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.

Advertisements

A Springtime Tipple: Persephone’s Dream

Persephone's Dream

We’ve missed you, Boozers. As we finally stretch our limbs after our winter’s hibernation, we’re coated with a thin layer of pollen and immersed in the scents of wisteria on the vine. Dearest Persephone, it’s about time you came to call.

Spring was in full force last weekend in Raleigh, and the Carolinas could not have been more welcoming, cloaked in greenery, humidity, and sunshine, a glimpse of the summer ahead. A visit to the North Carolina State Farmers Market revealed a treasure trove of truly fresh spring produce we can still only dream of in more northern climes: asparagus, ramps, frost collards, and, best of all, spring strawberries.

The strawberries of springtime recall the bittersweet story of Persephone, who was forced to spend four months of each year in the underworld, dreaming of the world she’d left behind; spring could only arrive when she was able to return above ground to be reunited with her mother. Spring strawberries, like Persephone, return hesitantly but joyously to the garden each year, the lightly sweet cousins of their summertime counterparts, holding within them the promise of carefree days ahead.

Persephone’s Dream

Campari tends to be a summertime tipple, but there’s no reason not to enjoy it at any time, especially to provide a slightly bitter counterpoint to the sweetness of spring strawberries. We’ve added a floral note with a splash of creme de violette, but you can achieve a similar quality with elderflower, rose, or even maraschino liqueur — start with smaller quantities then add more to suit your own taste.

2 tablespoons fresh strawberry purée

1 ounce Creme Yvette (or any of the substitutions suggested above)

1/2 ounce Campari

2 ounces chilled seltzer water

Fresh lime twist

Make the purée by liquefying 1/2 cup fresh strawberries in a blender or food processor with 1 teaspoon of light agave syrup and 1 tablespoon of water.

To make the drink, put the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake well. Remove the lid, add the chilled seltzer and stir well, then strain into a coupe. Twist the lime over the top of the drink to release the essential oils then drop the twist into the drink. Enjoy immediately.

The Friday Tipple: Fresh Strawberry Ale

Fresh Strawberry Ale

Summer breezes are blowing, Boozers. With Memorial Day just around the corner and farmers markets bursting at the seams with spring fruit, we’re flushed with that heady anticipation of early summer delights, before the humidity settles in to dampen our enthusiasm. “Grab it while it lasts” is our mantra.

For the next few months, we’ll be offering up a series of cocktail recipes we like to call Good Booze in the Garden, and today we’re giving you a bit of a preview. Strawberries are growing in our cocktail garden right now, sweet little morsels of sunshine beckoning to us with their insouciant freshness. Recently, we noticed an advertisement for a commercial brand of strawberry ale and thought how nice it would be if our own favorite local brews had a bit of a strawberry twist. It was only a tiny little leap for us to realize that we had everything we needed for our own Fresh Strawberry Ale — literally in our own backyard.

It’s embarrassingly simple, but let that be our little secret. Enjoy.

Fresh Strawberry Ale

You don’t have to grow your own strawberries to make this treat — pick them up at the farmers market, steal them from your neighbor’s garden, visit a pick-your-own farm, or just get them at the grocery store. However, we strongly advise that you procure locally-grown strawberries simply because they will have the sweetest and freshest flavor now that they are in season.

1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh strawberries

1 chilled 12-ounce beer of your choice (support your local brewer — we used DC Brau’s The Public, a citrusy pale ale which complements the strawberries nicely)

Yes, that’s it.

Place strawberries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle with a wooden spoon until the juice begins to run out — they shouldn’t be pulverized, but slightly mashed. Pour in the beer and stir gently. Let sit for a few minutes, then strain into a glass.

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.

 

Arrr, pirates & rum punch!

Avast, me hearties, we are still caught up in yesterday’s Talk Like a Pirate Day because today is, ironically, National Rum Punch Day. With the autumn equinox just around the corner, what could be better than sucking down a little Caribbean delight as summer gently slips away? Now, we are inclined to stroll to the local market and grab some late summer berries — strawberries and raspberries are still running rampant in many parts of the country — which we can throw into a blender with a little freshly-squeezed orange juice to make a great mixer. To that, we’d add a lime-infused simple syrup (or even our own Blackberry Lavender Simple Syrup) and, our old favorite, Mount Gay Rum (ah, Barbados…), topping it all off with a sprinkle of Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate, a little fresh nutmeg, and maybe some fresh fruit impaled on one of those little pink plastic swords. Perfection!

However, if you want to go a little more traditional, or don’t feel like hunting down fresh fruit, then check this out for the next best thing: Mount Gay Rum Punch.

Yo ho ho!