The Long Weekend Tipple: Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri

Christopher Robin's Daiquiri

Fancy a little smackerel, dear Boozers? We’ve been imbibing with honey this week and naturally began dreaming of the Hundred Acre Woods. In our imagination, Winnie the Pooh’s pal Christopher Robin must have grown into a deeply thoughtful human being, immersed in nature and concerned with being in rhythm with the world around him. If a springtime bank holiday was approaching, we think of him slinging a satchel full of good things to eat on his shoulder and heading out, with perhaps a few friends in tow, to picnic in a sun-dappled forest. Spring strawberries just on the cusp of summer would be on hand, and honey, of course: the perfect base for a bit of a well-deserved treat.

For Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri, we’ve layered on the honey — two different kinds, because you can never have too much. Honey gets its flavor from the natural plants that honeybees encounter on their pollination tours, from lavender to alfalfa, with results that range from subtle to startling. We chose to pair a sourwood honey with a strawberry purée and a buckwheat honey with rum — the sourwood honey has a light anise undertone which complements the fresh tartness of early strawberries, something that might appeal mightily to Piglet. Buckwheat honey, on the other hand, has a certain molasses quality, with a flavor that can only be likened to tasting somewhat like what a barn floor would taste like if we were so inclined to lick one (we’re not). While that does not sound particularly appetizing, it is a perfect foil for a dark rum, a rich and mysterious melding of flavors that speaks to the Eeyore in all of us.

Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri

We’re fortunate to have available to us a beautiful dark rum by Lyon Distilling Company that already has a rich molasses flavor that works perfectly with the buckwheat honey, but use whatever dark rum you love best. If you don’t care for dark rum, or only have light rum on hand, you can simply change things up by substituting what you have; pair a lighter rum with a more floral honey, like orange blossom. This recipe will appear to be sweet on paper, but the layers of fruit and rum prevent it from having an overly Pooh-like stickiness. Silly old bear.

for the strawberry purée:

1/2 cup fresh hulled strawberries

1 tablespoon sourwood or other light honey

Juice of 1/2 a fresh orange

1/4 cup chilled soda water

Blend all ingredients until completely liquified. Use with daiquiri recipe below

to make Christopher Robin’s Daiquiri:

Fresh strawberry purée (from above recipe)

2 ounces dark rum

1 heaping tablespoon buckwheat or other dark honey

a bit of honeycomb for garnish (optional)

Mix together rum and buckwheat honey and set aside for a few minutes. Then, fill a glass with ice and pour in the prepared strawberry purée. Pour the rum-honey mixture over the top; it will settle to the bottom, so the drink will start off with a fresh strawberry flavor as you begin to drink, then become more rummy as you continue. Garnish with a piece of honeycomb if you have it on hand — it’s a nice addition for nibbling.

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The Holiday Tipple: Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

Papa Elf's Cranberry Daiquiri

Ho ho ho, Boozers. The holiday season has managed to arrive amid all the usual hoopla and hypocrisies, yet somehow we still maintain our childlike wonder at a season full of magic and mystery. Off in a distant winter wonderland, elves are scurrying through sawdust-covered workshops in the rush of preparing for a global gift-giving extravaganza, and we imagine Papa Elf trudging back to his icicle-draped gingerbread cottage at the end of the day, wearily longing for an icy cocktail.

Like Papa Elf, Papa Hemingway also longed for a cocktail at the end of — or perhaps during — a long day of creating the gift of stories for the masses. Being in a somewhat warmer clime, Papa H was all about the daiquiri, tart with lime, warm with rum, then chilled, shaken and served straight up — devilishly simple. This is no syrupy Slurpee of a drink, but rather an elegant end to a day well spent in serving others. Now it’s time to serve yourself.

Papa Elf’s Cranberry Daiquiri

The basic concept of a true Hemingway daiquiri is that it should be mostly tart, but lightly sweet, possibly like the demeanor of a busy elf. While a classic daiquiri is made quite simply with lime juice, sugar, rum, and Maraschino liqueur, we’ve introduced some tart cranberry to give it a seasonal flair.

2 ounces silver rum (we like our local Lyon Distilling Company‘s white rum)

1.5 ounces fresh cranberry-ginger juice (recipe below)

.5 ounce Maraschino liqueur

wedge of fresh lime

Pour first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Squeeze in lime juice, stir once, then strain into a chilled Cosmopolitan glass.

to make the fresh cranberry-ginger juice: It may be tempting to use commercial cranberry juice — and you could — but don’t. You’ll be glad you did this. Take 1/2 cup fresh cranberries and a couple of 1/2-inch slices of fresh ginger and put them in a small saucepan with enough water to cover and 1/2 cup of sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then pour into a blender with 3/4 cup of water. Blend on high until completely liquified, then strain out the solids — you may need to strain twice to get a nice clear liquid. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

 

 

The Garden Tipple: Meemaw’s Mojito

Meemaw's Mojito

We’re plumb tuckered out, Boozers. Having left the Big City for a little rest and relaxation, we now find ourselves settin’ on the front porch with Meemaw, gently perspiring in the sticky heat of a small-town August and in dire need of a Southern-style sweet tea. Meemaw would normally just break out the Luzianne tea bags, but she’s the epitome of Southern hospitality and indulges us with something just a bit more refined: a refreshingly minty green tea, of the type we might use in our DMV Iced Tea.

