The Friday Tipple: Brighter Than Sunshine

Brighter Than Sunshine

We’re waving the white flag, Boozers. Faced with another frigid day on a dreary winter landscape, we’re dreaming of summer and sunshine, even as we know we’ll regret those dreams on a muggy August midnight. No matter, as we cry “Uncle” repeatedly… Whither are thou, o Persephone, goddess of spring?

While we generally embrace the locavore mindset, even we have to give in every so often and search for products that can only be found in some far-off clime in that other hemisphere, where they are reveling in the glories of summer as we shiver here in the frozen north. And so we gravitated toward a box of luscious ruby-red raspberries, beckoning to us with their plump cheeriness, sweetly tart and sparking long-ago memories of rustling barefoot through the raspberry canes in the mid-summer sunshine, fingers and lips stained red with their juice, an Aqualung tune providing a wistfully appropriate soundtrack.

To those weighed down by a long winter, we present you with Brighter Than Sunshine. You deserve it.

Brighter Than Sunshine

We are so desperate for a shot of sunshine that we won’t waste time by waxing poetic any longer. Stop on the way home tonight for a box of raspberries, a couple of lemons, club soda, gin and limoncello, and you’ll be good to go.

2 ounces gin (yes, vodka is fine too. We just happen to like Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin. A lot.)

1 ounce limoncello (we use our local Don Ciccio and Figli)

1 tablespoon simple syrup

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

6 fresh raspberries

chilled club soda

sugared lemon wheel for garnish

Place raspberries in the bottom of a tall glass and lightly crush with a bar spoon. Add simple syrup, lemon juice, and gin and stir together; top with several ice cubes and fill glass with club soda, stirring to combine. Pour limoncello over the top and garnish with sugared lemon wheel. Serve immediately.

 

 

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The Friday Tipple: Shutdown Shandy

Shutdown Shandy

We’re shaking our heads, Boozers. In days of yore, political opponents secreted themselves away in wood-paneled cloakrooms with a bottle of bourbon, a box of cigars, and a fistful of favors, trading  barbs until a deal was done. This modern game of I’ll-hold-my-breath-until-my-face-turns-blue does not sit well with us, as the trash begins to pile up and valuable medical research is abandoned and firefighters are forced to cool their heels at home. We think it’s time for Congress to suck it up and suck one down.

And so we present the Shutdown Shandy for consideration. Because hot air is still hovering over the nation’s capital, in more ways than one, we’ve opted for a cold one, combining it with a hefty shot of whiskey for good measure. However, it’s the Melting Pot Simple Syrup that brings it all together, a melding of everything that makes America great – sweet, spicy, sour, salty – coming together for the common good. Mix one up, Congress, and get it together.

Shutdown Shandy

We love a good garnish, so for this Tipple we went for some oven-dried orange slices. Simply slice an orange into round disks, dust them with confectioner’s sugar, and place them on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for about two hours. Once they’re dried out with a brilliant orange hue, you can store them for a week or two in an airtight container.

12 ounces chilled lager or ale (we used DC Brau’s The Corruption)
1.5 ounces whiskey (support your local economy – we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)
1 large spoonful of Melting Pot Simple Syrup (recipe below)
Oven-dried orange wheel for garnish (optional, but you should do it)

Put first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker, stir briskly, strain into two rocks glasses (because this is not meant to drink alone), and spoon a dollop of the foam left in the shaker on top of each drink. Garnish and toast to your continued friendship and cooperation.

Melting Pot Simple Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 fresh lemon
1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger
1/2 cup fresh clean basil leaves (we used Thai Basil for an extra spicy note)
Big pinch of Kosher salt

Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Squeeze lemon into the pan, then drop in the lemon and add the ginger, basil, and salt. Stir to combine and bring to a rolling simmer. Reduce heat to very low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Can be strained and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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: incidental musings on moonshine

incidental musings on moonshine

We’ve won a Grammy, Boozers. Well, strictly speaking, we are only related to a Grammy winner, but feel privileged to utter the phrase in appropriately hushed tones, touched as we are by greatness. Although it may be considered by some as “the category nobody cares about”, the Grammys do award honors — hours before the Black Keys and Beyoncé are anywhere in the vicinity — for classical music, and intelligently chose to bestow this distinction on Stephen Hartke for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, a somewhat hypnotic piece of chamber music titled “Meanwhile – Incidental music to imaginary puppet plays”, the title track to the album by eighth blackbird that also won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance . We at Good Booze could not be more proud of such familial talent.

