Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar Rims

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comToday I’m taking part in Stage’s virtual holiday party and sharing my Cranberry Sauce Margaritas to help celebrate and #SetYourHolidayStage! I’m making them extra festive with an easy DIY rosemary sugar rim you can whip up in minutes and use all holiday season long. As my older readers know, I have an entire front yard full of rosemary. So when the Fall and Winter seasons are upon us, I’m sticking it in everything. Food, of course, but also in lots of cocktails. If you’re finding us through the Stages Holiday Party, a quick search through the archives will introduce you to a whole new world of using rosemary in cocktails; take a look!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comWe still have two whole weeks until Christmas and who knows how many parties we’ll be going to or hosting up to then. If you’re in charge of drinks, Stages has all the accessories you need to make prepping and decorating easy! We did a quick shopping trip online to get all our gear for our virtual party including glasses, those cute gold foil holiday napkins, a caddy to hold the napkins and straws, a chalkboard sign to write out the name of our Signature Cocktail, the containers to store the rosemary sugar, a dipping tray for all the ingredients for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas, as well as some festive decorations like this teeny tiny lights and the nutcracker. Even my holiday sweater came from there! SO MANY GREAT ENTERTAINING OPTIONS.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThe recipe for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas has just a touch of sweetness in it from the cranberry sauce and the Grand Marnier. You can adjust going up or down with either to your liking. I also think adding just a touch of the rosemary sugar into the drink doesn’t hurt either, just remember to shake it really well to combine it all! TIP: use the spent lime wedges from the cocktail recipe to help rim the glasses. Then you won’t need to waste additional lime wedges just for rimming. Also, when rimming your glass, use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate and push the sugar out towards the edges so that the sugar will evenly coat around the glass.

Let’s make some drinks!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comCranberry Sauce Margaritas

1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
rosemary sugar (see recipe below)
rosemary sprig

First, rim a rocks glass with the rosemary sugar. Set aside. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake well to combine, about 30 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared rocks glass. Add additional cranberry sauce if desired. Optionally garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comRosemary Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 3 to 5 inches long, divided

Take one sprig of rosemary and remove all the needles. Finely chop them. Combine the chopped needles and the sugar in an airtight container. Mix well to evenly distribute the rosemary. Add a few extra sprigs to the jar, shake, and let sit overnight or up to a few days. Sugar may look clumpy but it will dry out and break down. Remove the sprigs, seal the jar, and keep in a cool, dry place up to three months.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Do you have a holiday cookie tradition? I think I may have perfected my gingerbread cookie recipe this year. I mean, I’m using Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe as the base, so you really can’t go wrong with that. But, it is the first year that I made a cookie like this that didn’t just separate and spread all over the cookie sheet pan. I’ve yet to find my perfect sugar cookie recipe though. That I can never get right and that always spreads and won’t hold its shape. So, we all have to go without any holiday cookies that are gingerbread; thankfully no one complains. Sorry Santa.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comWhile making these cookies I thought about how great the baking spices would be in a cocktail. Sure, we see lots of dashes of cinnamon or nutmeg this time of year, but those in combination with an intense ginger flavor…well we’ve got a perfect pair for some whiskey and a hot cocktail. I refer to these heated cocktails during holiday time as winter warm ups. They’re a great companion to a fireplace and a pair of hands in need of warmth.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis month I’ve teamed up with Kerrygold Irish Cream to make my perfect fireside winter warm up with all the wonderful baking spices found in these gingerbread cookies. It packs a punch of ginger but also has lots of nice spice from the Irish whiskey, and that touch of chocolate and cream in the Kerrygold adds a superb richness to the drink that doesn’t get watered down. And that’s probably because they use real chocolate, and the cream used to make the liqueur comes from grass-fed cows and is a third creamier than what you usually find on the market. You can alter the hot water amount in here to your liking; I keep it around 3 ounces. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might think about making your own whipped cream and adding some gingerbread syrup to the mix for a super dose of yummy gingerbread-ness (I did. It’s so worth it! Just a tablespoon is all you need to add to your canister.).

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comAfter making this cocktail I need to rethink my gingerbread recipe and add a little chocolate and whiskey and there too now. Then it will be perfect.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comLet’s get warmed up!

