomas Hooker’s Liberator Doppelbock, while Texans might reach for Namaste Brewing’s Post Colonial IPA. Whether you are in Boston, or Aurora, or Oklahoma City, or the south side of Chicago, this is a time to celebrate our communities, embracing our differences without passing judgement.

Support your local breweries by checking out The Beer Mapping Project.

 

The Friday Tipple: Daisy’s Cup

Daisy's Cup

We’re heading downstairs, Boozers. Frankly, it’s a bit more fun hanging out in the servant’s hall at the end of a long day, especially with a glass of beer in hand. Last week’s Tipple, the Earl’s Cup, brought out the aristocrat in faithful fans of Downton Abbey, but many of our loyal Boozers were also intrigued by the downstairs version created in honor of our favorite kitchen-maid-turned-assistant-cook: Daisy’s Cup.

Daisy’s expectations in life are minimal, although, emboldened by her father-in-law’s encouragement to aim higher, she may start giving up beer for champagne. Still, a little warm beer on a chill winter night is sometimes much preferred over a cold glass of bubbly. Drink up, Daisy.

Daisy’s Cup

A local ale laced with spices makes a nice base for this cup, but watch out for devious valets lurking in the shadows, who may sneak in a tot or two of whiskey for an unexpected twist.

4 ounces ale (DC Brau’s Citizen or 21st Amendment’s Fireside Chat are nice here)

1 tablespoon Earl Grey Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 lemon wedge

1 ounce whiskey (optional, but you’d be silly not to add it in — we like Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

Pour ale in a small saucepan, squeeze lemon wedge over it, and drop in the wedge. Warm gently over very low heat. Pour into a heat-safe cup and stir in Earl Grey Simple Syrup and whiskey.

to make the Earl Grey simple syrup: Make 8 ounces of strong Earl Grey tea (using two tea bags). Put tea and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Earl’s Cup

Earl's Cup

What ho, Boozers. The long months have finally passed and Americans are eagerly waiting, as always, to catch up to the Brits. Yes, Downton Abbey returns on January 6th — and that’s what we call a real epiphany.

Of course, we need a proper drink to enjoy such a comeback on a dark winter’s night tucked up by the electric fire. The Earl’s Cup is a lovely little aperitif to sip as you breathlessly await the unfolding saga of Mary and Matthew while wearing your “Free John Bates” t-shirt, and it tastes even better when you have Carson mix it up for you, serving it on a sterling silver tray.

If a downstairs drink is more your style, you can try our Daisy’s Cup version, but don’t let Thomas get his hands on it — he’s likely to slip you the mickey.

Earl’s Cup

A simple syrup of Earl Grey tea lends this sipper a touch of elegance; use a good quality local gin — Lord Grantham would certainly approve supporting the local economy, since he probably owns it anyway.

2 ounces gin (we have two fine local gins here, Catoctin Creek and Green Hat)

1 large spoonful to taste of Earl Grey simple syrup (recipe below)

Wedge of lemon, preferably a flavorful Meyer lemon

Put gin in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lemon into the gin and drop the wedge into the shaker and leave it for half an hour while you polish the silver. Then add the Earl Grey simple syrup and shake (without ice, of course — that would be terribly American). Strain into a crystal sherry glass and serve. This is best served at room temperature, and is also lovely to enjoy slightly warmed after a day out in the country riding to hounds.

Daisy’s Cup: for those who prefer to drink in the servant’s hall, pour four ounces of room temperature ale (we like this with DC Brau Citizen or  Port City Tartan Scottish Ale) into a sturdy mug, add two tablespoons of Earl Grey simple syrup, and drop a lemon wedge in. Stir well and drink up — but keep it to one drink as those fireplaces won’t clean themselves at 6 a.m.

to make the Earl Grey simple syrup: Make 8 ounces of strong Earl Grey tea (using two tea bags). Put tea and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: A Cold One

Crack one open, Boozers. You heard us — grab a cold can of beer, hold its icy aluminum goodness against your sun-warmed cheek, and then pop that top. It’s Memorial Day weekend and, frankly, we’re not in the mood for any fancy high-falutin’ cocktails. Sometimes you just want A Cold One.

Canned beer is enjoying quite a renaissance these days. Local breweries across the country are embracing the can, which has finally overcome the stigma of being the vessel of cheap, crappy beer. In fact, cans help protect beer from sunlight while also being airtight, and they’re lightweight enough to throw into a backpack or, dare we say, a cute clutch.

We happen to be pretty partial to a cold DC Brau ourselves and you’ll probably find some rather tasty local canned craft beer in your own stomping grounds by checking the Beer Map at CraftCans.com. Some of the ones we think would be just about right for a backyard barbecue include Hell or High Watermelon, The Crisp, or Summer Honey. Because a hot dog roasted over a charcoal grill deserves A Cold One. And so do you.

The Friday Tipple: Goin’ to a Go-Go

We’re bustin’ loose, Boozers. Here in our neck of the woods, we take our go-go music pretty seriously and, with the passing of Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go, earlier this week, we’re feeling the need to get a little funky.

Washington, DC, that geographical amalgamation of all peoples, does not have much that it can truly call its own. In fact, its indigenous culture extends to just three things: go-go, half-smokes, and political gridlock. After that, it’s pretty much Anytown, USA, albeit with a lot of cool monuments and free museums.

Goin’ to a Go-Go is funk in a glass — we recently became intrigued with the concept of a beer simple syrup and felt compelled to try it out with some local brews from Chocolate City and DC Brau. We created a malty little treat from porter with a smoky undertone, which pairs well with whiskey, bourbon, and, in this case, brandy, but a lighter ale syrup is perfection with tequila.

Here’s a toast to you, Chuck Brown. Get, get, get, get on down.

Goin’ to a Go-Go

We used a local brandy from Catoctin Creek in this funky little nod to a Pisco Sour, and added some tart pickled cherries, which can be whipped up quickly and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

2 pickled cherries

2 ounces brandy (a young or unaged brandy works best)

1/2 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1 teaspoon beer simple syrup (recipe below)

dash bitters (a citrus-based variety like Scrappy’s Lime Bitters is good here)

Another cherry for garnish (optional)

Put two cherries in the bottom of a rocks glass and crush lightly with a spoon or muddling stick. Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add brandy and beer syrup, then squeeze the orange and lime into the shaker. Cover and shake vigorously then pour it all into the glass, including the ice cubes. Add a dash of bitters and another pickled cherry for garnish and drink up.

How to make beer syrup:

1 12-ounce beer

1 cup sugar

a few dashes of hot sauce (we used our local Uncle Brutha’s)

Pour the beer into a 2-quart saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by half; do not boil. Add sugar and hot sauce and stir to dissolve, continuing to simmer over low heat for another 5 or 10 minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.