The Garden Tipple: DMV Iced Tea

DMV Iced Tea

We’re feeling sweet, dear Boozers. Here in the DMV — and for the uninitiated, we’re referring to the DC-Maryland-Virginia vortex, not the Department of Motor Vehicles — we straddle, sometimes uncomfortably, that line that divides the North and the South. We have a certain Northern can-do entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a Southern take-your-time-and-do-it-right mentality which often leads to short bursts of frantic activity followed by long hours of intense reflection.

What we do like is our sweet tea on a hot summer day, but we tend to enjoy it half-and-half style, like the rest of our existence: not too sweet, not too plain. When presented with that perennial summer cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea, we tut-tut at its lack of actual tea and emphasis on “more is more”. So we’ve created the DMV Iced Tea, a blend of energizing teas infused with fresh peaches and local brandy — a perfect sipper for those last days of summer lounging in the city parks dreaming of beach days gone by.

DMV Iced Tea

A combination of green tea and Earl Grey-infused vodka provide the tea base here, and, as it’s peach season here in the Almost South, we’re enjoying every juicy moment. A soupçon of lavender honey is all that’s needed to heighten the just-picked flavor of the peaches — any more would turn this into a Deep South Iced Tea.

4 ounces Fresh Peach Green Tea (see below)
1 ounce brandy (we like to use Catoctin Creek’s Peach Brandy, but DMV perennial favorites like Courvoisier and Hennessey will certainly do the trick)
1 ounce Earl Grey-infused vodka (recipe here)
fresh sliced peaches for garnish

Put a chunk or two of the tea-soaked peaches from the Fresh Peach Green Tea in the bottom of a tall glass. Add several ice cubes, then top with the chilled tea, brandy, and vodka. Stir briskly and garnish with a fresh peach slice — or two.

to make the Fresh Peach Green Tea:
1/2 cup fresh peaches, roughly chopped
4 cups freshly brewed green tea (we like a minty variety like Tazo Zen)
2 tablespoons lavender honey

Put the peaches in a pitcher and muddle lightly, then add green tea and honey. Stir well, then refrigerate for at least two hours or until well-chilled. Can be kept refrigerated for three or four days.

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.

The Friday Tipple: Gin Mickey

Holy Salchow, Boozers. We’ve flipped for the U.S. Adult Figure Skating Championships, taking place right now in Bensenville, Illinois. What we particularly like about this event is its equal-opportunity vibe, as the skaters range from former ballerinas who can pull off a Biellmann Spin to, well, Mickey Bolek.

Mickey is our local hero — a super nice guy with a hair salon down the street from the Good Booze digs — and he picked up a pair of skates seven years ago to fulfill his childhood fantasy of gliding across the ice like Peggy Fleming, maybe with Dick Button doing a little cackling commentary on the sidelines. He’s made DC proud, the ultimate feel-good story about following your dreams at mid-life, a Julia Child moment in sparkly spandex.

Later today, Mickey will step onto the rink for his first national competition and we think that deserves a special cocktail. As DC is the home of the celebrated Gin Rickey, we thought it only fitting to reinterpret it today as the Gin Mickey — an icy scoop of frozen gin and lime topped off with fizzy club soda. We’ll be swigging it to the tune of “I’m Too Sexy” as Mickey shimmies his way to skating glory — at least his own version of it. Spin it, baby.

Gin Mickey

You know we loves us a granita, so we whipped one up for this Tipple out of lime juice, superfine sugar, and Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin. Granitas can be finicky sometimes, so if it’s not setting up the way you like, add a little more fresh juice and check it every hour or so in the freezer. In a pinch, you can throw a soft granita mixture into a blender with a couple of ice cubes, whiz it up, and then refreeze, which actually gives the granita a pleasing sorbet-like quality.

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice

1/4 cup gin

1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (we used superfine, which dissolves well)

1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest

Chilled club soda

Mix together the first four ingredients in a bowl (taste to adjust sweetness if too tart) and pour into a shallow baking pan. Place in freezer and check every hour or so; as it begins to freeze, stir gently with a fork or spoon and put back in freezer. This process can take from 4 to 8 hours until it reaches a frozen consistency, then can be stored in the freezer until you are ready to use.

Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, scoop a large ball of the granita, about two or three inches in diameter, and put into a chilled martini or cosmopolitan glass. Top with about two ounces of the chilled club soda and enjoy immediately.

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!