Crustafied whiskey - orange curaçao - lemon - angostura - notes on moving on from craft cocktails

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comAre you going to Tales this year? Can we meet at Tales? I’m reaching out to you about meeting up at TOTC… Sorry guys, I did not attend Tales of the Cocktail this year. I really don’t know when I’ll make that happen, if ever. However, I was able to bypass the crowds and the sweltering, miserable 105° heat with god-knows-how-high humidity and just look at everyone’s Instagram and Twitter and quite frankly that was great and totally enough, thanks.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comLately though it’s been hard to muster up the interest to pretend everything is OK and go eventing and snap some ‘grams. Instead I’ve been compulsively scrolling through the news with an ever increasing knot in my stomach wondering what the hell is going on in the world. It makes all this social media and even this website seem, well…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But I’ll save those thoughts and actions for offline, where I can actively do things and not just type type type on here. Anyways, to say the least, I’ve been pretty uninspired with drinks lately. I recently read on article on the End of the Craft Cocktail Movement, and while I initially wanted to get cocky and yell in an obnoxious manner no it’s not, I had to give the author a nod for touching on some truths. The truth being that, yeah, you can get a good cocktail practically anywhere and we as cocktail drinkers have come to expect that now. It’s not novel to be craft and to use fresh ingredients and make your own bitters and muddle in some cucumber. We ALL know how to do that and that’s a good thing. The scary part for people like myself is how do we move on from there.

When I was perusing the images from TOTC, one of the most intriguing things I saw was on Craft & Cocktails’ twitter. It was 4 images of weird stuff with the caption that they were “all cocktails”. You can see that post here and read my comments on it below. To sum up, I was most into the weirdest, the most wrong, the most confusing cocktail of the bunch that was a glass with what looked like dentures sitting in it.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comSpectacle. We’re now moving onto spectacle. When we all expect what’s in the glass to taste great, you’re going to need a 3 ring circus to bring the audience in, at least when we’re talking about here in the blog/social media world. There has been a trend with the younger, newer drinking age audience to stop making drinks at home and to cease entertaining. Their eyeballs are glued onto their phones looking for the next great cat bar, not to necessarily go there, but to “like” the idea of it and quickly move on to the next strange idea.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comThis is a weird spot to be in when you’ve been happily plugging along on your website, coming up in the (second? third?) craft cocktail movement and sharing a love of home bartending. The newer audience will not be home bartenders, and the audience you’ve been talking to is going to start getting home bartending fatigue. Even I see that in myself. I’ve stopped reading a lot of sites, even ones I’ve loved, and stopped browsing through a good chunk of the social media sites, and instead started reading more actual books again. I chuckle at the newest hashtag of #readafuckingbook and am actively giving my brain a break from the nonsense and just the relentless tragedy that coexist in the same feeds.

And so, here’s a little spectacle, wrapped around a good drink. The good folks at Copper & Kings just released an orange Curaçao that is pretty darn great and I added that into my variation here on a Brandy Crusta. First, I swapped some California rye whiskey in for the brandy and then instead of the sugar crusted rim and lemon peel, I made some lemon zest infused sugar and spun that around the glass. The sugar looked like amber when it hardened, and it made me happy to look at it. Like a little artwork on my glass.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comI hope you all find a little something that makes you happy this week.

Crustafied!

2 ounces whiskey, Spirit Works Straight Rye Whiskey used here*
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange curaçao, Copper & Kings intense orange curaçao used here*
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Dash Angostura bitters
lemon-sugar garnish (recipe follows)

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice, orange curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into lemon-sugar crusted glass.

Lemon Infused Spun Sugar Garnish

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon zest, stir to combine. When sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until sugar reaches a golden-brown color. Remove from heat immediately and continue to stir. As the sugar mixtures begins to cool, the liquid will thicken. Sugar is ready when a wooden spoon is dipped in and sugar pours off in a ribbon. Dip a coupe glass into the sugar and slowly pull out, twisting the sugar as you remove the glass. Hold upside down for about 30 seconds and then stand up to finish cooling. Set aside until ready to use.

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The Toasty Russian vodka - coffee liqueur - homemade toasted coconut milk

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.comYesterday on Instagram a gave a little hint as to what I’ve been working on lately… THE FUTURE OF COCKTAILS is alternative milks?!

Well, in the short-term it is for me anyways.

