New Year’s Eve cocktails and libations: cheers from Scholars and Rogues

With the new year nearly upon us, our thoughts have turned to a bit of end of the year celebrating. I asked my fellow Scrogues for some recipes and recommendations for appropriate libations with which to ring in 2016.

Some of the recipes below are, not surprisingly, a bit–involved–shall we say. Weeks of aging, hours of simmering, days for delivery–all are par for the course for people who have sought the unusual, creative, or just plain tasty. Even if you can’t get immediate gratification with some of the recipes below, you can always plan ahead for next New Year’s Eve. Or for a festive midwinter night when the cabin walls have closed in just a little too tightly.

From all of us, Happy New Year. Cheers, Santé, Prost, Na zdrowie, Salud, Sláinte, L’chaim.

cold-beer-drops-freezeFrom Denny Wilkins:

Follow these directions precisely.

1. Detect thirst.
2. Approach refrigerator respectfully.
3. If right-handed, place right hand on fridge handle.
4. Open fridge.
5. Reach for bottle with left hand. (Yes, bottle, not can.)
6. Apply opening device (hand or church key as preferred) to bottle cap.
7. Remove bottle cap.
8. Guzzle with gusto.

My fridge usually contains (laughter is permitted) bottles of Yuengling Black & Tan and Genny Cream Ale (which tastes like crap in cans, hence the bottles).

When I wish to appear semi-sophisticated, I mix blackberry brandy and anisette over ice — a Jellybean.

From Sam Smith:

1: Dr. Sammy’s Slammin’ South Shore Kauai Tai (published on Scholars and Rogues in 2014)

2: Go to your favorite craft brewer and get a couple growlers of beer. One should be your personal favorite. The other should be something you don’t like but other people you know do like. (In my case, this latter selection would be some variety of undrinkable, insanely overhopped IPA.)

If you live in Denver, my recommended breweries are Beryl’s Beer (any of their barrel-aged selections, especially the Gose and Porters) and Epic (the Smoked & Oaked). Also highly endorsed would be Zephyr and Ratio. If you live in Bend, OR, as I did for a few months last year, do you really need to be told to go to Crux?

If you live elsewhere, I’m sure there’s something great and local nearby. Google is your friend.

mojito-794856_960_720From Gavin Chait

If we’re not doing beer (which would be my wife’s first choice, usually something in the American IPA with Cascade hops variety), then mojitos are my first choice.

We do it with fresh mint, fresh lime, ice, soda, Bacardi, brown sugar, perhaps some raspberries for variety, and a blender.

From Jim Booth

54dae27f87118_-_rye_gingerale-002-de1Suffering Bastard

From a 35 year-old Cuisine magazine – Carol and I love this one for the holidays – a couple and all is merry and bright.

Tom Collins or other tall glass
Ice – cubed or crushed (your choice)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 jigger gin
1 jigger brandy
teaspoon of sweetened lime juice (Rose or whatever brand you like)
Add ginger ale to fill

Stir and enjoy.

I am also fond of putting a jigger of brandy in a champagne flute, adding champagne (or other sparkling wine, though I recommend brut champagne given next ingredient), then dropping in a sugar cube. Don’t have to use the good champagne for this one, anything reasonably potable will do – save the good stuff for the New Year’s toast.

Happy Holidays, all….

From Dan Ryan:

Dan Ryan’s Late Morning Sangria
“So sweet ‘n’ flavorful, you could have it with breakfast ‘stead of orange juice.  Not that you should.”

Sangria_afrutadaThe Ingredients:
2 ½ bottles of inexpensive corked red wine.
3 large limes, peeled (Rangpur, if you can get ‘em).
3 large nectarines or peaches, cut into wedges.
2 large oranges, peeled.
1 large Red Delicious or Fuji apple, cut into wedges (A green apple variety just will not do).
1 cup of good ol’ granulated sugar.
2 shots (2 to 3 ounces) of dark Jamaican rum.
½ to ¾ cup of mango puree or Kern’s mango nectar, whichever is easier for you to obtain.

