The Autumn Tipple: Occupy Whiskey

Occupy Whiskey

Remember rebellion, Boozers? We’ve been reminiscing about the Occupy Wall Street movement that happened just about this time three years ago, when Occupiers took over the parks of America and Tea Partiers stormed the Capitol. In a society marred by apathy, there is something refreshing about the lunatic fringe, no matter what side they are on. Moderation in everything, including moderation, that’s our motto.

And that deserves a drink. What we wanted was something quintessentially American — which, in our opinion, must include baseball, apple pie, and whiskey. America, some would say, was built on whiskey, and so it naturally becomes the basis for any truly patriotic cocktail. As whiskey often has what are called “grassy undertones”, we thought, obviously, of baseball, as the league championship playoffs take off this weekend. Luckily, we once read about an alfalfa-based cocktail that was purported to have a certain “vegetal” quality. Alfalfa in whiskey? That’s what we call American ingenuity at its finest.

Occupy Whiskey

You’ll know by now, dear Boozers, that we adore flavor profiles that provide interesting contrasts, so that each sip is uniquely different, leading the taste buds through a subtle progression of flavors. This a true sipping drink, perfect for after dinner on the front porch on a cool autumn evening: the alfalfa-infused whiskey provides a certain quality of a freshly-mowed outfield, leading to a tart apple finish laced with beer.

1 large tablespoon fresh Apple-Beer Syrup (so delicious — maybe two tablespoons; recipe below)

2 generous ounces whiskey (we use our local Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye for this, but use your local favorite, as always)

1/2 cup packed fresh alfalfa sprouts

To make the Apple-Beer Syrup: Put 1/2 cup of sugar, one cup of beer (choose a seasonal fall variety — we used Port City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest), and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Granny Smith apple in a small saucepan and combine well. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the syrup has thickened. Strain well and set aside to cool. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

To infuse the whiskey: Put four ounces of whiskey and the sprouts in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the sprouts lightly and set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. Strain completely before using.

To assemble the drink: Put 1 – 2 tablespoons of the apple-beer syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass. Pour the infused whiskey into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over the apple-beer syrup and garnish with a slice of apple.

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The Friday Tipple: Earl’s Cup

Earl's Cup

What ho, Boozers. The long months have finally passed and Americans are eagerly waiting, as always, to catch up to the Brits. Yes, Downton Abbey returns on January 6th — and that’s what we call a real epiphany.

Of course, we need a proper drink to enjoy such a comeback on a dark winter’s night tucked up by the electric fire. The Earl’s Cup is a lovely little aperitif to sip as you breathlessly await the unfolding saga of Mary and Matthew while wearing your “Free John Bates” t-shirt, and it tastes even better when you have Carson mix it up for you, serving it on a sterling silver tray.

If a downstairs drink is more your style, you can try our Daisy’s Cup version, but don’t let Thomas get his hands on it — he’s likely to slip you the mickey.

Earl’s Cup

A simple syrup of Earl Grey tea lends this sipper a touch of elegance; use a good quality local gin — Lord Grantham would certainly approve supporting the local economy, since he probably owns it anyway.

2 ounces gin (we have two fine local gins here, Catoctin Creek and Green Hat)

1 large spoonful to taste of Earl Grey simple syrup (recipe below)

Wedge of lemon, preferably a flavorful Meyer lemon

Put gin in a cocktail shaker. Squeeze the lemon into the gin and drop the wedge into the shaker and leave it for half an hour while you polish the silver. Then add the Earl Grey simple syrup and shake (without ice, of course — that would be terribly American). Strain into a crystal sherry glass and serve. This is best served at room temperature, and is also lovely to enjoy slightly warmed after a day out in the country riding to hounds.