A few months back I had to cut out dairy, soy, eggs, red meat and shellfish for medical reasons. Not for some crazy diet! It doesn’t cut into the cocktail making that much, but there are a few drinks that I’ve had to shelve because of these restrictions. Eggs are an easy one to cut out since I’ve covered so many alternatives for them on the site. Dairy though can get tricky, it imparts a particular taste and mouthfeel that can be hard to replicate. With that in mind, there’s just going to be some drinks I can’t have right now. But this also opens up a new door of twists I can make instead.

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.comToday’s drink is a pretty basic recipe riff on a White Russian. Except… with homemade toasted coconut milk. WHAAAAA?!

Sure, you could add coconut cream or regular coconut milk in here, but the toasty quality of this is OH SO delicious and really stands out in the drink when you put it up against the coffee. I got the idea a few months back when I saw Heidi from 101 Cookbooks make this and for whatever reason I immediately thought about subbing it for cream in a White Russian. Fast forward to now and it is so worth the extra steps to make the toasted coconut milk. And it makes enough so you can add it into your coffee all week and maybe eat some cereal with it too.

Now, this coconut milk behaves differently than cream would; it’s not thick and it’s not going to significantly lighten the color of your cocktail. That also means it’s going to give a lighter feel in your mouth and not coat your tongue like cream does. Maybe for some of you this is a plus. That said, it’s definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for an alternative to dairy or just looking to try something new!

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.comThe Toasty Russian

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce coffee liqueur, St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur used here
3/4 to 1 ounce toasted coconut milk (recipe follows)
toasted coconut flakes for garnish, optional

In a rocks glass, build your drink by pouring vodka, coffee liqueur, and toasted coconut milk over ice. Stir to combine. Garnish with some toasted coconut flakes if you’re feeling fancy.

Toasted Coconut Milk

recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1-1/2 cups of shredded coconut
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Toast your coconut on a sheet pan for approximately 10 minutes, stirring half-way through. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once coconut is cooled, combine toasted coconut and water. Let sit for 3 hours.
  3. Pour into a blender and add salt and maple syrup. Blend for 30 second to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into a nut bag placed over a bowl to strain out solids. You may need to skim the top after straining.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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Ok, now onto some news…

What You Should Be Drinking This 4th of July

And then George Washington took out his Margarita machine and said, “Let there be frozen drinks!”. Happy 4th folks!

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle

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Peach and Tequila Frozen Cocktail

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The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle blueberry - coconut - tequila

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Tres Agaves Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

All of my cocktails tend to take on a blue hue this time of year, even if I’m not setting out to make something patriotic. More than anything, I really just love putting blueberries in drinks right now. But what happens when those blueberries are out of season? We’ve got a trick to fix that!

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.comHave you guys ever tried quick infusions with dehydrated fruit?! A few weeks back I collaborated with a local bartender on a drink and she hyped me to this technique. I thought I had pretty much exhausted all the fast and furious ways you could get some flavor infused into drinks but I’d never thought of trying it with dehydrated foods. When you crush the dehydrated fruit into the drink, it sucks up the liquid and starts to seep its flavor out. Pretty neat huh?

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.comSo today I’m swizzling up tequila and dehydrated blueberries alongside creamy coconut milk and a little spice from a cinnamon syrup you can whip up in less than a half hour. For an extra kick, Angostura bitters is floated on top. We chose to work with 100% estate grown agaves Tres Agaves Tequila because of it’s slightly spicy flavor profile and subtle sweet and grassy aroma; it was the perfect match for our cocktail creation.

The swizzle is a super refreshing cocktail that has a lovely silky mouthfeel and let’s the tequila shine. It has a nice balance of having just enough sweet to balance out the spice while surprising you with new combinations of flavors as the ice settles and the blueberries permeate the cocktail.

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.comHope you guys enjoy this over the (long) weekend! If you try it, let us know what you think!

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com1-1/2 ounces Tres Agaves Blanco Tequila
1 ounce coconut milk (full fat)
3/4 ounce cinnamon syrup (see recipe here)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 cup dehydrated blueberries, lightly crushed (we used Crunchies* here!)
1/4 ounce of Angostura bitters

In a Collins glass, combine Tres Agaves Tequila, coconut milk, cinnamon syrup, and lime juice. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle about 20 seconds. Add blueberries and more crushed ice to the glass. Float Angostura on top.

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Tres Agaves Tequila, please visit their site at tresagaves.com

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