The Friday Tipple: Dilbert’s Dilemma

Dilbert's Dilemma

Feeling downtrodden, dear Boozers? We understand. In a world where there are those who delight in stepping on the backs of others to achieve their petty goals, it’s hard to be the guy who just wants to quietly punch the clock and pick up a paycheck. Not everyone cares about movin’ on up, but try telling that to the eager beaver who just assigned you a 200-page analysis of the efficacy of traditional paper clips versus mini binder clips, in the hopes that it will bump them up in the estimation of some pencil-pushing muckety-muck who never heard of paying overtime.

Sigh.

All this means that you’re really going to need a drink when you get home from a weary day of banging your head softly against the wall of your cubicle. A classic drink of the workingman is the Boilermaker — essentially just a beer and a shot of whiskey, clearly designed to take the pain away before the factory whistle has even finished blowing at the end of the workday. We call our version Dilbert’s Dilemma, a slightly more subtle combination that can be savored as you slump gratefully in the La-Z-Boy in front of a flickering screen. Don’t let The Man get you down.

Dilbert’s Dilemma

While a beer syrup forms the basis of this cocktail — a simple combination of beer, sugar, and some spices — it’s the simple act of coating the interior glass with a small amount of orange liqueur that creates a new depth of flavor.

2 ounces of whiskey (or 3 if it’s been a rough week; we like Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Beer Syrup (recipe here)

1/4 ounce orange liqueur (Don Ciccio & Figli Mandarinetto, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec will work)

orange peel for garnish

Pour the whiskey and beer syrup into a cocktail shaker and stir briskly to combine. Pour the orange liqueur into the glass and swirl it all around the inside of the glass to coat completely. Add the blended whiskey and beer syrup to the glass and garnish with orange peel. Drink up.

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The Friday Tipple: Smokey Sour

Smokey Sour

Fire up the grill, Boozers. It’s been too hot to cook indoors, so we’re livin’ large in the backyard, armed with charcoal, a pair of tongs, and a few toe-tapping R&B tunes. Of course, we see no reason to restrict our grilling glory to chunks of protein or marshmallows on a stick, so we decided to grill us up a cocktail. Welcome to the Smokey Sour.

Inspired by our own Whiskey Cherry Syrup, a jar of which now resides in the fridge from last Friday’s delectable Michigan Cherry Beer, we felt in the mood for riffing off a classic Whiskey Sour. A basic sour mix consists of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup, creating a lip-puckering base, but we mixed things up a little by throwing several different kinds of citrus straight onto the barbecue. Lightly charred, these lemons, limes, and oranges plump up with an intensified flavor that is fragrant with both smoke and sunshine. Should you be deprived of a backyard grill, don’t despair — an open flame of any kind will do the trick. Just crank up some Motown and get groovin’.

Smokey Sour

While this grilled sour base is a mix of citrus fruits, we prefer to keep it lemony with a hint of orange for sweetness, then we add our favorite local rye whiskey from Catoctin Creek to give it a peppery undertone — the result is a perfect combination of sweet, sour, spicy, and smoky.

6 large lemons, halved

3 limes, halved

1 orange, halved

Whiskey Cherry Syrup (click here to find the recipe)

2 ounces whiskey

a whisper of Grand Marnier (triple sec will work, too)

chilled lemon-lime soda (we love small-batch varieties like Maine Root)

slices of grilled lemon and orange for garnish (technically optional, but do it anyway)

Place citrus fruits flesh-side down onto a hot grill over a medium-high flame. Grill for a minute or two until the flesh just starts to blister and char, then place into a large heat-proof bowl. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the fruit to cool. When cooled, juice the fruit, mix all the juices together, and discard the seeds. The juice may now be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

In a cocktail shaker, add 3 ounces of the juice, 2 teaspoons of the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, 2 ounces of whiskey, and the barest splash of Grand Marnier. Add several ice cubes, cover, and shake vigorously. Pour contents into a highball glass, add a few cherries from the Whiskey Cherry Syrup, and top with a generous splash of lemon-lime soda. Garnish with grilled citrus slices.

The Friday Tipple: Chia Sangria

Chia Sangria

We’re feeling trendy, Boozers. You can hardly walk down the street these days without tripping over a pile of chia seeds, and we had no idea they had a purpose other than to provide a living sculpture to grace an otherwise boring desk. Apparently these little wonders impart good health, and we love a healthy cocktail, as it allows us to feel good even as we are behaving badly.

You often find chia seeds made into a juice with fresh fruits, which led us to think that they’d work perfectly in wine – our favorite kind of juice. Our Chia Sangria is a lovely pitcher of summer goodness, chock full of fresh berries, cheap wine, and maybe a smidge of rum. Oh, and chia seeds, because this is actually a health drink. Drink up.

Chia Sangria

Because we are always looking for a way to camouflage a cocktail as healthy, thereby reducing our own guilt, we sometimes employ the use of the lowly ice cube. For today’s Tipple, we made cubes of lemon juice and sparkling mineral water, thereby adding both vitamins and minerals to our Chia Sangria. Because every little bit helps.

