Beer Syrup

Beer Syrup

Simple syrups are generally just sugar and water reduced and thickened; you can play with these flavors by using different kinds of liquids, adding fruit or vegetables, and a variety of spices. A beer syrup is just what it sounds like — substituting beer for water to create an intensified sweet beer flavoring for cocktails, like our own Dilbert’s Dilemma, a new twist on the classic Boilermaker.

8 ounces of beer (we prefer a dark beer, and since it will be in a 12-ounce bottle or can, you can enjoy the remaining four ounces while you make the syrup)

1/2 cup raw sugar (use any sugar you like, of course)

a few whole cardamom pods

one small vanilla bean, split

Put all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a low boil, stirring gently. Reduce heat to low and allow to reduce by half, generally about 30 minutes. Remove from heat, remove cardamom pods and vanilla bean, and cool thoroughly. Can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Published in: on March 14, 2014 at 11:27 am  Comments (6)  
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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: Gin Gone Viral

It’s that time of year, Boozers. Early autumn sniffles running rampant around the office and germ-covered darlings traipsing gaily all over the house after a day spent incubating viruses at school. No amount of hand sanitizer can save you from the scourge of the common cold.

And, so, we turn to gin. Generations of Brits can’t possibly be wrong: gin is the cure-all for what ails you, or, at the very least, it puts you to sleep until that nasty little virus has worked its way through your system. Luckily for those of us on this side of the pond, American artisanal gins are popping up across the country, so a local gin is likely close at hand.

Gin, like beer, is hardly a one-note alcohol — it benefits from different combinations of herbs, roots, and other ingredients that create unique flavor profiles in each variety. For our Gin Gone Viral, we were inspired by a newcomer in our local gin world, Green Hat Gin from New Columbia Distillers; its notes of citrus and lemongrass layered with traditional juniper make it an excellent candidate for sipping while tucked up in bed with a hot water bottle and a box of tissues. Gezundheit!

Gin Gone Viral

A hot lemongrass simple syrup warms up this tasty toddy; the syrup not only tastes luscious, but the lemongrass also provides natural antioxidants that are purported to combat colds and other unpleasant ailments.

2 ounces gin, room temperature or even barely warm

1 teaspoon lemongrass simple syrup (recipe below)

1 fresh sage leaf (we used a pineapple sage variety, but any will do)

to make the lemongrass simple syrup: Take a lemongrass stalk and whack it against a table or countertop, to help release the oils. Then chop it into 3-inch pieces. Put a half-cup of granulated sugar and a half-cup of water in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir so that the sugar begins to dissolve and add the lemongrass pieces. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened. Discard lemongrass pieces.

to assemble the Gin Gone Viral: Lightly bruise a fresh sage leaf in the bottom of a glass. Heat the lemongrass syrup until quite hot, then place about a teaspoonful in the glass. Top with gin and drink immediately.


The Friday Tipple: Bikini Shot

Bathing suit season is on the horizon, Boozers. Buxom babes are overtaking magazine covers, glowing with cocoa butter on far-flung tropical beaches. Whether you hope to be a buxom babe or merely to attract a buxom babe, the approach of Spring Break prompts us to ponder the winter flab so cleverly hidden by chunky sweaters. It’s time to detox.

While we could consider exercising a little more — or at all — we prefer to go the route of a desperate last-minute liquid diet in order to shed those unwanted pounds. Protein shakes, spinach smoothies, and lemon juice spiked with cayenne are all on the menu, but as happy hour approaches, we feel the need for a little special cocktail to reward ourselves for all that self-denial.

Our detox drink of choice is our Bikini Shot — combining the health benefits of kiwi fruit, laden with vitamin C and E and colon-cleansing dietary fiber, with a vodka-laced grapefruit granita. It starts off tart and cold and ends up sweet and smooth, not unlike easing yourself into a pool. The Bikini Shot may not actually make that saggy old Speedo fit any better, but it sure will make you feel like a million bucks. Go ahead — hit the beach. Hang ten!

Bikini Shot

A granita is similar in texture to a shaved ice, made with fresh fruit juice, sugar, and, in this case, alcohol. We used Square One Cucumber Vodka for this recipe, as the cucumber essence adds a fresh note to the grapefruit, but it would work beautifully with gin. We’ve also had success with a blackberry granita made with Catoctin Creek’s Mosby’s Spirit, which has a certain grappa-like quality that makes us feel like we are vacationing on the Amalfi coast.

