Memorial Day Roundup!

You know what’s kinda sad? Listening to the radio this morning NPR was doing some snippets talking to various people who serve (or have served) here in the US and I was suddenly struck at how “Memorial Day” had no real meaning to me other than “it’s a 3 day weekend”. I can’t blame the wash of ridiculous food holidays that now exist and fill every single day, I can’t blame commercials where hot dogs march on a grill waiving flags (this might not exist but just be a dream I had), I can only blame my own self-absorption into my own affairs. Which shouldn’t be the case. My Dad served. Even though he doesn’t talk about it I know he did. My Dad also likes a stiff drink, or half a dozen beers (depends on the day), so this weekend I am being mindful of what the holiday means. I’m also offering up some suggestions for all the dads, the moms, the relatives, friends and those we don’t know, and for all of us taking the time to sit back and enjoy a drink with one another as we take some time off.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Pineapple Hop

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Steak Island Cocktail

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail

peach basil sorbet and saison beerfloat // stirandstrain.com

Peach Basil Sorbet and Saison Beerfloat

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

And… Fireball Cider (because Dad likes it)

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer & Pisco Cocktail whole lotta goodness that tastes like cream soda

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis week I’m having a hard time pinning down exactly what I’d like to tell you guys about. I think it was a lot easier when there were less eyes on the page and I could ramble on about how using a jigger like a professional bartender just makes me look like an idiot (albeit I’ve improved slightly), or that I tried and failed, again, at growing an herb garden but I’ve got SO   MUCH  ROSEMARY I can’t give it away fast enough.

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere’s got to be some performance anxiety tied to having the site nominated for any kind of award. So I think now is the time to take a step back and reassess the story I’d like to share with you guys, that may or may not have to do with a cocktail I am making.

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIn the meantime, I’d like to formally state that I’m totally not into this switch on the mac OS where IPhoto has gone away and I’m stuck having to use their new “Photos” program. Mainly I’m whining because it now means I really need to learn Lightroom better. So, if any of you guys out there have a good quick and dirty immersion “how to” so I can stop dragging my feet and just learn it already, I’d appreciate the feedback and suggestions.Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Also, I have this delightful cocktail I made for you guys that might seem like a Whoa! but really, it’s pretty easy to assemble and I sweetened my ice teas for the next week with the leftover syrup so it definitely has some stretching power. Plus, it’s rhubarb season and I’m sick of pies already (not really, but I’m sick of MAKING them!).Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Rhubarb-Vanilla Syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup sliced (1/2-inch) rhubarb
1 cup water
1 Mexican Vanilla bean, cut lengthwise and seeds scraped (reserve pod)

  • Combine sugar, rhubarb, water, and vanilla seeds and pod in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Strain into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

For the Cocktail:

1-1/2 ounces Pisco
3/4 ounce Rhubarb-Vanilla Syrup
3 ounces Scottish Ale, such as Ballast Point Piper Down
Vanilla bean, for garnish (optional)

  • In a rocks glass filled with ice, build the drink by adding pisco and rhubarb vanilla syrup. Gently add beer, stirring just to combine. Garnish with vanilla bean and serve immediately.

First off, this tastes like cream soda. Because of the viscosity of the Pisco, the mouthfeel is super creamy. The Scottish Ale provides some toasty, caramel notes that adds a richness to the drink, while the Pisco imparts some citrus and a touch of floral (Tahitian vanilla would tip this drink overboard in the floral direction, so make sure you use Mexican vanilla) along with that lovely viscosity. That small buzz you get afterward however would prove otherwise.

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I originally created this recipe for Serious Eats!

The Pineapple Hop it starts with a pineapple shrub

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo how was your week?

I dropped my phone in a toilet. What’s worse was the speed with which I dove in to grab it without even thinking about “is the bowl clean or dirty” (it was clean by the way). And it works still so that’s a plus.

I learned how to vacation with an infant (very different ideas of “vacation” now exist for me). And that spending several days in the wonderful desert heat almost always means for me coming back to Los Angeles and experiencing gray, grey days. It also makes me appreciate the contrasts in climate for this part of the country.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAlso, May starts today. Which means it is practically summer and wasn’t everyone everywhere complaining about snowstorms and the like about 5 minutes ago? Maybe it’s the crippling realization that time really does speed up the older you get but man, do I need a cocktail right about now. So let’s think about summer drinks.

