You guys might have noticed that the Holiday Gift Guides have started to roll out on here. Well, I thought it might be nice to also roll out the Holiday Giveaways too! Yes, for the next few weeks I’ve lined up some delicious prizes from some of my favorite products that I know Stir and Strain readers will enjoy too.
I’m SUPER excited to kick it off today with Crafted Taste! Crafted Taste, the makers of some really cool curated cocktail kits (booze included!), must have been bit by the holiday bug because for this week’s giveaway they are going to let one winner pick out a curated kit from their site! Love Manhattans? (I do!) Want to try some Ward 8’s? (I do!) Curious about Cachaça? (You know you are!)
And not only do you get to pick out the cocktail kit of your choice, Crafted Taste is also giving the winner 50% Off a one month subscription! Now you get your very own Booze Mail!
Just check out the options below to enter and get up to 13 entries to win. You MUST BE 21 and OLDER to WIN. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST November 27th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below (some states unfortunately are excluded from shipping liquor to). For more information on Crafted Taste, please visit them atcraftedtaste.com. Good Luck!
Last night I made a batch of cranberry sauce. Don’t worry, I realize Thanksgiving is still a week away and no, I’m not going crazy with early prep. It’s actually for a project that you guys will hear about next week. Anyway, it was delicious. It’s also a reminder of how food has changed in my life.
When I was a young person, I had no idea what real cranberries looked like, apart from some illustrations on a bottle of cran-apple juice, and for me, cranberry sauce was cylindrical and had ridges. This was just an accepted fact until I actually ate real homemade cranberry sauce. I don’t remember liking it very much. It was too tart and soupy and where was all the sugar?! Now we make cranberry sauce at home every year and once in awhile I will eat out someplace that still uses canned. It’s more a novelty now; like eating Twinkies. Twinkies are pretty gross now to me, as are most of those grocery store goodies I used to crave.
This isn’t a rant by the way about processed foods and being a food snob. Mainly standing over the stove making the sauce last night just reminded me about how much I’ve come to appreciate and love home cooked food.
Also, that I actually really like cranberries too. And so here is your token cranberry holiday cocktail because Thanksgiving is next week. And… cranberries!
1-1/2 ounces Oloroso Sherry, Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15 year Oloroso used here
3/4 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice, Knudsen’s used here
1/2 ounce gold rum, Phraya used here
1/2 ounce simple syrup, see note above
2 dashes orange bitters such as Fee Brothers
orange peel for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine sherry, cranberry juice, rum, simple syrup and bitters. Shake well about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange peel.
I created this drink for Serious Eats as a lighter, lower ABV cocktail that you can drink at your holiday party and not get tanked with. I chose the Dry Sack Oloroso style, with its dry, sweet and nutty profile, as my perfect match for cranberries. The sweetness of the sherry also balances the lip-puckering tartness of the cranberry juice. And using real unsweetened cranberry juice here instead of a syrup helps to lighten the dense and potentially sticky mouthfeel of sherry. (Using a heavy syrup alongside of an Oloroso might have been, well, too much of a good thing.) Because sherry has only 20% ABV, the drink makes for a nice, lighter alcohol aperitif to start your evening. An extra half ounce of gold rum added to the drink gives more spicy depth to the drink without adding much boozy punch or detracting from the sherry’s flavor.
The Traveling Bar is an on-going series where cocktail bloggers, bartenders and boozy professionals pick their favorite neighborhood watering holes. Today we’re back in the East Bay (in Northern California) joined by Todd from Honestly Yum for his favorite place to get a drink. Read on to find out where you can oogle a tower of gin and then later feast on tacos. Mmmm… ~Elana
While admittedly I’m quite the cocktail nerd, by no means would I consider myself a cocktail snob. Consequently, I like a bar that takes its craft seriously, but doesn’t take itself too seriously; a place that can mix me up a boulevardier or a last word, but won’t get snarky if I order a rum and coke or a screwdriver. I’m a sucker for a good tequila selection and fresh citrus. Friendly bartenders go a long way, especially when I see they have a group of loyal regulars.
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?
