The Friday Tipple: Goin’ to a Go-Go

We’re bustin’ loose, Boozers. Here in our neck of the woods, we take our go-go music pretty seriously and, with the passing of Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go-Go, earlier this week, we’re feeling the need to get a little funky.

Washington, DC, that geographical amalgamation of all peoples, does not have much that it can truly call its own. In fact, its indigenous culture extends to just three things: go-go, half-smokes, and political gridlock. After that, it’s pretty much Anytown, USA, albeit with a lot of cool monuments and free museums.

Goin’ to a Go-Go is funk in a glass — we recently became intrigued with the concept of a beer simple syrup and felt compelled to try it out with some local brews from Chocolate City and DC Brau. We created a malty little treat from porter with a smoky undertone, which pairs well with whiskey, bourbon, and, in this case, brandy, but a lighter ale syrup is perfection with tequila.

Here’s a toast to you, Chuck Brown. Get, get, get, get on down.

Goin’ to a Go-Go

We used a local brandy from Catoctin Creek in this funky little nod to a Pisco Sour, and added some tart pickled cherries, which can be whipped up quickly and stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks.

2 pickled cherries

2 ounces brandy (a young or unaged brandy works best)

1/2 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1 teaspoon beer simple syrup (recipe below)

dash bitters (a citrus-based variety like Scrappy’s Lime Bitters is good here)

Another cherry for garnish (optional)

Put two cherries in the bottom of a rocks glass and crush lightly with a spoon or muddling stick. Put a few ice cubes in a cocktail shaker and add brandy and beer syrup, then squeeze the orange and lime into the shaker. Cover and shake vigorously then pour it all into the glass, including the ice cubes. Add a dash of bitters and another pickled cherry for garnish and drink up.

How to make beer syrup:

1 12-ounce beer

1 cup sugar

a few dashes of hot sauce (we used our local Uncle Brutha’s)

Pour the beer into a 2-quart saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by half; do not boil. Add sugar and hot sauce and stir to dissolve, continuing to simmer over low heat for another 5 or 10 minutes or until thickened. Allow to cool completely. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

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.

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!