Iced Tea Cocktails

A follow-up to Crowdsourcing Cocktails: Iced Tea

iced tea ad 2

Last week I put a question to the crowd: what cocktails could I make with my leftover iced tea?  A few of you replied with excellent suggestions, which I took to my kitchen along with my barware.

Fellow bloggers G-Lo (It’s Just the Booze Dancing) and Susannah (What Tastes Good) both provided recommendations.  However, I didn’t follow their suggestions to the letter, but rather tweaked them slightly based on my personal tastes and what I had on hand.

First, G-Lo recommended the following:

How about one part homemade Limoncello, of which I have plenty, and three parts Sun Tea, shaken and poured over ice in a tall glass and then topped with a splash of San Pellegrino Blood Orange Soda? Garnish it with a wedge of lemon and BOOM! you’re done.

Thankfully, I still had some homemade limoncello (a little less than G-Lo, I believe) and was able to easily find San Pellegrino Aranciata Rossa (Blood Orange) at the neighborhood grocery store.  (As an aside, I prefer Orangina to San Pellegrino, but that’s neither here nor there in this case.)  After mixing things up, I was surprised at how nicely it tasted.  Each ingredient was equally recognizable and the juice didn’t over-sweeten the drink and I thought it would.

I made a slight modification for my second helping, however: instead of shaking the three together, I stirred them in my glass over ice.  Stirring better separated the flavors a bit more and didn’t chill the drink as much, which I more preferred.  More importantly, I was able to use two homemade products – tea and limoncello – killing two birds with one cocktail, as it were.

The second recipe was sent by Susannah, who suggested:

Sweet iced tea (infused with fresh mint if you can) and bourbon. That’s pretty much the best I can do once the temperature gets above 90…

Here I must admit: I cut corners.  As the recipe called for sweet tea, I used my sun tea (not infused with mint) with a half tablespoon or so of sugar, along with the bourbon, in two-to-one proportions (two parts tea, one part bourbon).  This too wasn’t bad and definitely provided a boozier kick than G-Lo’s recipe.  Yet I preferred the former limoncello-based drink to the latter – perhaps it’s my penchant for malt-based whisky (rather than corn-based bourbon), or it could have been my preference for unsweetened tea over sweetened.

Nevertheless, both cocktails used the surplus tea as I had intended and taught me a couple of new cocktails in the process, which was why I had originally asked the question.  I spent a few moments in the kitchen with my cocktail shaker, which these days, is an exceedingly rare occurrence.

Thanks to you both for sharing the information, very much appreciated!

Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 11:01 pm  Comments (3)  
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Happy 3rd Birthday, Hip Flask

birthday candle

Three years old – The Hip Flask has officially reached blogging toddlerhood.  Over 200 posts and counting!  So let’s take a moment for a birthday celebration, to fondly look back over the past year.

Much of the last year was indeed spent looking backwards into history: into 1920s era writers and slang; into the history of American brewing; and into books reminiscing about drinking during a simpler time.

I’ve discussed modern topics as well, from workplace drinking (and its fallacy), to globalization, as well as several new beers (domestic and international), and even whisky.

It’s been a great third year for the blog – more of you are reading and subscribing than ever, from both the U.S. and around the world.  And it’s been great fun writing, although my posting frequency is less than I’d like. If only there were more hours in the day.

So what’s on tap in the coming months? Here are a few ideas you’ll likely soon see:

- Some words on Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, including a few nice memories of visiting Vienna some years ago.

- My thoughts on rum on the rocks as a simple, alternative, summer cocktail.

- New Recommended Reading entries, including Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl, by David Wondrich, and The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It, by Tilar Mazzeo.

- A special (non-drinking) piece remarking on two Polish heroes of World War II, based on two books I’ve recently read (but not discussed here).

- The completion of a couple of partially written posts on Krušovice Černé, a dark Czech beer as well as my thoughts on high-efficiency bartending.

