The Holiday Tipple: Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

Papa Elf's Cranberry Daiquiri

Ho ho ho, Boozers. The holiday season has managed to arrive amid all the usual hoopla and hypocrisies, yet somehow we still maintain our childlike wonder at a season full of magic and mystery. Off in a distant winter wonderland, elves are scurrying through sawdust-covered workshops in the rush of preparing for a global gift-giving extravaganza, and we imagine Papa Elf trudging back to his icicle-draped gingerbread cottage at the end of the day, wearily longing for an icy cocktail.

Like Papa Elf, Papa Hemingway also longed for a cocktail at the end of — or perhaps during — a long day of creating the gift of stories for the masses. Being in a somewhat warmer clime, Papa H was all about the daiquiri, tart with lime, warm with rum, then chilled, shaken and served straight up — devilishly simple. This is no syrupy Slurpee of a drink, but rather an elegant end to a day well spent in serving others. Now it’s time to serve yourself.

Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

The basic concept of a true Hemingway daiquiri is that it should be mostly tart, but lightly sweet, possibly like the demeanor of a busy elf. While a classic daiquiri is made quite simply with lime juice, sugar, rum, and Maraschino liqueur, we’ve introduced some tart cranberry to give it a seasonal flair.

2 ounces silver rum (we like our local Lyon Distilling Company‘s white rum)

1.5 ounces fresh cranberry-ginger juice (recipe below)

.5 ounce Maraschino liqueur

wedge of fresh lime

Pour first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Squeeze in lime juice, stir once, then strain into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass.

to make the fresh cranberry-ginger juice: It may be tempting to use commercial cranberry juice — and you could — but don’t. You’ll be glad you did this. Take 1/2 cup fresh cranberries and a couple of 1/2-inch slices of fresh ginger and put them in a small saucepan with enough water to cover and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then pour into a blender with 3/4 cup of water. Blend on high until completely liquified, then strain out the solids — you may need to strain twice to get a nice clear liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

 

 

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The Friday Tipple: Shirley’s Valentine

Shirley's Valentine

We’re feeling nostalgic, Boozers. What with the passing of an American icon and our misty-eyed fondness for love in all its forms, we felt the need for a special cocktail today. The Shirley Temple, of course, is a sweet homage to the child star of the same name, perhaps most adored by generations of children for a typically generous garnish of maraschino cherries. Of course, as we age, we learn that love is, indeed, bittersweet, yet we still can delight in its moments of perfection.

Today we’ve gone slightly old-school with Shirley’s Valentine, a kind of Negroni with a twist or two, rather like the twists and turns of love. No matter who you spend your Valentine’s Day with, bring Shirley along for the ride and let love blossom.

Shirley’s Valentine

A classic Negroni is composed of gin, vermouth, and Campari; we like the idea of using gin in our grown-up version of a Shirley Temple because gin was the liquor of choice in the grown-up films of Miss Temple’s heyday, showing up in cocktails sipped by elegantly-dressed women in silk charmeuse and men in black tie. A house-made cherry-ginger soda and Luxardo maraschino liqueur give the whole thing a sweet bite.

1 ounce gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)

1 ounce Luxardo

1/2 ounce Campari

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

2 teaspoons maraschino cherry liquid (yes, from a jar of maraschino cherries)

chilled club soda

fresh orange peel (for garnish)

In a cocktail shaker, mix together the ginger, maraschino cherry liquid, and 2 ounces of the chilled club soda. Add a few ice cubes and then the gin and Luxardo; stir vigorously, then strain into a tall glass filled with ice (heart-shaped cubes are a nice touch). Add more club soda to fill glass almost to the rim, stirring again, then pour Campari over the top and garnish with fresh orange peel (twist over glass to release essential oils). Enjoy.

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: Stormy Mojito

Stormy Mojito

We’re waterlogged, Boozers. It’s been a particularly rainy and stormy summer, which hasn’t helped deepen our tan, but has certainly produced a bumper crop of mint. As we always say, when life hands you mint, make mojitos.

Mojitos, of course, need rum, and it occurred to us that there must be a way to incorporate two of our favorite rum-based summer cocktails, namely the Dark n’ Stormy and the classic Mojito. So we grabbed an umbrella and stood over the grill to fire up some ginger, which gave it an intensified spicy-smoky flavor for a perfect weekend happy hour. Don’t let the rain get you down. Drink up.

