Cross posted from the Mixoloseum Blog.
Wassailing, now known mostly as that strange word in that one Christmas song, was once a holiday tradition so filled with mildly hidden threat, the Victorians banned the festivities. Laborers, ne’er do wells, and whoever else happened to be in the vicinity would drop by the boss’ or governor’s manse, wishing joy and peace in trade for a bit of tipple. Of course, in the lack of tipple, there could also be a lack of joy an peace, if you get my drift. A bit of the Trick or Treat, just more wintry. For more information on the history of the tradition, check out Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas.
Of course, what could be a better pick me up during a night of drunken revelry on a winter night than a warm bath of mulled ale or cider, known then (as now) as Wassail.
In my research on this tasty winter beverage, I found two clearly distinct lines of Wassail. One, such as exampled in my copy of Joy of Cooking (1963), and another at Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Wassail post. This Wassail omits the Ale or Cider, and instead hefts up the Brandy, and adds a whole lot of egg. This seems more in the tradition of an Egg Nog or Tom and Jerry, with a big foamy dope hefting the liquid about. I’ll admit to not having yet made it, as I’m far too fond of the more traditional method, which is that of a warm mulled ale or cider.
Here’s the recipe I used at a recent holiday feast. The original recipe comes from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Em. For a bit of a traditional twi, I added hard cider, to apple things up a bit, and increased the proportions to satisfy all guests as well as fill the crockpot. It went over smashingly (by jove!), and I think you’ll like it too.
’tis the Season to have a crockpot, for sure.
- 3 Baked Apples
- 1/2 cup fine sugar
- 1 Tbsp ground Allspice
- 1 Tbsp whole Allspice Berries
- 1 lemon, juice and peel
- 1 Liter Hard Cider
- 1.5 Liter Brown or Winter Ale
- 1 pint warm sherry
Spiral slice the apples (or however you can maximize surface area), coat lightly in brown sugar, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes until browning begins. Place apples in a crockpot with all other ingredients, and set the crockpot to Hot for about 30 minutes. Leave the Crockpot on warm to serve. Serve in warmed punch mugs. Makes about 3.5 Quarts
This drink warms to the toes, and fills your brain with just enough bubbles to start tossing out the holiday cheer left and right. The first batch I’d tried, the apples weren’t imparting enough flavor for me, hence the addition of cider. The Cider used was Blackthorn (cheap and good!) and the beer was Pyramid’s Snowcap, a nice full-bodied, mildly spiced winter warmer.
Got your own holiday classic crockpot drink? Post your favorite in the comments!
Thanks to Kevin at Save the Drinkers for hosting this round of Mixology Monday. The topic this time around is local flavor, which I’m expecting to be represented pretty strongly, considering the drink blogging populace of the Pacific Northwest.
Walking through the suburban streets of North Portland, there are a lot of places to grab a quick bite. There’s the Mock Crest Tavern, where you can get a Blues Bird and a cheap beer, or the Flavour Spot, with their infamous 9-piece bacon waffle, and let’s not forget King Burrito… well, let’s forget the horrible indigestion it can cause (but is so worth it). But the best place to eat here is about 1 to 8 feet from the ground.
Everything grows here… well, okay, citrus has a bitch of a time, but that’s what clay pots and greenhouses are for. But if there’s anything that seems to represent Oregon best, it’s the rich abundance of berries. Everywhere you go, it seems, there are brambles just waiting to be picked. Little children walk around the streets with rich purple stains on their hands and mouths, and little baskets holding whatever couldn’t fit in their tummies. The most famed of Oregon’s Berries is the Marionberry, coming from Marion County. Unfortunately, it’s just a bit late in the season for these jewels of the vine to hit my local New Seasons, so I had to suffice with some good old McMinnville Blackberries.
But what to pair them with that represents local flavor? Well, you can’t move an inch in Portland without hitting a brewpub or distillery, so the hard part wasn’t really finding something local but choosing something local. My eyes quickly darted to a 6 pack of BridgePort Brewery Haymaker, an extra pale ale known around these parts as Liquid Sunshine.
With my yammering on about Portland, of course I’m going to have to add something from House Spirits to the line, and naturally I fall to Aviation Gin for that endeavor. So, with the combination of these, and a few other components becomes my Bridgetown Shamble.
- 1 1/2 oz Aviation Gin
- 1/2 oz Cane Syrup
- Bridgeport Haymaker Extra Pale ale
- 6 Oregon Blackberries
- Grapefruit Bitters
Place Blackberries and Gin into a 10 oz. glass and muddle until all the berries have burst. Add Cane Syrup and fill glass with cubed ice. Pour beer into the glass, stir gently with a bar spoon, and dash aromatic grapefruit bitters on top.
It’s a touch on the sweet side, which I would normally cut with a lemon, but the beer adds a light hoppiness that balances it well. Though, this could easily be served with a lemon wedge. Next time, for sure. Seeing as my wife just noted this as her favorite drink ever, there may be quite a few more next times, until the Haymaker runs out, that is.
Okay, now about the name. Initially I was thinking I was so clever in naming my development the “Bridgetown Bramble“, but apparently some other joker beat me to the punch on that one. Okay, well, it’s got Bridgeport beer in it, right? How about the Bridgeport Bramble? Well, as they say, great minds think alike. So, since it is a sweetened (and fortified) beer combination, which makes it some sort of a Shandy… plus the Blackberry which is is denoted with Bramble… yes, the Bridgetown Shamble! Yes, my college english classes is finally paying off.
And so we continue from the previous post.
Thursday night found us warbling at The Alibi, a long-standing tiki bar, now featuring Karaoke. If you want authentic Tiki Bar, and can look past the sloppy drinks, Karaoke, and lottery machines, this is the place. How bad are the drinks? Try a Sailor’s Tattoo, which is Rockstar and Captain Morgan Tattoo. Yeah, and that’s one of the better ones.
Of course, what better way to soak up the booze then a nice trip to Voodoo Doughnut. Okay, I’ll admit it, we went TWICE. A few Tex-Ass donuts were consumed. It’s fried dough and sugar bliss.
New Old Lompoc is a brewery and pub with some great brews. If you’re into hops, their beers are very nice, with a lot of variety in the hop selection.
Meriwether’s, named for half of the Lewis and Clark expedition, makes their own produce at their farm, and their own ginger beer. I’m not sure if I was there on bad day, but the ginger beer in my Dark and Stormy was a bit flat and yeasty, with low carbonation and none of the sharpness and zest I look for in a ginger beer. The Fig Old Fashioned though, with a muddled fig at the bottom, was pure bliss.
We took a tour of Clear Creek Distillery, and I’d strongly recommend visiting any local distilleries you’ve got in your neck of the woods. Their products are outstanding. The Framboise truly captured the essence of Raspberry, the Doug Fir Eau de Vie was even better this time, with lots of perfume and sharpness. What really surprised me, however, was the Cassis Liqueuer. It’s pricier, but Kir Royales with this stuff and a bit of Veuve Clicquot will be on the menu for this year’s New Years party.
After touring the distillery, a visit to Daniel at TearDrop Lounge was in order. The drinks were just fantastic. My choice was the Winter Morn, made with egg, Vya vermouth, and a bit of the in-house grenadine. Amongst all the shared sips though, I must say there was no clear winner, just great stuff all around. I also got a nice Sazerac, shared a Last Word, TDL Toddy, and a drink with some smoked pear in it that was just a socks knocking interesting flavor. If you get a chance to visit, ask to sample some of the bitters.
Saucebox was visited actually as a sidenote, after knocking back a few PBRs at Mary’s. Bad strip club, but some fantastic wall murals. Saucebox was definitely the spot to be that evening, with the vibe a bit too trendy… not Portland trendy, but more Los Angeles trendy. The drinks were decent, but not spectacular. I had a very nice Alaskan, with Gin, Green Chartreuse and Bitters. There were a few Mai Tai variations on the menu, but I didn’t even want to dare it. I may have to sneak back in for a Mai Tai tour of Portland.
Apizza Scholl’s, well, if you’re anywhere in a 100 mile radius, you need to go, and go early. This is the place that was on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations that hand-mixes their dough, and only makes enough for the night. When they’re out of dough, they close. The pizza is like nothing you’ve ever had before, well, if you’ve never been to New York, and even then, it would fit into the top spots in the pizza for that city. They also have a damned decent beer menu, from which I had a nice Orval. Damn those monks and their magic with the brewing arts.
The Horse Brass Pub is one of those places you can sit on your butt, watch some darts, choose from an enormous beer and scotch collection, and just slowly sink in and turn English. Smoking is allowed, for now (johnny law’s changing that), and the food is pub grub. Had a Scotch Egg, which is a hard-boiled egg packed in sausage, breaded and fried. That’s a pretty unbelievable, but damned tasty item.
