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Cocktail of the Month

While eggnog is traditionally served around the December holidays, it makes a delightful winter tipple during the frosty month of February. If you’d like to try something a little different than the American staple, all you need to do is look South of the border, for the Mexican version of this velvety classic cocktail – rompope. After spending most the month of December in southern Mexico, I had the privilege of toasting Christmas Eve with my Hawaiian friend, Brad Winslow, with a glass of rompope. While most people consider eggnog a cold-weather drink, I discovered that sipping a glass of rompope as I watched the sunset over the Pacific Ocean after a beautifully warm and sunny Christmas, was equally delightful as enjoying a cup in front of the fireplace on a snowy night. Like eggnog, rompope is a dairy-based beverage traditionally made with milk and/or cream, sugar, whipped eggs, spices, then usually spiked with an alcoholic spirit. One difference is that rompope has yellow hue, which comes from the egg yolk. Unlike eggnog, which is made from the entire egg, rompope is forged only from the yolks. While both beverages are seasoned with cinnamon and vanilla, rompope adds a rich flavor of ground almonds, which gives it extra texture and a full-bodied, creamy cookie-like distinction. Rompope is most often spiked with rum, but that can vary through different parts of Mexico. Sometimes aguardiente, a type of sugar cane liquor, or tequila is used. The word rompope is a derivation of the word rompon, which was used for the Spaniard version of eggnog made with rum that came to Mexico from Spain. According to seriouseats.com, it is believed that the first rompope was brewed by nuns in the Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico, in the 17th century. At the time, the Catholic Church was prominent in government and society, and convents often hosted visiting officials and religious dignitaries. Although the nuns made large quantities of rompope for guests, they had not been permitted to drink it until Sister Eduviges appealed to the mother superior. Once permission was granted, they became accustomed to the tasty drink and soon were preparing it daily. The nuns were given a ration of one glass per day. With its rising popularity the nuns began to bottle the rompope to raise money for the convent, according to mexconnect.com. The love for rompope quickly spread throughout Mexico. The original recipe is a secret that remains with Sister Eduviges. Mexicans typically consume rompope around the Christmas holidays, but it is also enjoyed during family celebrations. In addition to being a beverage, rompope is also used in desserts with the most common being tres leches cake. Commercial versions of rompope are available in the Washington area with the most popular brand being Santa Clara, named after the convent where rompope originated. But for a more rewarding tipple, it’s fairly easy to whip up a batch of rompope at home. Even though it is served chilled, it will still warm your insides on a frigid winter day. MEXICAN ROMPOPE 8 egg yolks ?5 cups whole milk 1 1/2 cup sugar? 1/3 cup blanched almonds, ground to a fine paste ?1/2 teaspoon cinnamon? 1 teaspoon vanilla? 1 cup gold or dark rum cinnamon sticks, for garnish In a bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy. Heat the milk over low heat, adding the sugar and cinnamon until dissolved. Add the ground almonds, stirring until smooth. Add the milk mixture to the eggs – gradually, to avoid cooking them. Pour in the rum, mix well, and refrigerate until chilled. Serve in a glass with a cinnamon stick for garnish if you desire.

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Kevin Plank Launches Rye in Time for Preakness

The first batch of Sagamore Spirit, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank’s new straight rye whiskey, was released May 13, just in time to be the official rye of the Preakness Stakes. At Plank’s Sagamore Farm — about 15 miles northwest of Baltimore’s Pimlico race track, home of the Preakness — Sagamore Spirit co-founder (with Plank) Bill McDermond hosted a launch party for the rye May 19. Restaurateurs and bartenders from D.C. and Baltimore drank rye and rye cocktails, tossed down bites from area eateries, smoked cigars, listened to a Nashville band and rode a mechanical bull. Plank’s remarks were on video; he was giving the commencement address at his alma mater, the University of Maryland. The hugely successful athletic-wear entrepreneur bought Sagamore, former horse-breeding farm of Pimlico owner and president Albert G. Vanderbilt II, in 2007. About 100,000 attendees are expected at this year’s Preakness, on Saturday, May 21. The favorite, Nyquist, won the Kentucky Derby May 7. A distillery for Sagamore Spirit, under construction in the Port Covington section of Baltimore, is expected to open to the public by early 2017, complete with tasting rooms. The rye, currently aged out of state, is cut to 83 proof with springwater that bubbles up through the limestone on Plank’s farm. Two Georgetown liquor stores sell Plank’s Sagamore Spirit for $44.99 per 750-ml bottle. “The guys like it,” said Steve Feldman of Potomac Wine & Spirits at 33rd and M Streets. “It's kind of a sweet rye.” Hop, Cask & Barrell — on Wisconsin Avenue near R Street — also had about six bottles left, pre-Preakness.

