The Long Weekend Tipple: Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri

Christopher Robin's Daiquiri

Fancy a little smackerel, dear Boozers? We’ve been imbibing with honey this week and naturally began dreaming of the Hundred Acre Woods. In our imagination, Winnie the Pooh’s pal Christopher Robin must have grown into a deeply thoughtful human being, immersed in nature and concerned with being in rhythm with the world around him. If a springtime bank holiday was approaching, we think of him slinging a satchel full of good things to eat on his shoulder and heading out, with perhaps a few friends in tow, to picnic in a sun-dappled forest. Spring strawberries just on the cusp of summer would be on hand, and honey, of course: the perfect base for a bit of a well-deserved treat.

For Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri, we’ve layered on the honey — two different kinds, because you can never have too much. Honey gets its flavor from the natural plants that honeybees encounter on their pollination tours, from lavender to alfalfa, with results that range from subtle to startling. We chose to pair a sourwood honey with a strawberry purée and a buckwheat honey with rum — the sourwood honey has a light anise undertone which complements the fresh tartness of early strawberries, something that might appeal mightily to Piglet. Buckwheat honey, on the other hand, has a certain molasses quality, with a flavor that can only be likened to tasting somewhat like what a barn floor would taste like if we were so inclined to lick one (we’re not). While that does not sound particularly appetizing, it is a perfect foil for a dark rum, a rich and mysterious melding of flavors that speaks to the Eeyore in all of us.

Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri

We’re fortunate to have available to us a beautiful dark rum by Lyon Distilling Company that already has a rich molasses flavor that works perfectly with the buckwheat honey, but use whatever dark rum you love best. If you don’t care for dark rum, or only have light rum on hand, you can simply change things up by substituting what you have; pair a lighter rum with a more floral honey, like orange blossom. This recipe will appear to be sweet on paper, but the layers of fruit and rum prevent it from having an overly Pooh-like stickiness. Silly old bear.

for the strawberry purée:

1/2 cup fresh hulled strawberries

1 tablespoon sourwood or other light honey

Juice of 1/2 a fresh orange

1/4 cup chilled soda water

Blend all ingredients until completely liquified. Use with daiquiri recipe below

to make Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri:

Fresh strawberry purée (from above recipe)

2 ounces dark rum

1 heaping tablespoon buckwheat or other dark honey

a bit of honeycomb for garnish (optional)

Mix together rum and buckwheat honey and set aside for a few minutes. Then, fill a glass with ice and pour in the prepared strawberry purée. Pour the rum-honey mixture over the top; it will settle to the bottom, so the drink will start off with a fresh strawberry flavor as you begin to drink, then become more rummy as you continue. Garnish with a piece of honeycomb if you have it on hand — it’s a nice addition for nibbling.

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: Stormy Margarita

It’s Friday the 13th, Boozers. We’re not superstitious but a stiff drink on this gloomy winter day would certainly be most welcome. Our thoughts naturally turned to a Dark and Stormy, which is truly a season-less cocktail, but then we came across a rum punch recipe from Padma Lakshmi, the goddess of Top Chef, when she also commented about a salted lime juice popular in India. The rest, they say, is history.

The base of our Stormy Margarita is a lime-ginger soda that we quickly whipped up and topped off quite simply with a big shot of Gosling’s 151, a lovely dark rum that matches our mood. Astonshingly, the first sip seems to help the skies to clear, and, by the time you drain the last drop, you’ll be dancing across the rooftops in joyous abandon. Or singin’ in the rain.

There’s nothing like a stormy drink to put a little pep in your step. Dust off those tap shoes, Boozers.

Stormy Margarita

Fresh ginger and lime are key to the bold flavors of this drink. We made our soda with a slug of Stone’s Ginger Wine, which adds complexity, but we also think it would work well with a splash of dry sherry. We also used light agave nectar, because it is not cloyingly sweet, but you could substitute sugar or honey to taste.

1 fresh lime, juiced

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 ounce Stone’s Ginger Wine (or dry sherry)

1 tablespoon light agave nectar (adjust to your taste)

large pinch of Kosher salt

1/4 cup club soda

2 ounces Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum

lime wheel for garnish

Place first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and let sit for 10 minutes, then add ice and shake vigorously. Add club soda and swirl to combine, then strain into a glass over ice (this step removes some of the grated ginger so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth, but still leaves a strong ginger essence). Carefully pour rum over the top and garnish with lime. Cheers!

 

Mid-week Tipple: Lavender Lemonade with Hot Gin

photo courtesy Molly McDonald Peterson and Inspired Magazine

It’s National Hot Toddy Day, Boozers, and we just couldn’t resist. Even though this winter has been disappointingly mild, we never miss an opportunity to indulge in a bit of a toddy. It warms the spirits (yes, that’s a pun) as well as the body, and nothing could be more welcome on a gloomy day in January when the tree branches rattle against the telephone wires and even the dogs would rather curl up by the electric fire rather than hunt for errant squirrels.