1 bottle red wine (we used an $8.99 bottle of Spanish Monastrell with a lot of tannins)
1/2 cup rum (we used Gosling’s Black Seal 151 proof)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 fresh orange
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup lavender honey
1/8 cup whole chia seeds
A few fresh basil leaves

Put berries, rum, and Grand Marnier in bottom of pitcher and let macerate at room temperature for an hour or two. Cut orange in half and squeeze juice in pitcher, then throw the orange in as well. Add honey, chia seeds, and wine and stir well. Add basil leaves, cover, and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Serve in large glasses with lemon-mineral water cubes. It’s also tasty when topped with an ounce of chilled Lambrusco, for a little fizzy red wine kick.

The Friday Tipple: Champagne Creamsicle

Champagne CreamsicleWe’re feeling fancy, Boozers. During this festive season, we like to try out new recipes and a tasty Blood Orange Soup with Frozen Sabayon that we whipped up for Christmas dinner spawned a thought: wouldn’t this make a lovely cocktail, perhaps to ring in the New Year? Oh yes indeed.

And so the Champagne Creamsicle is born. Don’t be afraid of the sabayon, even as you ask yourself “What the heck is a sabayon anyway?”. Basically, it’s a custard, and, when you freeze it, it becomes a frozen custard. It’s luscious and creamy, yet, when paired with citrus, is perfectly balanced. If you’re looking for a way to inspire a new year that is rich, light, and fresh, then look no further than the Champagne Creamsicle. Happy New Year!

Champagne Creamsicle

The frozen sabayon can be made a day ahead and frozen, and will keep in the freezer for a week or two before it becomes a bit crumbly. We added sweet vermouth to provide some contrast in flavor, then created a citrus simple syrup for the champagne, lightly kissed with Bittermens Hiver Amer bitter orange liqueur. If you can’t find Hiver Amer (although we highly recommend it), you can use Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec instead — or even an orange-infused vodka.

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1.5 ounces Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1 large spoonful Frozen Sabayon (recipe below)

Stir first three ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne coupe (or wide-mouthed wine glass). Top with spoonful of Frozen Sabayon and serve immediately.

Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup: Place a half of a grapefruit (chopped roughly) and a whole clementine (halved) into a small saucepan. Cover with water and add 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until liquid has thickened and reduced by half. Strain and cool, then add 3 ounces orange liqueur. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Frozen Sabayon with Sweet Vermouth

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sweet vermouth

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

a few drops of lemon juice

Put the egg yolks, vermouth, and sugar in a heatproof bowl; bring a cup of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and reduce heat to low. Place heatproof bowl over the saucepan and whisk until mixture becomes thick and creamy — this will only take a few minutes. When the custard is thick enough to hold its shape (i.e. you can pull the whisk through the custard and see a pattern), place the bowl in a bowl of ice water and continue whisking for another minute to cool it down.

In a stand mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the custard into the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated, and add a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a container and freeze for 8 hours before serving. Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.

The Friday Tipple: Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Achoo, Boozers! We’ve just suffered through our first sniffles of the season and were sorely in need of relief — so we grabbed the bottle of rum faster than you can say “decongestant”. It being the holiday season, we wondered if we could combine our purely medicinal hot toddy with a somewhat more festive hot buttered rum. The verdict? Why, yes you can.

Many people associate hot buttered rum with the winter season, but most have never actually had one. Granted, it does sound a little odd: boiling water, rum, butter, sugar, and spices. It seems even more strange to drink butter, but when you consider that you’ll happily dollop whipped cream — a close cousin of butter — on a hot chocolate (or, even better, our Tex-Mex Cocoa), then it begins to sound more palatable.

For our Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, we chose to use an orange spice herbal tea; we also think it would work equally well with an apple spiced tea, or a holiday-inspired tea like Comfort and Joy. We used Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but you could substitute your favorite liquor, from a spiced rum to gin to bourbon to Grand Marnier. Forget the Nyquil — mix up your toddy and tuck yourself up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a few classic holiday movies. You might almost enjoy yourself. Gesundheit!

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

The key to this drink is, naturally, the spiced butter compound. If you prefer to make this dairy-free, you can easily substitute a vegan butter spread.

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger

Tea of your choice

Boiling water

Rum, or other liquor, of your choice

To make the spiced butter compound: mix the softened butter, sugar and spices in a small bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.

Steep the tea in 5 ounces of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Add up to two ounces of rum (depending on how bad your cold is), stir well, then top with a spoonful of the chilled butter compound. Enjoy!

The Friday Tipple: Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

It’s Labor Day weekend and, after a long sweaty summer, some of us are ready for a margarita. It’s that most classic of summertime beverages, thirst-quenching on that last hot day we get to spend by the pool or at the beach before the onset of autumn activities. However, we also want to keep our svelte summer figures in shape, so that means making our margaritas “skinny”, à la Bethenny Frankel. And, honestly, once you make a really fresh margarita (which is actually what a “skinny” margarita is in reality), it’s almost impossible to drink that bottled mixer ever again. Hold on to your sombrero — you’re about to become a margarita snob.

