The Garden Tipple: Strawberry Vinegar Negroni

Strawberry Vinegar Negroni

We’re full of vim and vinegar this week, dear Boozers. It’s Negroni Week, when our favorite magazine teams up with our favorite Italian liqueur to encourage local watering holes to mix up negroni cocktails for charity. A classic negroni is simple and elegant with just three ingredients: gin, Campari, and vermouth, generally served with a twist of orange. What’s nice about it is that while it is just perfect as it is, it’s also easy to riff off of it for fun new variations.

And so we went out to the farmers market and picked up a whole lot of fresh early summer strawberries, since our own cocktail garden’s strawberry plants aren’t yet at peak production, and made a beautiful and slightly tart strawberry-basil drinking vinegar. A drinking vinegar serves much the same purpose as a bitter liqueur like Campari, working as an excellent digestive agent when mixed with club soda. But, hell, we just like it anyway, especially when mixed up in a cocktail. So go out and have a negroni for charity, then come home and have a Strawberry Vinegar Negroni with friends.

Strawberry Vinegar Negroni

We love the flavor of Campari and didn’t want to replace it entirely with the Strawberry-Basil Drinking Vinegar, so we chose to create a Campari candied orange garnish, which is as simple as putting a 1/2 cup of Campari, 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sugar, and some fresh orange slices in a small saucepan and simmering over low heat until all that’s left is a really thick syrup coating the orange slices. Remove to a baking rack and let cool completely.

1 ounce gin (support your local distillery — we like Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin)

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce Strawberry-Basil Drinking Vinegar

chilled club soda

candied Campari orange slice for garnish (you can also just marinate orange slices in Campari for a couple of hours as an alternative garnish)

Put first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and stir vigorously. Pour into a glass with fresh ice, top with chilled club soda, and stir again. Garnish with candied Campari orange slice.

 

 

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The Friday Tipple: Equalitini

Equalitini

It’s time to put down those protest signs, Boozers. The Justices have packed up their robes for the weekend and it’s time for a wee drink. Or perhaps two — holding the scales of justice is a tough job. Time for a martini.

A martini is a perfect marriage of just a few essential elements, like any relationship. For some, a true martini can be made only with gin, while others eschew anything but vodka. Shaken or stirred, an olive or a twist of lemon — these are all a matter of opinion. We don’t judge, we just mix. That’s what we call Equalitini.

Equalitini

Unlike Prop 8, V8 believes in the concept of E pluribus unum: out of many, one. This tasty little vegetable juice adds a spring-like depth to this cocktail, but it’s the chunk of fresh horseradish — a root that is readily available in most grocery stores during this Passover season — that gives it a real kick in the pants. 

2 ounces gin or vodka (we used Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin, but we firmly support your right to choose any liquor you prefer)

1 ounce V8 or other vegetable juice

1-inch chunk of fresh horseradish, peeled

splash of vermouth

two strips of paper-thin fresh horseradish, for garnish

Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with several cubes of ice. Shake vigorously then strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with strips of horseradish.

The Friday Tipple: Champagne Creamsicle

Champagne CreamsicleWe’re feeling fancy, Boozers. During this festive season, we like to try out new recipes and a tasty Blood Orange Soup with Frozen Sabayon that we whipped up for Christmas dinner spawned a thought: wouldn’t this make a lovely cocktail, perhaps to ring in the New Year? Oh yes indeed.

And so the Champagne Creamsicle is born. Don’t be afraid of the sabayon, even as you ask yourself “What the heck is a sabayon anyway?”. Basically, it’s a custard, and, when you freeze it, it becomes a frozen custard. It’s luscious and creamy, yet, when paired with citrus, is perfectly balanced. If you’re looking for a way to inspire a new year that is rich, light, and fresh, then look no further than the Champagne Creamsicle. Happy New Year!

Champagne Creamsicle

The frozen sabayon can be made a day ahead and frozen, and will keep in the freezer for a week or two before it becomes a bit crumbly. We added sweet vermouth to provide some contrast in flavor, then created a citrus simple syrup for the champagne, lightly kissed with Bittermens Hiver Amer bitter orange liqueur. If you can’t find Hiver Amer (although we highly recommend it), you can use Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or Triple Sec instead — or even an orange-infused vodka.

4 ounces chilled champagne or sparkling wine

1.5 ounces Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup (recipe below)

1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice

1 large spoonful Frozen Sabayon (recipe below)

Stir first three ingredients together in a cocktail shaker and pour into a champagne coupe (or wide-mouthed wine glass). Top with spoonful of Frozen Sabayon and serve immediately.

