The Fig and Tonic Cocktail

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Figs were never eaten around my house growing up. Unless you count that ubiquitous yellow box of cookies that I feel every 80’s parent was forcing on their kid because it might be seen as healthy. Fig Newtons were so weird. They had those crunchy bits and they weren’t that sweet, and yet they were called cookies. I probably couldn’t recognize a fig until I reached my twenties when I started working for a company that imported gourmet food. And then came the chocolate covered figs at holiday time. OH man–SO many people calling asking for those. The figs were not just covered in chocolate, they were enrobed. Which somehow just that word made them the most sexiest thing on the shelf. Enrobed in chocolate… I’d like to be enrobed in chocolate.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, one word of marketing and suddenly figs were a delicacy, not an unidentifiable fruit. Now they’re a common farmer’s market item. They’ve lost a little of their sultry shine but I still find them a touch exotic. And this past week I received a whole basket of them in our CSA box and decided they were ripe for a cocktail.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comToday I’m mixing up this cocktail with Everclear as part of their Make It Your Own campaign. We’ve been using Everclear on the site for years to make everything from infusions to liqueurs to tinctures. And now we’re using it to make cocktails too! Let’s be clear, Everclear on its own is 190 proof, but when you mix it with non-proof ingredients like syrup and water, then the final proof will significantly reduce. Here we’re only looking at a total of 27 to 32 proof depending on how much tonic water you desire–the less tonic the higher the proof.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comWhy mix with Everclear? Because I wanted to taste the ingredients and not so much another liquor flavor in the cocktail this time. It also makes for a stronger cocktail that doesn’t get watered down from the tonic. And what a complex tasting cocktail this is!

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comLetting the muddled figs steep in the Everclear for a bit makes the honeyed juice more prominent. Then to complement the figgy flavor, I created a vanilla syrup that gets some extra warming spice from black pepper, green cardamom, star anise and cloves. The vanilla really comes through but is much more complex in flavor from this spice blend. To offset some of the sweetness, a good dose of tonic water incorporates some bitterness into the cocktail while its effervescent bubbles distribute the flavors and bring out some aroma to your nose. The resulting cocktail is complex and yet clean tasting, refreshing and packs a punch. Ready to try one out?

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFig and Tonic Cocktail (27-32 proof)

1 ounce Everclear
2 figs, roughly chopped
3/4 ounce Spiced Vanilla Syrup (recipe below)
4-5 ounces tonic water

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle Everclear and figs. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add syrup and ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with tonic water. Garnish with fig slice.

Spiced Vanilla Syrup

2 vanilla beans cut into 2″ pieces
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 star anise
4 whole cloves
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Scrape seeds from the vanilla pieces and add to a small sauce pan. Then add in the vanilla pieces, peppercorns, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, sugar and water. Stir to combine and turn heat to high. Bring to just a boil and lower heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain syrup into an airtight container. Syrup will keep up to one month in the refrigerator.

Gift Guide: Summer Sipping

Need something a little cooler to sip from this summer? I got ya covered. So be cool. Don’t be all, like, uncool.

Gift Guide: Summer Sipping 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Summer’s made for pitcher cocktails, long icy cocktails, and when it’s really hot… beer in a glass (or just straight from the fridge). Brighten up your home bar while we’re still enjoying those long days.

1. Party Ferret Freaker 2. Yellow dipped pitcher 3. Grand Poppy Liqueur 4. Flamingo Glass 5. Tasty Tallboy Can 6. Copper Bar Cart 7. I Pineapple Summer Koozy

Salted Caramel & Peanut Infused Whiskey Cocktails

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

By the time August rolls around I can see Fall off in the horizon and all I can think about is WHY CAN’T SUMMER BE DONE WITH?! The sad reality is, it’s still going to be hot in Southern California for like, two more months. And it was relentless this year. I find it funny that in an area where seasons aren’t too distinct, I just can’t help but go on and on about the weather. Gosh, I’m getting boring.