Cocktail of the Month: Canning the Fine Brine

If you’re a barfly in the D.C. area, you may be on to a bartender’s best-kept secret. Just in case you aren’t, local pickle company Gordy’s Pickle Jar is letting us in on it — and canned it for home bartenders here and nationwide. Gordy’s Fine Brine is the first pickle brine for cocktails to be sold in a can. Drink connoisseurs were pouring pickle brine from refrigerator jars — not the cleanest of options. Gordy’s founders, Sarah Gordon and Sheila Fain, were doing the same thing and realized there had to be (and needed to be) a better way. The cocktail pickle-brine can was born. Gordon and Fain founded Gordy’s five years ago after deciding to go into the pickling business. Fain was in the hospitality industry and Gordon had her own consulting firm that focused on branding. The two met through mutual friends and created Gordy’s, named after Gordon’s father, whom everyone called Gordy. “Gordy’s just seemed like a really strong pickle name,” Gordon said. A Chicago native, Gordon has lived in D.C. for 10 years, while Fain grew up in Columbia, Maryland, and later attended the University of Maryland. Fain had been living in San Francisco, but since the pickle market there was already oversaturated with small batch producers, back to D.C. she came to start up Gordy’s. The partners decided to set up shop in the Petworth neighborhood at 2nd and Upshur streets NW. “We love the neighborhood,” Gordon said. “It’s great. Upshur is getting a makeover and there are a lot of new businesses and young families.” Gordon added that while it’s not an ideal place to manufacture pickles, they rented 1,500 square feet because of their immediate need for space. “Right now it’s working for us, but we always have our eyes open for the next potential space,” Gordon said. The duo focuses on craftsmanship and sustainability, working with local farmers and farmers markets like Fresh Farm Markets (freshfarmmarkets.org). They’re also at Whole Foods stores in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as Harris Teeters and a number of small retailers. They also sell their products at local restaurants. For pickle-obsessed family members not in the D.C. area, Gordy’s ships nationwide. Gordon and Fain also have a deal with Nordstrom as part of their “Pop-In” series. Until April 17, “Pop-In: Eats” is going on at Nordstrom Tysons Corner. Gordy’s and other foods will be available. Additional Nordstrom “Pop-In” series cities include Chicago, Seattle and Dallas. If you visit Gordon and Fain’s website, there are delicious recipes created by the two, as well as some they collaborated on with other recipe magicians like Julia Turshen, who co-wrote “It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look and Feel Great” with Gwyneth Paltrow. Turshen created the “Kinda Korean Chicken” dish on their site (gordyspicklejar.com/recipe/kindakoreangrilledchicken). As far as plans for their own book, Gordon seemed to have a “never say never” attitude. “We really love pickles!” said Gordon, talking about her love of having a warm-weather vegetable all year round. “We love the idea of preserving the season.” The back of Gordon and Fain’s cocktail-brine can has a unique drink recipe concocted by Adam Bernbach of U Street cocktail bar, 2 Birds 1 Stone. We’ve included the recipe here. One Block Street 1 ½ ounces gin 1 ounce Gordy’s Fine Brine ½ ounce lime juice ¼ ounce rich simple syrup 2 dashes orange bitters Shake. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel. [gallery ids="102396,122718" nav="thumbs"]

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