Daisy’s Cup: for those who prefer to drink in the servant’s hall, pour four ounces of room temperature ale (we like this with DC Brau Citizen or  Port City Tartan Scottish Ale) into a sturdy mug, add two tablespoons of Earl Grey simple syrup, and drop a lemon wedge in. Stir well and drink up — but keep it to one drink as those fireplaces won’t clean themselves at 6 a.m.

to make the Earl Grey simple syrup: Make 8 ounces of strong Earl Grey tea (using two tea bags). Put tea and 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until reduced by half. Cool and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Occupy Whiskey

Remember rebellion, Boozers? This week brought the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement and we found ourselves yearning for days gone by, when Occupiers took over the parks of America and Tea Partiers stormed the Capitol. In a society marred by apathy, there is something refreshing about the lunatic fringe, no matter what side they are on. Moderation in everything, including moderation, that’s our motto.

And that deserves a drink. What we wanted was something quintessentially American — which, in our opinion, must include baseball, apple pie, and whiskey. America, some would say, was built on whiskey, and so it naturally becomes the basis for any truly patriotic cocktail. As whiskey often has what are called “grassy undertones”, we thought, obviously, of baseball, now heading into the last few exciting days of pushing for pennants. Luckily, we recently read about an alfalfa-based cocktail that was purported to have a certain “vegetal” quality. Alfalfa in whiskey? That’s what we call American ingenuity at its finest.

Occupy Whiskey

You’ll know by now, dear Boozers, that we adore flavor profiles that provide interesting contrasts, so that each sip is uniquely different, leading the taste buds through a subtle progression of flavors. This a true sipping drink, perfect for after dinner on the front porch on a cool autumn evening: the alfalfa-infused whiskey provides a certain quality of a freshly-mowed outfield, leading to a tart apple finish laced with beer.

1 large tablespoon fresh apple-beer simple syrup (so delicious — maybe two tablespoons; recipe below)

2 generous ounces whiskey (we use our local Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye for this, but use your local favorite, as always)

1/2 cup packed fresh alfalfa sprouts

To make the apple-beer syrup: Put 1/2 cup of sugar, one cup of beer (choose a seasonal fall variety — we used Port City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest), and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Granny Smith apple in a small saucepan and combine well. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the syrup has thickened. Strain well and set aside to cool. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

To infuse the whiskey: Put four ounces of whiskey and the sprouts in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the sprouts lightly and set aside for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours. Strain completely before using.

To assemble the drink: Put 1 – 2 tablespoons of the apple-beer syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass. Pour the infused whiskey into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain over the apple-beer syrup and garnish with a slice of apple.

The Friday Tipple: Tailgater’s Toddy

Hang onto your helmets, Boozers. Yep, it’s time for that most hallowed of all American days: Super Bowl Sunday. Even as we write, tortilla chips are being crisped for homemade queso, pots of Mom’s secret chili are bubbling, and charcuterie enthusiasts are eagerly stuffing sausage casings. Let the games begin.

We’re pretty sure that you can’t enjoy football without a beer — or two — and a nice cold one can be tasty when you’re tucked up by the telly with a plate of nachos. But what if you’re tailgating in Indianapolis with a portable barbecue brimming with bratwurst? Time for a Tailgater’s Toddy.

If you’ve ever trekked through the frosty Eastern European countryside and stopped off at a roadside pub, then you’ll have encountered what can only be described as mulled beer — basically a strong beer that has been simmered with spices and is served warm in a large mug. The flavor is smooth and dark and brimming over with bone-warming richness; with the explosion of craft breweries across the United States, it’s easy to find a lovely local amber or brown ale or perhaps even a porter to serve as the base for this brew. We like to add just a tot of brandy, although a bit of bourbon would do just as nicely — it helps ease the pain, just in case your team doesn’t grab that trophy. Touchdown!

Tailgater’s Toddy

We like to use a beer that is somewhat malty but with a bite of hops to it — basically providing a balance of bitter and sweet that melds with the fruit and spices. Check out your local brewery and pick up a growler or two to bring home — brewers love to talk about flavor profiles and can suggest which of their beers will work best in this recipe.

