Drink of the Week: The Laphroaig Scot’s Cider

The Laphroaig Scot’s Cider. Cynics and other smart people out there might be forgiven if they assumed that drinks prompted by free booze and recipes provided by the liquor industrial complex were slightly less good than the more classic cocktails that make up the bulk of our work here at DOTW central. The fact of the matter, however, is that — for the most part, anyway — the drinks I’m pitched are crafted by some pretty talented mixologists who are using some very good products. Also, I wouldn’t be including them here if they sucked.

My personal seal of complete non-suckage very definitely applies to our first hot drink of this cool weather season, The Laphroaig Scot’s Cider. It takes the pleasantly woody and lightly smokey flavor of the rather lovely single malt Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky and builds on it with a very pleasant and easy to make toddy. It’s even easier if you leave out the fancy garnish, which is nice but not essential.

The Laphroaig Scot’s Cider

2 ounces Laphroaig 10-Year-Old Scotch Whisky
1 ounce DeKuyper Mixologist Series Ginger Liqueur
6 ounces hot apple cider/apple juice
1 lemon wedge, studded with cloves (highly desirable, but not essential, garnish)

Preheat your favorite coffee mug with hot water. I simply put a cup of tap water in the microwave and zapped it for a couple of minutes as I was getting my ingredients together. (If you want a more modest, less caloric, drink and are halving these proportions, a small cup will do very nicely.)

Then get your apple cider very very hot, just about boiling even, because you’ll be adding some unheated ingredients. Empty the hot water out of the mug and replace it with your hot cider. Then add the Laphroaig, the ginger liqueur, your garnishes (if any) and sip. Toast something Scottish…Sean Connery, new Doctor Who Peter Capaldi, or poet Robert Burns, it doesn’t matter. This drink won’t gang aft agley.

(Just one question: Why are nearly all world famous Scottish celebrities men? Is being called “lass” all the time bad for your self-esteem? Weird.)

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A word about garnishes. The original recipe for this drink calls for fresh ground cinnamon. If you’ve got some of that around, definitely give it a try. But I’m personally much too cheap and lazy to mess with that right now. However, I tried a little bit of the cheap supermarket cinnamon I had on hand and, frankly, it didn’t help. And, while I love lemon and cloves, this may be a case where a little garnish goes a long way. Some of my drinks sort of got taken over by the lemon wedge and, really, I think the Scot’s Cider works pretty well without any of the garnishes because the Laphroaig brings plenty of its own complexity.

Of course, I can’t stop you from using other brands of Scotch, or going with a liqueur brand other than the very tasty DeKuyper ginger liqueur, which was also supplied to me by the benevolent booze bribers. It might work pretty well, or it might be merely sweet.

One final point. This recipe originally called for nonalcoholic “apple cider” but, as far as I can tell, there is no clear and meaningful difference between apple juice and un-fermented cider, apart from marketing. By some definitions, including some legal ones in some states, unfiltered (cloudy) apple juice is “cider” but, here in California anyway, that’s also sometimes sold as simply “unfiltered apple juice.” I’m sure using a good, fresh unfiltered apple product will improve this drink. On the other hand, I wouldn’t waste one second worrying about whether it’s apple juice or apple cider. My educated hunch is that there is absolutely no consistent difference between the two.

  

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Drink of the Week: Spike Your Juice (Federweisser)

Spike Your JuiceToday we have something a bit different that feels kind of homey and appropriate for Thanksgiving weekend, even if it’s got a European pedigree. Home fermented grape juice, apparently known in Germany as Federweisser, isn’t exactly a cocktail, but then it’s U.S. cousin, Spike Your Juice, doesn’t exactly produce wine. The good news is that what it does produce is a tastier and much more fun alternative to a wine cooler or some ghastly “malt beverage.”

What I got in the mail from the Spike Your Juice people was a glass sealer that fits inside a plastic stopper and a number of thin tubey-envelopes which, in turn, contain primarily yeast, the friendly microorganism that turns fattening fructose into equally fattening, but somewhat more dangerously interesting, alcohol. All you do is empty the powdery contents of the tubes into a 64 ounce juice container — they suggest grape juice or other purplish/reddish beverages mentioned in a link at their faq. You don’t shake it or do anything else to it at all.

You then attach the aforementioned glass tubes (to which you have added some water) and plastic thingy to the top of the container, being careful to permanently discard the original bottle cap. That’s important because, apparently, from this point on, anything remotely airtight can result in a messy explosion that could leave you standing in the purple rain.

Next, you leave the unrefrigerated bottle alone for 48 hours; you’ll see a bit of foaming and an occasional bubble in the water in the glass tubing. When the time has passed, you are supposed to sample the result and, if it’s too sweet for you, reattach the apparatus. Once you’re happy with what what you’ve got, you then leave only the plastic portion in place, which means your drink is partially exposed and won’t be holding onto it’s fizz for long.

At the 48 hour point, what I had was a rather delightful but very sweet fizzy beverage that isn’t at all like the bad sparkling wine you might expect, but is like a really very nice slightly alcoholic lightly carbonated grape juice. Still, it was very sweet and packed little punch so I let the fermentation continue. Although I like the drier version just fine over ice, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I wish I had stopped at maybe 55 or 60 hours, rather than 72. That’s my old sweet tooth again.

It’s not one of the suggested juices and I’m curious why, but, I’m going to try this with apple juice. I love hard apple cider, the original Euro-American booze beloved of our pilgrim predecessors…and I guess that covers the need for a Thanksgiving weekend reference to wrap this post up.

  

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