Monday, July 11, 2011

MxMo LIX: Beer Cocktails!

Holy brewsky, Batman! My first official month participating in Mixology Monday! If you're not familiar with the event, you can read more about it here. One Monday each month cocktail geeks everywhere get together on the interwebs for a virtual cocktail party. A different blogger hosts each event and offers up a challenge: this month, Fred from Cocktail Virgin Slut invited participants to make drinks with Homer's favorite libation, beeeeeeeeer. *drools*

I'm super excited to have finally gotten in on the action.... maybe a bit over-enthusiastic, as I have somehow ended up with three- count them- three hopped up cocktails. So without further ado, let's meet the finalists!

Skip & Go Naked

2 oz Broker's London Dry Gin
2 oz Goose Island Summertime, or other kölsch beer
1-1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz grenadine
2 dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit bitters

Build ingredients in a blender, top with one metric ton of ice, and blend within an inch of it's life. Serve in a wide mouthed glass, and garnish with a cherry and a 'lil umbrella. Who doesn't love a drink with a tiny umbrella?

*This blog, nor its managing parties, are responsible for any mischief, shenanigans, or debauchery that may result from the consumption of this beverage.

As with many old-school cocktails, there seems to be a few different versions of this drink and how it came about. One version has Playboy magazine introducing the cocktail it's readers in 1970. Another less racy account credits a certain Butch McGuire of Chicago with the creation of the scandalously named sipper (as well as the Harvey Wallbanger,) in his eponymous Goldcoast bar. Some versions of the drink are made with vodka; my guess is that these came later after gin fell out of fashion, so to speak. Contemporary versions are made with pink lemonade concentrate, or worse, with fruit punch- swill... I did find one intriguing version that upped the ante by replacing the grenadine with pomegranate liqueur. I think I'm going to have to try that one...

For my recipe, I settled on the traditional base spirit, gin, and opted for freshly sqeezed lemon juice and pomegranate. I happened to have some fabulously perfect, sweet/sour lemons that day, but feel free to add a little simple syrup or a little extra grenadine if you need a touch more sugar- I happen to enjoy this drink more on the tart side. I also added the grapefruit bitters for a touch more complexity. I chose to blend the crap out of it to dilute it a bit more, making it ideal for a party beverage or for sitting around drinking all day on a sweltering summer afternoon. If you aren't worried about overindulging very quickly, it's great on the rocks too...

A Tipsy Vixen creation

2 oz El Jimador Reposado tequila
2 oz Goose Island Summertime or other kölsch beer
3 oz V-8
1/2 oz lime juice
2 dashes Annie's worcestershire
1 dash Cholula hot sauce

In a mixing glass, add all ingredients and stir well with ice. Strain into a chilled glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with cilantro and jalepeño-stuffed olives, duh!

I love Bloody Marys. A lot. So naturally, when I had Michelada (a popular drink among my latin friends featuring beer, salt, and hot sauce) for the first time at a house party a few years back, I thought it was the business! Then more recently, I learned of the tequila tag-along, Sangrita, which quite literally translates into 'little blood'. It's a non-alcoholic chaser, designed to cleanse the palate between shots of tequila (much the same way that rye bread is sometime eaten with vodka) and usually includes tomato juice, citrus juice, Worcestershire, and hot sauce.

At some point, my brain decided all of theses things needed to live in the same glass. They seem to be getting on well- perhaps a little too well...

My roommate overwhelmingly preferred the kölsch-style version, but I thought it worked nicely with a citrusy, funky lager like Stella Artois for a crisper taste.


3/4 oz Gran Torres Orange (or Gran Marnier)
5 oz Goose Island Summertime or other kölsch beer

In a champagne flute, pour orange liqueur and top with kölsch beer. Express one orange twist over the top of the drink, and drop into glass for garnish.

I can't really claim credit for this one on my own: my good friend Nicole Farrow from Haymarket Brewery made the suggestion, and I ran like hell with it. Thanks, Nicole! ♥

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My Bitter Half....

I am a woman possessed.

There's a certain magic to the addition of bitters to a cocktail that I hadn't fully appreciated until rather recently: It had always seemed kind of arbitrary to me, the way they are added- just a dash or two, and no more- to so many different drinks. I realize now that's a bit like saying vanilla is not really necessary for chocolate chip cookies. If you forget to add it, people will notice. But probably more accurately, it's like the difference between Italian sausage and a Bratwurst: it's all in the seasoning, and it's a whole different animal! So in the same way that one discovers the nuances of cooking ethnic dishes with different characteristic spices, so have I opened my eyes and awakened my palate to all of the subtleties bitters can bring to the bar. Now that I've fallen under the voodoo spell of bitters I can't get enough of the stuff, and I'm throwing them into just about every drink I make at home now, just to see what all the different varieties and combinations thereof can do....

It started with one, just one purchase of a bottle of Angostura bitters so I could start making my beloved Manhattans at home. "I won't need more than that for quite some time- bitters are bitters, right?," I thought to myself. And then one of my favorite bartenders, Julian, had to go and make me a Manhattan with orange bitters, insisting up, down, and six ways from Sunday that changing those two little dashes could make all the difference in the world. And he wasn't kidding! So off I skedaddled to my nearest Binny's for a bottle of the much revered Regan's Orange bitters. Then, the VeeV contest happened in May, and I went bat-shizzle hibiscus crazy and had to have that darned Burlesque bitters from Bittermens, too. I had it shipped all the way from Boston because I could not rest until I'd tried it with the VeeV. And since I was at it anyway, then I had to try the more anise-forward Peychaud's if I was ever going to make a proper Sazarac.... Sometimes, you don't really want to shove the genie back into the dasher bottle ;)

Today, it was the siren call of Fee's Grapefruit that lured me off the safety of the upper decks. This week's experiments involve cocktails made with beer, and this made me think of those hundreds of little wedges of citrus I've been served over the years with my lovingly pulled pints of ales, lagers, and Belgian-style wheats, which also in turn made me think of Margaritas and what a love child born from the marriage of both would taste like. And then there was that gosh darned Grapefruit Bitters, staring at me from the shelf at my neighborhood liquor store.... I tried to look away, but I was powerless against it's promises of crisp, thirst-quenching euphoria on such a smarmy, hell-mouth kind of day. I guess I'm still a sucker for a sweet talker....

So tonight I mingle and flirt with lager, tequila, lime, and my new Fee's; who knows where the hell this party will take us (just don't tell Grapefruit that I've already made a date with his cousin, Fee's Peach!)