One whole grapefruit, juiced and retaining some of the pulp

3 ounces vodka or gin

2 ripe kiwi fruits, peeled and cut into chunks

1 orange, juiced

1 teaspoon light agave nectar

To make the granita: combine the grapefruit juice, pulp, and vodka or gin and pour into a shallow freezer-safe dish (like a pie pan). Place uncovered in the freezer for an hour, then scrape with a spoon to loosen the ice crystals. Return to the freezer for another hour. It can be scraped into a freezer-safe container at this point and kept in the freezer until ready to use.

To make the kiwi fruit juice: Put kiwi, orange juice, and agave nectar in a blender and blend until smooth. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds (optional). Chill for 30 minutes.

Pour two ounces kiwi juice into a shot glass or aperitif glass; top with a spoonful of grapefruit granita. Enjoy.

Tipple d’Amour: Valentine Wine

Cupid’s arrow is aiming at you, Boozers. We all search for love on Valentine’s Day, whether we choose to admit it or not; some of us find it in the arms of a significant other, or in a cuddly mutt, or in a well-endowed cupcake and an evening spent watching the Millionaire Matchmaker marathon. Love is in the eye of the beholder.

If you’re a bit of a Valentine’s Day cheapskate still looking to sweep that Special Someone off his or her feet, then our Valentine Wine is for you. It combines inexpensive red wine with a high-quality whiskey for a loving cup that packs a bit of a punch — a perfect libation for spending the night in, perhaps with a gourmet selection of Chinese take-away. Add a Whitman’s Sampler and the double Snuggie: the rest is up to you.

Valentine Wine

As our loyal Boozers know, we’ve been having a bit of a love affair with Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye and have found many uses for it — perhaps too many uses… There are several wine cocktails that incorporate rum, brandy, and whiskey, and we love the spicy flavor of rye with a rich red wine. You really can go for a $6.99 bottle of wine here if you like — read the label and pick the one that promises a hint of berries and chocolate.

Red wine (get what you like: a table red is good, as is a pinot noir or even a merlot)

Rye whiskey (yes, we like Catoctin Creek, but you knew that)

Fresh raspberries


Place 3 or 4 raspberries in the bottom of a wine glass and sprinkle with a 1/2 teaspoon sugar. Top with 3/4 ounce rye whiskey (a single-malt whiskey like Wasmund’s is nice too, or a small-batch bourbon like Basil Hayden’s) and very lightly muddle the raspberries, but don’t mash them to pieces. Allow to macerate for 15 minutes, then top with red wine. Float an additional raspberry on top if you want to impress. Bon chance!


The Friday Tipple: The Boxcar

We’re lucky bastards, Boozers. The nice folks at Catoctin Creek Distilling Company blessed us with an early sample of their 1757 Virginia Brandy — still young and not quite ready for prime time — and we’ve been contemplating it for several weeks.  Richly mellow and lightly fruity, brandy can truly elevate winter cocktails to a new level of warm delight.

There are several cocktails that feature brandy, such as the Brandy Alexander and the Vieux Carré, but we weren’t inspired until we decided to check out the Boxcar Tavern, a new establishment in our area. As always, we eagerly examined the signature cocktail menu, and, while we were intrigued by the nutmeg syrup used in the whiskey-based Warm Winter Night, we were surprised that a place called the Boxcar wouldn’t have a signature Sidecar. Just seems like a natural fit.

So we’ve created it ourselves: the Boxcar. A classic Sidecar features brandy (or cognac, and we’re sure you know that all cognac is brandy but not all brandy is cognac), Cointreau, and lemon juice. But that nutmeg syrup just begs for brandy, and, with images of boxcars trundling north through the swamps of central Florida piled high with citrus, we felt that fresh oranges were a natural complement. The result is a gorgeous little burst of winter spice with subtle notes of spring break sunshine. Santé!


As you know, we hate to see dusty bottles of so-called “seasonal” liquors languish in the cupboard, so we eschewed the Cointreau, generally used in a traditional Sidecar, in favor of triple sec. You may only think of triple sec as used in summer margaritas, but its softly bitter orange flavor works just as well as Cointreau in this application.

