The Friday Tipple: Midnight in Paris

Break out the bubbly, Boozers. With New Year’s Eve on the horizon, we knew that champagne was on order for today’s Tipple, even though we’re happy to enjoy it any day of the week. Our inspiration is the French 75, also known somewhat more elegantly as the Soixante-Quinze, a truly classic cocktail which made its first appearance in New York in 1915. We like it for its international flair, mixing gin with champagne, but have updated it with our usual American sensibility, rather like Woody Allen’s view of Paris: romantic, fresh, slightly absurd, eminently practical.

The foundation of our Midnight in Paris is a Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup; the Meyer Lemon is named for Frank Meyer, an “agricultural explorer” and employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture who came across the fruit while on a trip to China in 1908. Its intensely vibrant lemon flavor and rich color creates a sweetly tart syrup that perfectly compliments the juniper undertones of a good gin — this is not a time to skimp on the liquor; we happen to prefer Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin, which is local to our area, but there are many good varieties out there, from Hendrick’s to Juniper Green to Sipsmith.

As to the bubbly, it need not be strictly French champagne — we are a global society, after all — but any dry sparkling wine will do, and we particularly like using a variety from a local winery when we can, like Thibaut-Janisson’s Virginia Fizz, a fruity sparkling Chardonnay which mixes well into a cocktail.

So even if you find yourself sitting in your flannel pyjamas watching the ball drop on television at midnight (and what’s wrong with that?), you can still feel suitably elegant with this drink at your side while you ring in the new year. Bonne Année!

Midnight in Paris

We like to serve this in an old-fashioned champagne goblet — it makes us feel so French, somehow — but it’s just as lovely in a flute. If you can’t find Meyer Lemons, don’t despair — you can make the syrup with regular lemons, just add a little extra juice to increase the flavor.

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup (recipe below)

Gin

Champagne or sparkling white wine

Thinly-sliced lemon wheels coated in sugar, for garnish

Put one tablespoon Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup and 2 ounces gin in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a champagne glass, then fill the rest of the glass with champagne. Float the lemon wheel on top and enjoy.

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup

One large Meyer lemon, cut in half and juiced

3/4 cup water

one cup sugar

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add water and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring to a low simmer, then add the lemon juice and the two halves of the lemon. Stir well and allow to simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and cool; will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

 

 

 

 

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The Friday Tipple: Pear Champagne Cocktail

TGIF, Boozers. We’ve had a long week and so we were already in a celebratory mood before we spotted this little message on Twitter: “Pearousia pear brandy is HERE!”. We may have even heard a choir of angels sing. Did we mention it’s been a long week?

‘Nuff said, Boozers, we need no more encouragement than that to crack open a bottle of bubbly. Our friends at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company make a luscious pear brandy known as Pearousia, and if you live in the DC area, we suggest that you run, not walk, to snag one of the 402 bottles now available. We already have a bottle, and in fact had planned a different Pearousia cocktail coming to you in a couple of weeks, but we pulled this together today because we couldn’t wait another minute.

If you can’t get Pearousia, don’t despair. As you know, we encourage you to buy local, and our loyal Boozers are spread far and wide; pear brandy pops up in small distilleries across North America, so we suggest that you check in your local area. Also known as an eau-de-vie, pear brandies are made at Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon, Harvest Spirits in New York, and Bartlett Winery in Maine. However, most liquor stores will carry a bottle of pear brandy, perhaps just slightly dusty, somewhere on their shelves. Grab it.

Pear Champagne Cocktail

We like to use a little turbinado sugar with this, borrowing from an Italian tradition of dropping a sugar cube into a glass of champagne, symbolizing the sweetness of life. Steal a few packets of Sugar-in-the-Raw the next time you’re buying a pricey cup of coffee and keep them at home for this tipple.

Chilled champagne

Pear Brandy

Fresh pear, chopped (remove the skin first, if you like, but we don’t)

Turbinado (raw) sugar

Drop a few pieces of pear into the bottom of a champagne flute and sprinkle some sugar over the top. Let sit for a few minutes while the sugar softens, then pour 1 ounce of pear brandy over the pear. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes, then top with chilled champagne. Salut!