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 // stirandstrain.com

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 // stirandstrain.com

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 // stirandstrain.com

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.

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 // stirandstrain.com

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 // stirandstrain.com

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.

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 // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Amaro Highballs // stirandstrain.com

Amaro Highballs

Smoky Sage Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.comI hope you’re curled up on a couch right now watching movies. I hope that someone else is making you dinner and you’re only concern is how long can you wait before you seriously have to get up and use the bathroom.

Lazy days are the best, but this past year I’ve had a whole lot of trouble turning the internet off for a second to be able to do just that: be lazy. Starting a new business, starting a family, remembering to put out the trash so that you’re not going on TWO weeks of forgetting. All of this takes so much…TIME. But as we rapidly put a nail in 2014 and I try and remember to reflect on this past year, I can say I regret nothing about my choices this year, even forgetting to be lazy. Actually, especially that.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

I was considering putting this post up on Wednesday for Christmas Eve, but I figured you all were off doing bigger and better things and not sitting around looking at a cocktail blog. Or maybe you were here and were like, Why isn’t there a new recipe before Christmas?!?! I’m super sorry about that guys if that was you. I hope you decided instead to crack open that expensive bottle of whiskey and share it with everyone you hold dear.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

But now we’re going into the post-Christmas daze and we have to start thinking about NYE parties (because we just can’t rest until January 2nd) and we need something we can batch up and serve to people and just get through the night. I bring you all this punch.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Don’t be scared! There’s a lot of steps but it’s worth it for the end result.

Yields 10 Servings
For the Sage Syrup:

1 cup (8 ounces) water
8 ounces (about 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
10 medium sage leaves

Combine sugar, water, and sage in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and let sit 1 hour. Strain and store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

For the Oleo-Saccharum:

2 lemons
1 orange
4 ounces (about 4 1/2 tablespoons) sugar

Peel zests from lemons and orange, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar, muddle, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight in a nonreactive bowl, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the Lapsang Souchong Tea:

2 cups (16 ounces) boiling water
1 tablespoon lapsang souchong tea leaves

Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool completely before using.

For the Punch:

3 cups (24 ounces) New American style gin, such as Jack Rabbit from Beehive Distilling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 4 lemons
3/4 cup (6 ounces) orange curacao, such as Pierre Ferrand
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sage syrup
2 cups (16 ounces) lapsang souchong tea
Orange rounds, lemon rounds, sage leaves for garnish

Combine gin, tea, oleo-saccarum, sage syrup, lemon juice, and orange curacao in a punch bowl or other serving piece. Stir to combine. Add orange wheels, lemon wheels and sage leaves for garnish. Serve with ladle into ice-filled punch or rocks glasses.

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

This punch is bright and flavorful, with earthy notes from the sage and unexpected smoky tea. The lapsang souchong doesn’t overwhelm with smoke, but instead adds that extra “something” that your guests will try and place all night as they gulp glass after glass. I opted to use a new American style gin for an added dose of botanicals. Jack Rabbit has lots of sage, coriander and rose flavors, but use whatever you have on hand if this isn’t available where you are.

*This post originally appeared on Serious Eats.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comHoliday season is punch season. Ok, well, holiday season means more punch at every party. Everyone wants a punch, but let’s be honest, most of them are pretty meh.

Holiday season also means that hosts are pulling out the good booze because, hey, they’re in the spirit of sharing right now. I see a lot of Scotch brought out. Good scotch. Sometimes so good I’m hesitant to tell the host they should hang on to it and not start passing it about willy nilly. But then I’m selfish and want to drink said scotch so I’m shutting up about it.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comThis holiday season I decided to combine both. I also wanted to create a punch that people who turn their noses up at scotch would like… and I did it. In fact, I got to test this punch out on a pretty varied crowd before I posted it. Initially when I showed up with the punch, people would eagerly ask what was in it then inevitable scrunch their nose as I listed scotch as an ingredient. People who don’t usually drink scotch really tend to have strong opinions about what they assume it will taste like: gym socks, band aids, burnt…stuff… So they already have a negative opinion before they start.9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

But the thing about holiday parties is that you always end up staying longer than you thought, and by this point you’re drinking whatever is left. For these people, initially turning down the scotch punch, they begrudgingly took a glass after finding out someone had drank all the good champagne. And then they found themselves confounded: they really liked the punch made with scotch.

Color me amused when the same folks who seemed genuinely annoyed/disgusted/sad when told the giant bowl of punch was made with scotch later came up to me with giant grins asking again what was in that punch? Had I just made converts of this bunch?9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

It’s holiday time, the season of giving, so I hope you all will allow me this one time to toot my own horn and smirk just a little as person after person drank up a scotch punch they earlier swore they’d never touch. Curious about the name? If you know your holiday songs, then you’ve recognized this from the 12 Days of Christmas. My punch, with 9 integral ingredients, was for a party with this theme. The Table Set guys sure love a theme party.

