The Garden Tipple: Lady Luck

Lady Luck

We’re feeling lucky, Boozers. Some days you just grab life by the horns and you shake the hell out of it, and, at the end of it all, you pour yourself a great big celebratory drink and everything feels right with the world.

Of course, you have no idea what will happen tomorrow, but somehow it just doesn’t matter when you’re walking barefoot through an early summer evening, the air slightly thick with humidity and fat bumblebees drowsily buzzing through tall stalks of magenta phlox. The cares of the world feel far away when luck is on your side, whether you’re rolling the dice in a smoky backroom or playing fast and loose in affairs of the heart, so it’s better not to think too hard about the consequences. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Lady Luck

We’re mildly obsessed with cherries this time of year, piled seductively at the market or winking at us insouciantly from the branches of their mother tree. Our favorite way to capture their summery sweetness is in our Wicked Cherry Syrup, which we bring together with lightly tart grapefruit juice for a new riff on the classic Sea Breeze cocktail.

2 ounces chilled vodka (we enjoy Boyd & Blair)

2 ounces chilled grapefruit juice (we prefer mildly sweet pink grapefruit juice here)

1.5 ounces Wicked Cherry Syrup

fresh cherries for garnish

Put first three ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini or cosmo glass, then garnish with fresh cherries.

Advertisements

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: Bikini Shot

Bikini Shot

Bathing suit season is on the horizon, Boozers. Buxom babes are overtaking magazine covers, glowing with cocoa butter on far-flung tropical beaches. Whether you hope to be a buxom babe or merely to attract a buxom babe, the approach of Spring Break prompts us to ponder the winter flab so cleverly hidden by chunky sweaters. It’s time to detox.

While we could consider exercising a little more — or at all — we prefer to go the route of a desperate last-minute liquid diet in order to shed those unwanted pounds. Protein shakes, spinach smoothies, and lemon juice spiked with cayenne are all on the menu, but as happy hour approaches, we feel the need for a little special cocktail to reward ourselves for all that self-denial.

Our detox drink of choice is our Bikini Shot — combining the health benefits of kiwi fruit, laden with vitamin C and E and colon-cleansing dietary fiber, with a vodka-laced grapefruit granita. It starts off tart and cold and ends up sweet and smooth, not unlike easing yourself into a pool. The Bikini Shot may not actually make that saggy old Speedo fit any better, but it sure will make you feel like a million bucks. Go ahead — hit the beach. Hang ten!

Bikini Shot

granita is similar in texture to a shaved ice, made with fresh fruit juice, sugar, and, in this case, alcohol. We used Square One Cucumber Vodka for this recipe, as the cucumber essence adds a fresh note to the grapefruit, but it would work beautifully with gin. We’ve also had success with a blackberry granita made with Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit, which has a certain grappa-like quality that makes us feel like we are vacationing on the Amalfi coast.

One whole grapefruit, juiced and retaining some of the pulp

3 ounces vodka or gin

2 ripe kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into chunks

1 orange, juiced

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

To make the granita: combine the grapefruit juice, pulp, and vodka or gin and pour into a shallow freezer-safe dish (like a pie pan). Place uncovered in the freezer for an hour, then scrape with a spoon to loosen the ice crystals. Return to the freezer for another hour. It can be scraped into a freezer-safe container at this point and kept in the freezer until ready to use.

To make the kiwi fruit juice: Put kiwi, orange juice, and agave nectar in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds (optional). Chill for 30 minutes.

Pour two ounces kiwi juice into a shot glass or aperitif glass; top with a spoonful of grapefruit granita. Enjoy.

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: Stormchaser

Frankenstorm is bearing down upon us, Boozers. The aisles of the grocery stores are being stripped bare while the lines at the liquor stores are stretching around the block. Because there’s no way to survive a behemoth of a hurricane-meets-nor’easter without Pop-Tarts and whiskey.

We say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Batten down the hatches and hunker down while the wind howls down the chimney to the drip-drip-drip of rain falling into strategically-placed buckets. Fire up the flashlights and play Scrabble with the kiddies. And warm your bones with a Stormchaser, the perfect toddy for those of us who prefer to experience the weather from inside a snug home.

And if the predictions of Frankenstorm are grossly exaggerated, what of it? You’ve stocked up and settled in — just rake the leaves next weekend.

Stormchaser

“Waste not, want not” is our motto, and if you tried our Occupy Whiskey cocktail a few weeks ago, then you may still have some apple-beer syrup in the fridge. Today’s tipple uses that luscious syrup in a warming tea, which is then chased by a shot of whiskey. Simplicity can be delicious.

