The Friday Tipple: Celebration Shandy

Celebration Shandy

We’re celebrating, Boozers. Graduations, anniversaries, Father’s Day – it all seems to be happening in the next two days, so we’re in the mood for something summery and sparkling, but with a bit less of a kick as we need to pace ourselves. Hello Shandy.

Surely the Shandy was born from those two summertime favorites, lemonade and beer. Common across Europe, the Shandy in its many forms (beer with Sprite, beer with 7-Up, beer with Coca-Cola) is often an accepted low-dose cocktail for the kiddies on special occasions — no sickly-sweet Shirley Temples need apply.

Inspired by our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, we opted to make a puckery fresh lemonade sweetened with the pickled ginger syrup — which led us to think of sushi, and, ultimately, of our favorite Japanese libation, sake. Like beer, sake is a beverage brewed from grains (rice); it has the warmth of whiskey wrapped in the subtle smoothness of a rich wine. The flavor is so hard to describe that it has its own word, coined, of course, by the Japanese: umami, which basically means “Man, that’s so good, I can’t even describe it.”

Tart and fresh with a spicy ginger undertone, the Celebration Shandy is a party in a glass. Kampai!

 Celebration Shandy

1/3 cup fresh chilled lemonade, sweetened to taste with Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup

1/4 cup chilled dry sake (we like SakéOne’s Momokawa Silver — it has nice apple-y undertones that complement the plums)

1 ripe plum, cut into chunks

A few slices of pickled ginger (use the leftovers from the syrup recipe!)

Chilled Japanese beer (we used Kirin)

The key to this drink is for the ingredients to be nice and cold. Put the plum chunks, ginger slices, and sake in the bottom of a tall chilled glass and place it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then add the lemonade and pour the cold beer over the top, preferably with a nice frothy head of foam. You don’t need to wear a silky kimono to enjoy this, but it doesn’t hurt either.

No time to make the pickled ginger syrup? That’s cool. Grate a little fresh ginger into the lemonade — not too much, though, because it can overwhelm quickly.

The Friday Tipple: incidental musings on moonshine

incidental musings on moonshine

We’ve won a Grammy, Boozers. Well, strictly speaking, we are only related to a Grammy winner, but feel privileged to utter the phrase in appropriately hushed tones, touched as we are by greatness. Although it may be considered by some as “the category nobody cares about”, the Grammys do award honors — hours before the Black Keys and Beyoncé are anywhere in the vicinity — for classical music, and intelligently chose to bestow this distinction on Stephen Hartke for Best Contemporary Classical Composition, a somewhat hypnotic piece of chamber music titled “Meanwhile – Incidental music to imaginary puppet plays”, the title track to the album by eighth blackbird that also won a Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance . We at Good Booze could not be more proud of such familial talent.

As our own talent lies in the exploration of cocktail culture, we felt compelled to honor such an achievement — the music of “Meanwhile” inspired a can’t-tear-your-eyes-away short film, so why not a drink? Steeped in references to Asian theater, “Meanwhile” features startling percussive elements reminiscent of a surly nun slapping a ruler on the head of a sleepy sixth grader and pillowy clarinet interludes that lull the listener back into a false sense of security. The obvious answer for a cocktail was, of course, moonshine. Call it unaged whiskey if you like.

incidental musings on moonshine twists on the traditional martini by creating a smoky layer of pine (thank you, Top Chef finalist Sheldon for another brilliant idea) sharpened with notes of lemon. Mix it up, put on the headphones, and dive into the unknown.

incidental musings on moonshine

We literally coated our favorite moonshine — Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit — in saké for this music-inspired tipple — creating a sweet-and-sour contrast that hits just at the back of the throat, not unlike that nun with the ruler.