- New installments of my recurring series, Booze News and A Drink With…  (Have a favorite celebrity or historical figure – fictional or not – you’d like to see? Let me know with a comment or by email.)

Most importantly, thanks to you all for liking, subscribing, commenting, and generally making The Hip Flask’s third year so enjoyable.  If you like what you read, be sure to tell your friends – maybe they will, too!  The more, the merrier!


New Bar Room Reads


Although I haven’t added to my Recommended Reading section in some time – I’ve been chewing through several non-drinking-related books this spring and summer* – a few new works on boozing may soon change that fact.

Over the last week or so, I’ve learned of three new books (two just published) that I’d like to add to the informally categorized “Food and Drink” section of my library.

According to Max Watman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, The Audacity of Hops, by Tom Acitelli, is an “exhaustive chronicle of the American beer revolution” beginning with Anchor Steam Beer’s creation during the summer of 1965. The book tells the grand story of American micro-brewing: “all of the major players are here—Sierra Nevada, Geary, Bell’s—and many readers will flip through in search of their favorite brews or their favorite anecdotes.”  Just as importantly, the book traces how Americans decided they wanted better beer, telling “the story of the maturation and increased sophistication of the American palate.”

Unfortunately maturation and sophistication can sometimes lead to excess. And the association between drinking and literature (i.e., sophistication) might not as be as rosy as we often think; so surmises Ian Crouch in a New Yorker blog entry discussing The Lost Weekend, by Charles Jackson. There are no jokes or clever comments to be made of alcoholism, and Crouch disconnects the allure of reading while drinking by mistakenly choosing to read Jackson’s novel over a pint.

“On this weekend, Don [Jackson's protagonist] suffers cruel hangovers, tremors, hallucinations, and a terrible, maiming fall down the stairs that leaves him in the alcoholic ward for the night…As his body falls apart, the novel tightens into a frightening psychological claustrophobia, and the reader is faced with all the little lies that Don tells himself and all the disappointments that no amount of alcohol can blot out.”

Counterbalancing Jackson’s fictionalized account of his own tragic experience with the bottle is Dwight Garner’s New York Times review of The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker’s Journey, by Lawrence Osborne. Tippling on multiple continents is Osborne’s clever method of considering “East and West, this supposed clash of civilizations…to think of them as ‘Wet and Dry, Alcoholic and Prohibited.'”

Based on Garner’s few quotations, Osborne’s British wit shines while conversing with locals over tea, chatting with Lebanese warlords who moonlight as wine makers, or mocking “certain lifestyle editors” (of which Garner appears to take gleeful delight in).

Yet humanity is the key to understanding both our non-drinking fellow man as well as those who struggle to drink within their limits. “Mr. Osborne is aware that it is possible to take drinking too far, and he has sympathy for those who have become its victims. He is grateful not to be among them, to mostly be able to regulate his desires…as a real human being indeed – a complicated man mixing complicated feelings into fizzy, adult, intoxicating prose.”


* For the curious, or those with an interest in history, I’ve recently enjoyed the following books:

K Blows Top, by Peter Carlson – A comedic look at Sergei Krushchev’s 1959 tour across the U.S.

The Crimean War: A History, by Orlando Figes – A deep look into the little-known mid-19th Century Eurasian conflict.

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth, by Mark Mazzetti – An overview of several notable counterterrorism operations of the past decade.

An Armenian Sketchbook, by Vassily Grossman – A short chronicle of the Soviet author’s few months in Central Asia.

Published in: on July 25, 2013 at 11:20 pm  Comments Off  
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Crowdsourcing Cocktails: Iced Tea

iced tea ad

Here is where I turn to you, dear readers – my fellow patrons of booze, the great unwashed drinking masses – for your guidance, inspiration, creativity, and advice.  I cannot, for the life of me, find a suitable cocktail recipe that makes good use of brewed iced tea.

I have tried and I have failed.  Thus, I submit a humble request: please enlighten me to your favorite cocktail that uses iced tea as an ingredient.