If we’re thinking about summer days to come, I’m sure pineapples fit in there somewhere. In my house, I fit them in all the time despite the time of year, but that’s me. For today’s recipe, I’m giving you guys some homework first (OK, ok, a DIY super fun, easy, hands off it practically makes itself project): pineapple shrub.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m not kidding either. Making a shrub is so easy I’m not sure why more people aren’t batching this in their kitchen all time?! Oh, lack of counter space. And, well, better things to do I guess might prevent that from happening. For the sake of this post I’ll just assume you’re on board with me for this one project. Let’s continue.The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

If we’re thinking about summer, we’re also thinking about refreshing drinks, and for a lot of you guys out there, beer. Beer and BBQ and hotdogs and maybe a few illegal fireworks. So, surprise! I’m putting beer in this cocktail too. Pineapples and beer and RUM.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAre you already picturing yourself running through a sprinkler and drinking this cocktail? Me too. Except let’s hold on to that thought and wait two weeks while this shrub brews and then we can get to the galavanting. At least this week is done.

Pineapple Shrub

1 medium pineapple, peeled, and cubed into 1” pieces
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

Place the pineapple cubes in a clean, sterilized container. Cover with the sugar and lightly crush the pineapples (I used a potato masher). Let sit, covered with a tea towel, in the open for 8 hours or overnight. Strain fruit and add apple cider vinegar. Cover and let sit unrefrigerated in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Shake the mixture every other day. In two weeks, filter into an airtight container and refrigerate. Will last up to 6 months. Yields approximately 3 cups.

For the cocktail

1 ounce white rum, SelvaRey used here
1 ounce pineapple shrub (see above)
1/4 ounce orgeat
4 ounces IPA beer, Stone IPA used here

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in rum, shrub and orgeat. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with beer.

The biting, tangy nature of the shrub is excellent paired with the beer as it provides a contrast to the bitterness that comes with an IPA. Just a touch of sweetness is needed and the sweet almond orgeat provides that along with the white rum. The shrub can be enjoyed all summer long here in this drink, or by itself with a splash of club soda.

*Looking for a larger batched version of this? I originally made that very version for Serious Eats a little while back.

Sierra Madre Sunrise

Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere is this very clear memory I have of accompanying my mother to this one liquor store when I was a child. We were probably there to buy wine coolers for her (as was the hip thing for moms to drink in the late 80’s). In my memory the store was gigantic, like a well-lit supermarket, but instead of produce or cereal boxes, it was just aisle after aisle of colorful and exotic liquors that I felt the need to stop and read all the labels of.

I’m sure that it wasn’t that big, but I do remember that this was the first place I ever saw tequila at. You know, the kind with the scorpions at the bottom. I don’t remember how or when I learned that not all tequila requires there to be a scorpion, but there’s a good chance it is much later in life than I am willing to admit to.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I wish I could remember the first time I tried mezcal, or even heard of it. Although I’ve tried to rack my brain for that one time, it exists as if I somehow always knew about it. I wish I was that cool. Probably it was sometime over the past 5, maybe 7, years when we collectively started giving other liquors a chance to star in our drinks.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now I like to put mezcal in everything. And today’s drink is one from my ongoing “to make” list. Here my notes were: meaty, but refreshing. I’m guessing this was a late night scribbling where I had something particular in mind but what exactly is no longer clear. But I like these challenges. To make things even more interesting, bitters will play a unique supporting role in transforming the drink into two different sips. For a slightly savory cocktail, Angostura will be dashed in. And for a sweeter alternative, chocolate bitters will be used. All versions have Aperol there, an assertive liquor that stands up next to the flavors of mezcal without getting lost.

It’s kind of a choose your own adventure cocktail.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now that I’m remembering that liquor store, I’m realizing that the other reason I liked going over there was that next door there was a Christian store that sold Bible action figures like Samson and Delilah. What a way to get kids thrilled about the Old Testament. When I was Catholic I was all in, until I wasn’t anymore.

Ok, enough about Bible Liquor stores. Let’s get to cocktail making!

1 ounce mezcal, Del Maguey Vida Organic used here
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
3 ounces club soda
2-3 dashes of either Angostura or Chocolate bitters, like Scrappy’s Chocolate Cocktail Bitters

lemon peel for garnish

  • In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice and bitters of your choice. Shake to combine and then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon peel.

I’m using the Vida mezcal here because it’s both a wonderful sipping liquor and it mixes well with others. It’s assertive without being aggressive. Aperol is not too bitter and not too sweet. (But it’s just the right amount of both that you don’t need to add another sweetener.) Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds in a touch of tartness, and the whole thing is topped off with a glug of club soda to mellow it out and give some effervescent pep. Angostura adds spice that compliments some of the cinnamon and earthy flavors found in the mezcal. Or you can change that up with a few dashes of chocolate bitters. The sweet, roasted chocolate flavors in the bitters play up the sweet and bitter orange in the Aperol and also some of the vanilla found in the mezcal. This makes the drink excellent for a slightly sweet digestif or a surprisingly refreshing nightcap.