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up (makes two drinks)

3 ounces Irish whiskey
1-1/2 ounces Kerrygold Irish Cream
1-1/2 ounces gingerbread syrup, see recipe below
3 dashes Angostura bitters
6-8 ounces hot water (just under boiling)
whipped cream, optional

In a mixing glass, add the Irish whiskey, Kerrygold Irish Cream, gingerbread syrup and bitters. Stir to combine everything and divide between two glasses. Pour in 3-4 ounces of hot water into each glass and stir gently to combine. Optionally top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Syrup

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger (or 3 slices, 1/4″ thick fresh ginger with skin on)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain fresh ginger out if using, and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, place in an air-tight container. Refrigerate up to one month.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Fall Feelings Boozy Round Up 16 boozy ways to get in the fall spirit!

Put out some decorative gourds and make some cocktails! It finally feels like fall!The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple-groni Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Pairing Rosé with Apples

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

The Negroni Nero Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Negroni Nero

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Private Club Cocktail

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.com

Whiskey Round the World

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.com

The Toasty Russian

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Old Fashioned

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.com

Crustafied Whiskey Sour

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise Cocktails

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to create a Pumpkin Spiced syrup to use in the base of our coffee cocktail. It’s made with less sugar than what you’d get at your local coffee shop AND it’s made with real pumpkin too. So you end up with way fewer calories than a traditional sugar syrup. The Truvia Natural Sweetener comes in a spoonable jar for ease of use in the kitchen, and ½ teaspoon of Truvia Natural Sweetener is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. So you don’t need to drown your cocktail in syrup to get just the right amount of sweetness in there.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comNow, when I say I love coffee, I mean I love it. My last thoughts before going to sleep usually involve me thinking about how good that first cup of coffee will be in the morning. And I cannot start my day until I’ve at least had one sip of that invigorating elixir. Naturally, then, I also will put coffee in my cocktails whenever possible.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comAn Old Fashioned cocktail is a satisfyingly simple drink, and if you’ve been on this site before, you’d know it’s also one of my favorite drinks to use as a base for a new creation. At its most basic, an Old Fashioned is just spirit, sugar and bitters, and even those elements can change into whatever you’re in the mood for. And I’m in the mood for pumpkins and coffee.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comThere’s a myriad of ways you can infuse coffee into cocktails but today we’re going the quick and easy way with coffee liqueur. We’ll spend our time instead on making a rich, spicy pumpkin syrup that will make your house smell AMAZING when you’re warming it on the stove. The syrup doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to make, so don’t worry, you’ll have your cocktail in no time! And what a flavor bomb! Bourbon forward but with deep coffee aroma and sweet pumpkin and spices in the finish. And don’t forget those bitters—they balance out the whole drink and prevent it from becoming too sweet.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
1/4 ounce Truvia pumpkin spice syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange zest and cinnamon stick

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Apple-groni With apple chips!

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFirst, we can all acknowledge that I could have come up with a better name for this cocktail, but really, it’s almost Fall and we’re all about the apples around here. So I’m not even going to try and be fancy.

Second, the cocktail itself. If you’ve been on my Instagram at Happy Hour, or skimmed through the recipe archives on this site, you know that I love a Negroni, and I have no qualms whatsoever about perpetually riffing on this drink. Now, I’m not a one-trick pony here and I can make some pretty darn tasty original cocktails (again, check the archives), but when I have to quickly throw together a drink for Happy Hour, there’s a good chance I’m reaching for gin, sweet vermouth and some Campari right now.

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis week I’m looking at the first sightings of apples in my produce box and I remembered how much I enjoy apple chips. They are so very easy to make as long as you have time. And if you don’t have time to watch an oven, then you might want to invest in a dehydrator. I, unfortunately, have hit max capacity for the amount of stuff that can sit on my counter or be tucked away in a closet, and also I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, so I really do take objects in my hand, thank them, and then decide whether or not to chuck them out. And that’s a lot of work so I’d rather just not buy crap.

