9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comHoliday season is punch season. Ok, well, holiday season means more punch at every party. Everyone wants a punch, but let’s be honest, most of them are pretty meh.

Holiday season also means that hosts are pulling out the good booze because, hey, they’re in the spirit of sharing right now. I see a lot of Scotch brought out. Good scotch. Sometimes so good I’m hesitant to tell the host they should hang on to it and not start passing it about willy nilly. But then I’m selfish and want to drink said scotch so I’m shutting up about it.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comThis holiday season I decided to combine both. I also wanted to create a punch that people who turn their noses up at scotch would like… and I did it. In fact, I got to test this punch out on a pretty varied crowd before I posted it. Initially when I showed up with the punch, people would eagerly ask what was in it then inevitable scrunch their nose as I listed scotch as an ingredient. People who don’t usually drink scotch really tend to have strong opinions about what they assume it will taste like: gym socks, band aids, burnt…stuff… So they already have a negative opinion before they start.9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

But the thing about holiday parties is that you always end up staying longer than you thought, and by this point you’re drinking whatever is left. For these people, initially turning down the scotch punch, they begrudgingly took a glass after finding out someone had drank all the good champagne. And then they found themselves confounded: they really liked the punch made with scotch.

Color me amused when the same folks who seemed genuinely annoyed/disgusted/sad when told the giant bowl of punch was made with scotch later came up to me with giant grins asking again what was in that punch? Had I just made converts of this bunch?9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

It’s holiday time, the season of giving, so I hope you all will allow me this one time to toot my own horn and smirk just a little as person after person drank up a scotch punch they earlier swore they’d never touch. Curious about the name? If you know your holiday songs, then you’ve recognized this from the 12 Days of Christmas. My punch, with 9 integral ingredients, was for a party with this theme. The Table Set guys sure love a theme party.

Now it’s your turn to try it. Please, be honest, and let me know if I’ve made you a convert too.

For the Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup:

4 (3- or 4-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean seeds and pod, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain. The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For the Chai Tea:

2 cups boiling water
3 chai tea bags

Combine boiling water and tea in a heatproof container. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature before adding to punch.

For the Punch:

1 (750 ml) bottle blended Scotch, such as Monkey Shoulder
2 1/4 cups Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 cup fresh juice from about 6 lemons
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup
2 cups Chai Tea
1/8 cup Angostura bitters
6 orange wheels, star anise, ice block*, for garnish

In a punch bowl or large container, combine Scotch, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, tea, and bitters. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, add an ice block and garnish as desired.

*If you want to get really festive, you can add some decorative elements to your ice block. I added extra cranberries to mine. As the night progresses and the ice melts, they’ll start popping out and floating about. So make sure whatever you use is washed and makes sense with the rest of the ingredients!

So yes, scotch is definitely present. I chose Monkey Shoulder blended scotch, which offers a strong punch of malt, smoke, and baking spice flavors, perfect for a winter punch. Next I added in some chai tea just below full strength. The tea adds a wonderful assortment of appropriate flavors: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom and black pepper all work beautifully with the whisky. Then I followed that up with Sherry for a little sweet nuttiness; Angostura for bitterness but also extra spice; and vanilla-laced cinnamon sugar syrup for a slightly floral and woodsy sweetness.

 

This recipe was originally posted on Serious Eats.

Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots

Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots // stirandstrain.comAt Christmas, my favorite part of opening presents was tackling the stocking. Buried deep within was surprise after surprise of …well, mostly trinkets, but hey, I love lots of things in miniature.

This week’s holiday giveaway has the perfect miniature gifts to fit inside a stocking or to sneak inside your pockets when you go see whatever holiday blockbuster is showing in theaters (unless you planned on seeing the Interview). Ludlow’s Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots are generously giving one of you a stocking full of every flavor of jelly shots they make PLUS a pair of Ludlows sunglasses, a shaker, tattoos and a tote bag! EVERYTHING FITS IN A STOCKING!Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots // stirandstrain.com

If you’re looking for a different take on craft cocktails, look no further than Ludlows; these little guys are amazing! Enter below and get up to 12 entries to win. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST December 25th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. For more information on Ludlows, please visit them at ludlowscocktails.comGood Luck!

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Homemade Boozy Gift Round Up

Everyone loves receiving a homemade gift of the food variety. Even more so when it tastes good! Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite items to make and give.

