Category Archives: things to drink

Craft Cocktails: BTB Speakeasy

Craft cocktails are the hottest thing in entertaining these days. Beyond the handcrafted bitters touted by beguiling bearded hipsters lays a storied tradition of revival.  In the heart of Old Town Leonardtown, Maryland a nod to some of that history can be found behind an unassuming bookshelf in a charming little coffee shop – welcome to BTB Speakeasy.

BTB SpeakeasyThis quaint little cocktail stop lets you step back in time to an era when the Volstead Act had Americans crafting cocktails in bathtubs and whispering passwords through sound dampening doors.  As you slip past the bookshelf in the bright at cheery coffee shop (grab a one of their cookies to go – so good) the tones, seemingly even the time changes. The room is dark, the tables and chairs a hodgepodge, the bar lit with flickering candlelight.  The feel is decidedly clandestine. 

Bustling behind the bar are some gifted Mixologists – no bathtub gin here. Top shelf spirits come together with handcrafted syrups, bitters and unique techniques developed by co-founder and cocktail genius Brad Brown. Sitting next to a fresco of Al Capone himself, Penny, Brad’s wife and BTB co-owner, regaled me with stories of cocktail history and the inspiration that transformed a coffee shop into an homage nightlife under the eighteenth amendment. 

On a trip to New York Penny found her way into a speakeasy. Impressed by the immersive, fun, cloak-and-dagger feel of it she walked away inspired to bring that to life in Leonardtown. Helped along the way by Brad’s years in the bar/restaurant business and the artistic talents of a close friend who painted period murals for the walls, the duo brought a bygone era back to life. 

The space inside the speakeasy is snug with just a handful of tables that must be reserved in advance. Call ahead to reserve one and get the password of the day. Whisper that to the staff at the coffee shop counter or pickup the old fashion phone on the wall to connect directly to the back. You won’t get in without this information – after all you could be the Fuzz!

Dotted with antique shops, a wonderfully dusty used book and record store, vintage car museum, craft chocolate factory and historical landmarks, the Old Town section Leonardtown, Maryland feels as though it is frozen in time as well.  A stop at BTB Speakeasy (and Coffee Shop) is a great way to cap off a visit to Old Town. 

BTB Speakeasy’s Smoked Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 1 1/2 ounces Top Shelf Bourbon
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • water
  • Slice of orange and cherry to garnish
  • Maple Wood Plank

Brad’s twist on this classic cocktail is the smoking of that maple wood plank. You can find these at most big box or stores like Lowes. Light the wood and blow it out. Turn your highball glass over on top of it to capture the smoke. Put the sugar in a cocktail shaker, add bitters and bourbon. Muddle until the sugar is crushed. Top with water to your liking and shake. Turn your smoke-filled highball glass over and quickly add ice, pouring the cocktail over the ice. Garnish with cheery and orange. The flavor is incredible!

note: pay special attention to the “House Rules” at BTB Speakeasy. Also, if you wear a fedora you’ll get half off your first cocktail.

12 Hours in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

12 hours in Williamsburg BrooklynGetting to know a city is rather a bit like dating. That rush when you find the first thing that grabs your interest. The thrill of newness. Then settling in a bit to really connect on a deeper level.  Every relationship has it’s highs and lows. And then there were those 12 hours in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

When it comes to New York City, Brooklyn in particular, I’ve a bit of a matchmaker. My husband is a Brooklyn native, born and raised. It wasn’t until after we moved from California to Maryland that I ever set foot in the Empire State. Over a decade later, I’m still enamored of something in each of the five boroughs.

Like anyone when they first start seeing someone, I typically refuse to hear anything bad about my new beau. When dear friends {also life-long New Yorker’s} lament the loss of ‘authenticity’ in their city, I simply turn a deaf ear.  Sure the traffic is lousy and stuff is expensive, but even high-maintenance relationships can be fulfilling

Did Big and Carrie teach us nothing?

Banksy Street Art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn New YorkOne of the best ‘dates’ I’ve had with New York was 12 hours in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My eldest daughter came along to meet my muse. We walked for miles, enjoyed outstanding food, fed our artistic spirits, shopped, talked and mingled with the locals. Here are a few things that can’t be missed if you’ve only got a few hours to fall in love. 

Brunch at Marlow & Sons

Fresh. Local. Artisanal. Check! This place is a bit of farm-to-table meets french bistro, though the food is decidedly Americana with a modern twist. The menu changes daily, which makes it  a culinary adventure whenever you go. The baked eggs with ham and chickpeas was a favorite. A perfectly baked egg is an art form.

The Pink Olive

Stationery is my kryptonite. I can’t pass up pretty paper. The Pink Olive is a gift store that has the prettiest of paper, and more. I could have spent the kid’s college fund on tea towels, candles and Salt Road handmade taffy.