6 ounces hot tea of your choice (we used a fruity Darjeeling)

2 teaspoons apple-beer syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces whiskey (we like the spicy taste of Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 fresh twist of grapefruit

To make the apple-beer syrup: Put 1/2 cup of sugar, one cup of beer (choose a seasonal fall variety — we used Port City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest), and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Granny Smith apple in a small saucepan and combine well. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the syrup has thickened. Strain well and set aside to cool. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

Pour the tea into a heat-safe mug or glass and stir in the apple-beer syrup. Pour the whiskey into a shot glass and let the grapefruit twist soak in it while you enjoy your tea. Then sip (or shoot, if you must) the whiskey while the storm passes by.

The Friday Tipple: Banana River Sunset

Summer is ebbing away, dear Boozers. The air is no longer thick with humidity and cool breezes waft through the windows at night. Except, of course, if you’re in Florida, the land of the endless summer (even winter there is like summer in, say, Minnesota), where it’s a time-honored tradition to train the little kiddies in the art of making their hard-working parents a tasty little libation to enjoy as they watch the sunset.

In the old days, this concoction was likely a Tequila Sunrise, as Floridians like their citrus liberally laced with alcohol, but it seems somehow backwards to drink a sunrise-themed drink at the end of the day. Hence, the Banana River Sunset, a cocktail that pays homage to last rays of the day as they stretch out across one of the Sunshine State’s prettiest lagoons, home to manatees and dolphins and the occasional ‘gator. It’s a drink that’s lightly bitter at the start with a sweet finish, a perfect way to end the day in the subtropics — or Minnesota. Dive in.

Banana River Sunset

This drink packs a lot of citrus punch, from orange blossom honey to a gin-laced grapefruit granita. Squeeze the orange juice fresh if you can, as it will become laced with fresh oils from the rind, which enhances the bitterness of the Campari.

1 teaspoon orange blossom honey

5 or 6 pineapple sage leaves (you can substitute fresh mint or basil)

2 large tablespoons grapefruit-gin granita

3 ounces freshly-squeezed orange juice

1 ounce Campari

Pour the honey in the bottom of a tall chilled glass. Muddle the pineapple sage leaves into the honey until lightly crushed, then add the grapefruit-gin granita on top. Quickly shake the orange juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and strain into the glass. Float the Campari over the juice and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Bikini Shot

Bathing suit season is on the horizon, Boozers. Buxom babes are overtaking magazine covers, glowing with cocoa butter on far-flung tropical beaches. Whether you hope to be a buxom babe or merely to attract a buxom babe, the approach of Spring Break prompts us to ponder the winter flab so cleverly hidden by chunky sweaters. It’s time to detox.

While we could consider exercising a little more — or at all — we prefer to go the route of a desperate last-minute liquid diet in order to shed those unwanted pounds. Protein shakes, spinach smoothies, and lemon juice spiked with cayenne are all on the menu, but as happy hour approaches, we feel the need for a little special cocktail to reward ourselves for all that self-denial.

Our detox drink of choice is our Bikini Shot — combining the health benefits of kiwi fruit, laden with vitamin C and E and colon-cleansing dietary fiber, with a vodka-laced grapefruit granita. It starts off tart and cold and ends up sweet and smooth, not unlike easing yourself into a pool. The Bikini Shot may not actually make that saggy old Speedo fit any better, but it sure will make you feel like a million bucks. Go ahead — hit the beach. Hang ten!

Bikini Shot

A granita is similar in texture to a shaved ice, made with fresh fruit juice, sugar, and, in this case, alcohol. We used Square One Cucumber Vodka for this recipe, as the cucumber essence adds a fresh note to the grapefruit, but it would work beautifully with gin. We’ve also had success with a blackberry granita made with Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit, which has a certain grappa-like quality that makes us feel like we are vacationing on the Amalfi coast.

One whole grapefruit, juiced and retaining some of the pulp

3 ounces vodka or gin

2 ripe kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into chunks

1 orange, juiced

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

To make the granita: combine the grapefruit juice, pulp, and vodka or gin and pour into a shallow freezer-safe dish (like a pie pan). Place uncovered in the freezer for an hour, then scrape with a spoon to loosen the ice crystals. Return to the freezer for another hour. It can be scraped into a freezer-safe container at this point and kept in the freezer until ready to use.

To make the kiwi fruit juice: Put kiwi, orange juice, and agave nectar in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds (optional). Chill for 30 minutes.

Pour two ounces kiwi juice into a shot glass or aperitif glass; top with a spoonful of grapefruit granita. Enjoy.

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!