3 ounces unaged white whiskey (a.k.a. moonshine)

1/2 ounce chilled saké (learn more about saké here; we like something lightly floral and mildly acidic, such as Sho Chiku Bai Ginjo)

fresh lemon peel, about 1″ x 2.5″

6-inch piece of pine branch (steal it from your neighbor’s yard or the dog park if you don’t have your own pine tree)

Hold the pine branch over an open flame until the needles are lightly charred and it begins to smoke. Put it in a heat-safe bowl with the lemon peel, cover with a kitchen towel, and let it sit for five minutes. Remove the pine branch, place it in a cocktail shaker with the moonshine and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Put the saké in a chilled martini glass and swirl until the inside of the glass is completely coated. Pour the excess into the shaker, remove the pine branch, add a couple of ice cubes, and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish with pine-smoked lemon peel.

The Friday Tipple: Moment of Zen

Minimalism is in, Boozers. After enduring day after day of record-breaking heat, with no relief in sight, we’ve given up. We expend the minimal amount of energy these days on pretty much everything — cooking, moving, thinking — and so our cocktails have gone the same way. Call it Zen, if you will — less is more.

This led us to one of our summertime favorites — sparkling sake. Cool and refreshing with a pleasant bubbly effervescence, it cheers us up even as the mercury tops 100. But even this charming libation likes to get dressed up a little — and by “a little”, we mean minimally. Which brings us, once again, to cubes. As you know from previous Tipples, we like to add a little zip to hot weather cocktails with frozen additions that subtly enhance the flavor with only a soupçon of effort. Welcome to our version of Zen.

We love the flavor of plum and ginger with chilled sake, and combined them into zesty little ice cubes that melt slowly into the sparkling sake, altering its essence with every sip. We call it a Moment of Zen. You can call it a welcome respite from reality.

Moment of Zen

Plums are in season now, but they can become overly ripe quickly, making them great candidates for juicing. Frankly, it’s a bit messy, but only takes a few seconds. Just take several soft plums, slit them open on one side (but don’t cut all the way through), and squeeze the heck out of them into a bowl. Strain out the pulp, add a little grated fresh ginger, and pour into an ice cube tray. If you don’t have a silicone ice cube tray, now’s the time to invest — the cubes will pop out perfectly every time.

1 plum-ginger frozen cube

4 ounces chilled sparkling sake

Chill a small wine glass for 15 minutes in the freezer. Pour in the sparkling sake, drop in the cube, and plop yourself into a hammock for your own personal moment of zen.

The Friday Tipple: Sake Shandy

Surely the Shandy was born from those two summertime favorites, lemonade and beer. Common across Europe, the Shandy in its many forms (beer with Sprite, beer with 7-Up, beer with Coca-Cola) is often an accepted low-dose cocktail for the kiddies on special occasions — no sickly-sweet Shirley Temples need apply.

In the Good Booze test kitchen, we tried out a commercial sparkling lemonade with our beer, but it wasn’t quite right (ah, how we sacrifice for you, loyal Boozers). Inspired by the Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, we opted instead to make a puckery fresh lemonade sweetened with the pickled ginger syrup — which led us to think of sushi, and, ultimately, of our favorite Japanese libation, sake. Like beer, sake is a beverage brewed from grains (rice); it has the warmth of whiskey wrapped in the subtle smoothness of a rich wine. The flavor is so hard to describe that it has its own word, coined, of course, by the Japanese: umami, which basically means “Man, that’s so good, I can’t even describe it.”

Tart and fresh with a spicy ginger undertone, the Sake Shandy is a staycation in a glass. Kampai! 

Sake Shandy

1/3 cup fresh chilled lemonade, sweetened to taste with Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup

1/4 cup chilled dry sake (we like SakéOne’s Momokawa Silver — it has nice apple-y undertones that complement the plums)

1 ripe plum, cut into chunks

A few slices of pickled ginger (use the leftovers from the syrup recipe!)

Chilled Japanese beer (we used Kirin)

The key to this drink is for the ingredients to be nice and cold. Put the plum chunks, ginger slices, and sake in the bottom of a tall chilled glass and place it in the freezer for about 5 or 10 minutes. Then add the lemonade and pour the cold beer over the top, preferably with a nice frothy head of foam. You don’t need to wear a silky kimono to enjoy this, but it doesn’t hurt either.

No time to make the pickled ginger syrup? That’s cool. Grate a little fresh ginger into the lemonade — not too much, though, because it can overwhelm quickly.