But you know what’s not boring? Today’s cocktail!

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comBack in April while I was at the WSWA show in Vegas, and happily sipping on some great–and, let’s be honest, not so great–liquors, I happened across the Jackson Morgan Southern Cream booth. They had some really fun flavors and after I tried out their Whipped Orange Cream…mmmm; I was in a happy place. The flavor was just heads and tails better over the usual batch of flavored cream liqueurs–they didn’t taste artificial.

So, I nabbed a bottle of the Salted Caramel and concocted a recipe today that is halfway in Fall but still lingering in Summer.

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSalted caramel! Cinnamon! Fall! I’m more than happy to put these flavors in all my cocktails come September, but to keep it just a bit summer-y (I mean, it’s still only August), I’ve infused some whiskey with roasted peanuts. Combined, the resulting flavors are rich and warm with a fun pop of savory from the peanuts. It’s not too sweet with just enough creaminess in the mouthfeel. And since we’re serving it over ice, you can enjoy sipping on this cocktail even while the sun’s still out.

If the thought of infusions is giving you second thoughts, hold tight! There was the old way, where you combined your ingredients into a jar and agitated it every day, for like a week. Or a month. But some smartypants discovered the quick infusion using a whipping canister. Now, yes, this means having to acquire another piece of equipment for your home bar. However, it will save you a lot of time if making infusions and tinctures is your thing. Also, it’s a whipped cream canister. So, you get to have instant whipped cream any time you want!! Yay! I have my preferred brand which I noted in the recipe below, but seriously, any quality grade canister will do. Just remember you’ll need N2O cartridges for this, not CO2!

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSome notes on infusions:

  • When I do infusions I tend to make them in smaller batches unless it is for an event, then I’ll usually go with an entire 750 ml bottle or two. Here I’m using 200 ml because I find the flavor dissipates over time and I don’t want to waste an entire bottle of whiskey if it’s not going to get used up immediately.
  • Another reason you want to keep this batch smaller is due to the oils the peanuts impart to the whiskey. It just gets a bit gunky if you let it sit for too long. You can remedy this to a point by fine straining a few times, but this is not necessary if you’re doing a small batch and using the whiskey up.
  • With quick infusion in a whip cream charger, always use N2O chargers, never use CO2 as you’ll get a metallic taste in your infusion–yuck!
  • Also, do not use soda siphons to do this as they are manufactured to be used with water only.

For the cocktail:

2 ounces Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel Liqueur
1 ounce roasted peanut infused whiskey (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce cinnamon tincture (or large pinch of ground cinnamon, recipe for tincture follows)
ground cinnamon for garnish

  • In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel Liqueur, roasted peanut infused whiskey and cinnamon tincture or ground cinnamon. Shake hard for 20 seconds to chill. Strain over fresh ice into a double rocks glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon.

For the quick infused roasted peanut whiskey:

200 ml whiskey of your choice
1 cup roasted peanuts

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add whiskey and roasted peanuts. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain whiskey into a clean vessel for storage. Discard peanuts or let them dry and snack on the whiskey flavored peanuts later. Use whiskey immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

For the quick infused cinnamon tincture:

1 cup vodka
6 4″ cinnamon stick, crushed slightly

  • Into a whipping canister, add vodka and cinnamon. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain tincture into a clean vessel for storage. Tincture will keep up to one year in a cool, dark place.

Sparkling Coffee & Amaro Cocktail

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comHey guys! We’ve been enjoying a summer break around these parts (read: preparing for termite tenting and urging my husband to dispose of years of saved New Yorker magazines). But now we’re back with you today with a cocktail AND some awesome news!

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comFirst up, the awesome news.

Stir and Strain is a finalist AGAIN this year for Saveur’s Best Blog awards in the Drinks Coverage category. We are now up against some beer and wine folks and not just cocktails. Third time’s a charm? Or always a bridesmaid never a bride? We’ll see in September. For now, if you want to vote for Stir and Strain to win, you can do that today (and actually, they are allowing you to do that every day until August 31st. But I won’t pressure you guys either way.).