*I originally created this recipe for Serious Eats.

Fresh Lemongrass Sour a DIY project for your weekend

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhat a week folks! In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been nominated again this year for Saveur Magazine’s Best Blog Awards in the cocktail category. A HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in the nomination. Now the voting begins for the winners. You have until April 30th to get that vote in. I super appreciate all of you.

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMoving on… to cocktails. In an effort to make cocktails taste more like the foods I love, i.e. Thai Food, I’ve been concocting various infusions lately and experimenting with some bizarre flavor combinations (more to come here soon). One of the simplest though was fresh lemongrass. I compare lemongrass as the pastel cousin to winter citrus. While the oranges and grapefruits have this intense zestiness that I feel counteracts the depressing reality that is winter, lemongrass is a good match for the budding warmth of springtime. It’s floral, with some light citrus notes (but basically it’s the same smell as a citronella candle).Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For this cocktail I’ve also added back in a little bit of zest in the form of limes and lemons (I guess I needed some zestiness to get me through the soul crushing time known as tax season. Why haven’t I scanned any of my 2014 receipts yet?!?!) to make this a take on a sour. Juice + bitters + zest = just the right amount of punchy citrus.

I’m using vodka as a neutral base for the lemongrass flavor to shine in the infusion. There are two ways you can go about infusing a lemongrass vodka this weekend depending on how much time you want to spend. The longer, more traditional way, requires nothing but time. You chop and bruise the lemongrass, cover with vodka, and wait about 1 to 2 weeks to extract the full flavor. The second way is quite quick, seriously quick, but requires some equipment. An instantaneous infusion can be made with a whip cream canister and two N2O chargers. Extra equipment, sure, but a very immediate infusion.

Instantaneous infusions are a blessing… and a curse. There is only so much room in my home for all these infusions and I don’t think I can drink them fast enough. A sampling party may be in order soon…

OK! Let’s welcome in spring with some booze.Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the lemongrass infusion:

4 lemongrass stalks
2 cups vodka

  • Clean and remove the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks. Chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces and bruise them by crushing them with the side of your knife. Add the pieces to an airtight container and cover with the vodka. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 week up to 2 weeks. Shake daily. Taste after 1 week and continue to steep up to two weeks to desired flavor. Strain into an airtight container. Will last up to 6 months.
  • Alternatively, to instantaneous infuse, take chopped lemongrass and add to a whip cream canister. Pour in vodka and seal. Charge with one N2O charger. Shake well. Charge a second time with a new N2O charger. Shake well and then discharge contents into a clean, airtight container over a strainer. Infusion will last up to 6 months.

For the cocktail:

2 ounces lemongrass infused vodka (recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
3 dashes lemon bitters
lime zest strips for garnish

  • In a shaker, add the lemongrass infused vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Dry shake (no ice yet) for about 30 seconds to incorporate the egg white. Add ice and then shake hard for another 30 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with 3 drops of the lemon bitters topped with the lime zest.

The lemongrass is a more subdued flavor that doesn’t take over the drink or muddle the flavors but provides a subtle floral backdrop to the cocktail. There’s a nice bite from the lime juice and an egg white is added for some extra silky mouthfeel and to add a lightness to the drink. The foamy head created by dry shaking with an egg white suspends the lemon bitters above the cocktail, heightening the heavenly layers of citrus aroma.

I created this recipe originally for Serious Eats this week

The Bitter Irishman

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

You’ve heard it said, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Well, I’m either one quarter or one eighth Irish, depending on which relative I consult, and I can tell you that, sadly, I don’t qualify as truly Irish on St. Patrick’s or any other day of the year. I’m not proud to say so, but it’s true. It’s not for lack of trying.

I went to an Irish Catholic school where several of the nuns were direct from Ireland, replete with charming accents– though the nuns themselves were rather sour. One of the nuns walked into my third grade classroom, declared that it was filthy, gave two boys a toothbrush, spat on the floor, and told the boys to start scrubbing. I sometimes think I might have known more Irish nuns than Irish families. The Irish families I did know lived in houses filled with crucifixes. I’m sure they must have had other decorative knick-knacks, but I only remember crucifixes. For me, everything Irish was a bit severe and austere– from the dour nuns to the simple cabbage and beef we ate on St. Patrick’s Day.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThen one Halloween, the Irish Catholic school burned down under suspicious circumstances, and I was relocated to the Italian Catholic school. The Italian school was completely different. Holidays were more cheerful. The clergy enjoyed themselves (and their wine) a good deal more than the nuns ever had. The food at church events tasted better. Cannoli, ravioli, stromboli. And suddenly, St. Patrick was eclipsed by St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s Day is two days after St. Patrick’s Day, and the Italians loved it. Everyone ate zeppole (a little like cannoli, but better, so, so good), and wore red and white, and went to the Knights of Columbus parade. There were flowers and candles, an explosion of color.

