The Autumn Tipple: Royal Pear

Royal Pear

Happy anniversary, dear Boozers. Actually, it’s not our anniversary, nor may it be yours, but we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of one of our favorite local distillers, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, makers of distinctly delicious rye whisky, gin, and brandy. Founded by a charming pair, Becky and Scott Harris — she distills gorgeous liquor, he charms the public — they are the perfect example of what can happen when you throw caution to the wind and take the plunge to follow a dream. It’s an example we are pleased to follow, even on our darkest days.

In 2011, just as we began creating these little Tipples for your pleasure, Scott was kind enough to provide us with a bottle of Pearousia, their pear brandy, distilled from a pear wine made at Fabbioli Cellars, a Virginia vineyard. A brandy with just that fleeting sweet hint of pear, like a memory on the edge of your mind as you drift off to sleep at night, we’ve used it in several recipes over the years, but today we are saluting Becky and Scott with the Royal Pear — an uncomplicated cocktail that they can toast to each other with after a long day of delighting others. Cheers!

Royal Pear

Quite simply, we’ve paired beer and brandy with a soupçon of spicy sweetness. For the beer, we like to go out to the local breweries, see what’s fresh, and grab a growler. Look for something that is autumnal, if you can, but not a pumpkin ale — you’re looking for something that has undertones of spice without tasting like a cookie, yet is still light enough not to drown out the brandy. For our version, we looked to Mad Fox Brewing Company — keeping to today’s Virginia theme — and their Kölsch, which has a piney quality that complements the pear brandy quite well.

3 ounces autumnal ale

2 ounces pear brandy

1 tablespoon Wicked Ginger Syrup

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and stir well. Pour into a chilled coupe, garnish with a slice of fresh or dried pear (optional), and enjoy.

That’s it. Boom.

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The Friday Tipple: Robert Frost-ini

We’re waxing poetic, Boozers. As we cozy up into the holiday season and the darkest days of winter, we yearn for snowy woods and horse-drawn sleighs, even as we profess a preference for global warming. There is something about the chill stillness of a December night that unites us all to transcend the boundaries of religion, geography, and culture.

And so we bring you the Robert Frost-ini. His poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” inspired us to create this December night in a glass, by combining our quick rosemary-infused vodka with a splash of Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia pear brandy. At the bottom of the glass, like a bright red cardinal perched on the snowy branch of a birch tree, is a soupçon of cranberry simple syrup, beckoning to you with its lip-puckering tartness.

Though your friends and family may be flung far and wide, you can all share in the welcoming darkness of December, as the days slowly begin to lengthen again into the promise of spring. Enjoy the moment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep/And miles to go before I sleep. 

The Robert Frost-ini

2 ounces rosemary-infused vodka (recipe here)

1/2 ounce Pearousia or pear brandy

a few drops of Italian sweet vermouth

scant teaspoon cranberry simple syrup (recipe below)

reserved cranberries

Put vodka, Pearousia and vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour cranberry simple syrup and a single cranberry into the bottom of a chilled martini glass. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the glass and enjoy.

To make cranberry simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup frozen cranberries

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon gum arabic mixed with 1 teaspoon water (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens into a syrup*. Reserve cranberries and strain the syrup, then allow to cool.

* Optional: at this point, you can take the pan off the heat and mix in gum arabic paste, which will make the syrup thicker. Not necessary, but it has a nice texture.


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!