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comAnd now here’s a cocktail.

I’ve been digging Montenegro Amaro for a few months now, but mainly just as a digestif. It’s not new–it’s been around since 1885, but it was new to my line up this year and I couldn’t be happier. Looking for a new way to enjoy this but still keeping it at a low ABV, I thought about that kooky combination of cold brew coffee and tonic water I heard about last year. I don’t keep up with coffee trends, but I do enjoy putting coffee    into my    cocktails.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comSo I decided to pair Montenegro, with its super flavorful and wonderfully bittersweet taste, with a robust coffee and slightly bitter tonic. I finished the cocktail with a touch of grapefruit oil in the garnish–don’t skip that folks, it makes the drink with a light floral aroma. It’s hard to nail down exactly all the flavors you get with Montenegro, but there’s citrus and dried cherry and gentian root and just a lot of herbal notes. It provides enough sweetness along with the tonic water so there is no need to add any further sweetener.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comYou could have this as your digestif, or maybe a Sunday early afternoon drink. Up to your preference. I’ve been enjoying them in the late afternoon when I need a pick-me-up, but also, you know, want a little cocktail too.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.com5 ounces tonic water (Fever-Tree Indian Tonic used here)
1 ounce Montenegro Amaro*
3-1/2 ounces cold brew or chilled espresso (we have a Nespresso machine at home and for this I used one Lungo capsule of their Fortissio)
grapefruit zest for garnish

  • In a collins glass, fill with ice cubes and pour in tonic water. Add in the Montenegro and coffee. Express the grapefruit oil over the drink and add the peel to the cocktail. Stir gently to combine.

Shooting for The Dinner Party Download

October Seventh Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.comOne of the Pros of freelancing is that you can always take on work beyond the blog. I love getting the opportunity to work with companies that I respect and have followed for awhile. While sometimes I get to do that on here, many times there is a lot happening behind the scenes. One such project has been shooting the cocktail archives for The Dinner Party Download.

The Saint Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.com

If you’re not familiar with DPD, they’re a one hour radio program usually broadcast on your local public radio station and their job is to help you win your next dinner party with news tidbits, interviews, etiquette questions, and, most importantly, cocktail recipes. They’ve been doing this for awhile, so you can spend some time browsing their recipes for something to make for your next dinner party (and get a little history lesson too!). This post includes a few of my favorite shots I’ve taken for them over the past couple of years.

Lowells Love Affair Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.com
The Ivan Splash Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.com
Davis Dromedary Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.com
The Boardwalk Fizz Cocktail: Stir and Strain shoots Dinner Party Download // stirandstrain.com

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Cocktail Crate Summer Party Pack

Giveaway- Cocktail Crate Summer Party Pack // stirandstrain.comIf you’ve been over on the Stir and Strain Snapchat the last several months you’ve probably seen some cocktails I’ve mixed up using Cocktail Crate. Ever since I first tasted their Sriracha Margarita I’ve been in love.

Giveaway- Cocktail Crate Summer Party Pack // stirandstrain.com

Cocktail Crate makes delicious tasting mixers made with fresh, high quality ingredients. They pretty much taste like you’ve mixed something up in your own kitchen, which is how owner Alex Abbott Boyd first developed these recipes. I use these in my own home bar when I want a flavorful cocktail, but don’t have the time to mix up the syrups needed to make one. I love the convenience, and one lucky Stir and Strain reader will get to sample 3 of their flavors for your own summer cocktail adventure. The Summer Party Pack includes 1 each of their Grapefruit Daiquiri, Sriracha Margarita, and Ginger Bee mixers.

