The Friday Tipple: The Resolution

The Resolution

Ah, Boozers, we know how you feel. You rang in the new year with boisterous joy, then resolved to undo all the damage of the holiday season — Grandma’s butter cookies, those three fruitcakes, and a pound or two of chocolate snowmen. Yet here we are, just two weeks into the new year and your good intentions are already a dream deferred.

Our philosophy is to turn any resolution into an excuse for happy hour. Go to the gym, then finish up that final push-up at happy hour. Eat a salad, go to happy hour. Throw out the Christmas tree… well, you get it. It’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.

So we’ve decided this week to kill two birds with one stone and turn a health drink into our happy hour cocktail of choice. Kombucha, a kind of carbonated tea drink, is popping up everywhere these days, purportedly chock full of probiotics and other healthy junk, and makes a great base for a cocktail. You can even make it at home, although, as it takes a few weeks to properly ferment, you may want to just buy some at the health food store tonight on your way home. Add a slug of good-for-you gin (it’s full of herbs, right?) and you’re good to go. Resolutions be damned.

The Resolution

Kombucha has a lovely vinegary fizzy quality somewhat akin to fermented cider and it pairs really well with a variety of herbs and spices. If you make your own, you can experiment with different ingredients, and if you use a store-bought variety, you can still add some flavors to make it uniquely your own. As to liquor, you can really use whatever you like, but we prefer the herbaceous qualities of gin here.

1 fresh orange

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1.5 ounces gin (we enjoy our local Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, which is organic and so, of course, extra healthy)

1 ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur

chilled Kombucha (when we use store-bought, we like our local Capital Kombucha)

fresh orange peel for garnish

Squeeze the orange directly into the bottom of a tall glass, add the cinnamon and stir well to combine. Add several ice cubes, then gin, St. Germaine, and top off with Kombucha. Stir briskly, garnish with orange peel, and drink to your good health.

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.

The Friday Tipple: Stormchaser

Frankenstorm is bearing down upon us, Boozers. The aisles of the grocery stores are being stripped bare while the lines at the liquor stores are stretching around the block. Because there’s no way to survive a behemoth of a hurricane-meets-nor’easter without Pop-Tarts and whiskey.

We say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Batten down the hatches and hunker down while the wind howls down the chimney to the drip-drip-drip of rain falling into strategically-placed buckets. Fire up the flashlights and play Scrabble with the kiddies. And warm your bones with a Stormchaser, the perfect toddy for those of us who prefer to experience the weather from inside a snug home.

And if the predictions of Frankenstorm are grossly exaggerated, what of it? You’ve stocked up and settled in — just rake the leaves next weekend.

Stormchaser

“Waste not, want not” is our motto, and if you tried our Occupy Whiskey cocktail a few weeks ago, then you may still have some apple-beer syrup in the fridge. Today’s tipple uses that luscious syrup in a warming tea, which is then chased by a shot of whiskey. Simplicity can be delicious.

6 ounces hot tea of your choice (we used a fruity Darjeeling)

2 teaspoons apple-beer syrup (recipe below)

2 ounces whiskey (we like the spicy taste of Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 fresh twist of grapefruit

To make the apple-beer syrup: Put 1/2 cup of sugar, one cup of beer (choose a seasonal fall variety — we used Port City Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest), and 1/2 cup of freshly grated Granny Smith apple in a small saucepan and combine well. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the syrup has thickened. Strain well and set aside to cool. Will keep refrigerated for two weeks.

Pour the tea into a heat-safe mug or glass and stir in the apple-beer syrup. Pour the whiskey into a shot glass and let the grapefruit twist soak in it while you enjoy your tea. Then sip (or shoot, if you must) the whiskey while the storm passes by.

The Friday Tipple: Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

Achoo, Boozers! We’ve just suffered through our first sniffles of the season and were sorely in need of relief — so we grabbed the bottle of rum faster than you can say “decongestant”. It being the holiday season, we wondered if we could combine our purely medicinal hot toddy with a somewhat more festive hot buttered rum. The verdict? Why, yes you can.

Many people associate hot buttered rum with the winter season, but most have never actually had one. Granted, it does sound a little odd: boiling water, rum, butter, sugar, and spices. It seems even more strange to drink butter, but when you consider that you’ll happily dollop whipped cream — a close cousin of butter — on a hot chocolate (or, even better, our Tex-Mex Cocoa), then it begins to sound more palatable.

For our Hot Buttered Rum Toddy, we chose to use an orange spice herbal tea; we also think it would work equally well with an apple spiced tea, or a holiday-inspired tea like Comfort and Joy. We used Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, but you could substitute your favorite liquor, from a spiced rum to gin to bourbon to Grand Marnier. Forget the Nyquil — mix up your toddy and tuck yourself up in bed with a box of Kleenex and a few classic holiday movies. You might almost enjoy yourself. Gesundheit!

Hot Buttered Rum Toddy

The key to this drink is, naturally, the spiced butter compound. If you prefer to make this dairy-free, you can easily substitute a vegan butter spread.

1/4 cup butter, softened

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger

Tea of your choice

Boiling water

Rum, or other liquor, of your choice

To make the spiced butter compound: mix the softened butter, sugar and spices in a small bowl until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, about one hour.

Steep the tea in 5 ounces of boiling water for 3 or 4 minutes. Add up to two ounces of rum (depending on how bad your cold is), stir well, then top with a spoonful of the chilled butter compound. Enjoy!