The Doug Fir was looked at, but briefly. There’s a chromed moose head, and the bathrooms are all done in marbled mirror. The drinks are nice, but the place is often so packed with hipsters and douchebags that your chances of getting a well measured one is about slim to none. Besides, why stay there when there’s a perfectly fantastic strip club the next block over.
Union Jack’s is, well, certainly one of my favorite strip clubs. I won’t go into any details, but I will say I found a new love that night. Amidst the smoke and the stripping, on the top shelf was a bottle of Ron Zacapa Centenario 23, which is some wonderfully smooth and sweet rum. I’d go into tasting notes, but that’s Scottes’ domain.
The next day, we (okay, I) had a few Brandy Milk Punches, and sent the kids up to Seattle to visit Murray and Jamie. The butterflies, whips and jingles were hitting a bit hard for me and the ms, so we were homeward bound.
Even outside of the places mentioned here, there was further drinking, and breakfast, and drinking, and mid-century modern thrifting, and drinking, and haircuts, and drinking. It was a good time! If you’re ever in the city and need a decent tour, now you might have a better idea of where to go.
And just a note to press, drinking at home is great, but don’t forget to get out there and support your local bars. Not the ones that’ll slug your liver with crap gin and fruitfly liqueur, but support those places that’ll make your Manhattan just how you like it, offer up some conversation about booze, whatever works for you, just get outside and drink in some life.
The kitchen smells entirely of Citrus. Limes, lemons, and Oranges, all hand squeezed. Somewhere over 300+ oz. of juice were hand-squeezed Thursday evening, the stor ‘n pours filled, and several tupperware, to get things prepared for the home bar tour. Syrups mixed, in no particular order: Passion Fruit, Coffee, Honey, Simple Syrup, Grenadine, and Et Cetera Syrup, which was just bits and pieces of whatever wouldn’t fit into the other containers.
Is it sacrilege not to freshly-squeeze each drink? Perhaps. Up and coming, I do believe an experiment is necessary to see exactly how much the Stor ‘n Pour’s plastic affects the flavor of the juice, but until then, with 60+ people crowding the home bar, it’s a necessary evil.
The Kon itself is rolling smoothly. Last night was a whirlwind tour of some of Portland’s lounges. For starters was the Galaxy Karaoke lounge. A fully modern lounge, with televisions playing CSI: Miami and a karaoke setup with Large Screen TV. Not exactly Tiki, well, not actually anything at all Tiki, but a good meeting place, as it introduced guests to the location of the Jupiter, where Saturday’s main event is being held. The one great feature of the Galaxy that was available was the in-wall aquarium, which sets a nice relaxing tone throughout the bar.
Next up was Tonic. Tonic used to be an Irish pub, complete with fully-outfitted wait staff, but now serves as a local dive with just enough pub grub to keep you planted. The rear of the place sports a small arcade room, which then opens up into a surprisingly roomy concert venue with another bar. While there, Mark Axton allowed me to sample a drink he had made himself, partly inspired by his foray into the pirate world.
- 2 oz. Cruzan Black Strap
- 12 oz. Porter
The flavors of the Black Strap and Porter were unbelievably pronounced in this drink, with many hints of banana, cinnamon, molasses, and a lot of other unexpectedly sweet and layered flavors. I do believe this will be my new afternoon delight for a bit.
After Tonic was settled into, the expedition continued to the Pagoda. The Pagoda is simply fascinating. A Chinese-American restaurant serving the finest in Deep-Fried, neon orange food, every single inch of this place stands out in a singular theme. Even the drop-tile ceiling is thematic, with metallic gold panelling, and dragons in a square. Mirrors surround the bar and lounge, which features another Pagoda on top of the liquor shelf. While the decor was amazing though, the vibe of the location was sad. Strange for all the patterned red and gold wallpaper, but the regulars, many of whom have been around for quite some time, found the 50 some odd strangers entering their regular haunt quite disturbing. There’s something inside, like you can almost sense that the place will soon give way to become another karaoke bar or perhaps even a mortgage and real estate office. But, while it’s around, it’s a little slice of treasure for those who like their Chinese food with MSG, and their ambiance themed.
The evening ended shortly thereafter, and was finished off at Union Jacks. Well, a tour of Portland wouldn’t be complete without one of the towns strip clubs, eh?
Tomorrow: The tour continues, with stops at the Alibi, Thatch, and the Cannibal feast at the Jupiter!