Giveaway- Cocktail Crate Summer Party Pack // stirandstrain.com

So let’s crack open a few bottles and mix up some cocktails! Enter now and get up to 12 entries to win by entering below. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST Monday July 11th, 2016. For more information on Cocktail Crate, check out their website at cocktailcrate.com today! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4th of July Drinking Guide

Fire up those grills and break out your blocks of ice.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.com

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch

 Fun In Jalisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Fun In Jalisco Cocktail

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.com

Aperol Spritz

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.com

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Sparkling Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.com
This post is brought to you by White Claw Hard Seltzer. Recipes and ideas are my own.

I could drink green tea all the live long day. I’ve convinced myself it’s a cure all drink; tired: drink tea. Feeling like I’m about to catch a cold: drink more tea. Stressed: GREEN TEA. But it’s also my secret cocktail ingredient. Green tea adds an earthy layer of flavor that gives a touch of savory to whatever drink you add it to.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.comThe summer months mean I switch from hot to iced tea, and now I include big squeezes of lemon, and maybe a little simple syrup. OK OK, I’m making green Arnold Palmers half the time and today I’m using that as the base for my new summer cocktail with White Claw Hard Seltzer.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.comYou might not have heard of this brand before and that’s OK. They’re not only brand new on the market, but hard seltzer is a whole new category unto itself. The best part of adding them to cocktails is that they’re all natural and additive-free. You guys know I just can’t tolerate the taste of synthetic–yuck. To add some effervescence to my cocktail, and just a hint of sweet fruit juice, I chose their Black Cherry flavor (my husband’s favorite) to compliment the earthy green tea and tart lemon. The seltzer is only 5% alcohol so I paired it with some white rum to round out the cocktail.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.comI’m loving this cocktail right now as I’m sweating to death here in Southern California. It’s so refreshing and light which is what I’m looking for with my summer drinks. Who wants something heavy and sickly sweet? And even though the White Claw Hard Seltzer is delicious all on it’s own (they come in 12 ounce cans you can just throw in your fridge for a chilled low cal drink anytime), it’s a great addition to my summer drink line up.

So let’s crack a can open and start mixing!

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.com1-1/2 ounces white rum
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 green tea syrup (recipe below)
5-6 ounces of White Claw hard Seltzer, Black Cherry flavor
lemon wedges and cherries for garnish.

In a highball glass, build your drink by filling your glass with ice. Then add in white rum, lemon juice, green tea and top with White Claw Hard Seltzer. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon wedges and cherries.

Green Tea Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 green tea bags

In a small sauce pan over medium high heat, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once a boil is reached, turn off heat and remove the pan from the stove. Add in the two tea bags and steep for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove the tea bags and let cool. When the syrup is cool, use for drinks or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

It’s Saveur Nomination Season!

Saveur Blog Awards 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Well hello readers. It’s that time of year–time for the Saveur Blog Awards! This year they’ve added some new categories but I’m asking for your help with just one: cocktails. Unless of course besides our spiritous content you’re also a big fan of our photography, or our Instagram, or all of it. If you are a fan, and you feel like taking the steps to go to another website and fill in some information to let Saveur know you like us, then please visit their site here.

As always, thanks for reading!

Summer Cocktailing Essentials 2016

Well, summer’s here. And I’m not going to complain about all this over 100° weather we’re having in Southern California. Nope. Not going to complain…

Summer Entertaining Gift Guide 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Instead I’ll use it as an excuse to sit in the pool with my flamingo drink holder. My fruit wine for the morning and my Japanese whiskey for the night (your whiskey changes each season too, right?). With a summery cocktail book in one hand, and my favorite citrus tools in the other I really won’t need much else for the next few months. Ok, maybe some boozy hot fudge sauce. That’s a must.

1. Tequila infused chocolate sauce 2. Outdoorsy drinking t-shirt 3. Bourbon infused chocolate sauce 4. Citrus squeezer and zester tools 5. Flamingo drink holder 6. Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes 7. Pomegranate Wine 8. Kikori Whiskey 9. Pineapple + Mango Sangria