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

 Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.comKiss of Fire Aperol Jellies

Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Fernet Branca Jelly

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Meyer Lemon Bitters

holidayspicesyrups1

Holiday Spice Syrups

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Brownies

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Jameson Whiskey Truffles

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies

The Traveling Bar: Employees Only // New York City

The Traveling Bar: Employees Only in NYC // stirandstrain.comThe Traveling Bar is an on-going series where cocktail bloggers, bartenders and boozy professionals pick their favorite neighborhood watering holes. The West Village in NYC is home to one of the first modern-type speakeasies we’ve all come to love drinking at. Prairie Rose takes us past the neon glow of the Psychic sign for her favorite bar this week.

Who: Prairie Rose
Website: Bit By a Fox
Bar: Employees Only
Location: West Village (New York City)

The Traveling Bar: Employees Only in NYC // stirandstrain.com1. What do you look for in a bar?
I like bars that are comfortable (booths are a bonus!), friendly, can attract a variety of clientele and have a little sex appeal. Also, they have to make a solid drink. Even if it’s a dive bar and all I’m getting is a rye whiskey and a splash of ginger ale, I’d like a nice glass of ice and fresh lime, please!

2. Here’s the scenario: your cocktail lovin’ friend is coming to your town for ONE night. You only have time for ONE bar. Which one is it?
I think Employees Only makes a pretty nice impression. But I would insist we go early in the night to avoid any trouble getting in.

3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here?
EO was one of the first speakeasy type bars in NYC (they just celebrated their 10 year anniversary), they have a solid craft cocktail menu and the flattering lighting and attractive employees doesn’t hurt. You’re bound to chat up your neighbor, stick around for dinner,​ work your way through the cocktail menu, and stay well past your bedtime.The Traveling Bar: Employees Only in NYC // stirandstrain.com

4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself?
I’d let my friend order for themselves. But I’m happy to recommend something, depending on what they’re most interested in. I love an aperitif cocktail and The Provençal – Lavender-infused Plymouth Gin stirred with Herbs de Provence-infused French Vermouth & Cointreau is a delightful one. And a safe bet is the crowd-pleasing Amelía – Aylesbury Duck Vodka & St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur shaken with puréed Blackberries & Fresh Lemon Juice.

5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite?
They DO have food and it’s good! The food menu has an old-world gentleman’s club steakhouse vibe to it. Oysters, caviar and lamb chops are on the menu – a good base for all those Manhattans you’ll be imbibing!

 

*Photos courtesy of Prairie Rose.

More Traveling Bar Posts found here!

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.comIt’s that time of year where I put booze in baked goods and share the recipe with you!

This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap once again. I was so set on making rum balls (it’s another thing I’m getting to cross off the “to make” list) that I didn’t really think about how well they would transport across the country. So, if you’re reading this and you received a box from me… apologies if they were either melted/smooshed/etc… Hopefully that shouldn’t matter cause you thought they tasted so good you ate them anyway.

cookie swap

These rum balls are different from what I grew up with. Mostly they’re like fudge chock full of nuts and aged rum. Then rolled around in coffee flavored jimmies. Do you call them jimmies? Apparently these are one of those regional food items that every part of the country calls something else. You may know them as sprinkles. Or.. I dunno. What else do people call them? I also grew up eating American Chop Suey which apparently only people from Rhode Island and New Hampshire eat.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

There is no actual baking in this recipe. Yes, there’s a double boiler but all that is required of you there is to get some water hot and then stir for about 5 minutes. What I’m really saying here is don’t be afraid of the confection; it’s amazingly simple to make but looks super hard and that means people will fawn all over you for making this.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

I’m keeping this post short. It’s the holiday season! You all have a million other cookie recipes to make (or gawk at).Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Let’s do this!

Adapted from Carla Hall’s Rum Balls

1/4 cup aged rum, Brugal 1888 used here
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
coffee flavored jimmies for rolling

  1. Heat the rum in a small skillet over medium until reduce by half. Set aside.
  2. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate, espresso and butter over a double boiler (or if you don’t have one, a medium sized sauce pan with about an inch of simmering water with a stainless steel bowl on top will also work). Stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, rum, powdered sugar and salt until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. This can also be prepared a few days in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge. (If refrigerating, let mixture fully come to room temp before trying to scoop.)
  4. Portion dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sprinkles. Chill in an air tight container until ready to serve.

The consistency is very close to fudge with lots of crunchy bits from the pecans. While present in flavor, the rum takes a backseat and is pretty subtle. If you want more punch from the rum, then increase rum by a tablespoon before reduction.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Happy holidays guys! I hope you try your hand at making these!