Stormy Mojito

Mojitos are basically sugar, mint, lime, rum and club soda, and a Dark n’ Stormy is simply ginger beer, dark rum, and lime, so combining the two drinks isn’t rocket science. However, to get the best flavor, we like to grate a little of the grilled ginger into the bottom of the glass (in addition to throwing in a whole chunk) and grind it into the mint with some superfine sugar. Although cane syrup is usually called upon for a mojito, we like the way the granulated sugar helps bruise the mint leaves and heighten the flavor of the ginger.

one thickly-sliced two-inch disk of ginger

handful of clean mint leaves

2 teaspoons superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar will do fine as well)

3 ounces chilled club soda

1.5 ounces rum, preferably Gosling’s Black Seal 151 proof

2 wedges of lime

additional mint leaves, for garnish

Grill the ginger over an open flame, about 30 seconds per side. Put into a cocktail shaker or a small bowl with the mint leaves and cover for about 5 minutes. Then grate a little of the ginger into the bottom of a highball glass and add the rest of the ginger disk, the mint leaves, and the sugar. Squeeze one wedge of lime over all, then use a muddler or a spoon to lightly bruise the mint leaves. Add several ice cubes and chilled club soda; stir briskly. Pour rum over the top and garnish with another wedge of lime and additional mint leaves.

 

The Friday Tipple: Celebration Shandy

Celebration Shandy

We’re celebrating, Boozers. Graduations, anniversaries, Father’s Day – it all seems to be happening in the next two days, so we’re in the mood for something summery and sparkling, but with a bit less of a kick as we need to pace ourselves. Hello Shandy.

Surely the Shandy was born from those two summertime favorites, lemonade and beer. Common across Europe, the Shandy in its many forms (beer with Sprite, beer with 7-Up, beer with Coca-Cola) is often an accepted low-dose cocktail for the kiddies on special occasions — no sickly-sweet Shirley Temples need apply.

Inspired by our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, we opted to make a puckery fresh lemonade sweetened with the pickled ginger syrup — which led us to think of sushi, and, ultimately, of our favorite Japanese libation, sake. Like beer, sake is a beverage brewed from grains (rice); it has the warmth of whiskey wrapped in the subtle smoothness of a rich wine. The flavor is so hard to describe that it has its own word, coined, of course, by the Japanese: umami, which basically means “Man, that’s so good, I can’t even describe it.”

Tart and fresh with a spicy ginger undertone, the Celebration Shandy is a party in a glass. Kampai!

 Celebration Shandy

1/3 cup fresh chilled lemonade, sweetened to taste with Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup

1/4 cup chilled dry sake (we like SakéOne’s Momokawa Silver — it has nice apple-y undertones that complement the plums)

1 ripe plum, cut into chunks

A few slices of pickled ginger (use the leftovers from the syrup recipe!)

Chilled Japanese beer (we used Kirin)

The key to this drink is for the ingredients to be nice and cold. Put the plum chunks, ginger slices, and sake in the bottom of a tall chilled glass and place it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then add the lemonade and pour the cold beer over the top, preferably with a nice frothy head of foam. You don’t need to wear a silky kimono to enjoy this, but it doesn’t hurt either.

No time to make the pickled ginger syrup? That’s cool. Grate a little fresh ginger into the lemonade — not too much, though, because it can overwhelm quickly.

The Friday Tipple: Masala Moonshine

Masala Moonshine

We’re spicing things up, Boozers. An interesting ingredient recently came our way and we simply couldn’t resist the idea of incorporating it into a cocktail: turmeric. To be precise, fresh turmeric root, which looks a bit like a fingerling potato until you cut it open to reveal its bright marigold interior and get hit with its lovely fresh scent, which has a certain earthy ginger quality.

What we did with it was to make a turmeric juice, purported to have amazing health benefits for people with arthritis or diabetes, among many other ailments. While fresh turmeric is best for this recipe (and can be found at many ethnic markets, so we suggest a road trip), we’ve also included a way to make it with ground turmeric powder, which is readily available at any grocery store. Because turmeric has a strong flavor, we decided to turn up the volume when creating our Masala Moonshine — this is no time to be shy. Instead, we included the flavors of lime, bitter orange, fresh mint, and a healthy dose of unaged whiskey, or moonshine, to create a cocktail that really packs a punch. And, if you’re getting ready for Cinco de Mayo, you can easily turn this into a Masala Margarita by substituting tequila for the moonshine. Go global.

Masala Moonshine

As our dear Boozers know, we love to use a flavored ice cube to shake things up — what better way to add a new layer of flavor to a drink than with an ice cube that deepens the essence of the cocktail as it melts into the glass? For this particular recipe, we made a lavender honey and ginger cube for an added kick of spice.

