The Autumn Tipple: Royal Pear

Royal Pear

Happy anniversary, dear Boozers. Actually, it’s not our anniversary, nor may it be yours, but we are celebrating the 5th anniversary of one of our favorite local distillers, Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, makers of distinctly delicious rye whisky, gin, and brandy. Founded by a charming pair, Becky and Scott Harris — she distills gorgeous liquor, he charms the public — they are the perfect example of what can happen when you throw caution to the wind and take the plunge to follow a dream. It’s an example we are pleased to follow, even on our darkest days.

In 2011, just as we began creating these little Tipples for your pleasure, Scott was kind enough to provide us with a bottle of Pearousia, their pear brandy, distilled from a pear wine made at Fabbioli Cellars, a Virginia vineyard. A brandy with just that fleeting sweet hint of pear, like a memory on the edge of your mind as you drift off to sleep at night, we’ve used it in several recipes over the years, but today we are saluting Becky and Scott with the Royal Pear — an uncomplicated cocktail that they can toast to each other with after a long day of delighting others. Cheers!

Royal Pear

Quite simply, we’ve paired beer and brandy with a soupçon of spicy sweetness. For the beer, we like to go out to the local breweries, see what’s fresh, and grab a growler. Look for something that is autumnal, if you can, but not a pumpkin ale — you’re looking for something that has undertones of spice without tasting like a cookie, yet is still light enough not to drown out the brandy. For our version, we looked to Mad Fox Brewing Company — keeping to today’s Virginia theme — and their Kölsch, which has a piney quality that complements the pear brandy quite well.

3 ounces autumnal ale

2 ounces pear brandy

1 tablespoon Wicked Ginger Syrup

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and stir well. Pour into a chilled coupe, garnish with a slice of fresh or dried pear (optional), and enjoy.

That’s it. Boom.

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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: The Hipster

Boozers, we’re hip. As if we didn’t know that already, it was confirmed this week by Forbes Magazine, which named our ‘hood as number 6 on their list of America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods. Imagine that.

Whether you’re hitting the hotspots in FishtownEcho Park, or Montrose (and since you’re a hipster, we’re sure you’ve got the down-low on these hallowed hangouts), it’s critical that you have an ironic twist on a classic cocktail to complement those vintage “Revenge of the Nerds” eyeglasses. We’ve got it, and we call it The Hipster, a modern update on The Boulevardier (what they called the most elegant of cool people at the turn of the last century).

In DC, the hipsters will be heading in droves this weekend to H Street, hopping from the Rock and Roll Hotel to Little Miss Whiskey’s while sampling the Epcot-themed delights of The Queen Vic and Biergarten Haus.

With a resurgence of interest in the beverages consumed by our forebears, this Friday’s Tipple features rye whiskey — we prefer to go local and use Catoctin Creek’s Organic Roundstone Rye, which has a rich caramel undertone perfect for that first crisp fall day when you get to pull on Grandpa’s argyle cardigan with your BDG cigarette jeans — and Italian sweet vermouth. And while we know that hipsters shy away from calling themselves by that moniker (because it would be, well, unhip), it’s okay: just have the drink. Your secret is safe with us.

The Hipster

Since the hip are always looking to spice things up, we muddled some peppercorns into the mix and added a smidge of our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup. The result is a perfect sipping cocktail — sour, sweet, spicy, just like a real hipster.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth (add more if you like a sweeter drink)

1/4 teaspoon black or pink peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (optional — we like the kick)

juice of 1/2 fresh lime

club soda

1 lemon wheel

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a wineglass. Top with 1 or 2 ounces of chilled club soda and lemon wheel. Enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: Hair o’ the Dog

We’re in a bit of a pickle, Boozers. Last weekend, we noticed droves of you already filling up the pubs to get your Irish on, even though it was still a full fortnight until that most hallowed holiday for boozers, St. Patrick’s Day. At first we turned up our noses at the premature shamrocks and green beer and the endless shots of whiskey, but eventually we succumbed. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

Which is why Thirsty Thursday left us with a bit of an aching head this fine morning. Recognizing that we still have another week of Celtic carousing to go, a sure-fire hangover cure was a necessity. Pickle juice has long been touted as a perfect remedy for alcoholic excesses, chock full of the salt and minerals that your body craves after a night of debauchery. We were inspired to create our own Hair o’ the Dog by a jar of spicy Whiskey Sour Pickles from Brooklyn Brine Co. — with Finger Lakes Distilling McKenzie Rye Whiskey incorporated into the brine, it seemed a shame to waste a drop.

Try slamming this with the greasy eggs and bacon that you hope will coat your stomach before you stumble off to the morning staff meeting. Then you might want to lay low in the cubicle for the rest of the day.