Mind you, I’m not trying to pick favorites. I’m just telling you what I experienced.

For this St. Patrick’s Day, I plan to forgo the green beer– in fact, I’ll probably pass up the beer altogether. Instead, I’m mixing up a cocktail with a bit of a mixed heritage: half Irish whiskey, and half Italian amaro.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

1 ounce Irish Whiskey, Bushmills 10 used here
1 ounce amaro, Averna used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 ounce demerara syrup
luxardo cherry garnish

Combine whiskey, amaro, lemon juice and syrup together in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

There’s a nice contrast between the light, floral whiskey and the spicy, rich amaro. It starts with a punch of sour flavor that immediately moves into sweetness, and the bite of the whiskey and the lasting bitterness of the amaro stay with you until the next sip. It’s a cocktail with a lot of character. Like those Irish nuns. And those Italian priests.

***This recipe was originally created for Serious Eats and appeared on the site this past week.

The Brunch Round Up

It’s not very often that I do a theme week around here, but I think we can all agree that brunch is definitely worth the effort. I hope you all enjoy some pineapple or a little pisco this weekend. But if you’d like some more options, here are a few below.

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

Not-So-Classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Not-So-Classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail

Watch that pour!

Róse Champagne Cocktail

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Peach, White Pepper and Green Tea & Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Sparkling and Spiced WInter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

**Also, today is the last day to get your nominations in for the Saveur Best Blog awards. If you’d enjoyed the content on here, please consider Stir and Strain for best cocktail site!

A Pitcher of Pisco with Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWelcome back to brunch week on Stir and Strain. Today’s cocktail gets mixed up by the pitcher and also includes a long standing feud between two South American countries.

That’s right! We’re batching up some pisco!Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Why pisco today? Well, one reason is that it’s been awhile since I’ve made a cocktail on here with it. And two, well, I swallowed the pisco kool-aide (err.. punch?) so to speak.Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Back in January I attended the second annual Golden State of Cocktails here in Los Angeles. Three days filled with seminars, demonstrations, booze, tacos, science, more booze, some bar crawls, educational booths, and so much more booze. While there were some fantastic seminars attended, the talk on the history of pisco stood out the most for me. It made me… really excited about pisco. I can’t say for certain what it was exactly that made this particular talk so great: the enthusiastic speakers? The bottled punch? The sample after sample of pisco? Whatever it was, I knew I was hooked on the spirit and had to start using it more. Hey, the title of the seminar was “The World’s Most Mixable Spirit”. (And if you’d like a little more history on it, I touched on a couple points in my Serious Eats post you can read.)

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So obviously I needed to start mixing with it. Consider this your gateway cocktail into the world of pisco (that is if you are still on the fence about drinking a Pisco Sour due to the egg white. OH, hey. I made a vegan version of that you should try). Here I’ve paired the pisco with the very much in season grapefruits that I had accumulated over the last several weeks from the farmer’s market. Yes, sometimes my seasonal cocktails are just a reason to get rid of some fruit I’ve over-bought. Then I spiked it with a little thyme and a splash of lime.

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Grapefruit Syrup:

Zest from one medium grapefruit
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice from 2 to 3 grapefruits (see note above)
1 cup granulated sugar

  • Combine grapefruit zest, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into an air-tight container. Refrigerate until ready to use or up to 1 week.

For the Bottled Cocktails:

3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from 3 limes
9 ounces pisco, such as Encanto
4 1/2 ounces Grapefruit Syrup
6 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

  • In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together thyme and salt. Add lime juice and stir. Fine-strain into a 24-ounce carafe or swing-top bottle and then pour in grapefruit syrup and pisco. Cap and gently shake to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  • For each cocktail, add one large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in 2-3/4 ounces of the bottled cocktail. Gently stir and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

It’s a bright, delicious cocktail that you can easily have along whatever brunch-y dishes you might be cooking up. But still palatable for a pre-dinner drink too if that’s more your thing.