Spiked Citrus Simple Syrup: Place a half of a grapefruit (chopped roughly) and a whole clementine (halved) into a small saucepan. Cover with water and add 2/3 cup granulated sugar. Simmer over low heat for at least 30 minutes or until liquid has thickened and reduced by half. Strain and cool, then add 3 ounces orange liqueur. Will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Frozen Sabayon with Sweet Vermouth

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sweet vermouth

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

a few drops of lemon juice

Put the egg yolks, vermouth, and sugar in a heatproof bowl; bring a cup of water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan and reduce heat to low. Place heatproof bowl over the saucepan and whisk until mixture becomes thick and creamy — this will only take a few minutes. When the custard is thick enough to hold its shape (i.e. you can pull the whisk through the custard and see a pattern), place the bowl in a bowl of ice water and continue whisking for another minute to cool it down.

In a stand mixer, whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the custard into the whipped cream until it is completely incorporated, and add a few drops of lemon juice. Put into a container and freeze for 8 hours before serving. Adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz.

The Friday Tipple: Power Outage Martini

It’s time for a drink, Boozers. Seriously. What with hurricanes and nor’easters and presidential elections, it’s really all there is left to do. If you’re one of the many thousands of people sitting in the dark right now, well, then you’re probably not actually reading this, but we’re sure your American ingenuity will lead you to the same conclusion.

When the power’s out for days on end,  you find yourself eating strange things out of cans and jars, those odd staples that sit dust-covered in the back of the cupboard. These are the days that lead people to create such delicacies as baked bean-infused vodka — a desperate cry for help that clearly should send utility workers scurrying to get those lines back up before gin bottles start being stuffed with the odds and ends leftover from last year’s holiday gift basket.

When scrounging around in our pantry, we found one of those gigantic jars of sauerkraut, which seemed just about perfect for our Power Outage Martini. This is one of those times when our motto is “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, so use whatever you have handy. Sauerkraut, however, is chock full of vitamin C and other goodies and its salty goodness makes a tasty cocktail when nature has turned against you. Drink up — Thanksgiving’s coming, and if you thought the storms were tough, then you haven’t tasted Grandma’s turkey yet.

Power Outage Martini

When the power’s out, you don’t have ice, but, luckily for the good folks in New York and New Jersey, you’ve got snow. Just plunge that cocktail shaker in a snowdrift for a few minutes and you’ve got a frosty libation ready to suck down before the next storm hits.

8 ounces gin or vodka (we prefer Catoctin Creek’s Watershed Gin or Boyd & Blair Vodka)

1/2 cup sauerkraut

Vermouth

Put the sauerkraut into a jar with the gin or vodka and let it sit for a few hours while you clean up tree branches or write nasty letters to the utility company. Then strain off 3 ounces of the liquor into a cocktail shaker. Chill it in the snow — or shake with ice, if you’re so lucky. Pour a few drops of vermouth into a chilled martini glass and swirl around to coat the inside of the glass, then pour in the gin or vodka and add a spoonful of the infused sauerkraut.

The Friday Tipple: Robert Frost-ini

We’re waxing poetic, Boozers. As we cozy up into the holiday season and the darkest days of winter, we yearn for snowy woods and horse-drawn sleighs, even as we profess a preference for global warming. There is something about the chill stillness of a December night that unites us all to transcend the boundaries of religion, geography, and culture.

And so we bring you the Robert Frost-ini. His poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” inspired us to create this December night in a glass, by combining our quick rosemary-infused vodka with a splash of Catoctin Creek’s Pearousia pear brandy. At the bottom of the glass, like a bright red cardinal perched on the snowy branch of a birch tree, is a soupçon of cranberry simple syrup, beckoning to you with its lip-puckering tartness.

Though your friends and family may be flung far and wide, you can all share in the welcoming darkness of December, as the days slowly begin to lengthen again into the promise of spring. Enjoy the moment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep/But I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep/And miles to go before I sleep. 

The Robert Frost-ini

2 ounces rosemary-infused vodka (recipe here)

1/2 ounce Pearousia or pear brandy

a few drops of Italian sweet vermouth

scant teaspoon cranberry simple syrup (recipe below)

reserved cranberries

Put vodka, Pearousia and vermouth in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour cranberry simple syrup and a single cranberry into the bottom of a chilled martini glass. Strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the glass and enjoy.

To make cranberry simple syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1/2 cup frozen cranberries

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon gum arabic mixed with 1 teaspoon water (optional)

Combine first four ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens into a syrup*. Reserve cranberries and strain the syrup, then allow to cool.

* Optional: at this point, you can take the pan off the heat and mix in gum arabic paste, which will make the syrup thicker. Not necessary, but it has a nice texture.