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.

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The Friday Tipple: The Boxcar

We’re lucky bastards, Boozers. The nice folks at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company blessed us with an early sample of their 1757 Virginia Brandy — still young and not quite ready for prime time — and we’ve been contemplating it for several weeks.  Richly mellow and lightly fruity, brandy can truly elevate winter cocktails to a new level of warm delight.

There are several cocktails that feature brandy, such as the Brandy Alexander and the Vieux Carré, but we weren’t inspired until we decided to check out the Boxcar Tavern, a new establishment in our area. As always, we eagerly examined the signature cocktail menu, and, while we were intrigued by the nutmeg syrup used in the whiskey-based Warm Winter Night, we were surprised that a place called the Boxcar wouldn’t have a signature Sidecar. Just seems like a natural fit.

So we’ve created it ourselves: the Boxcar. A classic Sidecar features brandy (or cognac, and we’re sure you know that all cognac is brandy but not all brandy is cognac), Cointreau, and lemon juice. But that nutmeg syrup just begs for brandy, and, with images of boxcars trundling north through the swamps of central Florida piled high with citrus, we felt that fresh oranges were a natural complement. The result is a gorgeous little burst of winter spice with subtle notes of spring break sunshine. Santé!

Boxcar

As you know, we hate to see dusty bottles of so-called “seasonal” liquors languish in the cupboard, so we eschewed the Cointreau, generally used in a traditional Sidecar, in favor of triple sec. You may only think of triple sec as used in summer margaritas, but its softly bitter orange flavor works just as well as Cointreau in this application.

3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice (we used a couple of clementines; mandarins and tangerines would also work quite well)

3/4 ounce triple sec

1.5 ounces brandy or cognac

Scant teaspoon nutmeg syrup (basically, just add a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to 1/4 cup of simple syrup)

Sugar and lemon, for coating the rim of the glass

Run a slice of lemon around the edge of a martini or cosmopolitan glass and dip in sugar. Put the orange juice, triple sec, brandy, and nutmeg syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and enjoy.

 

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).