A Friday the 13th Tipple: Margarita Memory

margarita

The Ides of March is upon us, dear Boozers. Historically speaking, it marks the day that Caesar was assassinated — “Et tu, Brute?” — although the term “Ides” simply refers to either the 13th or the 15th day of the month, as the Romans couldn’t make anything simple. We like to use it as a time to lift a glass in memory of friends and loved ones — and as our dear ones all seem to have had a penchant for margaritas, that most communal of libations — we are celebrating today with a Margarita Memory.

A margarita is really a classic blend of sweet and sour, to which we like to add notes of spice — creating a perfect representation of a life well-lived. It can be made with a variety of citrus, from traditional lime to blood oranges, mandarins, and grapefruit, and its flavor can be subtly altered by the type of tequila you use — blanco, mixto, reposado, and so forth — or you could even substitute with an unaged whiskey (we’ve done this often with Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit with excellent *hic* results) or even a smoky mezcal. Most importantly, to make a Margarita Memory really sing, choose ingredients that really reflect the person you are remembering — sweet, smooth, fresh, rich, perky, snarky, optimistic — and then savor every drop.

Margarita Memory

Our version today contains some muddled peach and a blend of lime and orange juice, because it reminds us of happy days drinking margaritas on the beach with special people. We added a peachy pink peppercorn syrup to pack a bit of punch  — because peaches are not in season now, we actually used the syrup from canned peaches as our base.

2 ounces silver tequila

1 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Amaretto

2 ounces fresh lime and orange juice

Slice or two of peach (canned is fine if peaches are out of season)

1 tablespoon peachy pink peppercorn syrup, or to taste (recipe below)

dash of citrus bitters (such as Urban Moonshine or even Bitter Ends Thai Bitters)

Wedge of lime or other citrus for garnish

Muddle a couple of slices of peach in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add tequila, cointreau, citrus juices, syrup, and bitters; add a few ice cubes and shake vigorously. Strain into a margarita glass (salt optional) filled with ice and float a little Amaretto over the top. Garnish with lime and serve immediately.

To make peachy pink peppercorn syrup: Strain syrup from canned peaches into a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of whole pink peppercorns and simmer over very low heat for about 30 minutes. Cool completely, then strain and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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The Garden Tipple: DMV Iced Tea

DMV Iced Tea

We’re feeling sweet, dear Boozers. Here in the DMV — and for the uninitiated, we’re referring to the DC-Maryland-Virginia vortex, not the Department of Motor Vehicles — we straddle, sometimes uncomfortably, that line that divides the North and the South. We have a certain Northern can-do entrepreneurial spirit coupled with a Southern take-your-time-and-do-it-right mentality which often leads to short bursts of frantic activity followed by long hours of intense reflection.

What we do like is our sweet tea on a hot summer day, but we tend to enjoy it half-and-half style, like the rest of our existence: not too sweet, not too plain. When presented with that perennial summer cocktail, the Long Island Iced Tea, we tut-tut at its lack of actual tea and emphasis on “more is more”. So we’ve created the DMV Iced Tea, a blend of energizing teas infused with fresh peaches and local brandy — a perfect sipper for those last days of summer lounging in the city parks dreaming of beach days gone by.

DMV Iced Tea

A combination of green tea and Earl Grey-infused vodka provide the tea base here, and, as it’s peach season here in the Almost South, we’re enjoying every juicy moment. A soupçon of lavender honey is all that’s needed to heighten the just-picked flavor of the peaches — any more would turn this into a Deep South Iced Tea.

4 ounces Fresh Peach Green Tea (see below)
1 ounce brandy (we like to use Catoctin Creek’s Peach Brandy, but DMV perennial favorites like Courvoisier and Hennessey will certainly do the trick)
1 ounce Earl Grey-infused vodka (recipe here)
fresh sliced peaches for garnish

Put a chunk or two of the tea-soaked peaches from the Fresh Peach Green Tea in the bottom of a tall glass. Add several ice cubes, then top with the chilled tea, brandy, and vodka. Stir briskly and garnish with a fresh peach slice — or two.

to make the Fresh Peach Green Tea:
1/2 cup fresh peaches, roughly chopped
4 cups freshly brewed green tea (we like a minty variety like Tazo Zen)
2 tablespoons lavender honey

Put the peaches in a pitcher and muddle lightly, then add green tea and honey. Stir well, then refrigerate for at least two hours or until well-chilled. Can be kept refrigerated for three or four days.

The Friday Tipple: Der Kommissar

Der Kommissar

We’re on the run, Boozers. Well, not exactly, but we are certainly feeling a certain nostalgia for the Cold War era, what with fugitives slinking around Moscow airports and the amping up of 80s-style commentary from the Kremlin. Falco is suddenly relevant again.

So you can imagine how we were intrigued by the discovery of an Eastern European drink known as Kompot, a sweetened fruit juice that is almost embarrassingly easy to make. You can prepare it with any fruit you like; we chose peaches because they are so plentiful these days. Pair it with a good vodka and being in hiding suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?

Der Kommissar

There’s a certain peasant-like austerity to this cocktail, appealing to our need for simplicity on steamy summer days, when we like to keep a refreshing drink handy while we are hiding out next to the air conditioning vent.