If you paid attention to our post earlier this week, then you may have already made your own version of the Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur; we infused triple sec with peaches and hot peppers in preparation for today’s Tipple, because, frankly, we knew we were going to need a drink. You can use regular triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau also, so don’t despair if you didn’t make your own infusion, although we encourage you to try it out sometime — the peaches and peppers give a nice little spicy-sweet kick that feels just right on a hot day at the end of summer.

Basically, a “skinny” margarita uses fresh lime juice (we find that it takes about 4 limes per drink — it’s worth the work), light agave nectar (easily found in most grocery stores these days, in the sugar and honey section), silver (clear) tequila, the triple sec or other liqueur, and a little club soda. It will take a few sips to get used to it, because it is not cloyingly sweet like a typical margarita made with sweet-and-sour mix, but you will soon love its refreshing light flavor and turn your nose up at the other stuff. It’s also far lower in calories than a standard margarita (150 calories vs. 550 calories, by some estimates), so maybe we can have two… or perhaps three. It’s been a long week. Cheers!

Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (usually about 4 or 5 limes)

2 ounces silver (clear) tequila

1 ounce Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur, triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau

Light agave syrup to taste (start with 1 tablespoon per glass)

Club soda

Place first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously, taste to check for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Pour it all into a glass, then top with up to 1/4 cup of club soda.

The Friday Tipple: Beachy Beer Sangria

Today’s Tipple is a day at the beach in a glass. Beer cocktails have been popping up on menus everywhere lately; in the old days, a beer cocktail was a bottle of Corona with a wedge of lime stuffed in the neck, but a recent article in Imbibe Magazine about a Spanish summer red wine called a tempranillo (think raspberries and sunshine) inspired us to consider a beer sangria. For the beer, we first tested a summery pale ale, but finally settled on Port City Brewing Company‘s Porter — you may think of a porter as a cold-weather beer, but this porter is rich without being syrupy and has a refreshing hoppiness which contrasts perfectly with the fruitiness of the wine.

The Beachy Beer Sangria calls for layering the flavors, which will create that beach experience no matter where you are today. At the top is a cold foam that leads you into the crisp porter, sort of like that moment when you first dive through the waves and your warm skin tingles like peppermint from the chill of the water. As you continue to drink, you’ll begin to encounter the cool smoothness of the wine, reminiscent of that mellow mid-afternoon drowsiness as you lay back in your chair at the water’s edge, the tide gently lapping across your feet. The very last sip is both sweet and spicy, the sunset stretching across a perfect summer day. Life is good.

Beachy Beer Sangria

fresh fruit (berries, cherries, grapefruit, limes, lemons, oranges, etc.)

Blackberry-Lavender Simple Syrup (a good quality honey will also work)

Black peppercorns

Chilled fruity red wine, such as a Spanish tempranillo or a garnacha

Chilled porter (we like our local Port City Brewing Company‘s brew, but experiment to your heart’s delight)

Foam topping (optional) with a smidge of Grand Marnier

Make the simple syrup (our recipe is here). To make the foam topping, pour about a 1/4 cup of the porter in a small mixing bowl, add a splash of Grand Marnier, and whisk until foamy. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

To assemble the drink, place a few peppercorns and some chunks of different fruits at the bottom of the glass. Drizzle with about a teaspoon of the simple syrup, then muddle lightly to crack the peppercorns and release the fruit juices. Pour 2/3 of a cup of wine over the fruit, then tip the glass slightly and slowly pour 1/2 cup of porter into the glass. Top with a spoonful of the chilled foam and garnish with fresh fruit. Awesome, dude!

A Debt Ceiling Deal? We’ll drink to that.

We were relieved to wake up this morning to the news that a deal on the debt ceiling seems to have been agreed upon while some of us slept — but, with a vote on the way, we may all need a stiff drink to swallow what’s left of our pride.

Our Debt Ceiling Delight melds together the taste buds of the left and the right in a celebration of that elusive American quality: compromise. This drink is even better when served in a kitschy piece of Americana — ours pictures the Vulcan statue, a beloved Birmingham, Alabama symbol of American strength and virility.

Debt Ceiling Delight

3 or 4 fresh mint leaves

3 fresh lemon twists

1 large teaspoon lemon-infused simple syrup (whatever — use a packet of sugar from the House cafeteria — you’re gonna need this drink)

Good ole Kentucky bourbon (perhaps Mitch McConnell had a shot poured over his cereal this morning, to steel himself for the vote)

Chilled tea (we used an iced green tea, because those left-wing hippies love that stuff, but a nice strong Lipton suits the Tea Partiers)

Grand Marnier (you know how the Liberal Elite love anything French)

wedge of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint (borrow some from the Obamas’ kitchen garden — they like to spread the wealth)

Put the mint, lemon twists, and simple syrup or sugar in the bottom of a tall glass. Use a muddler or that plastic spoon from the back of the file cabinet to mush it together. Pour over a generous measure of bourbon, depending on how depressed you are over compromising your ideals. Top with several ice cubes and chilled tea, then float a shot of Grand Marnier over the top. Add lemon wedge and mint leaves. Toast to your success at averting a national crisis and then drink deeply before handing your first-born over to the devil.