The Friday Tipple: Washingtoni

A long weekend beckons, Boozers. Ah, it’s true, not everyone gets Monday off in celebration of President’s Day, so we suggest that you pack 72 hours of sale-shopping into 48. Our first president, George Washington, certainly seemed to be a proponent of more is, well, more, so you might follow that example. We thought of this recently when watching “The Crossing”, the tale of Washington’s army crossing the Delaware to rout hungover Hessians out of their beds on a frosty December morning in 1776.

Apparently, Washington, like most of his contemporaries, loved his tipple, and didn’t feel the need to wait until Friday to imbibe. He owned a whiskey distillery at Mount Vernon and was known to have a particular fondness for Madeira, a fortified wine from Portugal. Frankly, we always considered Madeira to be an old woman’s drink until Jeff Daniels, in the role of Washington, declares in wonder when surprised with a goblet of this divine liquid, “God be praised. It’s been a year since I tasted such a Madeira.” If that doesn’t make you want to give Madeira a second chance, we don’t know what does.

Sweet with a dry finish, Madeira has a complexity of flavors that makes it a great base for a cocktail. The Washingtoni matches it with a spicy rye whiskey from the Copper Fox Distillery that uses a malted barley flavored with cherry wood smoke (you knew we had to have at least one reference to the whole chopping-down-a-cherry-tree story). Whatever you think of our nation’s flawed leaders, this tipple will put it all in perspective for a few shining moments. God be praised.

Washingtoni

We recently made our own Cherry Bounce, from Martha Washington’s own recipe, and added a soupçon of it to this for a subtle cinnamon undertone; however, a bittersweet Kirsch or cherry brandy will still add just the right note.

2 ounces Madeira

1.5 ounces rye whiskey (Rye whiskey is popping up everywhere these days, so check your local distilleries. We used Wasmund’s Rye for this, but also like it with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce Kirsch or cherry brandy

lemon twist

Pour Madeira, rye whiskey, and Kirsch into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

 

 

 

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The Friday Tipple: Burns-erac!

We’ve said it before, Boozers, and we’ll say it again: cocktails create community. Derek Brown, the hip mixologist of the Columbia Room in DC, waxes quite poetic about it, actually, and observes an old tradition when whipping up that classic cocktail, the Sazerac, requiring audience participation: a smidge of absinthe is poured into a chilled glass and the glass is thrown gently into the air, and, as the absinthe coats the inside of the glass during its flight, the assembled barflies all shout “Sazerac!”  just before the bartender snatches the glass from mid-air. Now that’s what we call community.

We were reminded of this again while greedily lapping up the new Ken Burns‘ documentary “Prohibition”. Clearly, alcohol can create community in myriad ways — everything from temperance unions to drinking clubs to inebriate asylums — and leave it to the ever-youthful Burns (we suspect he still gets carded) to make it all completely enthralling.

So, we salute Ken Burns this week with the Burns-erac: a whisper of whiskey (apparently an old favorite), chilled Prosecco (he told Liquor.com that it’s his current drink of choice), and a colorful nip of Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (a simple syrup we made with Peychaud’s Bitters — the addition of gum arabic gives a lovely mouthfeel that you get right in the last sip). Gather together a group of friends while enjoying this cocktail salute, and don’t forget to shout out: “Burns-erac!”

Burns-erac

Chilled Prosecco

Whiskey (we’re still obsessed with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe below)

Lemon twist

Fill a champagne flute with ice and water and allow to chill for a few minutes. Empty the flute and pour in a small splash of whiskey, then swirl it around quickly to coat the inside of the glass (you can shout “Burns-erac” here if you like). Pour a 1/2 teaspoon of the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup (recipe and an alternative below) in the bottom of the glass, then carefully fill the rest of the glass with Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist. Burnserac!

Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup: Heat 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water to boiling in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and continue stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Mix one tablespoon gum arabic with one tablespoon hot water and stir until dissolved into a sticky paste; add to sugar-water mixture and stir until dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters and stir well. Allow to simmer over very low heat for another 15 minutes, still stirring occasionally. Cool completely before using.

No time to make this luscious syrup? Okay, then just place a teaspoon of simple syrup and several drops of Peychaud’s in the bottom of the champagne flute and mix together. Or use a sugar cube and soak it in the Peychaud’s, then loosen it with a cocktail spoon. It won’t have the same gorgeous mouthfeel as the Peychaud’s Gomme Syrup, but it will provide the right flavor!