We’ve offered several types of tasty toddies here on Good Booze, including the Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, the Epiphany, and even the chocolatey Tex-Mex Cocoa, which is perhaps not exactly a toddy, but will do in a pinch. Today we’re showcasing our Lavender Lemonade with Hot Gin, a toddy we recently developed for Inspired Magazine; we were inspired ourselves by none other than Bertie Wooster — that affable character created by author P.G. Wodehouse in his Jeeves and Wooster series. Bertie often calls out beseechingly to his unflappable manservant Jeeves for a “hot gin and lemon — go easy on the lemon” when he’s chilled from a long day out in the English countryside.

As we wrote in Inspired of this drink, “Nothing could be more civil than a proper hot drink by the fireplace when the wind is whipping across the meadows and a case of the sniffles is threatening tomorrow’s snowy hike around Willow Lake.” Quite.

Lavender Lemonade with Hot Gin

2 oz gin (we prefer Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 Tbsp local honey (add more or less to taste)
½ cup water
lavender sprig, fresh or dried

To make the Lavender Lemonade: combine lemon juice, water, and honey in a small saucepan, stirring over low heat. Add one 3-inch lavender sprig and bring lemonade to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, but do not bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Taste for sweetness/tartness and adjust to your preference. Remove lavender sprig before serving.

Pour 6 ounces of hot Honey-Lavender Lemonade into a large mug and add gin, stirring to combine. Garnish with lemon wheel (optional).

The complex simple syrup

You’ll find a lot of cocktail recipes often call for a “simple syrup” — basically a 1:1 mix of sugar and water cooked on the stove to boiling, then allowed to cool for a variety of uses when you need a liquid sweetener as opposed to granulated sugar.

The beauty of a really good cocktail is the layering of flavors, just as in any well-composed entrée or dessert. A really interesting cocktail may have some kind of a fruit element, a sweetener (honey, agave nectar, simple syrup, etc.), an alcohol (or two, or three…), a textural element (this could be anything from carbonated water to slices of fruit to muddled herbs), and some kind of finishing contrast, like bitters.

A simple syrup, like a good bitters, can be complex, thereby adding more depth to your drink. They are quick to make and can be kept on hand indefinitely in a jar or squeeze bottle; experiment with different flavors — a fennel-infused simple syrup could offer an interesting contrast to a throat-burning grappa, or a caramelized grapefruit simple syrup could help deepen the flavor of a whiskey sour. All it takes is a little sugar and water and your imagination.

Blackberry Lavender Simple Syrup

This nod to summer’s bounty bears the addition of black peppercorns and a pinch of salt — a bit unusual, perhaps, but it helps to bring the flavors together and adds to the overall complexity of the syrup. You’ll also find this to be an important element in our next Friday’s Tipple!

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup blackberries

3 stems dried lavender

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

pinch of salt

Place sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved and mixture is simmering briskly. Lower heat slightly, then add blackberries, smashing them gently with the back of a spoon to release the juices. Add lavender stems, peppercorns, and salt, and let simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely, then strain liquid and store in a jar for future use.

The Friday Tipple: Arándano Mojito

It’s the end of July, which means that blueberries and mint are running rampant, so start off your weekend with a refreshing Arándano Mojito. Yes, “arándano” is Spanish for blueberry — throw on a little extra spray-tan and a cabana shirt to get yourself in the proper frame of mind.

If you read our previous post about muddlers, then get ready to muddle. This drink is fast and easy to assemble. We prefer a gold rum like Mount Gay — as we have a particular affinity for this Barbados gem which Mum used to give us (generously soaked in a cube of sugar) when we couldn’t sleep on a hot summer night — but Gosling’s Gold is fab, too. We used fresh mint from the garden, where it literally grows like a weed, and also added a couple of small Thai basil leaves to give it a little spicy tweak. For a sweetener, try a lavender honey if you can — the lavender gives a little extra herbaceous aroma that really heightens the summery freshness of this drink. Salud!

Arándano Mojito

Fresh mint leaves

Fresh Thai basil leaves (optional)

Fresh blueberries

Honey (lavender is lovely, but use what you have)

Club soda, preferably chilled

Gold Rum (we like Mount Gay or Gosling’s)

Ice cubes

Lime wedges

In the bottom of a highball glass, place about 4 mint leaves, 2 Thai basil leaves, about 6 whole blueberries, and a generous teaspoonful of honey. Gently macerate the herb leaves and blueberries with a muddler (the handle of a wooden spoon will work, too), pushing them into the honey to bruise the leaves and break the skins of the blueberries.

Pour a healthy measure of rum over the muddled leaves and berries and stir gently. Allow to marinate for a minute or two, then add several ice cubes (a mojito should be nice and cold — don’t skimp on the ice). Stir the rum mixture with the ice cubes briefly, then fill the rest of the glass with club soda. Add several whole blueberries, a wedge of lime, and stir, then garnish with additional fresh mint. Drink up!