What You Should Be Drinking on Valentine’s Day

Make someone you love a drink. I didn’t say it had to be another person.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail

Roses in the Snow

Róse Champagne Cocktail

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

Electric Pink Fields

And to drive the point home…

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails

What You Should Be Drinking on Super Bowl Sunday

Let’s get ready to foooooot balllllllll!!!! Right? Pretty sure that’s what they say at football games. Let’s make some drinks.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

 The Pineapple Hop Cocktail

Texas Tea Beer Cocktail

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail

5 Spice Bourbon Punch Cocktails

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 Ways

And if you must….

Fireball Cider

Let’s Get Fresh! what to make and drink with all that winter citrus

Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.

When you have too many Meyer Lemons:

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.com

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup

Meyer Lemon Bitters

What about Tangellos:

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.com

Tangelocello

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:

Smoky Sage Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

And then there’s always the cocktail option:

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. 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 Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Boozy, Edible Christmas Gift Roundup

Go the extra mile this year and make them something delicious for the holidays. Just make sure there’s booze in it.

Eggnog Jello Shots

Fernet Branca Jelly

Angostura and Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Meyer Lemon Bitters

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

 
Holiday Spice Syrups

Peppermint Mocha S’Mores Cocktails with brown-butter bourbon and marshmallow creme

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Don’t ever let someone tell you s’mores are only for summer. Can you get your hands on a kitchen blow torch? Yes? Then you’ve got a reason to have s’mores all year round.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comToday though we’re going to be drinking our s’mores! Holiday style!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comWe’re back at the bar mixing it up with Jackson Morgan and their delicious, and very holiday appropriate, Peppermint Mocha Cream. I always associate peppermint and chocolate with Christmas time. It’s about the only time of year I bake something with that flavor profile because there is always a party I can bring them to. See, you are either a lover or a hater of that flavor combo. I, obviously, am a lover. My husband on the other hand…. Let’s just say if I make some Grasshopper Brownies and don’t have a reason to bring them out of the house, I am probably consuming that whole pan by myself. I’d tell you I would regret it, but I’d be lying.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comThis is also perfect for holiday time because it’s pretty decadent. When are you infusing browned butter into whiskey and topping your cocktails with marshmallow creme? During the holidays, when all bets are off. So let’s talk about what is going into this s’mores cocktail. First, Peppermint Mocha Cream, of course. Next takes a little prepping but it’s worth it for the final result and you also get extra to just chug straight if you choose: brown-butter infused bourbon. This gives the cocktail a subtle nutty, buttery component that you’d get from the graham cracker. And a s’mores cocktail wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows! I’m giving you an easy way and a homemade way to do this in the recipe below. Both will work but honestly, making your own version of marshmallow Fluff is dang easy!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comYou might think that the consistency would be very thick and rich tasting, but the brown-butter bourbon cuts through the peppermint mocha cream for a nice balance. Served over ice the cocktail goes down very smooth and the peppermint is not quite as strong as it is on its own. Torching the marshmallow creme binds it together a bit so you can pop off pieces from the top while sipping on your drink. It’s like you have your own bar snack you don’t have to share.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comSome notes on the cocktail:

  • I’ve made the recipe for one but this easily doubles and batches well.
  • The brown-butter bourbon yields 16 ounces (2 cups) so there is plenty left over if you are going to batch multiple drinks.
  • The topping is marshmallow creme, not marshmallows. The marshmallow creme has a soft consistency and therefore easily piped.
  • If you are torching the marshmallow creme, use heat proof glassware. Even kitchen torches get quite hot and I don’t want to be held responsible if you explode your favorite vintage glass.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comFor the cocktail:

3 ounces Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme
2 ounces brown-butter infused bourbon
marshmallow creme (I made this recipe from The Kitchn, but store bought Fluff will work as well)
graham cracker for garnish

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add in the Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme and brown-butter infused bourbon. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a heat-proof glass or mug filled with fresh ice. Pipe marshmallow creme on top. Using a kitchen torch,brûlée the marshmallow creme to desired “doneness’ (I like mine lightly toasted but I know some of you probably like your s’more’s marshmallows burnt to a crisp). Garnish with a graham cracker square.