4 cups beer (we like our local DC Brau, Port City, and Chocolate City)

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 slice of fresh ginger, about an inch in diameter

2 wedges of apple, such as Granny Smith

1 small orange, sliced in half

2 TB honey (an orange blossom honey is nice if you have it)

1/4 cup brandy or bourbon (we used Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia Brandy for an extra kick of fruit)

Orange wedges for garnish (optional)

Put all ingredients except brandy into a 4-quart saucepan and simmer over very low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat and add brandy just before serving in mugs or heat-proof glasses with a wedge of orange. Serves 2 – 4; okay, maybe just 1.

State of the Union Tipple: Make mine a double

Brace yourselves, Boozers. The State of the Union is coming tonight and it won’t be pretty. In our neck of the woods, we’re bracing for the road closures and surveillance helicopters that accompany the President’s annual trip up the Hill, and Congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle are restocking the filing cabinets with clandestine bottles of booze. Senatorial flasks are being vigorously polished even as we speak. The game is on.

In times like these, we cannot legislate the Tipple. In an era of free enterprise with every loophole somehow both glorified and vilified in the same breath, who are we to tell you to what to drink? Pick your poison, and, in the tradition of Andy Cohen on Watch What Happens Live, take a little guzzlet every time the Republicans applaud a tax cut for the wealthy and the Democrats cheer for a government-funded hand-out — it all amounts to virtually the same thing, so you ought to be good and drunk before the President even has time to say “God bless America.”

Our only suggestion: drink local. Support the local businesses that support your local economy. We’ll be stocking up on booze from DC Brau, Chocolate City,  Catoctin Creek, Copper Fox, Port City Brewing Company, and any number of area wineries like Corcoran Vineyards and Fabbioli Cellars — all perfectly calculated to help ease the pain of yet another budgetary battle. Drink up, Boozers — you’ll need it.

The Friday Tipple: Beachy Beer Sangria

Today’s Tipple is a day at the beach in a glass. Beer cocktails have been popping up on menus everywhere lately; in the old days, a beer cocktail was a bottle of Corona with a wedge of lime stuffed in the neck, but a recent article in Imbibe Magazine about a Spanish summer red wine called a tempranillo (think raspberries and sunshine) inspired us to consider a beer sangria. For the beer, we first tested a summery pale ale, but finally settled on Port City Brewing Company‘s Porter — you may think of a porter as a cold-weather beer, but this porter is rich without being syrupy and has a refreshing hoppiness which contrasts perfectly with the fruitiness of the wine.

The Beachy Beer Sangria calls for layering the flavors, which will create that beach experience no matter where you are today. At the top is a cold foam that leads you into the crisp porter, sort of like that moment when you first dive through the waves and your warm skin tingles like peppermint from the chill of the water. As you continue to drink, you’ll begin to encounter the cool smoothness of the wine, reminiscent of that mellow mid-afternoon drowsiness as you lay back in your chair at the water’s edge, the tide gently lapping across your feet. The very last sip is both sweet and spicy, the sunset stretching across a perfect summer day. Life is good.

Beachy Beer Sangria

fresh fruit (berries, cherries, grapefruit, limes, lemons, oranges, etc.)

Blackberry-Lavender Simple Syrup (a good quality honey will also work)

Black peppercorns

Chilled fruity red wine, such as a Spanish tempranillo or a garnacha

Chilled porter (we like our local Port City Brewing Company‘s brew, but experiment to your heart’s delight)

Foam topping (optional) with a smidge of Grand Marnier

Make the simple syrup (our recipe is here). To make the foam topping, pour about a 1/4 cup of the porter in a small mixing bowl, add a splash of Grand Marnier, and whisk until foamy. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

To assemble the drink, place a few peppercorns and some chunks of different fruits at the bottom of the glass. Drizzle with about a teaspoon of the simple syrup, then muddle lightly to crack the peppercorns and release the fruit juices. Pour 2/3 of a cup of wine over the fruit, then tip the glass slightly and slowly pour 1/2 cup of porter into the glass. Top with a spoonful of the chilled foam and garnish with fresh fruit. Awesome, dude!