The Equipment:
1 large plastic bucket or container which will fit in your ‘fridge (you want plastic instead of metal so the fruit acid won’t possibly give your brew a metallic taste).
1 hand citrus juicer or an electric blender (to squeeze juice out of ½ the apple, or blend ½ the apple to a puree).
A saucepan.
A metal spoon to stir with.
A large pitcher.
And a smaller one, ‘cause this recipe produces a fair amount of consumable liquid.
A strainer or small colander which will fit into the top of your large pitcher (don’t want to make a mess!).
A large coffee cup or ladle.

The Rundown:
I call this “Late Morning Sangria” because that’s the best time of day to start making it.  It will give you time to refrigerate your sangria for a good, long time before serving it.  Unless you like it warm, which some folks do.  It’s up to you, really, but on a hot summer night (like the kind I grew up with in Texas) you’re not going to want warm fruit wine.  Trust me.

Shall we get started?

    • First, pour all that wine into your bucket (or container), except for one cup’s worth
    • Pour the reserved wine into your saucepan, along with the cup of sugar.
    • Now, heat the wine and the sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar has completely dissolved BUT before the liquid boils.  Stir almost constantly with the metal spoon, and run the spoon across the bottom of the saucepan frequently until you no longer hear sugar crystals crunching beneath the spoon.  That’s how you’ll know your sugar has completely dissolved.
    • When that’s done, pour this syrup in the bucket with the rest of the wine.
    • Now, take your limes, and squeeze them by hand into the bucket until they’re about half juiced.  Then place all the squeezed limes into the wine bucket.
    • Do the same with the oranges.
    • Don’t squeeze the nectarines (or peaches), just put ‘em in the bucket.
    • Put half the apple wedges in the bucket too.  Juice the other half into the bucket with the hand juicer, then put the squeezed apple wedges in the bucket as well.  If using a blender, puree the apples and pour the puree into the bucket.
    • Pour your mango puree or Kern’s nectar into the bucket.
    • Using your hands, or a large spoon, stir this brew until it feels stirred enough.
    • Now refrigerate your bucket of nascent sangria for a couple of hours, to let it steep.

Now, run a few errands, pay some bills, watch Bubba Ho-Tep on DVD, or play with the kids.  I’m assuming you’re doing this on the weekend or a holiday.

    • Okay, retrieve your happy bucket from the ‘fridge and find yourself a large kitchen countertop space.  If you have a picnic table in your yard, that’ll work too.
    • Using your fingers, remove the unsqueezed apple and whole nectarine (or peach) wedges and put them in your large pitcher.  Put some in the small pitcher too.
    • Place your strainer or colander onto the top of your large pitcher.  Using the large coffee cup or ladle, scoop a portion of the sangria mixture into the straining device you’re using.  You may need to use a spoon to stir the sangria mixture around in case the fruit pulp blocks the drainage holes.
    • Let each sangria portion placed in your straining device drain completely into the pitcher.  When it has, use your hand to squeeze as much additional wine mixture out of the strained fruit pulp as possible.  You won’t be able to squeeze it dry, but you can take quite a few frustrations out on it.
    • Discard each portion of hand-squeezed fruit pulp.  Unless you have livestock who need a little pick-me-up.
    • Scoop, strain and squeeze all of the sangria mixture until your bucket is empty and your livestock have a good buzz going.
    • Now, refrigerate your pitchers of sangria until your company arrives, hopefully with some really good Tex-Mex food.  Serve over ice, as suits your fancy.  And make sure you get a few of the sangria-soaked apple and nectarine (or peach) wedges.  They’ll rekindle your affection for fruit fiber.

Serves, hell, I don’t know, about 8 to 12 convivial companions.

From Wufnik:

Americano_cocktailBoth of these are prime candidates for entertaining, particularly in the summer. I suppose you can skip the infusions and/or replace with flavored booze, but infusing is really easy and really changes the taste of the drinks. The mojito in particular is dangerous because it’s so refreshing that you can polish off a 20 oz glass on a warm evening in nothing flat, even at very strong mixes. All of a sudden you’re three mojitos in and realize that you’re kinda drunk. On the other hand, i haven’t yet found someone who disliked the mojito recipe. The tart cherry one is a little dependent on a person’s taste for sour.