For the brown-butter bourbon:

*Adapted slightly from Gabriella Mlynarczyk for NYT Cooking

16 ounces bourbon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Pour bourbon into a wide mouth jar or heat-proof container. Cut butter into cubes and add to a heavy-bottom small saucepan over medium-low heat. You’ll need to watch the pan as the butter will go from being nutty and golden to burnt pretty fast. Watch for the butter to start to foam and stir until you see some brown flecks on the bottom of the pan. At this point you’ll smell a nutty aroma, like hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute and then pour into the bourbon. Whisk together until well incorporated and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • The fat will separate from the bourbon while it cools. Use a butter knife to loosen the edge of the fat and it should pop right out of the container. Then strain bourbon through a coffee filter to remove any additional fat solids and debris from the butter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

What You Should Be Drinking on Thanksgiving

I’m not one to tell you guys what to do, but if you’re looking for something to make this week for your holiday table, here are a few suggestions! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktails

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lemony Suze Sparkling Pitcher Cocktails

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by the US Highbush Blueberry Council.
Recipes and ideas are my own.

The time you spend making cocktails during holiday time should be greatly less than the time spent on enjoying them with friends and loved ones. During this season (roughly September through early January now), I am a huge fan of big batched cocktails. So this week, with just a few days left before Thanksgiving descends upon us, I’ve brought out a little help from my favorite berry to mix up something tasty for you all. No, not the cranberry, the blueberry.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comWe are a family that consumes blueberries in very large quantities. If you ask my kid what is her favorite food, or pretty much what her favorite anything is (she’s two and is still working out the intricacies of the English language), she will say blueberries. We are lucky here in Southern California that we can get them at the market for a selfishly long time, and then when those are gone, we hit up the frozen section. Going without them is just not an option. Blueberries have a lovely balance of sweetness and sour that is always key in a good cocktail. Pair them with your cheeseboard, drink this with the main meal, or just enjoy it after all your guests finally leave. It’s up to you, but, really, this works anytime.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis cocktail combines blueberries, maple syrup, lemons, and sparkling wine for a super easy to make and party pleasing cocktail. I love this recipe for two reasons. One, it’s easy to batch and the base will keep for some time. And two, that leftover syrup makes for some darn tasty pancake topping. Score!

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comFor my cocktail recipe and lots more blueberry holiday inspiration, please visit the US Highbush Blueberry Council here.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com



The Pisco Kid And another new egg white substitute for cocktails!

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you’re visiting Los Angeles, or happen to already be a resident, and want to find a bar with a decent jukebox, I have a few I can recommend. There’s my beloved Tonga Hut in the Valley, The HMS Bounty in Koreatown, and then there’s Footsie’s over in Highland Park. I’m sure there are some more bars out there that have a great jukebox selection but these are my go-to’s. Feel free to leave your favorites in the comments.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI always have my favorite songs and will seriously put on $20 worth of music; alright, alright, I’m a total jukebox hog. Footsie’s in particular I always start with the Cisco Kid by War. I have no idea why, I just like to start my set off with that. I heard that song out of the blue the other day and have been reminiscing about jukebox playlists ever since. That song is also probably why I’ve created this cocktail.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou’ve read on here before my thoughts on pisco- it’s a versatile mixing spirit that I don’t think gets enough credit. I’ve also used the base recipe for a pisco sour to show you how you can use BEER! as an egg white replacement. Today I’m riffing on that theme again, making a cocktail that calls for egg whites without eggs. But this time we’ve got a fun new ingredient to play with: Instafoam!