2 ounces fresh turmeric juice (recipe below)

2 ounces unaged whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirits)

1/2 ounce Triple Sec

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

2 ounces chilled club soda

several fresh mint leaves

wedge of fresh lime and fresh mint for garnish

3 – 4 honey-ginger ice cubes (recipe below)

Put first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Place mint leaves in bottom of a tall glass, lightly bruising, and add honey-ginger cubes. Pour turmeric juice-whiskey blend into glass, top with chilled club soda, and stir thoroughly with a bar spoon. Garnish with fresh lime and mint.

Turmeric Juice:

Peel several small turmeric root* and place into a small saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a simmer over low heat. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until turmeric is soft and liquid has reduced by about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Put the turmeric and liquid into a blender, add 1 cup cold water and 1/4 cup light agave nectar. Blend on high until completely liquified. Add more sweetener to taste. Strain liquid several times through a sieve until you get a smooth liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

* note: if you can’t find fresh turmeric root, you can create a similar liquid by substituting two tablespoons of ground turmeric for the fresh ingredient — add the first tablespoon and mix up the liquid, then add the remaining tablespoon a little at a time until you get a flavor that is gingery but not overpowering.

Honey-ginger cubes

1/4 cup freshly grated ginger

2 tablespoons lavender honey (or sweetener of your choice)

1/2 cup hot water

1/2 cup cold water

Mix first three ingredients together in a small bowl until well-blended, then add cold water and blend again. Pour into ice cube tray and freeze until solid.

The Friday Tipple: Carrot Top… Revisited

Carrot Top

Spontaneity is the spice of life, Boozers. We had plans for a fascinating foray into the world of fresh turmeric this week, but ended up with several pounds of fresh carrots instead. No matter, we like to go with the flow, and we’ll explore the turmeric next week – so consider yourselves warned. But a boatload of carrots brought us back to one of our favorite Tipples: the Carrot Top.

Carrots make a perfect base for a cocktail, especially in the spring. They have a lovely fresh sweetness and can be infused quickly into a variety of liquors. The color is gorgeous also, so you end up with a cocktail that just makes you happy. And at the end of a long week, what else really matters?

Carrot Top… Revisited

Our first exploration into carrot-infused liquor centered on rye whiskey, but it works equally well with vodka (as  discovered by Boozed+Infused), and we’ve chosen today to match it with a sunny gin from Catoctin Creek Distilling Company. Yes, you really can do a quick infusion in just a couple of hours – we think it creates a really fresh flavor, as the gin is just kissed by the carrots, giving it a lighter, less earthy, quality.

to make the infused gin:

1 fresh carrot, grated

1/2 cup gin

1-inch chunk fresh ginger

1 teaspoon lavender honey

Place all ingredients in a jar and stir well. Cover and set aside for a couple of hours, then strain. Will keep for up to weeks.

to make a lovely and refreshing cocktail:

2 ounces carrot-infused gin

1 ounce ginger juice (often found at health food stores)

2 ounces chilled tonic water

wedge of fresh lemon

Put first three ingredients in a tall glass filled with ice, stir briskly, and garnish with lemon.

The Friday Tipple: DIY Craft Cocktail

DIY Craft Cocktail

We’re feeling crafty, Boozers. What with the upsurge of interest in barrel-aged cocktails and gin-and-tonics on tap, we began to yearn for a ready-made cocktail of our own. What could be nicer after wearily trudging home from a long week at the cube than being able to open up the fridge and find a tasty infused cocktail just waiting to be consumed?

Because we like to mix practicality into our cocktails, a mason jar seems to be a perfect vessel for both crafting and imbibing — no fuss, no muss. Our DIY Craft Cocktail can be set up before you leave for work and all you have to do is twist off the lid when you get home, add a few ice cubes, and drink up, straight out of the jar. Put together several jars and invite some friends over, or line them up next to the La-Z-Boy while you binge-watch “The Office”. It’s a Friday night made in heaven.

DIY Craft Cocktail

This drink is a model of infusion — by putting all the ingredients, including the mixer, into the jar, you end up with a cocktail where the flavors have begun to meld together, but the shorter infusion time allows for some of the specific characteristics to remain freshly distinct. Whatever. It tastes good. Drink up.

2 ounces gin (our local Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin or Green Hat Gin are generally at the top of our list, but go local wherever you are, of course)

1 ounce freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice

2 ounces club soda

2 wedges fresh grapefruit

1 – 2 tablespoons orange blossom honey (adjust to your taste)

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 sprig of fresh thyme (optional, but nice if you have it)

1 quassia chip (also 0ptional — we keep them on hand for making bitters — otherwise, just add a couple of dashes of your favorite bitters)

Place all ingredients into a 12-ounce mason jar, stir vigorously, and then put the lid on tightly. Put in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight. To drink, remove the lid, fish out the quassia chip (and grapefruit wedges, if you wish), stir well, add a few ice cubes, and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Shake Shots

We’re feeling shaky, Boozers. The excesses of debate drinking games and watching baseball playoffs late into the night has left us somewhat out of sorts, and, while we know that the logical response would be total abstinence, we are lured by the seductive call of a fortifying “adult” milkshake. What could be more tasty than combining a full-fat ice cream with a little tot of distilled goodness?