The Foaming Pineapple Yes, you CAN drink Tiki for brunch

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

That’s the sound of me squealing that we’ve got another round of The Coconut Club under our belts. This last run was the best yet. Not only were we set up in an actual, OG L.A. Tiki space, but we also had a seance and a giant glowing tiki god. Small fires aside, it was magical.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

When you go to events like this, or any event really, where custom drinks are served up, do you ever stop and think about all the drinks that just couldn’t make it to the table that night? Nathan (who also makes drinks for the Coconut Club and who you will see behind the bar more than me) and myself spend countless hours alone and together mixing up possible drinks that we think our audience will love. As much as we’d like to serve them all, some need to get cut from the line up due to timing and to prevent you all from getting alcohol poisoning from over indulging. We have your best interests at heart.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This drink came about during one of my R&D days but realized we already had the Piscolada Shrimp Cocktail, a customer favorite, already on the menu and the ingredients were too close to justify serving it.

So consider this the B-side drink. Turns out it makes a fabulous brunch drink. So, yes, you can drink Tiki at 10am.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This recipe utilizes frozen pineapple juice cubes for two reasons:
1. I had a huge amount of excess pineapple juice leftover from another drink and I can’t bring myself to waste things so I froze the juice up instead.
2. Frozen pineapple juice cubes mean way less watering down of your drink.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you don’t want to go through the effort of making the cubes, then I would suggest chilling all your ingredients ahead of time so that you still get a nice cold base.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comServes 4 – 6
4 ounces white rum
3 tablespoons coconut cream
5 frozen pineapple juice cubes or 8 ounces chilled pineapple juice (see note above)
3 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot used here

nutmeg for garnish

  1. In a blender, combine rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice cubes and bitters. Blend until well combined and no ice remains; consistency will be more like a thin soup, not a slush.
  2. Pour about 3 ounces into the coupes and top with champagne.
  3. Grate fresh nutmeg over the cocktails.

An interesting effect occurs when you top the base with champagne: the cream causes the drink to bubble and foam on top. It looks like a beautiful pillow of coconut cream that smells faintly of pineapple. While the cream and juice are quite sweet, as well as some sweetness from the rum, the champagne cuts right through offering some bitter and savory notes for balance. These particular bitters lend some notes of citrus and spice for further flavor enhancement. The cocktail is super light and easy drinking. Perfect for your next brunch, breakfast, or mid-week snack.

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two and an excuse to turn off the internet

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.comI told myself I was going to relax tonight and watch tv. That was two and a half hours ago right before I jumped on Instagram. Now I feel like I’ve wasted so much time I should just go back to work. Have you ever looked at so many photos of food that you felt sick? Instagram makes that a reality for me now.

But photos of booze? Can’t get sick from looking at that. Or maybe it’s just all the screen time making my eyes go funny. Maybe that’s what is making me feel sick.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Lately I’ve been wanting to put a ban on having electronic devices on at certain times at home. But with both myself and Christopher working out of the house, attempts to do this have been eagerly thwarted. If your office is in the same structure that you sleep in, then you can pretty much count on a 7 day work week. Unless you have the amazing ability to do such a thing as limit screen time. You, then, are an enigma to me.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Regardless, there are always a few minutes in the day when neither one of us is holding on to a device. The best times are when we’re holding on to a cocktail glass and talking about not work things. Occasionally things get so busy around these parts that, to make things easy on ourselves, I batch up a cocktail and keep it in the fridge. It might be a Manhattan for later in the day (and yes, I might have made it at 9 that morning) or the base to something that can get perked up later on with something sparkling.

This drink is a little something like that.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

I had originally written this for Serious Eats as a more Valentine’s Day centered recipe, but I think the sentiment of taking a break from the internet to enjoy another real person’s company is even more fitting for the everyday.

For the Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 chamomile tea bags
Zest of 2 tangerines, white pith removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags, tangerine juice, and zests. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard tea bags. Cover and let stand an additional 30 minutes. Strain zest and keep syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

For the Base:

4 ounces Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup
3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
4 ounces London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray

Combine syrup, white balsamic, and gin in a swing-top bottle. Gently swirl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Base will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.

For Each Cocktail:

5 ounces chilled dry sparkling wine, such as Cava

Measure out 2 3/4 ounces of the base into a Champagne flute or cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.

 

So yes, I ventured out into the land of floral ingredients here with the chamomile, but it’s subtle and mild. For a sweet note, I used the in-season tangerines, and combining their tangy juice and zest with a good dose of chamomile flowers gives a fragrant sweetness without being too perfume-y. It’s a fresh, tangy base with very subtle floral flavors in the background. To make it more zippy in flavor, white balsamic adds some needed acidity while a London Dry style gin adds another herbal layer with just a touch of juniper in the finish. While this base is tasty on its own, it really comes together when you top it off with some sparkling wine. I tried a few varieties and a dry cava brut is best to offset the syrupy base.

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