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou might not be a vegan but you might be someone who cringes at the thought of an egg white in a cocktail. Even though most bars are either using pasteurized egg whites or eggs from their own back yard chickens (I’m sure that’s a thing) to prevent salmonella from entering your cocktail. Still, I get it, you don’t want to drink the egg whites. So now you can give Instafoam a try. But won’t it just make the cocktail taste all chemically? NO! I know way back in the dark days when there was only Fee Foam you were going to get a weird aftertaste (and I’m not knocking on Fee Brothers, they were a beacon of bitters in a world that didn’t understand the need yet.) but here you just taste the cocktail.

So now you’ve got THREE replacements for egg whites in cocktails to either make your drink vegan, or just to avoid raw eggs: beer, aquafaba and Instafoam. OK, now onto the actual cocktail recipe.

The Pisco Kid Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYes, this is a riff on pisco sour cocktail. We’ve got the usual culprits: pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, bitters. However, we’ve spiced it up a bit with the addition of jalapeño jam. I often add marmalade or something of the sort to a whiskey sour just to give it an extra layer of flavor. Here it does the same with a spicy, slightly sweet bite with just a bit of earthy aftertaste from those peppers.

Note: if your jam is more on the solid side, you’ll want to break it up first in the shaker with a muddler to hasten the shaking time and to make sure it gets well incorporated into the drink.

2 dashes Instafoam
2 ounces pisco, Encanto used here
1 ounce lime juice
1 tablespoon jalapeño jam
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3-4 dashes of Angostura Bitters

In the bottom of a shaker, add your Instafoam first. Then pour in pisco, lime juice, jalapeño jam (see note above) and simple syrup. Fill ice 2/3 up shaker. Shake hard for about 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass. Top with a few dashes of Angostura Bitters.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera/ Fanta of the Paradise

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.comWell kids, it’s been awhile since we’ve seen a Low Rent Cocktail around these parts and Halloween seems like the right time to throw one at you.

I can’t take the credit for this month’s name; it’s all my husband’s doing. And appropriately so. See, this month we are celebrating 10 years together. Just how did this man woo this lady? Strange movie dates. Our first date he asked me to go see this limited release movie from the guy behind office space (that movie was Idiocracy and although when I found out what we were seeing I thought to myself, really? For a first date? I said yes to a second.). Our second date was a screening of Phantom of the Paradise. This movie is strange, but more so up my alley. I think after these first two dates we actually started doing normal date things like going out to eat but these two back to back dates are a small part of why I kept saying yes to another date.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.comAwwww. How sweet. Now on to the ridiculous cocktails.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.comHalloween means excessive sweets and bad taste, and that’s just what these two Low Rent Cocktails have to offer you. First up we have the Fanta of the Opera staring, you guessed it: Fanta Soda and because we’re trying oh so hard to be fancy with our cheap plastic masks and not flame retardant costumes, we’re bringing out the Italian Vermouth. It’s fancy because it comes from Italy.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.comFanta of the Opera

1 part Cinzano Dry Vermouth
3 parts Fanta Grapefruit Soda

Pour over ice in a highball glass or whatever hollowed out gourd you having laying around.


Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

And for today’s double dose of trouble we have the Fanta of the Paradise. Rock stars. Revenge. Gore. What more could you ask for in a cocktail movie? Plus it’s strawberry and coconut flavored, just like your spring break paradise.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.comFanta of the Paradise

1 part Malibu Rum
3 parts Fanta Strawberry Soda

Pour over ice in a highball glass or the skull of your enemy.

***If you want to add some spooky pizazz to your cocktails, feel free to throw some dry ice in. Just please dear god do not drink the dry ice or you’ll be taking a trip to the emergency room instead of drinking and that is NO FUN.

Hope you all have a fun Halloween! Stay safe!

 

The Low Rent Cocktail series is an occasional column on Stir and Strain where the boundaries of “good taste” are pushed to the limit, or more often than not, pushed out the window. Enjoy at your own risk.