Monday Booze News 2014 cocktail trends in review, how mood lighting will make your wine taste better, and a new holiday giveaway

boozenews-cocktailLACMA

Holiday Gift Guide: What I Want, Too

While I seem to be spending all my time lately helping you figure out what YOU should be getting this holiday season, I only see it as fair that I share what I want too.

What I Want for Christmas // stirandstrain.com

Give me a little pop of color for when I’m by the pool; I don’t mind acrylic if it means all day cocktailing and never leaving my giant lime wheel float. But when I want to get fancy, I’ll need that stack of champagne coupes and, albeit it predictably so, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Also, a place to perch myself please, with some shiny bar tools nearby and some personalized drink stirrers so I know which drink is mine. And if Santa’s feeling extra generous, that Cartier Punch Bowl set looks might fine.

1. Lime Wheel Float 2. Personalized Drink Stirrers 3. Coupe Stack Glasses 4. Veuve Clicquot 5. Acrylic Goblets 6. Flamingo Cocktail Napkins 7. Rattan Chair 8. Copper Shaker 9. Antique Cartier Punch Bowl Set

 

Check out all the past gift guides here!

Giveaway // A Flavorful Fruitations Holiday

Fruitations Trio Giveaway // stirandstrain.comARGH! I’m not ready for Christmas guys. I put up a tree a week ago but haven’t gotten around to decorating it yet. Maybe I can have a New Year’s tree? I’d make it work.

Sometimes even I need a little help when it’s Holiday time. Maybe you do too. It’s ok; we’re in this mess together. Today I’ve also got something to help us all out when it comes to making cocktails: Fruitations. Awhile back I tried some of these all fruit mixers and decided that you all need to try them too, they’re right up there with freshly squeezed, except I don’t have to squeeze them and they’re ready pronto.Fruitations Trio Giveaway // stirandstrain.com

And not just for cocktails! You got kids running around at your holiday party? Maybe your best friend’s got a bun in the oven? Mix up a non-booze drink with these! Ok, but mostly we all know we’re going to use them for cocktails. Delicious cocktails.

Fruitations and Stir and Strain are giving away a trio of fruit flavors to one reader so you can get to your holiday cocktail planning STAT! Enter below and get up to 12 entries to win. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST December 18th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. For more information on Fruitations, please visit them at justaddfruitations.comGood Luck!

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Spiced Averna Toddy

Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis winter season you’re going to drink some hot cocktails (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere where you got another 6 months for that. Unless you like hot drinks in hot months. Hey, I drink iced coffee all year round now.) and more than likely a lot of them will have the same old familiar base. While whiskey is always a good partner, or even some nice aged rum, today I turn to a maybe an unlikely addition: Averna.

I love Averna, and you’ve seen it pop up on this site from time to time, but never warmed up. And now that I’ve had it warmed up, I can’t believe it took me so long to do it!Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Serious Eats had asked me to come up with a hot drink for this cool season and frankly it took a moment of head scratching to figure out what to make. I kept struggling with how I’d make hot whiskey interesting…until I nixed the whiskey altogether. Then what you get is a flavorful hot toddy that’s low on the ABV and the perfect beverage you can start offering with brunch all the way up through dinner. I like a cocktail that has that much potential.Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now you know I can’t leave good enough alone, and I always give you a bit of homework on here in order to make some of these drinks, so it should come as no surprise that I’m requiring a deep, dark brown sugar syrup steeped with peppercorns and cinnamon to accompany this toddy. As much as I like Averna, adding this syrup in there gives it so much flavor, and it kinda comes out tasting like a spicy tea (without the tea).

So curl up alongside a fire with a good cocktail book and one of these Averna Toddies this winter. And save the whiskey for something else.Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Spiced Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks

  • Combine water, brown sugar, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to simmer, stirring, and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for an hour and a half. Strain and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

For the Cocktail:

1 ounce Averna
1/2 ounce spiced syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon
4 ounces boiling water
Lemon peel for garnish

  • In a heat proof mug, combine Averna, spiced syrup, lemon juice, and boling water. Garnish with lemon peel and serve immediately.

Warm and bright from the lemon. Lots of strong spice with hints of caramel and a touch of bitterness. The cinnamon lingers around but is not overpowering. Sweet, but light on the palate.

Monday Booze News the sustainable bar, robot bartenders and win some booze

Monday Booze News: Cookies and Punch Edition // stirandstrain.com
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