Of course, Meemaw likes a little nip now and then, and when the faint breeze is barely stirring the weeping willows that droop across the creek, she feels the need to unlock the liquor cabinet, wisely noting “Ain’t no point in waitin’ for sundown. It’s five o’clock somewhere, I ‘spect.”

We like to call this tasty concoction Meemaw’s Mojito, even though she’s far too modest to allow all that fuss. Mix it up and drink it down is her philosophy. We’d be well advised to follow her wisdom.

Meemaw’s Mojito

Mint has overtaken the garden now, entangling itself with the cucumbers and tomatoes and filling the air with its heady scent. We like to make a lemony simple syrup just to intensify the flavors of the mint, and then add a strong tot of rum to give the tea a real bite. 

Generous handful of fresh clean mint leaves

2+ tablespoons lemon simple syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces rum (we like our local Lyon Distilling Company Rum)

Chilled green tea (try something with undertones of lemongrass and mint)

Fresh stalk of lemongrass (optional)

Mint sprig, for garnish

to make the lemon simple syrup: Combine 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice. 1/2 cup water, 3/4 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over low heat and then let simmer gently for about 30 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half and thickened. Cool completely; can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

To make Meemaw’s Mojito: Place mint leaves and lemon simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass and crush the mint leaves lightly. Add the rum and then top with plenty of ice and chilled green tea. Stir briskly — with a fresh stalk of lemongrass if you have it, which adds another spicy-citrus note to the drink — and then garnish with more mint.

 

 

The Garden Tipple: Sugarbaby Daiquiri

Sugarbaby Daiquiri

We’re parched, Boozers. Gardening is hard work, and we’ve done enough tilling, weeding, watering, and harvesting in the height of summer to last a lifetime — and it’s not even August. The air-conditioned comfort of the grocery store’s produce section begins to look mighty good when you’re covered in sweat and compost while you battle aphids and whatever just chewed up half your tomatoes during the night. But then the sugarbabies arrived and things started to look up.

A Sugar Baby is a common variety of miniature watermelon, often found in farmers markets and grocery stores under the moniker “personal watermelon”. They are small, and sweet, and utterly hydrating on a hot summer day, especially when rum is involved. We don’t usually go in for frozen drinks, and we generally like our daiquiris Hemingway-style, but sometimes an adult slurpee is really the only way to go when the mercury is on the rise. Slurp it up and drink it down.

Sugarbaby Daiquiri

Most frozen drinks are made with ice cubes, but we turn our noses up at that when we have watermelon available. As you might imagine, watermelon is mostly water and so, when cut into cubes, they freeze perfectly. They also freeze fairly quickly, so you’ll be ready to whip up your daiquiris within a couple of hours of freezing.

One Sugar Baby watermelon, preferably seedless, cut into chunks

2 ounces rum, preferably a lighter variety such as silver or gold (we used Mount Gay this time)

1 ounce hibiscus liqueur (we used Don Ciccio & Figli; if you don’t have that available to you, use St. Germain elderflower liqueur to add a floral note, or even Maraschino liqueur, which is generally used in traditional daiquiris)

1 fresh lime

Place the watermelon chunks into a plastic Ziploc bag and freeze until solid, about an hour or two. To make a good-sized daiquiri, place one cup of frozen watermelon chunks in a blender with the rum, liqueur, and the juice of half a lime. Blend on high for a few seconds — it won’t take long to break down the cubes and you want them to maintain a perfectly drinkable frozen purée. Serve immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Strawberry Rose Mojito

Strawberry Rose Mojito

Mom needs a drink, Boozers. You may be the apple of her eye, but you’ve also put her through years of unintentional stress. She stayed up half the night finishing your third grade science fair project while you snuggled up with Bunny in bed. She got up at 5:30 on Saturday mornings to shower and dress before dragging you out of bed for that early hockey practice. She hemmed your prom dress — by hand, mind you — because you suddenly decided you had to be part of the hi-lo trend. She listened to countless hours of whining about boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, jobs, children (she told you so), home repairs, car repairs, weight loss, and destructive puppies — and all without telling you to shut up and get over yourself. Face it, the woman is a saint.