Of course, the thing about a milkshake is that it can sometimes be too much of a good thing, at a time when all we require is a bit of a treat. Hence, the advent of Shake Shots. By starting with a simple vanilla shake base, you can build many different flavors: add a little fresh-squeezed orange juice, tequila, and a drizzle of grenadine for a Tequila Sunrise shake shot, or a tablespoon of chilled coffee and Bailey’s for an Irish Cream delight. We know you’re already planning a DIY Shake Shot bar for your next party.

For today’s Shake Shots, we made two shots with that vanilla shake base, adding freshly-grated ginger to one for a frosty version of the Dark ‘n Stormy, and adding some malted milk powder to another as a topping for a beer shake shot. For the third, we went seasonal and used our local Moorenko’s Pumpkin Ice Cream for the shake, to which we added a spicy shot of rye whiskey, courtesy of one of our favorite local distillers, Catoctin Creek.

The only limit is your imagination. Just watch out for the brain freeze.

Shake Shots

It seems insulting to your intelligence, dear Boozers, to tell you how to make a milkshake, but we will. Basically, put about 3/4 of a cup of vanilla ice cream in a blender with 1/4 cup of milk and start blending. You’ll need to add more milk slowly until it gets to the consistency you prefer; we’d suggest leaving it on the thicker side so that it doesn’t thin down too much when you add liquor to it.

for the Dark ‘n Stormy shot: Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly-grated ginger to a 1/2 cup of the vanilla shake base. Pour into a shot glass, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top, then top with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.

for the Beer shot: Add a teaspoon of malted milk powder to the vanilla shake base. Pour chilled beer (we went seasonal again, using Dogfish Head Punkin Ale) into a shot glass, topping with a large spoonful of thickened milkshake.

for the Pumpkin shot: Make a thick shake with pumpkin ice cream (you can substitute a pumpkin syrup with vanilla ice cream). Take a half-cup of the shake and add 1.5 ounces of rye whiskey. Pour into shot glasses and dust the top with unsweetened cocoa powder or ground nutmeg.

The Friday Tipple: OlymPimms

What ho, Boozers. The Olympic flame is burning brightly across the Pond — let the games begin. Here in the Colonies, we’re gearing up for a replay of the American uprising, as we can’t stand to be outdone for long by the monarchy. Didn’t they get enough time in the limelight with that royal wedding? Michael Phelps, do your thing.

Yet, despite it all, Anglophile fever grips us as we stockpile crumpets and Earl Grey tea to partake of while we watch semi-naked hurdlers and fully-clothed dressage. Or, even better, Pimm’s. Nothing could be more British than a proper Pimm’s Cup, unless you’re an American upstart who can’t leave well enough alone. So today we offer for your approval the OlymPimms, a melding of American ingenuity with good old British know-how. Get your friends together for a little relay race with the remote, then settle in for two weeks of competitive couch surfing. Pip-pip.

OlymPimms

We like a classic, simple Pimm’s Cup ourselves, but the fruity flavor of Pimm’s No. 1 also lends itself to a berry-filled interpretation. As Pimm’s No. 1 is gin-based, we macerated some strawberries in our favorite American-made gin, Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin, and then whipped up a housemade blueberry-ginger soda for the mixer. Trust us: it’s sublime.

Blueberry-Ginger simple syrup (recipe below)

Pimm’s No. 1

Gin

Dry vermouth

Fresh strawberries, stems removed

Chilled club soda

To make the Blueberry-Ginger simple syrup: Take one cup of cleaned fresh blueberries and put them in a small saucepan. Add water until the blueberries are just covered, then stir in 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Add a one-inch piece of fresh ginger and bring the mixture to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to very low and cook until reduced by half and syrup has thickened. Strain; can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

To make the OlymPimms: Put one large or two small ripe strawberries in the bottom of a tall glass. Add one ounce gin, a splash of dry vermouth, and muddle the strawberries. Set aside for 15 minutes. In a cocktail shaker, pour 2 – 3 tablespoons of blueberry-ginger syrup in the bottom of the shaker, then add 4 ounces chilled club soda and stir thoroughly. Add a few ice cubes to the tall glass and pour in the blueberry-ginger soda. Top with one ounce of Pimm’s No. 1 and garnish with a strawberry.