Now it’s your turn to try it. Please, be honest, and let me know if I’ve made you a convert too.

For the Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup:

4 (3- or 4-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean seeds and pod, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain. The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For the Chai Tea:

2 cups boiling water
3 chai tea bags

Combine boiling water and tea in a heatproof container. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature before adding to punch.

For the Punch:

1 (750 ml) bottle blended Scotch, such as Monkey Shoulder
2 1/4 cups Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 cup fresh juice from about 6 lemons
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup
2 cups Chai Tea
1/8 cup Angostura bitters
6 orange wheels, star anise, ice block*, for garnish

In a punch bowl or large container, combine Scotch, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, tea, and bitters. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, add an ice block and garnish as desired.

*If you want to get really festive, you can add some decorative elements to your ice block. I added extra cranberries to mine. As the night progresses and the ice melts, they’ll start popping out and floating about. So make sure whatever you use is washed and makes sense with the rest of the ingredients!

So yes, scotch is definitely present. I chose Monkey Shoulder blended scotch, which offers a strong punch of malt, smoke, and baking spice flavors, perfect for a winter punch. Next I added in some chai tea just below full strength. The tea adds a wonderful assortment of appropriate flavors: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom and black pepper all work beautifully with the whisky. Then I followed that up with Sherry for a little sweet nuttiness; Angostura for bitterness but also extra spice; and vanilla-laced cinnamon sugar syrup for a slightly floral and woodsy sweetness.

 

This recipe was originally posted on Serious Eats.

Homemade Boozy Gift Round Up

Everyone loves receiving a homemade gift of the food variety. Even more so when it tastes good! Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite items to make and give.

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

 Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.comKiss of Fire Aperol Jellies

Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Fernet Branca Jelly

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Meyer Lemon Bitters

holidayspicesyrups1

Holiday Spice Syrups

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Brownies

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Jameson Whiskey Truffles

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.comIt’s that time of year where I put booze in baked goods and share the recipe with you!

This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap once again. I was so set on making rum balls (it’s another thing I’m getting to cross off the “to make” list) that I didn’t really think about how well they would transport across the country. So, if you’re reading this and you received a box from me… apologies if they were either melted/smooshed/etc… Hopefully that shouldn’t matter cause you thought they tasted so good you ate them anyway.

cookie swap

These rum balls are different from what I grew up with. Mostly they’re like fudge chock full of nuts and aged rum. Then rolled around in coffee flavored jimmies. Do you call them jimmies? Apparently these are one of those regional food items that every part of the country calls something else. You may know them as sprinkles. Or.. I dunno. What else do people call them? I also grew up eating American Chop Suey which apparently only people from Rhode Island and New Hampshire eat.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

There is no actual baking in this recipe. Yes, there’s a double boiler but all that is required of you there is to get some water hot and then stir for about 5 minutes. What I’m really saying here is don’t be afraid of the confection; it’s amazingly simple to make but looks super hard and that means people will fawn all over you for making this.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

I’m keeping this post short. It’s the holiday season! You all have a million other cookie recipes to make (or gawk at).Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Let’s do this!

Adapted from Carla Hall’s Rum Balls

1/4 cup aged rum, Brugal 1888 used here
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
coffee flavored jimmies for rolling

  1. Heat the rum in a small skillet over medium until reduce by half. Set aside.
  2. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate, espresso and butter over a double boiler (or if you don’t have one, a medium sized sauce pan with about an inch of simmering water with a stainless steel bowl on top will also work). Stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, rum, powdered sugar and salt until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. This can also be prepared a few days in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge. (If refrigerating, let mixture fully come to room temp before trying to scoop.)
  4. Portion dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sprinkles. Chill in an air tight container until ready to serve.

The consistency is very close to fudge with lots of crunchy bits from the pecans. While present in flavor, the rum takes a backseat and is pretty subtle. If you want more punch from the rum, then increase rum by a tablespoon before reduction.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Happy holidays guys! I hope you try your hand at making these!

Spiced Averna Toddy

Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis winter season you’re going to drink some hot cocktails (unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere where you got another 6 months for that. Unless you like hot drinks in hot months. Hey, I drink iced coffee all year round now.) and more than likely a lot of them will have the same old familiar base. While whiskey is always a good partner, or even some nice aged rum, today I turn to a maybe an unlikely addition: Averna.

I love Averna, and you’ve seen it pop up on this site from time to time, but never warmed up. And now that I’ve had it warmed up, I can’t believe it took me so long to do it!Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Serious Eats had asked me to come up with a hot drink for this cool season and frankly it took a moment of head scratching to figure out what to make. I kept struggling with how I’d make hot whiskey interesting…until I nixed the whiskey altogether. Then what you get is a flavorful hot toddy that’s low on the ABV and the perfect beverage you can start offering with brunch all the way up through dinner. I like a cocktail that has that much potential.Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now you know I can’t leave good enough alone, and I always give you a bit of homework on here in order to make some of these drinks, so it should come as no surprise that I’m requiring a deep, dark brown sugar syrup steeped with peppercorns and cinnamon to accompany this toddy. As much as I like Averna, adding this syrup in there gives it so much flavor, and it kinda comes out tasting like a spicy tea (without the tea).

So curl up alongside a fire with a good cocktail book and one of these Averna Toddies this winter. And save the whiskey for something else.Spiced Averna Hot Toddy Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Spiced Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
4 cinnamon sticks

  • Combine water, brown sugar, peppercorns, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to simmer, stirring, and remove from heat. Cover and let sit for an hour and a half. Strain and store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to two weeks.

For the Cocktail:

1 ounce Averna
1/2 ounce spiced syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed juice from half a lemon
4 ounces boiling water
Lemon peel for garnish

  • In a heat proof mug, combine Averna, spiced syrup, lemon juice, and boling water. Garnish with lemon peel and serve immediately.

Warm and bright from the lemon. Lots of strong spice with hints of caramel and a touch of bitterness. The cinnamon lingers around but is not overpowering. Sweet, but light on the palate.

The Southall Tonic

The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.comFor some time now I’ve had a “warming cocktail with turmeric” sitting in my to-make queue. Summer clearly was not the time to bust that out. Now that it’s turned a tad cooler out, I figured I should quickly get my act together and make this, especially before I found winter had sped by and it was too late to make it again (story of my life).The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Inspiration came from an unlikely place this time in the form of online dating. Yes, if you’ve been a loyal (or even semi-loyal) reader on here you know I am attached, so I wasn’t out looking, but Match.com came looking for me! In collaboration with the site, they asked me to come up with a London-inspired cocktail. Something that you’d want to order on your first date. You know, the date where you’re trying to impress the other person with your knowledge of fine spirits and interesting ingredients…. that “showing off” I try to impress all of you readers with every week.

For me, when I think of what Londoners are drinking, my mind goes to sophistication. Classy, gin-based cocktails (I’m picturing the American Bar at the Savoy), and then, perhaps, closely followed by beer (I mean, there’s a lot of pubs around town). But all of that tends to start to seem mundane when you suddenly have to impress someone on a first date. And first impressions are everything. So, I’ve come up with a London-inspired cocktail that is still sophisticated, but much more interesting than your run of the mill gin and tonic. Looking for your ice breaker? Here you go…The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

What was my inspiration behind this cocktail? Tony Conigliaro, whose imaginative cocktails are inspiring to myself and many others way across the pond, and curry. No, seriously, curry too. When I think of the flavors of London, I immediately go to the fragrant and spicy dishes found everywhere in town. An amalgam of cultures, London lets you cherry pick the best flavors found all over the planet. But for today, my mind went to curry.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Or, more specifically, the turmeric found in curry. Turmeric’s bright yellow color not only provides a beautiful color for the cocktail, but its peppery flavor profile gives it a nice earthy, warm kick too. Oh, and if you’re looking for some banter, it also has numerous health benefits, lots of which you can wiki when you have a moment (just not during your date please).

And there I got my warming cocktail, with turmeric. A couple dashes of lapsang souchong tea tincture gave the drink not only some heft, but an unexpected smoky flavor coming from such a brightly colored cocktail. Rounding out the ingredients, orange flower was added as a finishing touch calling out some of the Middle Eastern influence also found around town. Orange was used instead of lime for the much needed citrus element for this take on a Gin and Tonic.

Southall Tonic

2 ounces London Dry Gin, Beefeater used here
3/4 ounce Turmeric syrup (recipe below)
3-4 drops Lapsang Souchong tea tincutre
4 ounces tonic water, Fever-Tree used here
2 sprays orange flower water (use an atomizer to disperse)

orange peel for garnish

Build the drink by adding a large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in syrup and then add drops of tincture. Pour in gin, top with tonic and then spray orange flower water over glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Turmeric Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh turmeric root, cleaned and roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Store for up to one month.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Strong orange oil on the nose and the hint of quinine. The first sip is both sweet and immediately hits you with savory from the tea tincture; it’s an unexpected twist. Next layer of flavors you get are more earthy from the turmeric syrup which balances the sweetness of the syrup and tonic against the strong, smoky lapsang suchong. In the end there is still a crisp bite from the gin that reminds you, at its core, it’s just a tarted up Gin & Tonic.

This post is in collaboration with Match.com. For more information on their city guides, please visit them here!

Cranberry Especial Cocktail

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLast 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.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhen 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.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAlso, 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.

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