3/4 ounce freshly-squeezed orange juice (we used a couple of clementines; mandarins and tangerines would also work quite well)

3/4 ounce triple sec

1.5 ounces brandy or cognac

Scant teaspoon nutmeg syrup (basically, just add a 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to 1/4 cup of simple syrup)

Sugar and lemon, for coating the rim of the glass

Run a slice of lemon around the edge of a martini or cosmopolitan glass and dip in sugar. Put the orange juice, triple sec, brandy, and nutmeg syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and enjoy.


The Friday Tipple: Stormy Margarita

It’s Friday the 13th, Boozers. We’re not superstitious but a stiff drink on this gloomy winter day would certainly be most welcome. Our thoughts naturally turned to a Dark and Stormy, which is truly a season-less cocktail, but then we came across a rum punch recipe from Padma Lakshmi, the goddess of Top Chef, when she also commented about a salted lime juice popular in India. The rest, they say, is history.

The base of our Stormy Margarita is a lime-ginger soda that we quickly whipped up and topped off quite simply with a big shot of Gosling’s 151, a lovely dark rum that matches our mood. Astonshingly, the first sip seems to help the skies to clear, and, by the time you drain the last drop, you’ll be dancing across the rooftops in joyous abandon. Or singin’ in the rain.

There’s nothing like a stormy drink to put a little pep in your step. Dust off those tap shoes, Boozers.

Stormy Margarita

Fresh ginger and lime are key to the bold flavors of this drink. We made our soda with a slug of Stone’s Ginger Wine, which adds complexity, but we also think it would work well with a splash of dry sherry. We also used light agave nectar, because it is not cloyingly sweet, but you could substitute sugar or honey to taste.

1 fresh lime, juiced

1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 ounce Stone’s Ginger Wine (or dry sherry)

1 tablespoon light agave nectar (adjust to your taste)

large pinch of Kosher salt

1/4 cup club soda

2 ounces Gosling’s 151 Black Seal Rum

lime wheel for garnish

Place first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker and let sit for 10 minutes, then add ice and shake vigorously. Add club soda and swirl to combine, then strain into a glass over ice (this step removes some of the grated ginger so it doesn’t get caught in your teeth, but still leaves a strong ginger essence). Carefully pour rum over the top and garnish with lime. Cheers!


The Friday Tipple: Birthday Cake Shot

Happy birthday, Boozers! Well, maybe it’s not your birthday yet, but we had a birthday here at Good Booze this week, and we are still celebrating. You may enjoy a little special libation on your own birthday, and we couldn’t agree more. So, we went trolling around on the glorious Google world looking for the legendary Birthday Cake Shooter. It’s purported to taste like a birthday cake — who could resist?

The basic recipe calls for either citrus or vanilla vodka, paired with Frangelico and a sugar-coated lemon slice on the side. However, with apologies to Frangelico, we find it a bit too sweet, so we went for Nocello instead — an Italian walnut liqueur that is slightly more subtle. And, while there are plenty of vanilla vodkas on the market, it’s a breeze to infuse your own, and, because it was our birthday, we wanted a really good vodka, not just some run-of-the-mill variety. We recently came across Boyd & Blair Vodka in our quest to drink local first; they are not exactly right around the corner, but their distillery is close enough to fall into what we like to call the Mid-Atlantic Liquor Watershed.

While we’re not quite sure that the Birthday Cake Shot tastes exactly like a slice of birthday cake, it is certainly a tasty little morsel that may help distract you from your advancing age. Just don’t forget to blow out the candle first. Many happy returns!

Birthday Cake Shot

1 ounce Vanilla Vodka (we like to infuse Boyd & Blair vodka —instructions below)

1 ounce Nocello liqueur

1 lemon slice, coated in sugar

Shake vodka and Nocello in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a shot glass, with the lemon on the side. Shoot down the Birthday Cake, then suck on the lemon. Yum.

How to infuse vodka with vanilla:

It’s embarrassingly easy. Put a cup of vodka in a mason jar. Add a vanilla bean that has been split down the center. Let sit in a cool dark place for a few days, remove the vanilla bean, and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Raspberry Vinegar Rickey

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on the Good Booze kitchen, you might be expecting us to break out the rum and passionfruit to make that classic New Orleans cocktail consumed by the gallon up and down Bourbon Street. However, we’ve decided to adopt a rawther British stiff upper lip and stockpiled gin instead.

