The Friday Tipple: Sochi Dreams

Sochi Dreams

We’re feeling a little international, Boozers. There are those who say that sports transcend geographical borders, drawing people together from all parts of the globe to cheer on their favorite athletes in every sport imaginable, from ping-pong to diving to cricket to curling. Some sports place emphasis on the individual while others are all about team effort.

A cocktail, of course, is a team effort in which each individual must play its part to complete the whole. We’ve been honored to work with some tasty liqueurs by one of our hometown favorites, Don Ciccio & Figli, crafting several combinations that celebrate flavors from around the world. With the Winter Olympics approaching, we’ve decided to cozy up with our version of a White Russian, which we’re calling Sochi Dreams. Sip it whether you dream of Olympic glory or for greater equality everywhere. За любовь!

Sochi Dreams

For this particular cocktail, we combined Don Ciccio & Figli’s Concerto (a barley and espresso-based liqueur) with Catoctin Creek Mosby’s Spirit, a white whiskey that we think makes a great substitute for vodka. However, we enjoy vodka as much as the next person, so when we make this with vodka, we like Boyd & Blair potato vodka, which has a nice clean and crisp finish.

1 ounce Don Ciccio & Figli Concerto 
1 ounce white whiskey or vodka
2 ounces coconut milk (we used So Delicious Coconut Creamer)
1/2 ounce cinnamon tincture (Bittermen’s Hiver Amer works really well also)

Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake thoroughly, and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or martini glass. Dust with grated nutmeg (optional). For a variation, pour over ice into a rocks glass, preferably coffee ice cubes instead of just plain ice cubes.


The Friday Tipple: Parade Punsch

Parade Punsch

Start waving your flags, Boozers. Some 800,000 people are expected to descend upon Washington, DC on Monday for the Presidential Inauguration festivities and the weather will actually be somewhat seasonable for a change, i.e. nippy.

Of course, even if you’re not anywhere in the vicinity of an Inaugural parade in the next few days, you may soon find yourself shivering at a some other parade (President’s Day is on the horizon), or at a football game, or while shoveling snow off the driveway. For any of these, we recommend a hot drink. Even better, we suggest you break out Kronan Swedish Punsch.

Because if the Swedes don’t know how to keep toasty in the frosty outdoors, then who does? Savvy bartenders know that Swedish Punsch is a must-have ingredient, a kind of sweet rum liqueur that was popular for a couple of centuries until it was killed off by Prohibition. Its lush flavor — like smoky cane sugar scented with frangipani blossoms — makes a sultry base for a twist on hot buttered rum that we like to call Parade Punsch. Fill up a thermos and get out there.

Parade Punsch

Using a caramel syrup gives this drink a buttery flavor without actually using butter, but feel free to dollop with freshly-whipped cream (we suggest unsweetened, to create more flavor contrast) if you’re feeling the need for added decadence.

4 ounces hot citrus herbal tea (we used a lemon tea)

1.5 ounces Kronan Swedish Punsch

1 ounce rum (Gosling’s Gold is always nice, although we suggest grabbing some Muddy Riverif you happen to be in North Carolina)

1 ounce caramel syrup (storebought or homemade)

pinch of nutmeg

fresh lemon twist

Put the caramel syrup and nutmeg in the bottom of a heat-safe cup and stir to combine. Add the rum and Kronan Swedish Punsch, top with hot tea, and stir briskly. Add a twist of lemon and serve immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Shake Shots

We’re feeling shaky, Boozers. The excesses of debate drinking games and watching baseball playoffs late into the night has left us somewhat out of sorts, and, while we know that the logical response would be total abstinence, we are lured by the seductive call of a fortifying “adult” milkshake. What could be more tasty than combining a full-fat ice cream with a little tot of distilled goodness?

Of course, the thing about a milkshake is that it can sometimes be too much of a good thing, at a time when all we require is a bit of a treat. Hence, the advent of Shake Shots. By starting with a simple vanilla shake base, you can build many different flavors: add a little fresh-squeezed orange juice, tequila, and a drizzle of grenadine for a Tequila Sunrise shake shot, or a tablespoon of chilled coffee and Bailey’s for an Irish Cream delight. We know you’re already planning a DIY Shake Shot bar for your next party.

For today’s Shake Shots, we made two shots with that vanilla shake base, adding freshly-grated ginger to one for a frosty version of the Dark ‘n Stormy, and adding some malted milk powder to another as a topping for a beer shake shot. For the third, we went seasonal and used our local Moorenko’s Pumpkin Ice Cream for the shake, to which we added a spicy shot of rye whiskey, courtesy of one of our favorite local distillers, Catoctin Creek.

The only limit is your imagination. Just watch out for the brain freeze.

Shake Shots

It seems insulting to your intelligence, dear Boozers, to tell you how to make a milkshake, but we will. Basically, put about 3/4 of a cup of vanilla ice cream in a blender with 1/4 cup of milk and start blending. You’ll need to add more milk slowly until it gets to the consistency you prefer; we’d suggest leaving it on the thicker side so that it doesn’t thin down too much when you add liquor to it.

for the Dark ‘n Stormy shot: Add about a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly-grated ginger to a 1/2 cup of the vanilla shake base. Pour into a shot glass, leaving about 1/2 inch at the top, then top with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum.

for the Beer shot: Add a teaspoon of malted milk powder to the vanilla shake base. Pour chilled beer (we went seasonal again, using Dogfish Head Punkin Ale) into a shot glass, topping with a large spoonful of thickened milkshake.

for the Pumpkin shot: Make a thick shake with pumpkin ice cream (you can substitute a pumpkin syrup with vanilla ice cream). Take a half-cup of the shake and add 1.5 ounces of rye whiskey. Pour into shot glasses and dust the top with unsweetened cocoa powder or ground nutmeg.

