Steak Island Cocktail

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIt’s Super Bowl weekend. I only know this because I was asked to come up with a cocktail you would want to drink at a party celebrating this fact. Well, it’s a drink that I would want to drink at this kind of party. And I guess the name is quite telling that I’d name it Steak Island, however, let’s talk about why I gave it this name.Steak Island Cocktails //

I go into this a little in the article I wrote on Serious Eats, but let me elaborate on this just a wee bit here. Since this is a safe place to ramble on and you readers are somewhat more forgiving of these overly long explanations (well, some of you aren’t and you know who you are).

For the most part, I like to live an uncluttered life.. actually, let me stop you here if you’re just searching for “super bowl cocktails” and you’re still reading at this point. Might I suggest you just scroll down to the recipe? Anyways, I’m the type of person who loves, with a capital L, to throw stuff away and have lots of clean surfaces. I’m a believer that an uncluttered space means an uncluttered mind and yes, I might just use the excuse that the studio space is too cluttered to photograph in right now so I’m just going to be over here watching tv and procrastinating. But mainly I’m not a person who holds on to stuff. However, I do have a few exceptions for collectibles. The major collections I have are my Tiki mugs, which need a new cabinet (see, I still need to sequester the collections) and, since I used to DJ out here with much, much more frequency than I do now, my 1960’s girl group and girl garage band 45s. That was mainly it for stuff I held on to that took up space. You know what doesn’t take up a lot of space that is fun to hang on to if you’re into cocktails: vintage drink stirrers. These are highly curated because I can’t justify keeping more on hand than what will fit in a Highball glass.Steak Island Cocktails //

Knowing that I liked some of these kitschy treasures from restaurants and bars that once were, a friend of mine found herself at a flea market somewhere in Arizona a few years ago and happened upon someone’s stockpile of stirrers for sale. Sifting through the amazing variety of brightly-colored sticks, she selected what she thought I’d most like to have (and seriously did an amazing job). One of my favorites though was this black stick with gold lettering that just said “steak island” on it with this little grass hut. Either it was the bizarre combination of this little tropical hut imagined to house giant steak laden plates, or that it was coming out of Texas and I was to believe there was something tropical-like there, but either way, I immediately knew someday I’d need to make a drink in honor of this establishment’s namesake. Super Bowl Sunday seemed like the most appropriate “holiday” to make such a drink.Steak Island Cocktails //

So what better to wash down plates of rich, meaty foods than some light and refreshing effervescent cocktails…made with beer! And… steak sauce!

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIf I was going to make a cocktail that included the word steak, then I figured some steak sauce as an extra special ingredient was in order. So what you get is a drink close to a Michelada with a heaping amount of tangy, umami-filled A1 Steak Sauce (or whatever sauce you’d like). Personally, growing up I was not a fan of steak, but I did like dipping the steak in A1 and then sucking all the sauce off the meat and tossing the meat away (I wasn’t a picky eater but the texture of steak I found to be most offensive to my young self). Now I skip the formalities and just drink the sauce here.

Intrigued? You should be, so let’s make some cocktails!

Yields 6-8 drinks for a party
8 ounces red and yellow bell pepper slices
14 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from about 14 limes
4 ounces steak sauce, such as A1
1/4 ounce freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
48 ounces lager, such as Pacifico
Lime wheels and additional bell pepper slices for garnish

  • In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle together the bell peppers and lime juice. Add the steak sauce and pepper. If your sauce is not on the salty side, add some additional salt to your liking. Cover and refrigerate the base at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  • To serve, add beer straight to the pitcher and stir gently to combine, serving into ice-filled glasses. Alternately, you can pour about 2 1/2 ounces of the cocktail base into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with about 5 ounces of the beer and stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish glasses with lime wheels and bell pepper slices, serve.

Like I said, it’s super refreshing and easy drinking, a great pair to richer foods. The steak sauce has a touch of sweetness and adds some underlying umami to the cocktail. Mixed with fresh citrus juice, it adds both a base note and a tangy brightness to your fizzy beer mixer. Muddled bell peppers offer a subtle vegetal flavor and complexity that’ll keep you sipping. I chose to top it all off with a lager so that the beer doesn’t overpower the drink with too much hops or bitterness or whatever special flavor it might have been brewed with. I enjoyed with Pacifico, Christopher liked some Foster’s with his.

Golden State of Cocktails: Follow Along with Me

Golden State Cocktails 2015 // stirandstrain.comThis week is the second year of the Golden State of Cocktails mega-event. So naturally that’s where I’ll be all week long.

Follow me on all the social media channels to get a glimpse into what’s new and happening in the state of cocktails here in Los Angeles and beyond! Feel free to ask questions, comment, roll your eyes, whatever and etc…

Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

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Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI know. That’s a mouthful of a title. But in actuality it’s an incredibly easy drink to make so don’t go running off just yet.

Right now I’m on a kick of making life EASIER for myself. I’m hustling in other areas so that means the drinks need to get whipped up with ease. Are you hustling in life? This one’s for you then.Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail //

I’ve come into possession of a number of rums as of late. In part, I’m tasting them for potential candidates to star in The Coconut Club drinks. Not all our drinks are rums, but we ARE a Tiki supper club, so we NEED some rums. And the other reason is that, after many years, I’ve come to like and appreciate rums. If you’ve been a long time reader on here, you may remember in the early years of this site that I was frequently confused by rum. I blame my mother’s rum and cokes that I would sneak sips of during bedtime story readings, and would cringe with disgust (I still don’t like them), as to why I had such distaste for the liquor. It turns out I was just drinking the wrong kind of rum.