You see, I enjoy tea – naturally brewed and unsweetened – over ice. It makes a superbly refreshing non-alcoholic beverage, which I do choose from time to time.  So, on a recent sunny afternoon, I placed several tea bags in a half gallon mason jar (the same jars I use to make homemade brandy).  A fresh batch of sun tea was ready only a few hours later.

However, I now find myself with quite a surplus of tea.  Why not put it to good use in a cocktail, I thought.  But this is precisely my problem: I cannot find a recipe that doesn’t sound overwhelmingly sweet and sugary.

So here we are, you and I and a jar of tea.  I patiently await your suggestions, concoctions, or whatever you have enjoyed and wish to pass on.

Of course, thank you for your assistance.  I am forever indebted.  Please accept my sincerest gratitude.

Published in: on July 23, 2013 at 11:21 pm  Comments (6)  
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Your Simple Beer Glass

stella chalice

Next time you open a bottle of beer and reach into your cabinet for a glass to pour it in, stop and consider that glass.  Chances are, it’s an ordinary pint glass (or soda glass).  No frill and very durable.  But in bars, it’s quickly becoming extinct.

Look around the next time you’re out.  You’ll likely see that specialty beer glasses – customized and uniquely shaped, emblazoned with the name of the brew it contains – far outnumber the humble pints. Instead there are snifters, stemmed pokals, and French jelly glasses.

This has been the case with imports for some time now.  Every import requires its own particular vessel, the common perception being the beer will taste best if drank from the proper glass. Belgium is notable not only for its beer, but also for its large number of specialty glasses.  The number of glass variations is so absurd that a good friend (and fellow connoisseur) jokes that the Belgian glass industry exists solely to support the Belgian beer industry.

Stella Artois is a particular excellent example of the specialty glassware trend, stretched to the extreme.  In most establishments, Stella is served in their signature 11.2 centiliter chalice (or goblet) with the gold rim and star-imprinted stem. Capitalizing on the chalice’s recognition, Stella’s marketing team formed an entire advertising campaign around it.  Further, specially-marked 12-packs of Stella bottles offered a free engraved chalice by simply entering an online code.

Was a free, personalized glass reason enough to buy a half case of Stella?*  You bet it was.

American breweries also took note of this specialty-glass-equals-fancy-import-beer trend: Sam Adams introduced their Boston lager glass a while back, putting a new, rounded spin on the traditional pint.  According to the brewery, the glass’s notable bulb or tulip shape gives “a full sensory drinking experience by fully showcasing Samuel Adams Boston lager’s complex balance of malt and hop flavors.”

Whether Sam Adams’s glassware will impart an air of refinement, as those Belgian imports are arguably intended, is anyone’s guess. They say it’s supposed to make a difference in taste, and that’s well and good, I suppose.  But perhaps I’m overcomplicating the point.  Maybe it’s just about brand recognition, as glasses carry logos.  Or maybe it’s just about selling a collectible.

I’m likely not the only drinker to hold intrinsic value in a glass from a notable evening or event.  So the next time you open your kitchen or bar cabinet, maybe you too will pass over that simple pint for that special, fancy glass you bought on that one vacation, where you first tasted a new and exotic brew.  Or maybe it’s that simple pint that holds the fondest memories of all.  Regardless, here’s hoping those memories will make your beer taste that much better.


* Stella is a damn good beer.  So it’s not like I had to buy a dozen bottles of swill for the free glass. Not that swill would have stopped me, I’m a sucker for free stuff.

More importantly, Stella’s marketing and wider availability in the last 5-10 years has resulted in something of a pooh-poohing by snootier beer drinkers, who unfortunately equate availability with poor quality – unless it’s really bad, then it’s ironic).  This is hardly the case: as I remarked in a Booze News entry in January 2012 (citing an Economist article), Stella is a top-selling beer, even in Belgium of all places.

Published in: on July 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm  Comments (1)  
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