The Friday Tipple: An Epiphany

Christmas is over, Boozers. Yes, the twelve drummers played their last tune yesterday and those dried-out old trees have been booted to the curb by the purists who waited until Twelfth Night to strip them bare. It’s time for an Epiphany.

Many people think they’ve had an epiphany in the new year, but we think it’s really just a resolution in disguise. However, resolutions tend to get broken while epiphanies can actually stir action. Some epiphanies are sudden revelations, and others steal upon us softly, as if we are waking from a dream. This week’s Tipple is the latter kind — based on a traditional wassail popularized in the Middle Ages known as Lamb’s Wool — and garnished with a lemon “crown”, a nod to the gold paper crowns found on Epiphany cakes in France.

This warm little drink is spicy and not too sweet, with a citrus undertone, and we’re pretty sure that if you drink enough of it, in the company of good friends, you’ll have an epiphany. Cheers!

An Epiphany

For this winter warmer, we trotted out Leopold Bros. truly gorgeous New York Apple Whiskey, added in some Meyer lemons, left over from last week’s Tipple, and dusted off a bottle of Stone’s Ginger Wine, a fortified wine made with ginger and raisins popular in the UK. It’s not hard to find and is actually a nice addition to your cocktail cabinet to splash into a variety of tasty libations.

1.5 cups apple cider

1 cup hard apple cider (we like Crispin’s)

1/2 cup Stone’s Original Green Ginger Wine

1/2 cup Leopold Bros. Apple Whiskey (although another good whiskey will still do the trick)

1/2 lemon (a Meyer lemon is nice if you have it)

1/4 teaspoon each: ground cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice

In a two-quart saucepan, add the apple cider, Stone’s Ginger Wine, and the spices, then squeeze in the lemon and drop the lemon into the pot, stirring together until combined. Simmer over very low heat for 45 minutes. Then add the hard apple cider and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the whiskey. Pour into heat-safe glasses, garnish with a slice of lemon, and wait for your epiphany. Serves 4.

The Friday Tipple: Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Achoo, Boozers! We’ve just suffered through our first sniffles of the season and were sorely in need of relief — so we grabbed the bottle of rum faster than you can say “decongestant”. It being the holiday season, we wondered if we could combine our purely medicinal hot toddy with a somewhat more festive hot buttered rum. The verdict? Why, yes you can.

Many people associate hot buttered rum with the winter season, but most have never actually had one. Granted, it does sound a little odd: boiling water, rum, butter, sugar, and spices. It seems even more strange to drink butter, but when you consider that you’ll happily dollop whipped cream — a close cousin of butter — on a hot chocolate (or, even better, our Tex-Mex Cocoa), then it begins to sound more palatable.

For our Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, we chose to use an orange spice herbal tea; we also think it would work equally well with an apple spiced tea, or a holiday-inspired tea like Comfort and Joy. We used Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but you could substitute your favorite liquor, from a spiced rum to gin to bourbon to Grand Marnier. Forget the Nyquil — mix up your toddy and tuck yourself up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a few classic holiday movies. You might almost enjoy yourself. Gesundheit!

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

The key to this drink is, naturally, the spiced butter compound. If you prefer to make this dairy-free, you can easily substitute a vegan butter spread.

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger

Tea of your choice

Boiling water

Rum, or other liquor, of your choice

To make the spiced butter compound: mix the softened butter, sugar and spices in a small bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.

Steep the tea in 5 ounces of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Add up to two ounces of rum (depending on how bad your cold is), stir well, then top with a spoonful of the chilled butter compound. Enjoy!

The Friday Tipple: Pumpkin Pie

You know what’s coming, American Boozers. Yes, Thanksgiving. Watching Uncle Greg wrestle with the turkey, being forced by Grandma to sit at the kiddie table, again (“I’m sorry, honey, there just isn’t room for everyone at the big table. And the kids love you so much, dear.”), and that classic moment when your mom insists that you show everyone your impersonation of Adolf Hitler. Good times.

What you really need after you’ve eaten the last bite of Aunt Irma’s famous Ambrosia salad with the gummy bear surprise, is a drink. Something festive for which you can truly give thanks. Enter the Pumpkin Pie cocktail — believe us, you need this far more than you ever needed any traditional piece of pie. Made with our signature Pumpkin Juice, we keep it simple by adding Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka.

Yes, we know, we were skeptical too: “Whipped cream vodka? Not possible.” However, it turns out that you really can make vodka taste like pretty much anything under the sun, and, while we know that we could probably come up with our own housemade version, we suggest that you give yourself a break. Buy the Pinnacle, whip up a quick batch of Pumpkin Juice, and loosen your belt. You know you need to build up your strength for Black Friday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Pumpkin Pie

This drink tastes astonishingly like a slice of pumpkin pie, but without the fiber.  We added just a soupçon of Nocello, which imparts a slight undercurrent of nuttiness — rather like your family, we suspect.

3 ounces Pumpkin Juice (recipe here)

1.5 ounces Pinnacle Whipped Cream Vodka

Splash of Nocello

Whipped cream and nutmeg for garnish (optional, but do it anyway)

Pour the pumpkin juice, vodka, and Nocello in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with whipped cream and nutmeg.