So fast forward to now. As I said, I’ve been filling my days with a lot of other work that sometimes makes tinkering all day with drinks hard, if not impossible. When that happens there will suddenly be a lot of Manhattans or Negroni cocktails around the house. In doing so I finished all the Campari. And then I was out of rye. And then I decided what the hell am I doing?! Make something just a tad more creative lady!!Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail //

In stepped a bottle of rum and my copy of The Bar Book.

Still looking for a straightforward cocktail I looked to Morgenthaler’s Rum Old Fashioned. If the rum is good, like the bottle I had on hand, then you just want a few elements to highlight that rum; an Old Fashioned is perfect for that. I made the first round exactly as it was laid out in the book: the result was good but then my eye drifted over to the (vast) array of bitters taking up more space every day on the bar shelf. Smoked orange bitters! Yes!

The next round I changed it up, taking the lime peel out, adding in some smoked orange bitters, a spritz of orange oil; it changed the whole drink. Just as tasty as the first, but all new flavors that still highlighted the base rum, just in different ways. The recipe below is for the latter (go buy the book for his recipe and learn some more drinks!).

Inspired by The Bar Book

2 ounces Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Rum*
2 dashes Cocktail Punk Smoked Orange Bitters
5-10 ml demerara syrup (1:1 ratio)
orange peel for garnish

  • In a double old fashioned glass, add a large cube of ice. Build the drink by pouring in rum, syrup and the bitters. Gently stir 15 seconds. Squeeze the orange peel over the drink to release the oil and add the peel to the drink.

Mostly burnt caramel and grassy notes from the rum with just a hint of citrus. The bitters add a subtle layer of smoke that works really well with the rum. Makes me want to try some rum and mezcal drinks…

*This bottle was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

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The Traveling Bar: The Knock Back // Portland

The Traveling Bar: The Knock Back with Sage Against the Machine // stirandstrain.comThe Traveling Bar is an on-going series where cocktail bloggers, bartenders and boozy professionals pick their favorite neighborhood watering holes. Relatively new to the Portland area, Danguole already is scouring the cocktail scene and has picked the place we should all visit. Yes, there are amazing cocktails, but there is also a slushie machine. 

Who: Danguole Lekaviciute
Website: 10th Kitchen
Bar: The Knock Back
Location: Alberta District in Portland, OR

1. What do you look for in a bar?
I like places that know who they are and what they do well. A sense of identity is important, whether I’m at a dive or a Serious Cocktail Bar for Serious Drinkers, so I tend to appreciate all kinds of establishments. Obviously, really great cocktails are the way to my heart, but I’m happy as long as there’s at least one delicious beer on tap. I also like to be comfortable, which is as much about friendly staff as it is about a decent seating arrangement, decor, and ambiance. Good music will always get me to stay longer than I otherwise would. Oh, and turn on the heater, please. It’s cold out there.

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?
This is tough because I’ve been in Portland for just two months and already have too many favorites, even though I have a lot of exploring left to do. I guess it depends on who my cocktail lovin’ friend is, but if he or she shares my tastes, I’d take them to the Knock Back in the Alberta district.

The Traveling Bar: The Knock Back // stirandstrain.com3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here?
Incredible drinks, obviously, are priority number one. Theirs are seasonal, inspired, and perfectly balanced. You can’t go wrong with rock-solid Manhattans on tap, either. Jesse and Chris, the fellas behind the cocktail program, are serious about the craft, but will also happily serve you $2 Tecate tall boys. It’s like a Raven & Rose or Clyde Common disguised as a rock ‘n roll dive — because the people behind this bar know they can do it all very well. The place is everything that is wonderful about Portland, rolled into one: friendly, laid-back, styled with a lot of character and a little edge, unpretentious yet madly obsessed with good food and drinking.

4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself?
I would try whatever is seasonal. One of their winter offerings, Sage Against the Machine, is a particularly clever and delicious mix of roasted squash rum, St. Germain, demerara, sage, and a mezcal rinse. As for my friend, it depends on their tastes of course — but the Painkiller here is fantastic, so I’d gently suggest that. Or maybe we would just start with two of whatever is in the slushie machine (I heard rumors about frozen watermelon palomas this summer) and go from there.

5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite?
They do, and I recently learned that all bars in Portland are required to serve food. This is a mixed blessing, of course, but now that I think about it, you can usually tell by the menu whether the bar is serious about food (most are) or is just keepin’ it legal. The Knock Back is definitely the former — on one occasion I heard a fellow patron praising the homemade pozole with some combination of the words “best,” “ever,” and “had,” so I’ll have to try it next time. Other than that, it’s pub food done really, really well — think fried Brussels sprouts, dirty popcorn, fried chicken sandwiches, salads, and burgers. And like a true PDX establishment, they also have a stellar tempeh Reuben.


Photos courtesy of Danguole Lekaviciute.

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Happy New Year Everyone! Sparkling, punches, and other ideas for tonight!

I’ve got a last minute round up of some drinks for all your parties tonight. Whether you require something sparkly, something overflowing, or maybe something not-too-boozy to start your night off, I’ve got some good picks for you. See you all in the New Year, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all of you!

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria //

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Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

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Smoky Sage Punch //

Smoky Sage Punch

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Raspberry Amaro Spritz

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Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Amaro Highballs //

Amaro Highballs

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