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.

Tangy Cider Fizz

Tangy Cider Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOK, OK. I know I made a whole point of telling you how pears were the new black this Fall and let’s forget about apples. BUT, I forgot I had this special drink in my pocket. As I try to do around holiday time, this cocktail is on the low alcohol side so that 1. you can offer your guests some lighter options 2. you can drink more of it 3. well, you get to drink more of it!Tangy Cider Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

At first glance, the ingredient list looks like the start of some Thanksgiving dessert: brown sugar, apple cider, lemon juice…but then we get some sweet vermouth thrown in there. Mmmm. Carpano Antica provides your boozy boost here and turns out it’s a strong enough player to carry all the elements.Tangy Cider Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Getting this not to turn into an overly sweet cocktail means a careful balance of ingredients. It’s amazing what a squeeze of lemon can do in addition to a nice glug of club soda. Even with 4 ounces, the drink still feels rich and bright. And don’t forget the lemon zest!

Also, if you haven’t heard, there’s also a giveaway going on right now! Head over here for some Sipp Sparkling Organic sodas – a nice addition to your cocktail bar.Tangy Cider Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now let’s start on those holiday cocktails…

2 ounces Carpano Antica
1 ounce apple cider
1 bar spoon brown sugar (or 1 non-packed teaspoon)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from half a lemon
4 ounces club soda, Fever-Tree used here
lemon peel for garnish

In a rocks glass, add one bar spoon of brown sugar. Pour lemon juice over the brown sugar and muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Add ice and then pour in Carpano Antica and apple cider. Stir gently to combine and then top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel.

**Someone online had asked me about batching this when I originally posted the recipe on Serious Eats and I actually think this would be a fine drink to serve pitcher style. Just mix everything except club soda together ahead of time (multiplied by your number of servings, omitting 1 teaspoon of brown sugar for every 4 servings). When ready to serve, either pour club soda into the pitcher, or top off each cocktail; entirely up to you how you want to serve.

Make It: Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita

Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.comOnce November rolls around I usually am kinda over apples and my obsession of fruit goes to the pear. While a lot of recipes call for spiced pear that and spiced pear this, I thought I’d turn to some lighter notes and make something slightly boozy, and good enough to eat. Actually, you can eat this; it’s dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

While I hear reports of snow hitting ground in some cities, Los Angeles still is having a personality crisis and can’t decide whether it wants to be Fall or Summer. It’s a perennial problem. So, I made a dessert that encompasses this contrast: Fall flavors encapsulated in a frozen dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Following along similar veins to that apple-packed cocktail from a few weeks ago, I went ahead and packed this boozy dessert with pears: fresh pears, pear liqueur, and bubbly pear soda. Then I added some honey and St. Germain. I know that St. Germain gets thrown into cocktails much like salt gets thrown into everything, but have you stopped and just tasted it by itself lately? I forgot how rich it was, with beautiful notes of honey and spice, as well as the floral element it is known for. I wanted to bring this bottle back out after a brief hiatus and pair it with an ingredient that would accentuate those notes: like a pear.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

St. Germain was actually one of the first bottles of liqueur that I bought when I was trying to add more “fancy stuff” to my home bar years ago. I remember traveling to this high-end liquor store in Pasadena and having to ask the clerk if he’d ever heard of it. Well, duh, of course he had. I forget what I made with it that first time around, but besides the unique taste, I also bought it in part because of the fancy looking bottle. You’ll still see those purchases in my home bar now; I’m a sucker for great packaging.

Now, this dessert requires a bit of hand-holding. However, if you start it early enough in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a delicious treat by night. And by hand-holding, you’re mainly sticking a fork in it every few hours or so.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Ok, let’s begin.

2 heaping cups cubed pears
1/4 cup Pear Liqueur
1/2 cup St. Germain
1 cup water
1 cup Sipp Summer Pear Soda*
1/4 cup honey (note: heating up the honey in the microwave for 15 seconds makes it pourable)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and move to the freezer. About every hour, run a fork through the mixture until it forms ice chunks or until you’re happy with the consistency. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Lots of pear flavor with strong notes of honey. The boozy aspect of this comes through, but I don’t find it off-putting, it’s just another layer to the dessert. The elderflower is subtle, and gives this a slight earthiness. Overall, just sweet enough. If you can adjust the honey based on your own preference (taste the mixture in the food processor first before freezing to make any adjustments).

Hey Guys! If you want to get your hands on your own Sipp Sodas, stayed tuned this week for another giveaway on the site!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Low Rent of the Month: Fireball Cider

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

Apples and cinnamon. AH! The flavors of Fall. Until…well, this month’s Low Rent Cocktail.

Ok, let me come clean here. For the most part, a Low Rent Cocktail is an over-the-top, “you should only drink this if you’re in college” sort of drink. Sometimes, yes, they actually come out tasting good (see here and here), but mostly they’re a cheap, quick way to get booze from your mouth to your brain. Today’s cocktail concoction is not mine. In fact, this may even be served at a bar near you. Its inspiration comes from a recent visit from my parents, who know I write this blog and read this site daily and yet that does not deter me from speaking about them regardless of the phone call coming soon after I hit publish. Anyway, Christopher took my father out to play pool (which they are both preternaturally good at playing) and after several hours came back and sheepishly told me about a “cocktail” that was tried at a local pool hall.Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

The “cocktail” (and I am for sure using those quotes here for a reason) was a glass of Angry Orchard to which a large shot of Fireball Whiskey was added. Let’s not get huffy about what constitutes a cocktail. You can make a G&T by taking a large glass of tonic and plopping a shot of gin in it, essentially creating that drink. But is this seasonally appropriate take on a Boilermaker good enough to make itself fall into the category of “cocktail”? Well, it’s good enough for a Low Rent version at least!Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

And this is where I must confess, and oh, lo!, do I brace myself for the feedback on this, but it’s not bad.Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

So when you’re out at your next weekend apple picking/end of daylight savings/whatever we’re calling this party-party, and your host breaks out the handle of Fireball (cause that is really happening) and you brought that hard cider 6 pack… then you know what you’re making for cocktails.Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

12 ounces hard apple cider, chilled (Angry Orchard Traditional Dry used here)
1-2 nips of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey (or a hefty 2 ounce shot)

In a pint glass, combine chilled cider and whiskey. Serve.

And Happy Halloween folks! Be safe!

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

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

MxMo: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the “Perfect” Hurricane

Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.comWhoa! Mixology Monday has rolled around once again and this month Joel from the Southern Ash blog has challenged us with “Perfect Symmetry”. Just what does that mean? “Perfect” as in a cocktail that splits one of the liquors equally (you guys can read the full announcement here!). Not “perfect” as in the absolute best; I don’t think I’d ever refer to a drink as perfect. Improved, yes.

I’m coming off of a few weeks vacation on here (although you guys probably didn’t notice what with all the posts going up) and although that might read to you as “I’m totally rested and going to write a million posts”, what that actually means is “dang guys, I have waaaaayyyy too many emails to go through”. So, I’m keeping this post brief today.Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.com

What’s a perfect Hurricane? Well, I decided after a long debate about what to do for MxMo this time that rum and cachaça might be a good combo to try and make into a “perfect” cocktail. So naturally my mind went to Tiki drinks. But you know what? It’s kinda hard finding a Tiki drink with one rum in it. Now, there were a few contenders with just one rum in the recipe but I wanted to revisit the Hurricane. I just love passion fruit and, well, I have a crap load of homemade syrup in the fridge right now.

Cachaça is a close cousin to rum. I tried to make the distinction in an earlier post but I believe here that there is enough of a difference that it qualifies for this recipe (they have different names!!). If you disagree, please feel free to leave a comment below.Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.com

2 ounces aged rum
2 ounces aged cachaça, Leblon used here*
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-3/4 ounces passion fruit syrup (homemade if you got it!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake well. Fill a hurricane glass or large tiki mug with about 20 ounces of crushed ice. Strain drink over the ice and add more crushed ice if desired.

Thanks to Joel for hosting again this month, and to Fred for keeping MxMo alive!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Spicy Tomato Water Martini

Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis is a sponsored post. 

Today I just realized that soon, tomato season will be over. This is a hard pill to swallow because somehow this summer sped by so fast that I don’t feel I indulged on enough tomatoes. To compensate, I went to the farmer’s market this weekend and I, perhaps, overbought by a pallet or two.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lately, if you’ve been reading on here with any regularity, you might have noticed that I’ve been lamenting the summer produce as it starts to slowly leave the aisles of the local farmer’s markets. Using seasonal products has always been a priority on here, and really, for many people now, it’s not a very new concept anymore. However, after years of living with the same produce available all year round, I find that I’m still getting used to this idea. You mean I can’t have fresh tomato pasta in a few weeks? No more bruschetta? No more PEACH DAIQUIRIS?!?!

OK, I’m calm now but I still have this giant bag of tomatoes that have to get preserved somehow. Well, I can eat only so many of these guys, so then I turned to preserving the flavor of tomatoes. Yup, the flavor.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For this recipe, in partnership with Absolut Vodka, I get to hang on to that summer tomato flavor for as long as I have this bottle handy (which actually could get used up pretty quick in my house). Absolut is a good match because they also care about making things seasonal and local; in making Absolut Original they use local ingredients and keep farming and production in the surrounding community of Åhus, Sweden. They have a craft approach to details, like using crop rotation to naturally restore the area’s wheat fields, and making all the famous bottles at a 300 year old glassworks nearby. Their name for keeping everything in Åhus is One Source. They even feed the local farm animals the spent grains from production; talk about a happy cow!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the base, I chose cherry tomatoes over larger ones so that I could get a nice mix of tart, sweet and sour flavors to make the “water” more layered and not just a single note. I also decided to add a touch of salt to each individual cocktail instead of the larger infused batch. This was done so that serving this, guests who liked things a little salty could add more salt, and those who might even want to forego salt altogether could (although I wouldn’t suggest it).  The base itself then would remain a consistent flavor. Using the Absolut Original vodka also means that I have a consistent flavor and quality in all the cocktails.

The black pepper and thai bird chili give the base its earthy, spicy flavor and the heat factor is completely up to you (as it should be). I like enough heat so that the cocktail has some zip to it, but I don’t let it overpower the other star ingredients. Otherwise I would have made you a chili pepper cocktail.

Let’s make a drink!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka
750 ml bottle Absolut Original Vodka (a little over 3 cups)*
3 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 thai bird chili peppers, roughly chopped with seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Strain ingredients through a cheesecloth lined fine strainer into a clean, airtight container. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months. This recipe can easily be scaled down or up.

Spicy Tomato Water Martini
3 parts Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka (recipe above)
1/4 part Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
pinch of good sea salt
cherry tomato and cocktail onions for garnish

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add vodka, dry vermouth and salt. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with cherry tomato and cocktail onions.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*This post is sponsored by Absolut Vodka. If you’d like to find out more on their consistent commitment to exceptional quality vodka, please visit them here!

Fall Cocktail Roundup

For those few of you who have a job that gives you a 3 day weekend starting today, lucky you. I’m pretty sure that last time I had that Monday off I was in college… a long time ago in college. But let’s not focus on that for now. Even if your weekend is only two days long, or even one, I’ll also give you guys an excuse to drink a good cocktail. Here’s a roundup of my Fall favorites.

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.comPrivate Club Cocktail

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

The Golden Hour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThe Golden Hour

Honey Vanilla Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.com

Honey Vanilla Chai Hot Toddy

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis is quite possibly the most APPLE cocktail I’ve ever made. But it’s October so who cares! Let’s enjoy it!

I was bouncing ideas around with the Serious Eats people and decided on creating a multi-layered apple cocktail. One where you’re getting hit with apple flavor from all directions: apple cider concentrate, hard apple cider, apple brandy. Heck, I even threw on an apple chip garnish. You might be thinking to yourself…how one note this seems. But no! It’s super flavorful in unexpected ways, and if you don’t have the time you can even skip on the garnish.Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple cider brings me back to my childhood in New England. Or rather, it brings me back to unrealistic longings of days gone by. It is true, you can’t seem to throw a rock without hitting an apple orchard there. Especially if you hail from Rhode Island, where you can’t throw a rock without hitting Massachusetts or Connecticut either (it’s a really small state). My grandparents lived near an orchard. My aunt and uncle HAVE an apple orchard. Cider was just synonymous with Fall. Now I have to deal with 90°F and over temps through October in Los Angeles. The only saving grace of it all is not having to deal with deicing my car come January anymore (please don’t throw rocks at me). Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Being an adult means I’ll always have conflicting feelings about my childhood. All those sweet memories of riding around on the back of a wagon in a corn field, and there’s the actual reality of having to go to school and being told what to do and all the unpleasantness of being a kid that I tend to forget about. One thing that I don’t have any conflicting feelings about is making this cocktail. So let’s do that!

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFor the Spiced Cider Concentrate:

4 cups fresh apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
4 allspice berries, whole
1 teaspoon cloves, whole
2 teaspoons black peppercorns, whole

In a medium saucepan, combine cider, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Keep at a simmer, uncovered, until reduced by 3/4, and consistency is viscous like maple syrup, about 2 hours. Strain and let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a month.

*Note: you can also buy apple cider concentrate if you don’t have the time or if apple cider (*gasp*) is not available in your neck of the woods. Find some here!

For the Cocktail:

2 ounces Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 ounce apple cider concentrate syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about half a lemon
4 ounces hard cider such as Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider
Apple slice or apple chip for garnish (optional)

Combine apple brandy, spiced cider concentrate, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass. Top with hard cider. Garnish with apple slice or apple chip if desired.

A small amount of lemon juice not only brightens up the drink, but the acid helps meld the flavors and prevents a sensation of just apple after apple after apple. The result is refreshing, boozy, and a tad dry.

Apple Cider Rum Old Fashioned

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Intrigued by this? This week I teamed up with Dine X Design to create a Fall cocktail to take us from these long, hot Summer days into the (finally!) cooler ones of Fall. Ready to experience the magic of apple cider ice cubes?! Click on over for the full recipe!

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