The first place I always take my friends is the Hotsy Totsy Club in Albany, CA. It’s my favorite neighborhood bar – I grew up just around the corner. Nothing beats it!
3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here?
The Hotsy Totsy has it all: the charm of your friendly neighborhood bar, mixed with the craft of today’s cocktail scene. The local regulars are practically family. The owners Jessica and Michael keep the bar stocked with an evolving selection of spirits, old and new, including an impressive tower of gin. The bartenders are all incredibly knowledgeable, and in times of indecisiveness they never fail to mix me up something delicious.
4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself?
Hmm, so many choices…if it’s chilly outside I’d probably order my friend a “Hot Totsy”. It’s a flaming drink that uses overproof rum, brandy, honey syrup, lemon juice, hot water, and a winter spice blend. The spices are toasted over the flaming glass, which always makes for an impressive show (and smells incredible, btw). If the weather’s warm, and let’s face it we’re in California, I’d probably go with something cold and refreshing like “El Matador” (pictured here) – Hangar One chipotle vodka, Ancho Reyes, lime juice, agave and cilantro with a sriracha-salt rim. As for me, I’d probably order a glass of well-rum and fresh-squeezed grapefruit. Old habits die hard.
5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite?
The bar itself doesn’t serve food, but there’s an incredible taco truck called Tacos El Autlense parked in the Totsy’s parking lot, 7 days a week. Cocktails and tacos…it doesn’t get much better than that!
It’s that time of year! The time for gift guides! And this year we’re kicking off the holiday season with the best ways to transport your booze, your booze tools and whatever else you need to take your bar on the road.
On a plane, or a train, or maybe even a lazy river, you never know where you’ll be when the need to make a cocktail strikes. Keep some nips on you at all times, and throw some extra in your bar case. On a plane? Well, don’t leave it to the crew to make you a drink, you know how you like your Old Fashioned. Don’t chance breaking some bottles while riding the subway- just pour your booze into a bag. Or if you must be fancy, pour a bit into your keychain shot glass. And when you do find yourself on a lazy river, there’s a cooler for that.
At first glance, the ingredient list looks like the start of some Thanksgiving dessert: brown sugar, apple cider, lemon juice…but then we get some sweet vermouth thrown in there. Mmmm. Carpano Antica provides your boozy boost here and turns out it’s a strong enough player to carry all the elements.
Getting this not to turn into an overly sweet cocktail means a careful balance of ingredients. It’s amazing what a squeeze of lemon can do in addition to a nice glug of club soda. Even with 4 ounces, the drink still feels rich and bright. And don’t forget the lemon zest!
Also, if you haven’t heard, there’s also a giveaway going on right now! Head over here for some Sipp Sparkling Organic sodas – a nice addition to your cocktail bar.
Now let’s start on those holiday cocktails…
2 ounces Carpano Antica
1 ounce apple cider
1 bar spoon brown sugar (or 1 non-packed teaspoon)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from half a lemon
4 ounces club soda, Fever-Tree used here
lemon peel for garnish
In a rocks glass, add one bar spoon of brown sugar. Pour lemon juice over the brown sugar and muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice and then pour in Carpano Antica and apple cider. Stir gently to combine and then top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel.
**Someone online had asked me about batching this when I originally posted the recipe on Serious Eats and I actually think this would be a fine drink to serve pitcher style. Just mix everything except club soda together ahead of time (multiplied by your number of servings, omitting 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for every 4 servings). When ready to serve, either pour club soda into the pitcher, or top off each cocktail; entirely up to you how you want to serve.
It’s time for another giveaway guys! This week I received some sodas in the mail that I enjoyed SO much, I thought, Hey! Stir and Strain readers would like these too! Using organic ingredients, Sipp’s flavor packed bevies were created with the cocktail maker in mind. You got your fruit, your herbs, just add some booze! Earlier this week you might have noticed that I even made a pear granita with the Summer Pear flavor! With booze of course.
Sipp agreed that one lucky person should get to enjoy a 4 pack of all their flavors:
And if you can’t wait to see if you’re a winner, get $1 off when you purchase a 4 pack online with code HAVEASIPP1 (good until December 17th) through their shop.