As our own talent lies in the exploration of cocktail culture, we felt compelled to honor such an achievement — the music of “Meanwhile” inspired a can’t-tear-your-eyes-away short film, so why not a drink? Steeped in references to Asian theater, “Meanwhile” features startling percussive elements reminiscent of a surly nun slapping a ruler on the head of a sleepy sixth grader and pillowy clarinet interludes that lull the listener back into a false sense of security. The obvious answer for a cocktail was, of course, moonshine. Call it unaged whiskey if you like.

incidental musings on moonshine twists on the traditional martini by creating a smoky layer of pine (thank you, Top Chef finalist Sheldon for another brilliant idea) sharpened with notes of lemon. Mix it up, put on the headphones, and dive into the unknown.

incidental musings on moonshine

We literally coated our favorite moonshine — Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit — in saké for this music-inspired tipple — creating a sweet-and-sour contrast that hits just at the back of the throat, not unlike that nun with the ruler.

3 ounces unaged white whiskey (a.k.a. moonshine)

1/2 ounce chilled saké (learn more about saké here; we like something lightly floral and mildly acidic, such as Sho Chiku Bai Ginjo)

fresh lemon peel, about 1″ x 2.5″

6-inch piece of pine branch (steal it from your neighbor’s yard or the dog park if you don’t have your own pine tree)

Hold the pine branch over an open flame until the needles are lightly charred and it begins to smoke. Put it in a heat-safe bowl with the lemon peel, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it sit for five minutes. Remove the pine branch, place it in a cocktail shaker with the moonshine and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Put the saké in a chilled martini glass and swirl until the inside of the glass is completely coated. Pour the excess into the shaker, remove the pine branch, add a couple of ice cubes, and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish with pine-smoked lemon peel.

The Friday Tipple: Earl’s Cup

Earl's Cup

What ho, Boozers. The long months have finally passed and Americans are eagerly waiting, as always, to catch up to the Brits. Yes, Downton Abbey returns on January 6th — and that’s what we call a real epiphany.

Of course, we need a proper drink to enjoy such a comeback on a dark winter’s night tucked up by the electric fire. The Earl’s Cup is a lovely little aperitif to sip as you breathlessly await the unfolding saga of Mary and Matthew while wearing your “Free John Bates” t-shirt, and it tastes even better when you have Carson mix it up for you, serving it on a sterling silver tray.

If a downstairs drink is more your style, you can try our Daisy’s Cup version, but don’t let Thomas get his hands on it — he’s likely to slip you the mickey.

Earl’s Cup

A simple syrup of Earl Grey tea lends this sipper a touch of elegance; use a good quality local gin — Lord Grantham would certainly approve supporting the local economy, since he probably owns it anyway.

2 ounces gin (we have two fine local gins here, Catoctin Creek and Green Hat)

1 large spoonful to taste of Earl Grey simple syrup (recipe below)

Wedge of lemon, preferably a flavorful Meyer lemon

Put gin in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lemon into the gin and drop the wedge into the shaker and leave it for half an hour while you polish the silver. Then add the Earl Grey simple syrup and shake (without ice, of course — that would be terribly American). Strain into a crystal sherry glass and serve. This is best served at room temperature, and is also lovely to enjoy slightly warmed after a day out in the country riding to hounds.