So here’s what you do. Pick her up, bring her back to your perfectly tidy house (because of course you cleaned up before Mom came over), and present her with a beautiful home-cooked brunch and a special cocktail made just in her honor. Because moms like handmade. It may be easier for you to take her out to some faceless restaurant, but listen carefully: Moms Like Handmade. They don’t care if it’s gourmet, if there are fine linens and crystal, or if there’s a guy walking around with a basket of plastic-wrapped single roses for $3 a pop. There is no substitute for making it yourself, and it’s the least you can do. Happy Mother’s Day.

Strawberry Rose Mojito

It will seem loopy, but this is made with strawberry jam rather than fresh strawberries. Jam cocktails are really charming, because the jam gives a lovely silky mouthfeel to the drink. If you are feeling enterprising, you could whip up a really simple Freezer Strawberry Jam the day before — meaning you can also present Mom with a beribboned jar as a nice handmade gift — or you can use a really high-quality strawberry jam. We used a strawberry balsamic jam made by our local Wisteria Gardens, which added another depth of flavor to an already sublime cocktail.

2 ounces light rum (we used Chairman’s Reserve)

2 heaping teaspoons of strawberry jam

1/2 teaspoon Rose Water (available in many markets)

several clean basil leaves (mint is traditional, but basil is perfect with strawberries)

chilled club soda

fresh strawberry for garnish

Put basil leaves in the bottom of a tall glass and muddle until they are broken down into smaller pieces. Add rum, jam and rose water , and mix thoroughly. Put several ice cubes in the glass, fill with club soda and stir together. Garnish with strawberry and serve immediately.

 

The Friday Tipple: Bananarama

Bananarama

We’re beach-bound, Boozers. Shimmering waves and soft breezes are calling to us seductively, but we still have 24 hours of packing and planning to go. Vacation-itis has hit us hard, and we find ourselves daydreaming of breakfast in bed and leisurely hours spent gamboling along the shoreline. We roundly curse the last-minute projects dumped on our desks.

Which is why it’s time for a daiquiri. Screw the projects. The vacation starts now.

Rum is a must-have in vacation cocktails. It reminds us of devil-may-care pirates sucking down grog with gay abandon as they swing on ropes across the bow of a schooner bedecked in the skull-and-crossbones.  It signals reckless freedom in the fierce sunshine of a tropical spring. Wherever you are and whatever the weather, rum transports us to the Caribbean of our souls. Revel in it.

Bananarama

Some people use up overly ripe bananas in muffins or quick bread. We prefer a daiquiri. This is not the frosty variety that you might find on a cruise ship, topped with a mound of whipped cream, but a more subtle version that slips softly down the gullet. We like to use Gosling’s Gold or Mount Gay rum, which truly taste of the tropics, but a good quality Puerto Rican white rum like Don Q Cristal will also do the trick. Because we like the flavor of coffee with banana, we added a dusting of powdered coffee mixed with a little sugar (this is a great way to use up those packets of Starbucks VIA instant coffee).

1 very ripe banana

2 ounces chilled coconut water

1.5 ounces rum (we recommend a gold or white rum)

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

juice of half a lime

1/4 teaspoon instant coffee mixed with a little granulated sugar(optional)

Put first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour into a margarita glass and dust the top with instant coffee. Yo ho ho!

 

The Friday Tipple: Fall Classic

Fall Classic

We’ve fallen and we can’t get up, dear Boozers. Autumn appears to have truly arrived, as leaves of every color are whipped around in a stiff wind and the storm windows are shut against the chill. And apples, apples are everywhere, stacked up in untidy piles on the kitchen counter, challenging us in their cheerful hues of red and green: “We dare you to do something with us besides make pie.”

Oh, we’ll take that challenge, and we’ll make a fresh apple shrub out of it. Some of you might call it a drinking vinegar, but the term “shrub” sounds weirdly sexier, in a Colonial sort of way, and we all know how Ben Franklin felt about apples. Not only that, it couldn’t be easier to make, because a shrub is little more than fruit, vinegar, and sugar, simmered into a lovely spicy syrup (there’s a cold-brew method as well, which we will detail below, but it was nippy in the kitchen and we wanted to warm up). When diluted with club soda, it’s a perfect mixer for a fall evening by the fireplace. Gather round it with your friends and boost the immune system at the same time. Cheers.