Brooklyn Bowl

Classic bowling alley with a trendy twist, like Chesterfield leather sofas and award-winning eats. We stopped in for a quick match {doesn’t take long for me to bowl a few frames of gutter-balls} in the early evening, just after it opened at 6pm. It was quirky, but fun. I can see how it becomes a hot-spot for the grownup types after dark. They feature live bands as well.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Williamsburg, Brooklyn New YorkMast Brother’s Chocolate

I’ve long been a fan of Mast Brother’s handcrafted, high-quality, responsibly sourced chocolate bars. When we stumbled upon the shop as we explored, the heady aroma of cacao drew us in like a siren song.

More than a retail location, this is also the factory and bakery. Bags of raw cacao beans line the worn wooden floors. Beautifully wrapped, uniform-sized bars are laid out on a weathered table under harsh lights. They look more like stacked books than decant chocolate. An expert in all things cocoa nib hovers nearby ready to answer questions and hand out small samples… oh yes, there are samples. 

Mast Brother's Chocolate Shop Brooklyn, New YorkA stop here is much like a visit to a museum with friendly docents ready to teach you all about their passions.

Radegast Hall & Biergarten

You like live music? Dig elevated pub grub and a good beer? Go HERE! The vibe here is so nostalgic that you can almost feel the wraiths of early German immigrants to America float among the hops hung to dry from the rafters over your head.

Gritty without being grungy, and featuring excellent German fare as well as a few distinctly American offerings, this is a great place to grab a meal. If you can’t get seated in the open-air biergarten {or if it is a tad too chilly} ask for a window seat. The people watching is as good as the food.

12 Hours in Williamsburg, Brookly - BiergartenUrban Market of Williamsburg

At the end of the block – a short walk from Marlow & Sons in the shadow of the Williamsburg bridge– is a foodie nirvana called Urban Market. If you want to taste all the flavors of Brooklyn from Little Italy to China Town this is the place.  Plus there is a parking garage here that doesn’t cost you a mortgage payment.

Park, explore, come back and shop before you leave. We grabbed bread, local cheeses, some french pastries, and the best cocktail bitters outside of my own homemade. {I’m modest like that}

What cities have you fallen in love with, and why?

12 hours in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

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Homemade Limoncello Recipe

For years pals {of both the real and interwebs varieties} have been asking me to share my homemade limoncello recipe. It’s not that my Limoncello is so fancy, or that the recipe is a tightly guarded secret. The fact is I’m mostly just lazy. 

Homemade Limoncello RecipeI’ve finally transferred the info from the tattered piece of paper I stuff in my copy of Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, to the Slightly Tipsy Facebook page… and now HERE. There are any number of limoncello recipes out there. I’ve tweaked mine a few times over the years, but it’s always remained really simple.

We make two large batches a year. One to stock our bar with {for the year, don’t judge} and one for gifting. Other than cash, not much else beats handcrafted hooch in the gift department. Enjoy!

Homemade Limoncello Recipe

8-10 Lemons {I prefer Meyer for flavor & color}
5 Cups Filtered Water
3 1/2 Cups Superfine Sugar {or pulse regular sugar in a food processor}
1 Quart of Vodka {or any clear grain alcohol}

Remove zest from lemons. Be SURE not to get too much of the icky {totally a technical term} white pith in there. Place in an airtight container. Pour vodka in. Seal and store in a dry, dark place for 6 days. On the 7th day, combine water and sugar. Bring to a low boil until sugar is dissolved. BOOM! You’ve got simple syrup. Add that to your lemon peel and vodka concoction. Place back in your storage spot for 2-4 more days.

Remove lemon peels. Strain that sunshiny hooch through a fine sieve. With a funnel, fill smaller {prettier} bottles with your awesome Limoncello.

Once you’ve mastered this homemade limoncello recipe {or even before you have} come stop by the Slightly Tipsy website. It’s a fun place where I get to hang out with some of my favorite people and fellow cocktail  aficionados. 

Creative Craft Cocktail Recipes – Lavender Blackberry Limoncello-ade

Creative Craft Coctail Recipes: Lavender Blackberry LimoncelloADE

Summers spent sipping lemonade, well it doesn’t get much better than that. Or does it? Well if you’ve got some fresh berries and limoncello… um, it could!

I love creative craft cocktail recipes, but lets face it those puppies can be complicated to shake up. It’s summer, I want to relax, have fun, and just groove. This is one of my favorite creative craft cocktail recipes. It’s bright, breezy and super easy – the trifecta of summer fun.

