October 18, 2011
Peter Lovesey is an English mystery writer, perhaps most famous for his barrel-shaped and brusque Bath detective Peter Diamond and for his Sergeant Cribb books that take place in the Victorian era. I dig both. Lovesey isn’t all flashy, and isn’t perhaps as well-known as he should be over on this side of the pond, but his plots are always incredibly well thought out, his characters are real and motivated, and once you dive into one book featuring one of his two main characters, you tend (or I did, at least) to want to read more. They don’t hit the cocktails as much as other crime solvers of the police-and-non kind, so I haven’t mentioned him much here on the Spiked Punch blog. And, funny enough when considering the above, the quote below comes from the book Rough Cider, which doesn’t contain either of the fictional gentlemen mentioned above. But Rough Cider does has a fine mystery/story, and lots of cider talk (a murder happens at a cider farmer’s, if that makes sense), and I like cider, and so now it all makes sense, right? I did learn a few things from the book, too. First (and this is gross), cider makers at one time would put legs of mutton in the cider to give it a bit of body. Hmm. Second, cider that was bad would be termed “ropy” as in the below quote. Third, never put a human skull in your cider, or it will turn it ropy (unlike if you put mutton in I guess). Did these learnings turn me off cider? Nah. But they have given me a few more things to talk about when drinking it. This quote also features one of my favorite words (hogshead) and talks about drinking from jam jars, which I’m a fan of, even outside of wartime.
One evening in October, 1944, almost a year after the tragic events I’ve been describing, a man in a public house in Frome, the Shorn Ram, ordered a pint of local cider, a drink strongly preferred in wartime to the watered-down stuff that masqueraded as beer. People didn’t object to drinking from jam jars in those days of crockery shortages, but they were still choosy about what went into the jam jars. So when a customer complained that the cider was “ropy,” it was a serious matter. The publican had just put a new barrel on, a large one, a hogshead, from Lockwood, a reliable cider maker. He drew off a little for himself and sampled it.
—Rough Cider, Peter Lovesey
July 29, 2011
Holy Toledo! It’s actually a tad warm up and over here in the Northwest, with the sun beating and bleating down and temperatures approaching something that seems, suspiciously, like summer. And when summer hits, one of my favorite things to drink is a cold hard cider served up over lots of ice cubes. I picked up this habit when visiting the U.K. once (and by visiting, I mean stopping at every little pub I could to taste local brews and booze) with pals Mark and Leslie and wife Nat and have never stopped. While I’ll admit my fav ciders tend to be dry and with accent, I also am a huge fan and support more local ciders, like the lovely Tieton ciders and Ace ciders (from CA). In the below pic, I was sipping an Ace while picking out what smashing sandwich I was going to order at the almighty Smarty Pants. I went with the Ms. Piggy, with Field Roast, and the combo was darn fine.
November 26, 2008
It’s almost become a cliché, how much I like the booze-fueled hot apple cider within the colder months (in that it’s utterly expected that when one walks into my house they’ll smell the cinnamon, apple, and rum on the air during holiday-season gatherings). But you know what? I think being a cliché is just fine (in this one instance that is. Don’t be calling me cliché any other time. Unless my love of genius British television character Dean Learner becomes a cliché. Which would be awesome, cause the world would be a better place if everyone, when asked what they loved, said “Dean Learner.” But I digress), when the word revolves around this cider recipe, which is from the GS. It’ll warm you and your guests (and works darn well as a pre-Thanksgiving-meal sipper, too. Especially in chilly KS, Jen, if you were wondering).
4 quarts fresh apple cider
20 ounces cinnamon schnapps
16 ounces white rum
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
10 cinnamon sticks
10 apple slice for garnish
1. Add the cider to a large nonreactive saucepan. Heat over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes
2. Add the cinnamon schnapps, rum, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for 15 minutes, but don’t let the mixture boil.
3. Once thoroughly warm, ladle the mixture into heatproof mugs, making sure that each mug gets a cinnamon stick. Garnish each with an apple slice.
A Note: Here are three things to remember: 1. Be careful with the cloves when scaling (meaning, too many cloves can take over the flavor). 2. Use apple cider (which is good and cloudy) not apple juice. 3. Boiling boils off some of the alcohol. If getting mistakenly to a boil, or leaving the cider on the stove for an extended period, add more rum as needed.
A Second Note: This may be too much cinnamon for some. I see no problem, for balance, in upping the rum.
September 30, 2008
Just flew back in from a U.K. vacation (and I have to say, boy are my arms tired. No, really, I had to say it. I was forced by the lame jokes union, who said they’d cut off my supply of Strega if I didn’t use that particular line), where I not only had the brilliant pleasure of seeing the almighty Mighty Boosh live (a show I suggest everyone see before they shuffle off unless they’re very, very lame), but also had some fine drinks. The drinks came in the cocktail, highball, cider, and beer varieties, depending on the place and time and situation. The trip started in London, and started heavier on the cider and beer sides of the bar. I’m a large cider lover (take that as you will–there are what, at least four ways to take it), and the U.K. is an ideal spot to try out members of the cider species, including Aspalls Suffolk Cider, which I had at the Royal George Pub (in the Charing Cross neighborhood–I think), a punkish pub suggested by pals Stereolad and Schtickergirl, who came along for this U.K. adventure and who know their London spots. The Aspalls was “light, dry, and flouncy.”
Wife Natalie was a bit pooped by the time we hit the George (we’d been doing the London market experience all the live-long day), and went for an old reliable: the ice-cold Peroni, which is good no matter what country you’re visiting.
We also went in for the Pimm’s multiple times during the trip (and even brought back a bottle of Pimm’s No. 3, which is the brandy-based winter version, and hard to get over here in the WA), which only makes sense, with Pimm’s being an English standby and a favorite on warm days, which we had plenty of–who says the U.K. is cloudy and rainy and gothic-novel-melancholic 365 days a year by the way? That’s crazy talk. We had a few fine Pimm’s Cups, but the absolute finest, the tip top Pimm’s Cup, maybe in all of the U.K., but definitely in the parts we visited, was discovered at the White Bear Hotel, in Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales (a part of the country we spent some lovely days hanging out within). Masham is a nice village, with a market on Wednesday, a couple good hotels, quaintness to spare, and (like any English village) plentiful pubs on every street. Maybe my favorite Masham pub was the Bay Horse, which had a great veggie Ploughman’s Lunch loaded with 7 kinds of cheese, a meal I consumed while being watched by a little dog named Hank. Oh, but back to the Pimm’s at the White Boar (I start to go tangential, like a monkey flinging through the forest, right after a vacation, cause I miss every bit of it so much). They gave us the option of having it with lemonade (which is lemon soda) or straight soda, but every glass was packed with strawberries and grapes to go with the Pimm’s and mixer, and then topped off with the traditional cucumber slices.
A delicious bubbly treat, indeed. We also had an assortment of cocktails to swoon over at the Lonsdale in London, but I’ll hit those up later in the week.