Daisy’s Cup: for those who prefer to drink in the servant’s hall, pour four ounces of room temperature ale (we like this with DC Brau Citizen or  Port City Tartan Scottish Ale) into a sturdy mug, add two tablespoons of Earl Grey simple syrup, and drop a lemon wedge in. Stir well and drink up — but keep it to one drink as those fireplaces won’t clean themselves at 6 a.m.

to make the Earl Grey simple syrup: Make 8 ounces of strong Earl Grey tea (using two tea bags). Put tea and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Potlikker Sangria

Potlikker Sangria

We’re on a warm drink kick, Boozers. The chill has set into our bones and we crave a hot cup in our hands as we sit by a crackling fire. What inspired us this time, however, was a sip of a local fennel-laced liqueur at Sixth Engine, a cozy bar close to our ‘hood; Don Ciccio & Figli’s richly dark liqueur, thick as molasses, made with cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, and a host of spicy elements, poses a conundrum that we couldn’t resist: how can you mix it into a cocktail? And for those of you who bought that bottle of Root on a whim, we’ve got you covered.

So we started with a potlikker. Usually, this is the highly-nutritious liquid that is boiled down from a pot of collard greens, but our version is made with fruit, which is simmered into a concentrated liquid that forms the base for a winter sangria. This is guaranteed to be the drink of choice for your flask as you tramp through the snowy woods in search of the perfect tree — or sit on the stoop bah-humbugging at the carolers.

Potlikker Sangria

We happened to have licorice root on hand to toss into our pot, which perfectly complements root-based liqueurs, but you can use a chunk of fresh fennel or some star anise instead, or, in a pinch, a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean.

1 large orange, cut into quarters with the rind on

2 lemons, cut into quarters with the rind on

1/2 cup pitted cherries (frozen is fine)

1 can of mandarin oranges in syrup (lychees would also work)

4-inch piece of licorice root, or a chunk of fresh fennel

cinnamon stick and/or split vanilla bean

2 cups water

1 bottle of red wine (go for something rich and fruity)

Root- or anise-based liqueur (we recommend Don Ciccio & Figli Concerto, if you can get it, or Root — or Sambuca, Ouzo, Pernod, Pastis, or Galliano otherwise).

Put the fresh, frozen, and canned fruit into a 3-quart saucepan; be sure to include the syrup from the canned mandarin oranges or lychees. Add the licorice stick or fennel and the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean and cover with the 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly and continue to simmer for 30 – 60 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened and reduced by half. Remove from heat and strain out solid ingredients. Return liquid to the pan and add wine. Warm gently over very low heat.

To serve: Warm a wine glass; pour one ounce of liqueur into the bottom of the glass, then top with 3 ounces of the warm sangria. Garnish with half of a fresh clementine or mandarin orange.

The Friday Tipple: Birthday Cake Shot

Happy birthday, Boozers! Well, maybe it’s not your birthday yet, but we have a birthday here at Good Booze today, making this Friday twice as nice. We are often asked by our loyal Boozers what our most popular recipe is and the Birthday Cake Shot is far and away the most-trolled item on our site. And why not? You may enjoy a little special libation on your own birthday, and we couldn’t agree more. The Birthday Cake Shooter is a bit of a legend, as it’s purported to taste like a birthday cake — so we had to track it down and see what all the fuss was about.

The basic recipe calls for either citrus or vanilla vodka, paired with Frangelico and a sugar-coated lemon slice on the side. However, with apologies to Frangelico, we find it a bit too sweet, so we went for Nocello instead — an Italian walnut liqueur that is slightly more subtle. And, while there are plenty of vanilla vodkas on the market, it’s a breeze to infuse your own, and, because it’s our birthday, we wanted a really good vodka, not just some run-of-the-mill variety. We are devotees of Boyd & Blair Vodka in our quest to drink local first; they are not exactly right around the corner, but their distillery is close enough to fall into what we like to call the Mid-Atlantic Liquorshed.

While we’re not quite sure that the Birthday Cake Shot tastes exactly like a slice of birthday cake, it is certainly a tasty little morsel that may help distract you from your advancing age. Just don’t forget to blow out the candle first. Many happy returns!

Birthday Cake Shot

1 ounce Vanilla Vodka (we like to infuse Boyd & Blair vodka —instructions below)

1 ounce Nocello liqueur

1 lemon slice, coated in sugar

Shake vodka and Nocello in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a shot glass, with the lemon on the side. Shoot down the Birthday Cake, then suck on the lemon. Yum.