Lavender Blackberry LimoncelloADE
Serves 1
Lemons and lavender enhance the summery sweetness of fresh muddled black berries in this light and easy summer craft cocktail.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
5 min
Total Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 oz Limoncello
  2. 2 oz Blackberry Vodka
  3. 1/4 cup Fresh Blackberries
  4. 2 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  5. 1 Cup Lemonade
  6. 4 Lemon Slices
  7. 1 Sprig Lavender (optional)
  8. Ice
Instructions
  1. Muddle blackberries with essential oil in a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, limoncello, and ice. Shake well. Place lemon slices and more ice in a mason jar. Pour cocktail over ice. Garnish with whole blackberries, lavender sprig, and lemon slice.
Notes
  1. This recipe is easy to double, or even kick it up to a batch big enough to put in a beverage service jar. Great for picnics and BBQs.
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom http://chickennuggetsofwisdom.com/
 What are some of your favorite cocktails? Do you like them fruity and sweet, salty and tangy, or maybe just with a twist and a splash? I love welcoming the weekend by putting a fun new cocktail in a shaker and seeing how it shakes out.  If you dig a cocktail, you need to go checkout Beautiful Booze.

I suspect the hubby secretly digs coming home, sitting on the sofa, and being handed a highball. He’s so old school cool.

Foodie Nirvana Found: Iron Rooster, Annapolis

Crispy Pork Belly Fried Green Tomato Lettuce and a Poached Egg the BLT & E at Iron Rooster, Annapolis, MarylandHave you ever stood in a gallery staring at an amazing piece of art, all the while wondering where the artist’s brain was? What was the thought process behind that bold stroke of crimson that feathers into a wisp of grey so soft it breaks your heart? I get that way about a poached egg.

Okay, so maybe there was a dash of hyperbole in the whole egg thing there. Truth be told though, I often wonder what inspires an amazing dish. What was it that compelled that first cook to wrap a jewel of honeydew in a salty ribbon of prosciutto? Brilliance often defies logic, but boy can it taste good.

Behind the brick facade of a historical storefront in the charming market place of downtown Annapolis, Maryland brilliance is in the baking, on the flat-top and in the fryer. Here Foodie Nirvana can be found on a brioche bun, slathered in garlic aoili, and topped with a poached egg.

After an afternoon of blissful indulgence in the form of crispy pork belly and fried green tomatoes, chicken fried to perfection then seated upon a pedestal of golden waffles and enrobed in velvety gravy that would earn my own granny a smack in the mouth, I had to know more about the artist (chef) behind this study in indulgence.

Iron Rooster Annapolis Elevating Comfort FoodKyle Algaze, is the genius behind Iron Rooster. The former General Manager of The Breakfast Shoppe, where he won many awards in the area including “best breakfast in the state of Maryland” as voted by Rachael Ray Magazine – Kyle balances life as the father of two with running a restaurant that elevates comfort food to an art form.

Kyle took a quick break from the handmade pop-tarts (no concrete masquerading as frosting here) to dish with me.

What is Scrapple anyway?! (Wait, do we want to know?)

Some things are better left unsaid, but we serve it crispy and let the guest do the rest. It is a VERY popular menu item. We call it Pennsylvania Caviar.

Note to self: Don’t ask for caviar in Philly.

How do you top your waffles?

With fried chicken and black pepper gravy, of course (Chicken and Waffles).

Cheeky Monkey, he knows I meant… how do you “out do” those pillows of perfection.

What food do you refuse to eat?

Ketchup….I don’t like to even touch it. Ironically, my son puts ketchup on everything…literally everything.

Your favorite cookbook, is?

Heritage by Sean Brock (Husk Restaurant in Charleston). It’s low country comfort food, and very thought provoking.

I failed to mention that I’m a cookbook hoarder and he’s just become an enabler with this one.

Best cocktail you’ve ever had? Go!

Angels & Demons at Level in Annapolis: (Herradura Silver tequila, St. Germain, micro cilantro, habanero pepper, lime, agave). The name says it all.

Iron Rooster Resturant Annapolis Maryland Ephemera

There are great vintage “family” photos on the wall in the women’s restroom, people you know?

No, we do not know any of the women pictured in the restrooms (the men’s room has pictures as well). But the building is haunted (it was built in 1906)…so you never know if they come out at night.

Thanks Kyle… now back in the kitchen!

Here is my take. Is it worth it to make a trek into Annapolis if you live in DC? Yes. Does traffic and parking in the area suck? Also, yes. If you’re visiting Annapolis from out of town should you go anywhere else for brunch? NO!

You’ll find Iron Rooster at, 12 Market Space, Annapolis, Maryland. The price-point runs from about $9-$15. They have an amazing mixology menu as well as great options for kids – I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive. I like a cocktail with my PBJ. Wait, that may not have been my point.

Though the place is often busy, it never seems cramped and the staff is always welcoming. I suggest making a reservation though. See if you can get seated upstairs, the view is almost as incredible as the Red Velvet Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich.