MxMo: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash

Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
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For this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the Stacy Markow blog, we get to play with the theme “Smashes” (read the whole post here).

You guys might have noticed I’ve had a couple Smashes on here lately, reason being that summer is one of the best times for making these drinks because they highlight so many of the awesome seasonal ingredients that are around. I always love berries in these, but for this month’s challenge, I wanted to mix it up a bit. And right now sweet corn is in season.Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Oh yeah, corn. In a cocktail. I only just heard of a few cocktails that use corn as an ingredient, but after poking around the internet for a little bit, I noticed that using corn isn’t SO new, it’s just not done that much. Here’s the trick though for getting this to work: please buy your corn from the farmers market where it’s in season and is super flavorful. Otherwise, it’s not going to pop in flavor and will just be a waste of time. You’ve been warned.

Strawberries are also in season and I just can’t help myself. So I’ve mixed them in this cocktail with the corn for a little sweet-tart flavor. Hey, it works in the salads I make, and it works here too.Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So let’s embrace summer produce before it all goes away and we’re cursing the early setting sun and I try to tell you how awesome winter squash cocktails are. Get shuckin’!

2 ounces white rum, Caña Brava used here
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
1 small strawberry, sliced
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2-3 drops Bitter Tears “Scarlet” strawberry chili bitters*
1 whole strawberry for garnish

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together strawberry slices, lime juice and simple syrup. Add corn kernels and muddle until broken up (some kernels will remain whole). Add rum and bitters. Fill glass with ice and shake hard for about 30 seconds. Double strain into a rocks glass, fill glass with crushed ice, and add strawberry garnish.

The corn is sweet and subtle and pairs exceptionally well with the strawberry. Be careful not to use too large a strawberry so that there’s a balance of flavor. The strawberry can be overpowering if you use too much. Overall a light, refreshing cocktail that can be savored without feeling too watered down with all that ice. The bitters add some extra juicy strawberry sweetness with a kick of heat from the chili.

Thanks to Stacy for hosting this month and Fred for keeping this cocktail party going. Can’t wait to see what everyone came up with this month!

 

*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.

Zucca Sprezzatura

Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIt might seem a little quiet around here. I’m always making apologies when the posts start to appear less frequently; it’s all that stored up Catholic guilt from my youth. But mainly 1. I’m recovering from our first real stint doing The Coconut Club and 2. it’s hot and I can barely muster the strength to stir a cocktail. So that’s why I’m all about building drinks in the glass right now. Less equipment means less time standing around washing stuff later.Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

In addition to me just generally being lazy, my family is coming to visit this week and already I’ve been hearing over the phone how they can’t wait to try my “fancy drinks”. Now, I now my mom’s inability to metabolize alcohol: one drink and she’s asleep. If I made her one of my regular “fancy drinks”, she might just sleep for a day. Which… well, as tempting as that sounds, she did fly across the country to see us, not sleep the day away. So that’s where some more low alcohol drinks come in. One whole highball and only a 1/2 ounce of liquor over 40 proof. Instead of making scotch here the star, I’ve turned to Zucca, an Italian amaro that only clocks in at around 16%.Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Zucca leans more towards the sweeter end of the bitter amaro spectrum, without quite evoking the flavor of its namesake rhubarb (although I’ve been schooled on the fact that it’s Chinese rhubarb used in the making of this, which gives the amaro a bitter flavor). What makes this amaro particularly special is the slightly smoky flavor profile that complements its syrupy bittersweetness. For me, it’s a perfect companion to scotch, so I’ve put them together in this cocktail*.

With these two great ingredients, I’m still considering this fancy. Looking for something a little lighter for the summer? Try this!

1 ounce Zucca
3/4 ounce Scotch, such as Great King St. Artist’s Blend
3 ounces Bitter Lemon soda, I prefer Fever-tree’s
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
lemon peel garnish

In a highball glass filled with ice, add Zucca, scotch and grapefruit bitters. Top with soda and garnish with lemon peel.

Slightly sweet, with a lingering bitterness on the tongue. The bitter lemon soda lightens everything up while adding a different layer of bitterness. The bitters add a floral note both on the nose and the palate. The cocktail is seriously refreshing and an easy to drink summer libation.

 

*I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats!

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: The Boca Shake

Boca Shake Cocktail - Low Rent Cocktail of the Month // stirandstrain.comFlorida always seemed to be the place where grandparents retired to on sitcoms when I was growing up. Isn’t that where Jerry Seinfeld’s parents retired? My family, living in New England, thought moving to another humid climate was stupid and find their retirement homes out in the deserts of the Southwest. But I digress. Florida still is associated in my mind with two things: Disney and old folks. (I try not to think about their politics.)

Sometime over the past year or so I picked up a bottle of Licor 43 and was completely baffled by what the owner told me when I was thinking of things to do with it. Without a hint of a smile, he told me the geriatric crowd mixes Licor 43 and milk together. Like a shake or Orange Julius. It has an ABV of 31% so it’s not like it won’t give your grandma a pick me up, but the thought of trying this just always seemed so weird to me. So, in stepped the Low Rent Cocktail.Boca Shake Cocktail - Low Rent Cocktail of the Month // stirandstrain.com

My grandparents used to have cocktail parties when they were Mad Men-ing their lives back in the early 60′s, but now when I come to visit they mainly just have a hefty jug of red wine that gets brought out when we sit down to play dominoes. It’s my belief they ply me with jug wine so that I don’t have a chance of beating them. I can totally see them sipping a few of these, only, I think they’d make it with Lactaid.Boca Shake Cocktail - Low Rent Cocktail of the Month // stirandstrain.com

Low Rent Cocktails do not always have to be the crappiest of what you have in your liquor cabinet; they can also be what you make do with. I guess for the Florida crowd, making do with with Licor 43 and cream is just something they’re Ok with. For this LRC I decided to inject some pep into it with Orange Crush because…well, it’s Orange Crush! Why the hell not?

Truth be told, it’s pretty Ok. Think about the last time you had an Orange Julius at the mall. Well, try and think that far back I guess. It’s a lot like that. But with booze. Not only does this seem a fitting drink for the Boca Raton crowd, but it’s a fitting drink for all you legal age kids trying to figure out how to make a creamsicle get you loaded.Boca Shake Cocktail - Low Rent Cocktail of the Month // stirandstrain.com

So let’s make one!

1 ounce Licor 43
4-6 ounces Orange Crush soda pop
1 ounce heavy cream

In a highball glass filled with ice. Build the drink by pouring in the Licor 43. Add soda and cream. Stir to combine. Sit back and fan away the mosquitos and try not to think about alligators in your toilet.

Check back in next month for another late summer concoction, or check back through the archives for some more Low Rent Cocktails.

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.comEarly Sunday evening is a great time to squeeze in one last cocktail for the weekend. For me, I never like to start my Mondays off in a foul, hungover mood, mainly because I’m already grumpy about it being Monday again. So Sundays I either cut myself off early, or I stick to lower alcohol cocktails, like this one.Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Amari are a great sub in for cocktails of the lighter ABV style (as you’ve seen in this first round here) although as I’ve mentioned before, not all are going to clock in under 40% so read your labels. This drink, written earlier this week for Serious Eats, is all about my love/hate relationship with berry season. Mainly, I can’t stand the damn seeds in berries. They pretty much ruin my enjoyment of one of my favorite types of fruit. However, being the crafty person that I am, getting around the issue of the seeds in cocktails was solved with a pretty simple berry syrup. All the flavor with none of the seeds. Smart.

Combined with Cocchi Americano, this syrup gives just enough sweetness so that it’s refreshing to drink while not being too overpowering in the fruit department. Mainly, it’s balanced quite nicely. Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So please enjoy this late Sunday sipper while we still have long, bright evenings here in the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Australia, you get yours in December). And learn to be OK with drinking cocktails that end in -spritz and are pink.

For the Raspberry-Mint Syrup:
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
10 mint leaves

In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, and water over medium-high heat. Mash raspberries with a wooden spoon to break up. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Add mint leaves and stir to combine. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain into an airtight container. Syrup keeps up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

For the cocktail:
3 ounces dry sparkling wine
1 ounce club soda
2 ounces Cocchi Americano
3/4 ounce Raspberry-Mint Syrup
Raspberries and mint, for garnish

Fill a rocks glass or goblet with ice. Add sparkling wine, club soda, Cocchi Americano, and Raspberry-Mint Syrup. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with raspberries and a sprig of mint.

I’ve got some more of these low alcohol summer cocktails coming at you over the next few weeks so I really hope you enjoy them! As always, let me know if you’re enjoying one through the internet! It’s online all the time!

{now closed} Cucumber Basil Caesar and a Caesars Cocktail Book Giveaway!

Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.comHappy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers out there! I know you exist (my stats tell me so). Today I honor all of you with your national drink, the Caesar.

However, I’m not excluding all of the rest of the world with this post, because I’m also opening up a contest for all my Canadian and US readers with a cocktail book giveaway on this very drink. For the next week, enter win your own copy of Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail by Clint Pattemore.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

And for everyone across the globe, I’m also giving you a cocktail to try out. Because you’ve read this far.

I have to admit it, I didn’t realize that a Caesar was specifically a Canadian invention. Like many drinks with a history, I had a vague idea of its origins. Wasn’t it a cousin to the Bloody Mary, just with clam juice? Well, I consider myself schooled now. The Caesar I still work into the realm of day drinks, or even Sunday morning drinks (or Monday morning if Sunday was rough). And today I’m gussying up the classic with some fresh Persian cucumbers and basil from my garden. It’s seasonal and refreshing and only has a touch of savory flavor to contrast against the bright vegetable flavor.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

Try this, or one of the many (like, over 50) ways to create a Caesar from your own copy of the book. But! You have to enter to win a copy first!

Actually, let’s make a drink first…

Slightly Adapted from the Caesars cocktail book
4 cucumber slices (preferably Persian cucumbers that you don’t have to peel)
4-6 basil leaves
3 dashes hot sauce (I use Tapatio)
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1-1/2 ounces gin
4 ounces Clamato

1 tbsp smoked salt, 1 tsp pepper, cucumber spears for garnish

Garnish your highball glass (or small goblet) first by rimming the outside of the glass with a cucumber slice then dip in salt and pepper mixture poured into a small bowl. In a mixing glass, muddle together cucumber slices, basil, hot sauce and pepper. Add gin and Clamato. Stir and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Finish garnishing with a cucumber spear. Straws are always optional!

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail! You can get up to NINE entries to win. Contest runs until midnight PST Wednesday, July 9th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below.

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Classic and Watermelon-Infused Frozen Negroni Cocktails

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.comIt’s summertime folks. Let’s all take a backseat to being serious and let our hair down and deep freeze our favorite cocktails.

That’s right. Snobbery be damned: I froze some Negorni cocktails. And they were TASTEEEEE!Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Now, please stay with me on this. First, shake off your assumptions that suddenly the lofty Negroni has gone the way of the 7/11 slurpee machine: believe me, this is nothing like that. Gone are the teeth-tinglingly sweet frozen drinks you’re used to downing in the summer. The wasted calories of footlong, electric blue “adult” slushies that have about a thimble of alcohol in them and more corn syrup than anything else. These frozen versions of the Negroni take the actual, delicious drink, and whiz it up with ice for all of the bittersweet flavor, only now you sip it through a straw.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Oh, and when I say versions, I mean you get TWO variations for this frozen cocktail: classic and a fruit-forward twist on a white negroni: watermelon. The watermelon version is inspired by a drink I just had at a friend’s wedding which was, essentially, a White Negroni whose vermouth had been infused with watermelon. The idea was playful and it was delicious and I knew I needed to make something like that for the site. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a bit more whimsy in my cocktails, I still enjoy the classics, but when you’re recipe developing all the time, your brain wants to go in warped places. At least mine does.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Anyways, the idea was great, but I wanted some flexibility with the recipe. And since I wanted something a bit more versatile that I could use in multiple drinks, I infused the gin instead. It’s a short infusion, just two days, and you could always start tasting after day 1 if you don’t want a super-watermelon-y flavor and strain when you think it’s ready. Hint: if you want something over ice, instead of something made of ice, try the watermelon gin with some tonic; the sweet and bitter work well together.Frozen Watermelon White Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

OK! So let’s stop taking ourselves SO seriously, at least for today, and enjoy some frozen cocktails.

Frozen Negroni

4-1/2 ounces gin, such as G’Vine or Fords
2-1/2 ounces Campari
2-1/2 ounces Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Orange slices, for garnish

  1. Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an airtight container. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. When ready to serve, add chilled alcohol and ice to blender. Blend on high speed until uniform and smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into rocks glasses or small wine glass. Garnish with an orange slice and serve immediately.

Frozen Watermelon White Negroni

1/2 cup cubed watermelon
1-1/2 cups gin, such as Broker’s or St. George Botanivore
4-1/2 ounces watermelon gin (see recipe below, line 1)
2-1/2 ounces Cocchi Americano
2-1/4 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Watermelon and orange slices, for garnish

  1. For the watermelon gin: In an airtight container, combine gin and watermelon. Keep in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. Strain into a clean, airtight container until ready to use. Will keep up to one year.
  2. For the Watermelon White Negroni Slushie: Combine watermelon gin, Cocchi Americano, and vermouth in an airtight container and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to serve, add frozen alcohol to a blender with ice. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Split between rocks glasses or small wine glasses. Garnish each glass with a watermelon.

First, drink these with an ounce of caution; they kinda go straight to your head if you sip them up quickly. Second, the chilling overnight is so your mixture does not dilute the ice too quickly while you blend (this step is optional). The classic Negroni tastes pretty much like what you’d get in its natural state. Even though the bitterness is still very present, with this icy state it’s lovely and the citrus notes are quite present. And not watered down tasting! The watermelon on the other hand is delicate with only a hint at the bitterness from the Cocchi Americano. While the fruity watermelon is present, it doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole – it’s a nice accent.

So choose one, or both, to make this weekend. I choose both.

I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.

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MxMo: Pineapple Gomme Syrup and a Pisco Punch!

Pineapple Gomme Syrup & Pisco Punch // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoFor Mixology Monday, I had thought I was starting out on a simple quest: make a pineapple gomme syrup (this month’s theme is PINEAPPLE, hosted by Thiago from Bartending Notes and gomme syrup, FYI, helps to create a smooth mouthfeel in cocktails and was widely used a long time ago; now it’s peeping it’s head back up again). However, as I started to leaf through the indexes of several of my go-to cocktail books, I came to the realization that no one had a recipe. WTH? So on to consult the internet and of course, some of the serious cocktailians out there had already covered the basic gomme (or gum) syrup. Thanks guys!

The first thing you’re going to need is gum arabica powder. Oh? Where the hell are you going to get that? Well, the internet is pretty helpful (click here for resource). But, if you’re like me and you need to make it RIGHT NOW, then gum arabica powder is also known as acacia powder and can be found at Whole Foods and at Vitamin stores. And here’s something funny: acacia powder is also a fiber supplement for, you know, helping you be regular. So…added benefit?Pineapple Gomme Syrup & Pisco Punch // stirandstrain.com

There were a couple methods out there for making the gomme, but for sake of time, I chose the most rapid method via A Mountain of Crushed Ice.

4 tablespoons gum arabica powder (or acacia powder)
2 ounces hot water

Heat water to just about boiling (I used an electric water kettle) and slowly mix into the powder in a heat-proof bowl. Then stir to combine, pushing clumps of powder into the side of the bowl to break it up. Let the mixture absorb for 20 minutes and then briskly stir again. Repeat process until all the powder is dissolved (this took about an hour for me).

Next, make a pineapple syrup. Unlike my other syrups, this will be a 2:1 ratio, or a rich syrup.

2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup pineapple chunks, plus 2 tablespoons juice

In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until dissolved and add pineapple chunks and juice. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover and let sit two hours (if you desire a stronger pineapple flavor, let it sit up to 4). Strain pineapple chunks (use them for garnishes or to top some pancakes). Add gomme and stir to combine. Bottle in an airtight container. Total mixture yields about 2-1/2 cups.Pineapple Gomme Syrup & Pisco Punch // stirandstrain.com

Now at this point you can pat yourself on the back and stare at your freshly made bottle of pineapple gomme syrup and then exclaim, NOW WHAT? Put it in a cocktail!

Pineapple gomme syrup seems to be most commonly used in the Pisco Punch. So start there if this is all new to you. If you’ve covered this base already, please feel free to share what you use it in.

Pisco Punch

barely adapted from Paul Clarke

2 ounces pisco, Campo de Encanto used here
1/2 ounce pineapple gomme syrup (recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

pineapple chunk and sprig of mint for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake well about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a pineapple chunk (those sugared leftovers are perfect here) and a sprig of mint.

Since we’re using a rich syrup here, I cut the amount back from the original recipe by a 1/4 ounce. I found the drink a touch too sweet on the first try. By doing this, the fruitiness of the pisco comes through a bit more with hints of peach and citrus. The lemon juice gives a pleasant bite that contrasts nicely with the sweetness. Overall, super smooth (thanks gomme!) and an easy sipper.

Thanks again to Thiago for hosting this month and Fred for keeping Mixology Monday alive.

Make It: Smoked Ice (and a cocktail to enjoy it with)

Smoked Ice Hazy Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you like tinkering in your home bar with projects, then this post is for you.

Today I give you a magic trick for your guests (and drinks): the transforming cocktail. Now, for most of you who go out and enjoy a cocktail or three, the idea of a cocktail changing flavor as you drink it shouldn’t be too strange to you. But I’ve found it’s the usual roster of changing flavors, Campari ice, fruity ice, familiar flavors that transform your drink from this to that. But earlier this year when I was hosting the SMOKE MxMo, Raul from Death to Sour Mix sent me a link to this guy (strangely enough from a site that Christopher has looked at for BBQ) that had tested and given detailed instructions for making your own smoked ice. His ice cubes were going into a Bloody Mary, which seems like a perfect vehicle for smoky flavors, but I wanted to take that idea and put it into an unexpected cocktail.

I had pitched this idea over on the Serious Eats site, and they also thought it was a cool idea. And now I’m making sure all of you get a chance to play around with it too. OK, granted you will need some special equipment, although if you want to MacGyver a roasting pan with a grate and tinfoil, that works surprisingly well too. Now, if you’re wondering how complicated it is to create smoked ice, allow me to reassure you: it is simple.Smoked Ice // stirandstrain.com

Since I tinkered awhile with this technique, here are some tips to consider:

  • A smoker makes this easy. Whether it’s a stovetop smoker, or an electric smoker (which is what we have already), it means just dumping wood in and starting a fire. Easy.
  • The type of wood you use is important! Apple wood is very mild. Mesquite is quite strong. It really just depends on your tastes, but I would consider playing with a few if you’re already gone this far considering it.
  • The size of your ice matters! Do you want your drink to quickly taste of smoke? Use small ice that melt fast. Want your cocktail to take its time changing flavors? Use big ice.
  • And speaking of ice, yes, it totally makes sense scientifically that starting with ice cubes, letting them melt, and then refreezing them will give you smokier ice cubes per the principle of thermophoresis.
  • Lastly, consider your cocktail. If you have doubts that smoke will improve, or at least make interesting, your drink, then perhaps you should pick another to work with.

Smoked Ice // stirandstrain.comOk, so let’s start with that ice!

1 tray ice cubes
Wood chips for smoking
stovetop or electric smoker

  • Place ice cubes in baking dish or pie plate. Following instructions of your smoker, heat wood chips until smoking. Set dish of ice in smoker, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, line bottom of roasting pan with aluminum foil and arrange 1/2 cup wood chips on one side of pan. Using a butane torch or long-reach lighter, carefully burn wood chips until smoking but not in flames. Carefully set rack in roasting pan, set dish of ice on rack opposite the wood chips, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Pour smoked water into ice-cube tray and freeze.

For the cocktail, I wanted something a bit surprising that would really showcase how the smoked ice slowly changed the flavors of the drink. I’ve created this recipe specifically to highlight that transformation; you can, however, think of it as a suggestion or a first-timer’s guide… and then feel free to try the same technique on another drink. This cocktail, the Hazy Sunset, is at first sip a tropical, Tiki-inspired pineapple-rum drink. However, as the ice cubes melt, it starts to add just a subtle hint of smoke until the entire drink is transformed into a rich, almost savory sipper. A long way from its beginnings.

Ready to try those smoked ice cubes in a drink now?

Hazy Sunset

1-1/2 ounces light rum, such as 10 Cane
1/2 ounce overproof rum, such as Lemon Hart Demerara
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
non-smoked ice cubes for mixing
Smoked ice cubes
Fresh cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig, for garnish

Add both rums, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker and fill 2/3 full with non-smoked ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Add smoked ice cubes to a double rocks glass, and strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with a cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig. Serve immediately.

If you try this experiment out, I’d love to hear what you’re using them in!

Cherry Sumac Swizzle

Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m realizing that since it’s gotten warmer around these parts, I’ve been prone to make a lot of crushed ice recipes. Apologies if you do not own an ice crusher and have had to resort to a bag and rolling pin method. Unless that’s your de-stress time which concludes with a cocktail. Actually, that doesn’t sound half bad.

Before we get to today’s drink, I just wanted to let you guys know that I’ve been hopping all over the internet this week invading other people’s websites, like I sometimes do. Please check out the links for some drink recipes not found on this site! Especially tasty for summer!

Blog Links

dinexdesign freutcake

Now, onto the drink.

Cherries are just blowing up right now at the farmer’s market, so I keep using them. And also apparently crushed ice. But what I’m seriously, stupidly, into right now is spices. That might sound weird, so let me explain. In the same way that I will read cocktail books and make lists of all the ingredients I don’t have so that I can purchase at some point in time, I tend to read cookbooks and do the same with ingredients I’m unfamiliar with. After getting the Jerusalem Cookbook I started making lists of spices that I’d never heard of, or had seen before and hadn’t a clue as to what I should do with them. So now I have packs of za’atar, urfa pepper, ras el hanout and sumac crowding the shelves with 3 different kinds of cinnamon, pounds of multicolored peppercorns, and so much star anise I’m considering turning it into a wreath for Christmas this year (I’m never going to use it all). Clearly, I like to hoard spices (at least it’s not cats).Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So I decided to use one of these unique spices to come up with a drink for the Serious Eats team: sumac. Sumac is awesome by the way. It has so much going on that it’s a pretty versatile spice to have on hand. Both sweet and savory, a little bitter, a bit more sour… it really can be used in place of lemon in a lot of dishes. But, since we’re talking cocktails here, I decided that those sweet summer cherries could use a little sourness to them. That and tons of ice.

Swizzles are serious drinks with a not so serious name. They can pack a punch on the booze side, and should be treated as a sipper, not a big gulp. Also, they require special tools. To make a proper swizzle one must use a swizzle stick that comes from the swizzlestick tree. Seriously, that’s its name. You can get by with a bar spoon too, so don’t feel like you need to go buy any special equipment. Although, if you’re already planning on doing that, I’ve picked out a couple things at the end of this post.Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now, some of you are probably properly trained in the ingredients of a swizzle, so allow me some liberties here as I tell you I left out the traditional lime juice so that the tartness from the sumac shines through. There’s some falernum added to justify that though too.

For the cherry-sumac syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sumac

For the cocktail:

2 ounces demerara rum (such as El Dorado 15 year)
1 1/4 ounces cherry-sumac syrup
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
Crushed ice
Dried sumac, for garnish

  • For the syrup: Combine sugar, water, cherries, and sumac in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container, reserving cherries for garnish. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • For the cocktail: In the bottom of a highball or pilsner glass, add rum, cherry-sumac syrup, and falernum, and fill glass with crushed ice. Throw in a couple of those reserved cherries left over from the syrup too. Using a swizzle stick or bar spoon, rapidly spin back and forth between your hands while also moving it up and down. Add more ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and several of the reserved cherry quarters from the syrup.

First, this is a pretty satisfying drink. The tangy sumac and cherry syrup balances the heady vanilla and spice flavors of the rum and falernum. Second, it’s not super boozy, but the rum is very much present.

Will you be seeing more crushed ice recipes on here in the coming months? Yeah, probably, so be prepared to whack that hammer.

Bake It: Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts

Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.comDid you know the song Do You Like Piña Coladas is about a couple who decide  to cheat on each other just to find out that the anonymous person they were talking to was actually each other? Kinda makes the idea of drinking one of these a tad sleazy. I’m not making you a Piña Colada today; not one you can drink anyway. You’re going to get one you can EAT.

I have a love/hate relationship with all these food holidays and designated “weeks” “days” and “months”. It’s OK, I guess, to celebrate meatballs or Velveeta, but doughnuts? I’m getting on board with this one… if only because it gives me another excuse to bake for this site.Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.comPiña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

On twitter, there are a hefty amount of bakers, food bloggers, etc. that I follow. And why not? I like food. At some point this week I picked up on the hashtag #doughnutweek and realized that it culminated with this Friday being national doughnut day. Now, lately I will look for any excuse to make doughnuts. And before you go thinking I’ve got a fryolator out on my back porch, I mean baked doughnuts. The easiest, fastest, marginally-better-for-you-version of the regular doughnut. So I decided I’d add one more recipe to this pile; except my recipe would have rum in it. Naturally.Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

I’m not even sure why I thought a Piña Colada doughnut would have to be it. Maybe it was that dang song I had stuck in my head. But that was pretty much my first thought about what doughnut to would make an appearance on the site. So here you go folks, let’s bake.pinacoladadoughnut-6

Coconut Doughnuts

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
yields 6-8 doughnuts
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/3 cup (59g) granulated sugar (I used Zulka Pune Cane Sugar here*)
1/4 cup (60ml) Coco Lopez Coconut Cream (or sub full fat coconut milk)
1/4 cup (60g) Greek yogurt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon amber rum

Pineapple-Rum Glaze

6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon amber rum
2-1/2 tablespoons pineapple juice

Toppings

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons pineapple pieces

  • For the toppings: Heat oven to 250°F. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, add shredded coconut. When it starts to brown, start stirring so nothing burns and all the coconut gets browned evenly. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Place pineapple pieces on a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silpat, spread so none are touching. Bake to dehydrate for 3 hours, turning with a spatula every hour. Turn off heat and let rest for an additional hour. Remove from oven and cool in an airtight container.
  • For the doughnuts: Heat oven to 350°F. Spray doughnut pan with nonstick spray, or, if your pan is nonstick, this is optional (I never need to add anything to my pan).
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk the Coco Lopez, yogurt, and egg together until smooth. Add the melted butter and rum, whisking until fully combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be very thick.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut cups. (I also used the trick mentioned in the original recipe where the batter is spooned into a ziplock, one end of the bag snipped off, and the batter piped into the doughnut pan. This is a pretty good trick)
  • Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the donuts to slightly cool before glazing.
  • For the glaze: Combine sugar, rum and pineapple juice in a small bowl. Using a small whisk or form, stir until all sugar has been dissolved. Add dehydrated pineapple to the glaze.
  • Assembly: When doughnuts have cooled slightly, dip into glaze and then dip into toasted coconut shreds.

These doughnuts are SO moist. Not too sweet and super coconut-y. If you’d like to make these kid friendly, just take the rum out. It’s not like they’re going to miss it (or at least I hope not). The pineapple pieces stay in place if you stick them in the glaze first and then dip the doughnuts in. Also, dehydrating the pineapple is totally optional. They taste great fresh too. And if you want to completely skip the toppings and just eat them straight out of your pan, you can do that too. It’s doughnut week after all. Piña Colada Baked Doughnuts // stirandstrain.com

*Zulka Pure Cane sugar is an all natural, vegan, non-gmo and minimally processed sugar. 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.

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