Fall Classic

It’s so easy to make a shrub that we decided to make a tasty garnish as well — a caraway seed brittle, to be precise. Brittles are not always as easy as they look, but basically it’s simply a cup of water, two cups of sugar, a small knob of butter, and a couple of tablespoons of caraway seeds cooked over medium heat until it becomes thick and syrupy (if you stop cooking too soon, you’ll end up with a caramel). Whisk in a teaspoon of baking soda, then spread it out onto an oiled baking sheet, sprinkle a little sea salt over the top, and let it harden. Voilà.

to make the fresh apple shrub:

3 apples, grated

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cup sugar (we used maple sugar)

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

a pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Strain, pressing grated apple thoroughly to get out all the liquid. Cool completely; can be refrigerated for up to two weeks. To cold brew, simply place all the ingredients in a mason jar and put it in the fridge for 4 or 5 days, then strain as directed.

to make the Fall Classic:

1.5 ounces fresh apple shrub

2 ounces rye whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Organic Roundstone Rye)

1/2 ounce fennel or anise liqueur (we used Don Ciccio & Figli Finocchietto)

chilled club soda

caraway seed brittle for garnish (optional, but just right)

Combine first three ingredients in a tall glass with ice and stir well. Top with club soda, stir briskly, and garnish with caraway brittle.

Other options: While we like rye in this drink, it also works well with bourbon or rum. Some anise liqueurs that will work well include absinthe, galliano, ouzo, pastis, and sambuca.

The Friday Tipple: Stormy Mojito

Stormy Mojito

We’re waterlogged, Boozers. It’s been a particularly rainy and stormy summer, which hasn’t helped deepen our tan, but has certainly produced a bumper crop of mint. As we always say, when life hands you mint, make mojitos.

Mojitos, of course, need rum, and it occurred to us that there must be a way to incorporate two of our favorite rum-based summer cocktails, namely the Dark n’ Stormy and the classic Mojito. So we grabbed an umbrella and stood over the grill to fire up some ginger, which gave it an intensified spicy-smoky flavor for a perfect weekend happy hour. Don’t let the rain get you down. Drink up.

Stormy Mojito

Mojitos are basically sugar, mint, lime, rum and club soda, and a Dark n’ Stormy is simply ginger beer, dark rum, and lime, so combining the two drinks isn’t rocket science. However, to get the best flavor, we like to grate a little of the grilled ginger into the bottom of the glass (in addition to throwing in a whole chunk) and grind it into the mint with some superfine sugar. Although cane syrup is usually called upon for a mojito, we like the way the granulated sugar helps bruise the mint leaves and heighten the flavor of the ginger.

one thickly-sliced two-inch disk of ginger

handful of clean mint leaves

2 teaspoons superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar will do fine as well)

3 ounces chilled club soda

1.5 ounces rum, preferably Gosling’s Black Seal 151 proof

2 wedges of lime

additional mint leaves, for garnish

Grill the ginger over an open flame, about 30 seconds per side. Put into a cocktail shaker or a small bowl with the mint leaves and cover for about 5 minutes. Then grate a little of the ginger into the bottom of a highball glass and add the rest of the ginger disk, the mint leaves, and the sugar. Squeeze one wedge of lime over all, then use a muddler or a spoon to lightly bruise the mint leaves. Add several ice cubes and chilled club soda; stir briskly. Pour rum over the top and garnish with another wedge of lime and additional mint leaves.

 

The Friday Tipple: Chia Sangria

Chia Sangria

We’re feeling trendy, Boozers. You can hardly walk down the street these days without tripping over a pile of chia seeds, and we had no idea they had a purpose other than to provide a living sculpture to grace an otherwise boring desk. Apparently these little wonders impart good health, and we love a healthy cocktail, as it allows us to feel good even as we are behaving badly.

You often find chia seeds made into a juice with fresh fruits, which led us to think that they’d work perfectly in wine – our favorite kind of juice. Our Chia Sangria is a lovely pitcher of summer goodness, chock full of fresh berries, cheap wine, and maybe a smidge of rum. Oh, and chia seeds, because this is actually a health drink. Drink up.

Chia Sangria

Because we are always looking for a way to camouflage a cocktail as healthy, thereby reducing our own guilt, we sometimes employ the use of the lowly ice cube. For today’s Tipple, we made cubes of lemon juice and sparkling mineral water, thereby adding both vitamins and minerals to our Chia Sangria. Because every little bit helps.

1 bottle red wine (we used an $8.99 bottle of Spanish Monastrell with a lot of tannins)
1/2 cup rum (we used Gosling’s Black Seal 151 proof)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1 fresh orange
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 cup lavender honey
1/8 cup whole chia seeds
A few fresh basil leaves

Put berries, rum, and Grand Marnier in bottom of pitcher and let macerate at room temperature for an hour or two. Cut orange in half and squeeze juice in pitcher, then throw the orange in as well. Add honey, chia seeds, and wine and stir well. Add basil leaves, cover, and place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Serve in large glasses with lemon-mineral water cubes. It’s also tasty when topped with an ounce of chilled Lambrusco, for a little fizzy red wine kick.

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.