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.

 

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The Friday Tipple: Cain’s Mutiny

It’s not easy being a presidential candidate, Boozers. One day you’re a mild-mannered millionaire singing about the glories of pizza, the next day you’re getting skewered by the left-wing bloggers for your fondness for Pokemon. But, really, what’s not to love about a guy whose campaign commercials feature smokin’ and drinkin’? Political correctness need not apply — as the world continues to shrink, Americans may be yearning to follow in the footsteps of our European brethren, who aren’t afraid of leaders who like to let it all hang out.

When you prefer to fly first-class, there’s nothing like having a chilled martini as your wingman. Cool and classic, the Cain’s Mutiny chuckles at convention, marrying absinthe with rosemary-infused gin or vodka — because we don’t believe in Big Government telling you what kind of liquor to drink — and then topping it all off with extra-salty olives stuffed with anchovies. Anchovies may be a long-shot with most Americans, but you can’t count them out — they could surprise us all by suddenly shooting to the top of the polls. Bottoms up!

Cain’s Mutiny

We like liquors infused with herbs, but fresh rosemary can be oily and strong, so we do a quick infusion here that leaves just a subtle taste of rosemary that doesn’t overwhelm the clean flavor of the martini.

4 ounces gin or vodka (we recommend Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin or Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka)

Absinthe (or feel free to substitute dry vermouth, if you prefer)

4-inch sprig of fresh rosemary

olives stuffed with anchovies

Place the rosemary in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and bruise it with a muddling stick. Pour in the gin or vodka and let sit for 15 minutes. Splash a bit of absinthe into a chilled martini glass and swirl around to coat the inside of the glass. Add a couple of ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into the martini glass and garnish with olives.