And you’re not even Irish, are you? Sláinte, you drunk poseur.

Hair o’ the Dog

Love Potion Number Brine is a local hangover cure popular in our ‘hood at Peregrine Espresso, featuring seriously strong coffee and pickle juice from our local pickle purveyor, Gordy’s Pickle Jar. We’ve taken that notion to the next level by adding a smidge of Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye and our own Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup, which, we believe, helps soothe a queasy tum.

2 ounces really strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature

3/4 ounce whiskey (we like to go local, but go Irish if you prefer)

1 ounce sour pickle juice

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (or simple syrup will do)

A few drops of hot sauce (we like Uncle Brutha’s No. 9)

pickle wedge, for garnish

Mix pickle juice, ginger syrup, and hot sauce together and pour into the bottom of a lowball glass. Pour coffee and whiskey in a cocktail shaker, add an ice cube, and shake well. Strain over the pickle juice and down it in one shot, then eat the pickle wedge.

The Friday Tipple: Pumpkin Pimm’s

Happy Halloween, Boo-zers! You knew we wouldn’t forget. Actually, we started thinking about this Halloween cocktail several weeks ago, when we resurrected our summertime favorite, Pimm’s No. 1, for the Pear & Pimm’s. We may have even started thinking about it many moons before that when we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and finally got our hands on a bottle of pumpkin juice. The empty bottle has been sitting on our kitchen counter for months, mocking us with delicious memories.

There are many recipes for pumpkin juice out there in the world of J.K. Rowling worshippers, and they are all pretty good, but we wanted something a little less sweet so that our Pumpkin Pimm’s would taste like a proper cocktail. Roasting a fresh sugar pumpkin (that’s the smallish variety that weigh just a few pounds, typically used for pies, not the big ones that are carved into jack-o-lanterns) did the trick, giving a slight smokiness to our housemade pumpkin juice.

Merlin’s Beard, that’s a good drink! Careful not to splinch yourself on the way home from that Hallowe’en Feast.

Pumpkin Pimm’s

It doesn’t take long to make your own pumpkin juice, but, if you’re desperate to try this drink before the Three Broomsticks fills up with tipsy witches, then mix a few tablespoons of canned pumpkin with the pear nectar and apple cider and strain — it should still give you a good flavor. 

2 ounces Pimm’s No. 1

1 ounce gin (as always, we recommend Catoctin Creek Organic Watershed Gin)

3 ounces pumpkin juice (our recipe here)

small teaspoon of mashed pumpkin (reserved from juice recipe below)

toasted salted pumpkin seeds for garnish (optional but worth it)

Place first four ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. Top with pumpkin seeds and enjoy.

The Friday Tipple: The Hipster

Boozers, we know you’re hip. Whether you’re hitting the hotspots in Fishtown, Echo Park, or Montrose (and since you’re a hipster, we’re sure you’ve got the down-low on these hallowed hangouts), it’s critical that you have an ironic twist on a classic cocktail to complement those vintage “Revenge of the Nerds” eyeglasses. We’ve got it, and we call it The Hipster, a modern update on The Boulevardier (what they called the most elegant of cool people at the turn of the last century).

In DC, the hipsters will be heading in droves this weekend to H Street, hopping from the Palace of Wonders to Little Miss Whiskey’s while sampling the curried delights of Fojol Bros. Traveling Culinary Carnival and shoveling down blueberries at the Dangerously Delicious pie-eating contest — all during the hoopla of the annual H Street Festival.

With a resurgence of interest in the beverages consumed by our forebears, this Friday’s Tipple features rye whiskey — we prefer to go local and use Catoctin Creek’s Organic Roundstone Rye, which has a rich caramel undertone perfect for that first crisp fall day when you get to pull on Grandpa’s argyle cardigan with your BDG cigarette jeans — and Italian sweet vermouth. And while we know that hipsters shy away from calling themselves by that moniker (because it would be, well, unhip), it’s okay: just have the drink. Your secret is safe with us.

The Hipster

Since the hip are always looking to spice things up, we muddled some peppercorns into the mix and added a smidge of our own Wicked Pickled
Ginger Syrup
. The result is a perfect sipping cocktail — sour, sweet, spicy, just like a real hipster.

2 ounces rye whiskey (we like Catoctin Creek’s Roundstone Rye)

1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth (add more if you like a sweeter drink)

1/4 teaspoon black or pink peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon Wicked Pickled Ginger Syrup (optional — we like the kick)

juice of 1/2 fresh lime

club soda

1 lemon wheel

Place first 5 ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously, then strain into a wineglass. Top with 1 or 2 ounces of chilled club soda and lemon wheel. Enjoy.

 

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.