Ready to make some Cocktail Quickies of your own with this 4 pack? Just check out the options below to enter and get up to 12 entries to win. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST November 13th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. For more information on Sipp products, please visit them athaveasipp.com. Good Luck!
Today’s Traveling Bar features a downtown Los Angeles location where you can get good cocktails, amazing food, AND excellent wine all in one place. Whitney Adams, my go-to wine expert, takes us there. ~ Elana
1. What do you look for in a bar? Good vibes, first and foremost. Good people, good music, good lighting…and of course, good drinks and wine. My very favorite bars have not only excellent cocktails but an interesting and well-edited wine list.
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 would probably head to Bestia. Kill several birds with one stone. The food is amazing, the cocktails are on point and the wine list is great. You can’t not be happy when perched on a stool at the Bestia bar.
3. What makes this place so special you’d bring them here? The energy of the restaurant is almost electric and buzzing, you feel like you are on the pulse of something. And it helps that I know a lot of the staff there, so it’s nice to be able to be amongst friends.
4. What do you order for your friend? What do you order for yourself? This is tough to answer because my drink order totally depends on my mood and changes all the time. I usually start with a cocktail and then move to wine, or the other way around. If i’m bringing a friend I would order us both one of their White Negronis (gin, kina l’avion d’or, suze, grapefruit oil) and then let Maxwell, Jesse or Ryan pour us literally any wine they have open. The “wine rave” is also a show stopper. Think flashing LED lights, bass-thumping music on a portable speaker and shots of riesling (or whatever).
5. Does the bar have food? If not, where would you go for a bite? Because it’s officially a restaurant, they most definitely have food. And outstanding food at that. Their pizza and pasta are some of the best I’ve ever had. I also love getting a house cured salumi plate with mustard and pickled things.
While I hear reports of snow hitting ground in some cities, Los Angeles still is having a personality crisis and can’t decide whether it wants to be Fall or Summer. It’s a perennial problem. So, I made a dessert that encompasses this contrast: Fall flavors encapsulated in a frozen dessert.
Following along similar veins to that apple-packed cocktail from a few weeks ago, I went ahead and packed this boozy dessert with pears: fresh pears, pear liqueur, and bubbly pear soda. Then I added some honey and St. Germain. I know that St. Germain gets thrown into cocktails much like salt gets thrown into everything, but have you stopped and just tasted it by itself lately? I forgot how rich it was, with beautiful notes of honey and spice, as well as the floral element it is known for. I wanted to bring this bottle back out after a brief hiatus and pair it with an ingredient that would accentuate those notes: like a pear.
St. Germain was actually one of the first bottles of liqueur that I bought when I was trying to add more “fancy stuff” to my home bar years ago. I remember traveling to this high-end liquor store in Pasadena and having to ask the clerk if he’d ever heard of it. Well, duh, of course he had. I forget what I made with it that first time around, but besides the unique taste, I also bought it in part because of the fancy looking bottle. You’ll still see those purchases in my home bar now; I’m a sucker for great packaging.
Now, this dessert requires a bit of hand-holding. However, if you start it early enough in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a delicious treat by night. And by hand-holding, you’re mainly sticking a fork in it every few hours or so.
Ok, let’s begin.
2 heaping cups cubed pears
1/4 cup Pear Liqueur
1/2 cup St. Germain
1 cup water
1 cup Sipp Summer Pear Soda*
1/4 cup honey (note: heating up the honey in the microwave for 15 seconds makes it pourable)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and move to the freezer. About every hour, run a fork through the mixture until it forms ice chunks or until you’re happy with the consistency. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Lots of pear flavor with strong notes of honey. The boozy aspect of this comes through, but I don’t find it off-putting, it’s just another layer to the dessert. The elderflower is subtle, and gives this a slight earthiness. Overall, just sweet enough. If you can adjust the honey based on your own preference (taste the mixture in the food processor first before freezing to make any adjustments).
Hey Guys! If you want to get your hands on your own Sipp Sodas, stayed tuned this week for another giveaway on the site!
*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.