4 ounces Peach Kompot (recipe below)
2 ounces vanilla-infused vodka (we infused our favorite Boyd & Blair with a vanilla bean)

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add ingredients. Shake vigorously. Can be served with or without ice.

to make the Peach Kompot:

1 cup fresh peaches, pits removed and quartered (you don’t need to remove the skins)

2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

juice of half a lemon

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a high simmer. Reduce heat and simmer on low for 30 – 45 minutes until reduced by about a third. Cool completely, strain, and add lemon juice. Can be refrigerated at this point for up to two weeks. Save the fruit — tastes delicious on its own or spooned over yogurt or ice cream!

Many thanks to Punk Domestics, which inspired us with this recipe from The Girl’s Guide to Guns and Butter.

The Friday Tipple: A Good Booze Classic

Labor Day approaches, Boozers. And, with that, we’ve decided to stop and smell the late summer roses and revisit a Good Booze Classic known as Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur. Similar to a sipping tequila, this lovely little libation needs no frills or fripperies — like a perfect day at the beach, all you need is a gentle breeze and a friendly companion.

You can view the original post here, which waxes poetic on earthquakes, hurricanes, and overripe peaches. We’ve also included our favorite version of the recipe below — if you set it up today, you will indeed have something tasty to sip on the front porch come Monday afternoon, as you sadly wave goodbye to the final hours of summer. Keep a kleenex handy.

Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur

While you can make this with any fruit or liquor that you prefer, we find that this particular recipe truly captures the flavors of late summer. This liqueur is also perfect in our Margarita Aperitif, which takes the essence of a classic margarita and distills it down into two ounces of perfection. If you don’t finish it all in one go, make sure to keep the liqueur refrigerated, or it becomes slightly bitter. 

One ripe peach, sliced

One hot Italian pepper, split

1 tablespoon lavender honey

Triple Sec

Place peach slices and whole pepper into a 12-ounce mason jar; cover with triple sec and let sit in a cool place for a few days. Stores in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

The Friday Tipple: A Walk on the Beach

Remember Sex on the Beach, Boozers? So do we. Of course, we’re referring to those sickly sweet cocktails that were all the rage in the 80s, a cheap one-night stand in a rocks glass. The kind of thing Tom Cruise would have whipped up on screen, accompanied by sly innuendoes and a suggestive smirk.

But here’s the thing — a drink with such a name can only conjure up images of illicit fondling and sand in all the wrong places, hardly a recipe for romance. But a Walk on the Beach with the true object of your desire… that’s the real deal. Fingers intertwined, the salty tang of the evening breeze, skin tingling from the last rays of the setting sun, two sets of footprints lapped by warm waves. A perfect prelude to a night full of promise.

Back at the beach house, prop your feet up on the deck railing with this lovely summer nightcap — subtly sweet, lightly bitter, a perfect representation of this crazy little thing called love. Embrace it.

A Walk on the Beach

The original Sex on the Beach featured peach schnapps, but this modern update is based on a fresh peach and vodka purée that highlights our favorite summer fruit and makes us long for just-out-of-the-oven peach pie from Grandy Farm Market on the Outer Banks… but we digress. This is the next best thing, and if you can’t walk on the beach, then take a romantic stroll down to the corner.

3 chopped fresh peaches, pits removed

6 ounces vodka (we like Boyd & Blair for this, especially when infused with a vanilla bean)

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

1 fresh orange

1/2 ounce Campari

To make the peach-vodka purée: Put chopped peaches, agave nectar, and vodka in a blender and blend on high until liquefied. Strain through a sieve; can be kept in a jar and refrigerated for up to a week.

To assemble the drink: Put two ounces of the peach-vodka purée into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and squeeze in all the juice from the orange. Shake vigorously and pour the contents into a chilled glass. Pour Campari over the top and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

It’s Labor Day weekend and, after a long sweaty summer, some of us are ready for a margarita. It’s that most classic of summertime beverages, thirst-quenching on that last hot day we get to spend by the pool or at the beach before the onset of autumn activities. However, we also want to keep our svelte summer figures in shape, so that means making our margaritas “skinny”, à la Bethenny Frankel. And, honestly, once you make a really fresh margarita (which is actually what a “skinny” margarita is in reality), it’s almost impossible to drink that bottled mixer ever again. Hold on to your sombrero — you’re about to become a margarita snob.

If you paid attention to our post earlier this week, then you may have already made your own version of the Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur; we infused triple sec with peaches and hot peppers in preparation for today’s Tipple, because, frankly, we knew we were going to need a drink. You can use regular triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau also, so don’t despair if you didn’t make your own infusion, although we encourage you to try it out sometime — the peaches and peppers give a nice little spicy-sweet kick that feels just right on a hot day at the end of summer.

Basically, a “skinny” margarita uses fresh lime juice (we find that it takes about 4 limes per drink — it’s worth the work), light agave nectar (easily found in most grocery stores these days, in the sugar and honey section), silver (clear) tequila, the triple sec or other liqueur, and a little club soda. It will take a few sips to get used to it, because it is not cloyingly sweet like a typical margarita made with sweet-and-sour mix, but you will soon love its refreshing light flavor and turn your nose up at the other stuff. It’s also far lower in calories than a standard margarita (150 calories vs. 550 calories, by some estimates), so maybe we can have two… or perhaps three. It’s been a long week. Cheers!

Make Mine a (Skinny) Margarita

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (usually about 4 or 5 limes)

2 ounces silver (clear) tequila

1 ounce Last Gasp of Summer Liqueur, triple sec, Grand Marnier, or Cointreau

Light agave syrup to taste (start with 1 tablespoon per glass)

Club soda

Place first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously, taste to check for sweetness and adjust if necessary. Pour it all into a glass, then top with up to 1/4 cup of club soda.