The Gin Rickey was recently named as the official cocktail of Washington, DC; this classic combination of gin, lime juice, and club soda is native to DC, created in 1893 by Colonel Joe Rickey and bartender George Williamson at Rickey’s bar, Shoomaker’s, just a stone’s throw from the White House. DC drinks guru Derek Brown likes to call the Rickey “air conditioning in a glass”, as it is particularly refreshing in the midst of our swampy summers, but we think it’s pretty tasty in any weather.

This Friday’s Tipple, the Raspberry Vinegar Rickey, takes advantage of the abundance of late-summer fruit that we used in our recent Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar. Raspberry pairs beautifully with gin, its tart sweetness combining with the gin’s juniper berry essence to create a cool pine forest freshness. We caramelized some lime wheels as a garnish, which add a slightly burnt sugar undertone to counter the acidity of the vinegar.

Mix up a Rickey anytime you’re caught in the middle of a natural disaster. It somehow makes it seem much more… civilized. Pip-pip!

Raspberry Vinegar Rickey

Gin (try Juniper Green Organic or, here in the DC area, Catoctin Creek Watershed)

Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar (didn’t make it yet? we have an alternative below)

Club soda

Lime wheels


To make the caramelized limes: Dredge the lime wheels in sugar. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat; when the pan is hot, cook the lime wheels on each side until just lightly golden. They will be a little sticky; set aside to cool (they can also be refrigerated at this point for a day or two).

To assemble the drink: Place the caramelized lime wheel in the bottom of in a tall glass or a large wine glass and lightly muddle the fleshy center, then remove and set aside. Add one tablespoon of Raspberry Vinegar, 1.5 ounces of gin, and stir. Add several ice cubes and top with club soda. Stir well, then top with the reserved lime wheel.

No Raspberry Vinegar? Shame on you. Luckily, we are steeped in American ingenuity, just like old Colonel Rickey, and have a plan. Take four or five fresh raspberries, a 1/2 teaspoon of red wine vinegar, and a teaspoon of sugar and muddle together in the bottom of the glass (after you’ve muddled the lime wheel). Let the sugar dissolve, then complete the rest of the above recipe.

Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar

“…the average woman considers she has lunched luxuriously if she swallows a couple of macaroons, half a chocolate eclair, and a raspberry vinegar…”

Very Good, Jeeves, P.G. Wodehouse

Being only familiar with raspberry vinegar as something we make to mix with olive oil for a nice summer salad, we at Good Booze have puzzled over the above quote from a favorite Roaring Twenties short story collection for years. Why would a woman have raspberry vinegar with her eclair? Doesn’t sound appetizing, let alone luxurious, at all, but perhaps prohibition had rattled P.G. Wodehouse to the extent that he thought a glass of vinegar was preferable to bathtub gin.

But all was revealed recently when we read about the line of fruit drinking vinegars now available on the retail market by Pok Pok Tom, a popular Thai restaurant in Portland, Oregon. A quick search on Google revealed a New York Times article about — wait for it — raspberry vinegar that is sweetened and boiled into a syrup. Add just a teaspoon or so to a glass of club soda and what you have is an incredibly refreshing drink that is both sweet and acidic, with the faintest hint of vinegar to help you digest all those macaroons.

We see a lot of cocktail potential in this charming reminder of a bygone era — so keep your eye out for this Friday’s Tipple. You’ve got plenty of time to make your own drinking vinegar before then!

Roaring Twenties Raspberry Vinegar

Drinking vinegar recipes are largely the same across the board, just varying the types of fruit and vinegar, and sometimes using honey instead of sugar. Here’s our version, which yielded almost 4 cups total.

2 16-ounce bottles of red wine vinegar

3 cups fresh raspberries

5 cups sugar

Put the vinegar and raspberries in a large bowl, cover, and let sit for up to three days (or even four, to deepen the flavor). Uncover and mash the raspberries into the vinegar, then strain the liquid into a saucepan. Add the sugar and bring just to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes, let cool, and bottle. Most recipes say it will keep refrigerated for three months, but we doubt it will last that long, simply because we will slurp it down too quickly.