How to infuse vodka with vanilla:

It’s embarrassingly easy. Put a cup of vodka in a mason jar. Add a vanilla bean that has been split down the center. Let sit in a cool dark place for a few days, remove the vanilla bean, and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: The Hipster

Boozers, we’re hip. As if we didn’t know that already, it was confirmed this week by Forbes Magazine, which named our ‘hood as number 6 on their list of America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods. Imagine that.

Whether you’re hitting the hotspots in FishtownEcho Park, or Montrose (and since you’re a hipster, we’re sure you’ve got the down-low on these hallowed hangouts), it’s critical that you have an ironic twist on a classic cocktail to complement those vintage “Revenge of the Nerds” eyeglasses. We’ve got it, and we call it The Hipster, a modern update on The Boulevardier (what they called the most elegant of cool people at the turn of the last century).

In DC, the hipsters will be heading in droves this weekend to H Street, hopping from the Rock and Roll Hotel to Little Miss Whiskey’s while sampling the Epcot-themed delights of The Queen Vic and Biergarten Haus.

With a resurgence of interest in the beverages consumed by our forebears, this Friday’s Tipple features rye whiskey — we prefer to go local and use Catoctin Creek’s Organic Roundstone Rye, which has a rich caramel undertone perfect for that first crisp fall day when you get to pull on Grandpa’s argyle cardigan with your BDG cigarette jeans — and Italian sweet vermouth. And while we know that hipsters shy away from calling themselves by that moniker (because it would be, well, unhip), it’s okay: just have the drink. Your secret is safe with us.

The Hipster

Since the hip are always looking to spice things up, we muddled some peppercorns into the mix and added a smidge of our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup. The result is a perfect sipping cocktail — sour, sweet, spicy, just like a real hipster.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth (add more if you like a sweeter drink)

1/4 teaspoon black or pink peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (optional — we like the kick)

juice of 1/2 fresh lime

club soda

1 lemon wheel

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a wineglass. Top with 1 or 2 ounces of chilled club soda and lemon wheel. Enjoy.

Special Edition: The Twitter Tipple

We love Twitter, Boozers. It’s haiku for the masses. So we made a special drink for Twitter’s birthday. Recipe: @goodbooze

The Friday Tipple: Birthday Cake Shot

Happy birthday, Boozers! Well, maybe it’s not your birthday yet, but we had a birthday here at Good Booze this week, and we are still celebrating. You may enjoy a little special libation on your own birthday, and we couldn’t agree more. So, we went trolling around on the glorious Google world looking for the legendary Birthday Cake Shooter. It’s purported to taste like a birthday cake — who could resist?

The basic recipe calls for either citrus or vanilla vodka, paired with Frangelico and a sugar-coated lemon slice on the side. However, with apologies to Frangelico, we find it a bit too sweet, so we went for Nocello instead — an Italian walnut liqueur that is slightly more subtle. And, while there are plenty of vanilla vodkas on the market, it’s a breeze to infuse your own, and, because it was our birthday, we wanted a really good vodka, not just some run-of-the-mill variety. We recently came across Boyd & Blair Vodka in our quest to drink local first; they are not exactly right around the corner, but their distillery is close enough to fall into what we like to call the Mid-Atlantic Liquor Watershed.

While we’re not quite sure that the Birthday Cake Shot tastes exactly like a slice of birthday cake, it is certainly a tasty little morsel that may help distract you from your advancing age. Just don’t forget to blow out the candle first. Many happy returns!

Birthday Cake Shot

1 ounce Vanilla Vodka (we like to infuse Boyd & Blair vodka —instructions below)

1 ounce Nocello liqueur

1 lemon slice, coated in sugar

Shake vodka and Nocello in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a shot glass, with the lemon on the side. Shoot down the Birthday Cake, then suck on the lemon. Yum.

How to infuse vodka with vanilla:

It’s embarrassingly easy. Put a cup of vodka in a mason jar. Add a vanilla bean that has been split down the center. Let sit in a cool dark place for a few days, remove the vanilla bean, and enjoy.