Toast the New Year (with advice from John Shields)

Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields is bursting with a region’s worth of great recipes and charming stories—earning most recently a spot on the list of the year’s top five cookbooks from National Geographic’s food blog, The Plate. Wanting to raise a glass to John and his terrific book, and knowing that year-end toasting is drawing nigh, we can’t resist offering these celebratory suggestions from the book’s essential “Libations” chapter. Cheers for the New Year! 

Dirty Gertie
serves 1

This nasty-sounding drink will “put hair on your chest,” a phrase my uncle Rob used as a selling point when persuading you to try something you wouldn’t normally do. It is actually a “fishy” version of a Bloody Mary. For the ultimate in drink garnish, hang a peeled, deveined, and steamed jumbo shrimp on the glass.

1½ ounces vodka
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon prepared horseradish
3 dashes of Tabasco sauce
2 parts tomato juice
1 part clam juice, fresh or bottled
Celery stick, for garnish

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the vodka, lemon juice, Worcestershire, Chesapeake
seasoning, black pepper, horseradish, and Tabasco. Stir. Fill the glass
with a mixture of tomato and clam juice. Stir well. Garnish with the celery

Note: To regulate chest hair growth, increase or decrease the amounts of
horseradish and Tabasco accordingly.

Ginger Beer Fruit Punch
serves 8 to 10

This is an effervescent fruity punch with a zesty ginger bite. Ginger beer, as well as homemade root beer, is quite popular around the Chesapeake region. I have fond memories of our neighbor, Mrs. Tovey, brewing bottles of ginger beer and root beer in her basement. The punch is a welcome addition at kids’ parties and ladies’ luncheons.

2 cups cranberry juice
2 cups pineapple juice
2 cups grapefruit juice
Sugar, if desired
Ice cubes
3 bottles (12 ounces each) ginger beer

Mix the juices together in a large pitcher. Check to see if the mixture is too tart for your taste. If so, sweeten with a bit of sugar. Pour into a punch
bowl over ice. Add the ginger beer just as the company is coming in the door.

Blackberry Bounce (for drinking later in the month)
yields 2 cups

This is a variation on a “bounce” recipe from the late nineteenth century in Calvert County, Maryland. The original makes a gigantic batch using gallons of brandy to four times the amount of fruit and an aging process of 3 months to several years. The smaller amount shown here gives you a chance to see how you like the taste of the sweet/tart/alcohol ratio in the drink. Then the next time you whip up a batch, the recipe can be multiplied by however much bounce you would like on hand. It keeps almost forever.

6 cups blackberries, washed
1 generous cup sugar
2 cups brandy or whiskey
Small (1 inch) piece of whole cinnamon stick
Zest of ½ lemon

Place the berries in a bowl and lightly mash. Add the sugar and mash again. Place this mixture into a glass quart jar. Add the liquor, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest. Screw a tight-fitting lid on the jar and shake (“bounce”) it well. Place in a cool spot. “Bounce” it again the next day and then let sit overnight. Repeat this process, “bouncing” daily for about a month. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a bowl. Then strain again through some moistened cheesecloth. Pour the finished bounce into bottles and close the top securely. It’s ready to serve, either neat or on ice.

Start the New Year in fine fashion by using promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields.