Jewel of Oaxaca

Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhoa. What a week it’s been. Towards Wednesday I started to feel like an NPR telethon with all the requests for Saveur mag votes. Except, the only fun swag I can offer you guys is more recipes, and you all know those are coming anyways. Like this one..

This recipe was originally going to have grilled pineapple, but that’s DONE (I’ll probably be eating those words in two months). So, instead, grilled mango was tested out to see if that would pair nicely with some mezcal in a cocktail. Results all pointed to yes. It may only be April, but that’s no reason not to think about grilling. Indoor grilling is doable as long as you have the right equipment, i.e. a Grill Pan. It’s a lot more efficient to oil up a pan and get it hot than turn on the propane (or light some charcoal). The sad fact is that we have a nice grill outside that ran out of propane I’d say… 2…3 years ago? I’ve lost track of how long at this point. And we’ve lazily resorted to just using a grill pan for the two of us. Now that I type this out I’m realizing that the amount of entertaining we’ve done at home has drastically decreased since the demise of the propane. Hrm.Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Ah, but the cocktail. A grill pan in this case is best if you are just going to grill up a single mango. Seem like a lot of work for one cocktail? Grill up two and save the rest for later; you’ll want a second one of these.

The savory component here gets some earthy smokiness from ancho chile peppers. Ancho chile peppers are the dried form of a poblano pepper if you weren’t aware (it’s ok, I was schooled on this point too). I put ancho chiles and mangoes in my salsas so I thought I’d try them out as a cocktail.Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pro tip: use a Hawthorne strainer for this. Oh what a mess this made the first time around with first the shaker strainer, then the julep strainer; the holes were not big enough and there was a mango backup that resulted in half a drink lost. I took one for you guys so you won’t have this problem. The Hawthorne excels at separating the mango pulp from the juice. You will still get pieces of pulp, but you will also get all your booze out of the mixing glass too.

For the ancho chile pepper syrup:

2 ancho chile peppers (or 1 tsp ancho chile powder)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

  • Combine chile peppers (or powder), sugar and water in a medium sized sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the temperature to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Strain into an airtight container.

For the cocktail:

1/2 mango
1 ounce Ancho Chile Pepper Syrup (see recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
1-1/2 ounce of mezcal, Del Maguey Vida used here

  • Take your mango half, with skin still on, and score the flesh lengthwise and widthwise, careful not to cut through the skin. Next, using a grill pan, or outdoor grill, oil the grates with a neutral oil (like vegetable oil). Over medium-high heat, place mangoes flesh side down for 5 minutes. If you would like criss-cross grill marks, use a spatula to turn the mangoes 45 degrees halfway through cook time. Remove from grill and let cool. Once cool, turn flesh inside out and using a paring knife, cut cubes away from the skin.
  • Next, in the bottom of a shaker, combine mangoes and syrup. Muddle until puree-like consistency. Add ice, lime, and mezcal. Shake for 20 seconds and using a Hawthorne strainer, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Mezcal is a very assertive liquor that can sometimes overpower the other ingredients in a drink. But, here, mangoes, chile peppers and lime all work well in combination because they also have strong flavors. The mango’s rich sweetness, enhanced by the smoky undertone of the ancho syrup, makes for a great partner to the Mezcal, accentuating its vegetal aspects and softening its domineering palate.

I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Drinks site

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Popsicles

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.comI bought these sailboat popsicle molds last year with the sole intention of putting some sort of boozy frozen delicacy in them. And then a year went by, and I only just got around to taking them out of the box. And for a private dinner no less! I knew that if I put this post up on April 1st (yesterday) you all would have erroneously assumed it was some kind of practical joke. Sex on the Beach…popsicles?!?! So I thought it best to go up the next day to avoid any confusion with this recipe because it is, in fact, quite tasty.

The “cocktail” was developed after I was hired to make drinks for a private dinner party where the theme was “Seafood, Italian, 80′s Miami a la the Golden Girls”. The sailboats were the amuse course. The next four cocktails were all based on the four Golden Girls (you can check out some of those pics in my Instagram feed). My eyes popped wide open once I realized that I could use the sailboat molds – finally! At first I had thought I’d make a highbrow cherimoya-lime-spicy concoction. But then stopped myself. 80′s Miami? It HAS to be a cocktail riff based on one of those “classics” of the era; so a Sex on the Beach was made and enjoyed by all.Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

I made a few adjustments to the recipe to start. Cranberry juice is almost never making an appearance in my fridge, so instead I subbed in my homemade grenadine. Same goes with Peach Schnapps. Instead, a fresh peach puree was used in place. A few minor changes took this recipe from meh to ahhh, resulting in a great start to the dinner.

So now I’m sharing the recipe with you all. It’s a taste of the summer to come.Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Note: you don’t need to have these sailboats on hand. Any popsicle mold will suffice, but just won’t be as fun.

1/2 ounce grenadine (homemade is always best)
1 ounce peach puree
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce vodka, Aylesbury Duck from the 86 Co. used here
1/4 ounce G.E. Massenez Creme de Cassis

  1. In the bottom of your popsicle mold, pour grenadine in. Freeze to semi-frozen, about 45 minutes.
  2. Mix together peach puree, orange juice and vodka. Pour on top of grenadine. Freeze to semi-frozen, about an hour and a half.
  3. Drizzle creme de cassis on top of peach/O.J./vodka mixture. Add popsicle stick at this point and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours but overnight is best.
  4. To un-mold, squeeze mold to release sides of the popsicle. This should enable you to wiggle the popsicle out. If not, run under warm, NOT hot, water for 5 seconds to help un-mold.
  5. Eat immediately!

Why not WAY more alcohol? Because then they wouldn’t freeze well. I tried this with one ounce of vodka in the center and it never fully froze to a stable consistency. That said, you can still taste that these have some booze in them because clearly, that’s the point. They do have a nice fruity punch to them with the grenadine working well in contrast with the peach/orange combo. Depending on the creme de cassis you have, this can be left out (some flavors work better than others). Try one with and one without to see for yourself. I tried this with Chambord too but the flavor just didn’t work well here, somehow it became almost medicinal. Also, if you can get a giant seashell filled with ice to display your pops in, you win.

Make It: Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub // stirandstrain.comThis post should have been up days ago. Alas, I was struck down by a nasty cold. The kind where getting up from bed is unheard of and the only thing you can muster the strength to do is hit ‘next’ to continue binge watching episodes of Midsomer Murders on Netflix which quite frankly are much too long to hold a sick person’s attention as you always fall asleep before they discover who the murderer is. But now that the fog is clearing from my brain I figured I’d grab a chance to get this up, a reposting from my article on the Serious Drinks site from last week.

In an effort to try more herb-forward shrub recipes, I turned to the most prolific herb in my garden. You guessed it: rosemary. I also have a tangelo tree that won’t quit; so that was going to be put to good use too.

The end result was a more savory shrub with an aggressive, woodsy nature to it. The tangelo sits in the background offering a lingering note to the flavor. Mainly though, you’ll want to taste test every few days while making this until you get the flavor YOU want. The vinegar,which as I said in the Blackberry shrub, will always be very present, but it does soften as it sits.Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub // stirandstrain.com

6 sprigs 5” long rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed tangelo juice from approximately 3 and a half medium sized tangelos
1 cup apple cider vinegar

  1. Combine rosemary sprigs and sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Add juice to the bowl and stir to help start to dissolve sugar. Let sit, covered, overnight, occasionally stirring sugar every few hours. Fine strain mixture into a bottle or airtight container. Add apple cider vinegar and shake well to combine. Seal and store in fridge. After 3 days, start tasting for desired flavor. After 6 days, shrub should be ready to use.
  3. Use within 1 year for optimal flavor.

The rosemary-tangelo shrub works well on its own with some sparkling water, or with an ounce of gin too over some ice. The strong flavors do more favorably with less ingredients added to them.

Mixology Monday: Classic Blackberry Shrub

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoOk, first off guys, I am well aware it’s not Monday despite the name of the post. However, I wanted to get this up before the Monday deadline. What deadline? What are you talking about? Mixology Monday for you newbies here is the once a month “cocktail party” where internet people like to show off with a drink they made based on a theme by whoever “hosts” this month. Please read up on it here and see past entries on the MxMo site. This month, Craig from “A World of Drinks” gave us the theme of “Preserves” (and yes, there’s a lot of quotation marks happening in this paragraph). It took me a second to realize that I was already planning on making a shrub this month, and since making shrubs was an old school way of preserving fruit, I was ready to publish a double duty post this month.

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

Blackberries. I love the taste of them, but, truth be told, I hate eating them. Those little seeds! They always get stuck in my teeth and half the time they seem like too much of a bother to eat. Anyone with me on this or am I crazy? Last week my husband was out getting some food and I had asked him to pick up some blueberries. Apparently the store was out and he figured I just wanted a berry that was close enough to blue to eat. So he picked up blackberries instead. After scrunching up my face at them and letting them sit there for a few days, the overwhelming urge not to waste food made me cave in. What to do with them?

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.comA shrub! If I made them into a shrub I was just going to extract their juices and all those annoying little seeds would stay in the strainer. I might have patted myself on the back there for thoughtfulness.

Shrubs are a bit well known now, more so than say, a year ago. I see them a lot more on cocktail menus and on the shelves of my local liquor suppliers. Shrubs are also pretty simple to make yourself; let me show you how.

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

Classic Blackberry Shrub

1 cup whole blackberries, rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  1. Combine blackberries and sugar in a bowl. Lightly crush the blackberries to release their juices (I used a potato masher, but a fork would suffice). Cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight. Shake the bowl every once in awhile to make sure the sugar is incorporating into the juice. Half way through, stir the mixture and re-cover.
  2. Next, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into an airtight container. Add the vinegar and shake well (if any sugar has remained, shake hard to dissolve here). Store the container in the refrigerator for 6 days.
  3. After 6 days give it a taste. Usually, by day 6 the sharpness of the vinegar has started to pull back and let the sweetness from the sugar and fruit stand out more. Keep in mind, this is a vinegar base: it will ALWAYS taste like vinegar. The vinegar will mellow more as it sits but its zing is what is wanted in a shrub.

For this shrub, there is a nice sweet and sour balance from the ingredients. The blackberries produce a tartness that is heightened from the vinegar while the sugar cuts through to keep your mouth from puckering. Strong nose of vinegar with subtle berry.

Sparkling Blackberry Shrub (no booze)

1/2 ounce blackberry shrub (recipe above)
6 ounces sparkling water
1 lime wedge

Fill a rocks glass with the water and pour the shrub down the center. Stir to combine. Squeeze a wedge of lime and add spent lime to the glass.

And here’s Christopher’s cocktail recipe with the shrub he’s been making:

2 ounces 4 Roses Bourbon Yellow Label
1 ounce Blackberry Shrub (recipe above)
1/4 ounce maple syrup

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Add all ingredients and stir to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Thanks to Craig for hosting this month and Fred for keeping MxMo up and alive!

The Irish Derby Cocktail

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m sure that this week every aspect of your social media accounts are being filled to the brim with green drinks and Irish whiskey recipes. Well, this cocktail isn’t green but it does use Irish whiskey.

Usually, Jameson or Redbreast is drunk by itself in this household. Very rarely does it make its way into a cocktail, although there have been a few off nights when I’ve desperately wanted a Manhattan and used it as the base when there was not a drop of Rye to be found. So this week’s challenge to me over on the Serious Drinks site was to make a cocktail that uses Irish whiskey as the base and go from there. Initially I was at a blank until I started sifting through my new copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. Although at times I find myself pouring over the vintage Ads more than the words, the recipes collected here are a good history lesson for those of us interested in the world of cocktails; you need to know your beginnings.

Looking through here one realizes that many recipes are ready made for substitutions. I just had to find one for Irish whiskey, and in particular, Redbreast. The Derby cocktail stood out as one that might work, and after adjusting for tastes (woo there was a bit too much lime juice in here), it did. The original cocktail was bourbon based but utilized sweet vermouth, dry orange curaçao and lime juice. I upped the whiskey, downed the lime and added Angostura to balance it all out. What resulted was a light, slightly zingy cocktail where the whiskey played more of a supporting actor role.

1-1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey, such as Redbreast
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry orange curaçao (can sub with Cointreau)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 long lime zest for garnish

First, peel the zest from the lime using a channel knife, or use a sharp paring knife to curl a long continuous piece of peel from the lime. Set aside. Next, fill a shaker 2/3 with ice and add all ingredients. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime peel.

Strong essence of orange oil and sweet florals from the lime on the nose. The Redbreast is mellowed out by the sweetness from the angostura and curaçao, while the Angostura adds just a touch of bitterness that completes the drinks. Not your usual Irish drink.

Trinidad Spell (with a whole lot of bitters)

Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOne day trolling the internet I came across a drink called the Stormy Mai-Tai. This tropical sounding cocktail totally threw me for a loop–there was a whole lot of bitters in there. Like, a WHOLE lot. An ounce and a half.

Somewhere along the way through my cocktail education, I mistakenly thought bitters contained lethal amounts of alcohol that when taken in large doses would kill me. Clearly I was mistaken. Here was a drink that showed you could use bitters as a base and not just an accent. Also, I had overlooked the fact that Angostura only clocked in at 44.7% ABV, not lethal.Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I had thought of recreating the Stormy Mai-Tai here for this site, but when I was asked to come up with a bitters-heavy drink for Serious Drinks, I thought I’d see where else I could get bitters to work in large doses; so I turned to Tiki drinks.

I adapted the Polynesian Spell (which you can find in the Grog Log) by replacing the grape juice (there’s a head scratcher), triple sec, and peach brandy with Angostura, apricot brandy, passion fruit and citrus; I kept the gin. I was going out on a limb trying to shove Angostura in there, but after a couple of tweaks…wow. It was a success.

1 ounce Angostura
1 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Apricot Brandy
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice from 1/4 orange
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup (see note)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake hard for 30 seconds to incorporate and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish according to your own inner-Tiki style.

Yes, the flavor is strongly bittered, but there’s also a cascade of cherry and clove, fruit and sweetness. The aroma is fiery from the Angostura with strong hints of passionfruit and orange. The slight numbing of your tongue may serve to remind you: you’re drinking a heck of a lot of bitters.

For this recipe, I used a Cobalt shaker*. I was sent this shaker to try out and I’ve used for several of my tiki drinks for a few reasons. One, the shaker gets things cold, really cold. And two, for the boozier drinks, I like the small ice chips that slowly melt as I drink the cocktail. It’s also roomy for large volume recipes like these too.

cobalt shaker // Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. All opinions are my own and no monetary compensation was given. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Mary Pickford Cocktail (Tiki in disguise)

Mary Pickford Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Let’s begin this post by acknowledging that this darling cocktail is not one of my originals (in case you didn’t know). However, in the buzz surrounding Oscar weekend, I thought I’d bring out a classic. Do we need to start with who Mary Pickford is? Mary Pickford won the first best actress Oscar for a “talkie” in 1930. Considered “America’s Sweetheart”, this cocktail, created by Eddie Woelke, borders on the fun and fruity side.

In fact, it’s really just a Tiki drink in disguise. Seriously guys.

A lot of rum, some pineapple, a touch of grenadine… so far all of this works. Maraschino liquor? Sure, that can work too. Give it a grand garnish and you’ve got yourself an afternoon sipper while you throw rubber darts at Ryan Seacrest on tv.Mary Pickford Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

2 oz. white rum, such as Caña Brava
1-1/2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1/4 oz. grenadine, homemade preferred
barspoon maraschino liqueur, such as Maraska

pineapple wedge, lime wheel and cherry for garnish (and some edible gold stars if you got those hanging around too!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

After one sip your mind goes straight to tropical. The grassy rum holds up next to the sweetness of the other ingredients while a tart pop rounds it out. Fresh pineapple juice is not as cloyingly sweet as out of the can, and here it’s just superior where you need that freshness to cut through the liqueurs. You only need just a small amount of maraschino, as a little goes a long way. Light and fruity, it’s a great starter drink for your afternoon.

Note: you may notice that this drink is not very pink like the other versions you might find. The reason being that maraschino syrup is not used, which is often dyed red. Maraska is clear in color, so your two coloring agents are the yellow from the pineapple juice and red from grenadine.

And the winner of the barrel aged cocktail choice goes to…

Barrel Aged Hanky Panky (without a real barrel) // stirandstrain.comTwo weeks flew by around these parts and in that time a new cocktail was born. Well, the base you all will be familiar with, but the flavor profile? Totally new.

In the first post, I proposed the question to you all, What cocktail should get barrel aged (without a real barrel)? In this post I found that most of you would rather respond on every other form of social media except the post’s page. So I rounded up all of your responses, gave it a thought, and decided the cocktail would be…

A Hanky Panky!

First, thanks to you guys who gave up a lot more info on this process than I had in the instruction manual. All of your comments were super helpful in this process and tuned me in to the fact that I needed to taste daily. And you know what? After four days this baby was done aging with the stave. It did, however, require several more days of chilling out in the bottle before the taste was to my liking.

The jar holds 375ml, so count on about 3 full cocktails, or several small sipping shots.

6 oz. gin, Ford’s works well here
3 oz. sweet vermouth, Martini & Rossi used here
1 oz. Fernet Branca
6 dashes of orange bitters,Regan’s used here

  • Add the stave to the jar. Using a funnel, pour all ingredients into the barrel and seal.
  • Taste starting a day or two into aging. After 4 days I found that I was happy with the taste.
  • Strain mixture through cheesecloth, remove the stave from the jar, rinse the jar, and pour strained mixture back into the bottle. Cap and let sit for about 5 days in a cool, dark place.
  • After 5 days your Hanky Panky is ready to drink. Pour with ice into a strainer to chill, or sip straight out of the bottle too! Both work.

The flavor definitely has that “barrel aged” quality to it with a sweet, smokiness. On the nose there are hints of molasses, vanilla, raisins, pepper, honey, and smoke; not your typical Hanky Panky. The sweet vermouth is more pronounced while the Fernet Branca has softened considerably. In the barrel it’s been transformed into a richer, moodier version of a Hanky Panky.

Now on to thinking about what goes in there next…

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comIt’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.

My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comA couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from the book “Bitters”
Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water

  1. To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
  2. In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
  3. After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
  4. After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.

Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.

I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

Mixology Monday: 5 Spice Ti’ Punch

5 Spice Ti' Punch // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoApologies for the hasty nature of this post. I’m heading out the door on my way to Palm Springs Modernism Week to bask in even hotter temps than Los Angeles and to have my eyes filled to the brim with mid-century architecture. I almost didn’t make this month’s Mixology Monday, “Sours” hosted by the Ginhound blog, but remembered that I have a cocktail for a supperclub dinner coming up next week that would fit the bill.

Ti’ Punch is in that sour category alongside daiquiris, margaritas, etc… A liquor at the base with a sour component and a sweet. To fit the theme of the dinner, I created a 5 Spice Ti’ Punch, infusing the whole spices usually found in that blend into a demerara syrup. The result was a honey rich syrup that almost had a “chai” like aroma to it. Not too overbearing on the palate but enough of a kick to give the drink an unexpected new flavor profile.5 Spice Ti' Punch // stirandstrain.com

In keeping with tradition of the Ti’ Punch being an aperitif (served before a meal), this strong tipple will be served to guests arriving. Hopefully it will loosen the tongue just enough to make this a lively dinner. This will be served punch style, however for this recipe, I’ve scaled it down to a punch for one.

First, let’s make the syrup!

5 Spice Syrup

1 cup demerara sugar
1 cup water
1 star anise
1 4″ cinnamon stick, broken in two
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
5 whole cloves

Combine sugar and water over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then add spices to the pan. Bring to just a boil and then remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Uncover and let come to room temperature. Strain into an airtight container.

For the cocktail

2 oz. Rhum J.M. Gold Agricole
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 oz. 5 spice syrup

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add rhum, lime juice and syrup. Stir 30 seconds to chill and then strain into an iced filled rocks glass.

This is one boozy sour. That grassy cinnamon agricole rhum comes in at 100 proof, so you’ll probably only need just the one punch. But by all means have two if you want. The 5 spice compliments the rhum more than overpowers it in that hey-look-at-me way that 5 spice sometimes can. Infusing the spices in a demerara sugar created a viscous, honey like syrup that had a deeper color and flavor than regular cane syrup. Also, I thought it would have a better mouthfeel in a drink served over ice. The syrup really does taste more like a chai than what I associate with this Chinese spice blend too. Overall a satisfying cocktail with some bite.

Note, I did use black peppercorns rather than Sichuan ones, but only because the black were readily available and I was short on time. Had I been able to use the Sichuan, the flavor profile could have turned out a different way. If you get your hands on some and make this, I’d love to hear about how yours turned out.

Thanks to Andrea for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday! Please visit her site and check out everyone’s entries.

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