Mango Mojito:
Peel and chop one or two ripe mango(s) and deposit in quart/liter mason jar filled with medium quality light rum.
Wait 1-2 weeks (until taste) storing infusion in cool, dark location.
Strain mango pieces out and set aside (i freeze them)
If you plan on holding the infusion any length of time, strain out all gross material that may spoil. An Aeropress does a good job of final straining. Regardless, it should be refrigerated.
Muddle mango chunks, a pinch of sugar, and fresh mint in glass/pitcher of choice.
Measure mango rum to taste and finish with 50/50 mix of soda and quality ginger beer (sweetness of ginger beer may adjust sugar quantity in muddling).

Tart Cherry Lemonade:
Pit two cups of tart cherries and infuse for up to two weeks in mid-grade vodka.
Vodka will take on the color and taste of red kool-aid, be careful with it because it’s good enough to drink large glasses of but it may not be full strength as the water in the cherries has to go somewhere.
Strain infusion and set cherries aside for dangerously potent garnish.
Make tart cherry lemonade, this Martha Stewart recipe is very good and easy enough.
Add the vodka, garnish with the infused cherries, and enjoy.

From Brian Angliss:

Devil’s Cocktail

edileneMy wife brought this recipe home from a trip to see her sister in San Diego.  I have no idea where they got the recipe from or if it was an original creation, but it’s spicy and delicious.  Be aware, though, that it’s relatively potent.

Make a simple syrup with honey instead of sugar and slice up a jalapeno to give it a little (but not too much) kick.  We make about 3 cups of syrup at a time so it lasts a while.

For one cocktail, take 1 thin slice of jalapeno and 2 dashes of bitters and muddle them in the bottom of a glass.  Add 1 oz of lime juice, 1.5 oz of gin, 0.5 oz of elderflower liqueur, and 0.5 oz of the honey-jalapeno syrup.  Stir good and refrigerate (you can drink them room temp, but I prefer them colder if possible).  Pour out into a martini glass and add a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Add a thin lime slice if you’re so inclined.

I tend to make these four at a time in a 16 oz shaker.  You’ll notice, though, that the cocktail above is only 3.5 oz.  I tend to make up the extra ounces with gin, but some people might prefer to increase the lime juice instead.

Finally, a warning – check how hot your jalapeno slices are before you muddle them.  The cocktail can be nigh undrinkable if you’ve got a super-hot jalapeno.  If you do make it too spicy, you can cut it with more lime juice or more gin.

From Cat White:

Blood & Sand

My husband and I first had the Blood & Sand at a restaurant called The Black Pig in Cleveland about a year and a half ago. The ingredients were so weird that we had to try one. We love our single malts (we’re looking forward to another trip to Scotland to learn more) and when we saw Laphroaig as the primary ingredient–we were shocked, appalled, and then intrigued. One sip and we were hooked. We’ve experimented with orange reduction and are finally satisfied with the version included below.

This is a winter drink: smoky, spicy, with mellow fruits. Perfect for a chilly evening by the fire.


2 parts Laphroaig 10 (using the 18 or Cask Strength would be sacrilege)
1 part Cherry Heering (this is a cherry liqueur, can be hard to find, we order from Binnings)
1/2 part Spiced orange reduction (preferably blood oranges, directions below)

Mix all ingredients together. Serve up (a coupe glass is lovely) or in an old-fashioned glass on the rocks. Garnish with a bit of orange if you are feeling fancy.

Spiced Orange Reduction:

I bought a bottle of Italian Volcano Blood Orange Juice on a whim and that will be my go-to base–I use about 1/2 of a 750 ML bottle at a time, about 1 1/2 cups. I have juiced my own blood oranges, but it can be tricky to find them and their season is short. If you want to go that route, start by juicing 6-8 blood oranges, strain out the pulp. Your goal is about 1 1/2 cups of blood orange juice.

Pour the blood orange juice into a non-reactive pan (I have a small heavy bowl-shaped stainless steel that is perfect). Add in about 1 oz. of fresh ginger coarsely sliced and a tablespoon (or more) of mulling spices. I put all of the spices in a large mesh tea ball so that I don’t have to strain at the end. Simmer gently until the mixture is reduced by half (this can take 45 minutes to an hour or more). Don’t boil! And, whatever you do, do not burn it! Your goal is to infuse every last molecule with spicy goodness. Remove from heat, remove spices, pour into a jar (I have an 8-oz mason jar reserved for this purpose), and refrigerate.

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