Anyways, apple chips! Thinly slice an apple up and then dry it out in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Do you folks really need a recipe or can we just leave this here? They make a tasty Happy Hour snack and you can eat a whole bunch and not feel gross. Also, they make beautiful garnishes. They’re wonderfully “Fall” on your glass and when you’re done with your drink you can eat that too. Can’t do that with an orange peel.

This Apple-groni is pretty basic. There’s more of the suggestion of apples with baking spice and bittersweetness in the finish. The riff is so minor I wavered back and forth about whether to publish this or not. I still like content to live on this site though and not just on Instagram where it gets lost almost instantly when I do do a quick ‘gram. So here you go…

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1 ounce Caorunn gin (it’s infused with apples!)
1 ounce sweet vermouth, Vermouth di Torino used here
3/4 ounce Campari
2 dashes apple bitters
apple chip for garnish

Combine gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with apple chip. Think Fall.

Pairing Rosé with Apples, 3 Ways With 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with 90+ Cellars. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Here is Southern California, September is a tricky month. While much of the country is starting to get cooler temps and fall into sweater weather, here we get scorching temperatures. Weirdly, if you journey into the mountains, barely an hour away, the apple farms are heavy with fruit ready to be picked; there’s a bit of a disconnect. But that means we can continue to savor summer just a little bit longer and make some cocktail and wine choices that transition between these two seasons nicely.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve partnered with 90+ Cellars to show you how you can meld a summery, sparkling rosé wine with fresh Autumn apples. It’s what to make when you’ve over-picked at the orchard and bought way too much cider.

The 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé is made from Pinot Noir grapes planted in vineyards throughout the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige in Northern Italy. It is vinified as a dry rosé prior to second fermentation using the Charmat method. What does that mean you ask? The second fermentation happens in a tank as opposed to the wine bottle. This method preserves the flavor and aroma and allows for quicker production, without sacrificing taste. (Throw that fact out at a dinner party!)

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

With a light bubbliness, aromas of berries and rose, and a slight acidity, pairing with sweet, tart apples is a perfect pair. These three dishes we’ve picked out work as part of an appetizer spread, on their own, or even as part of a larger meal, and they all pair very well with this rosé.

“Holiday entertaining” might still be a few months away, but we think there’s always a reason to celebrate with a party and this transitional time between months, with a few extra hours of sunlight left in the day, is definitely reason enough for us! Now on to the pairings!

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comTo start: Apple Jelly with cured ham and Manchego

  • An easy and quick appetizer to assemble! On water crackers or bread, layer a piece of cured ham, Manchego cheese, and a dollop of apple jelly. The fattiness of the meat and cheese with the smooth, sweetness of the apple jelly pair are lovely with the small bubbles of the wine.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comPalate cleanser: Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita (full recipe below)

  • Enjoy this cool treat on its own, or between meals as a palate cleanser. Just don’t forget your wine! That acidity in the rosé pairs with the slight acidity found in the apple cider and lemon juice in the granita.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comWith the main meal: Spiced Apple Chutney (full recipe below)

  • While a rich, spiced chutney might seem like a heavy match for rosé, the 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé lightens the dish up and the spices work really well together. The chutney can be enjoyed on a slice of toasted bread, or alongside a main dish like pork.
Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita

3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all the ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Pour into a 9×12 baking pan and place in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, whisk mixture to break up any ice chunks. Wait one hour and with a fork, scrape through the mixture so that it is chunky. Wait an additional hour and scrape the fork through again, fluffing up the mixture. Freeze until ready to serve.

Spiced Apple Chutney

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 diced and peeled apples (I used Gala)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add apple; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins, mustard seeds, sugar, pepper, cloves, ginger and salt. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or let cool and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to one week.

 

If you’d like to find out more about 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Rosé and all their wines, please visit them at: ninetypluscellars.com/

What You Should Be Drinking This Easter

We’ve got flowers, pastel colors and a few eggs. Here’s what you should be drinking on Easter this year!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch

Electric Pink Fields Rum #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Electric Pink Fields Rum Cocktail

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail

Pisco Brunch Cocktail with thyme and grapefruit // stirandstrain.com

Pisco Brunch Cocktail

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail

An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

An Isle Away: Rum Cocktail with Coconut Cardamom Foam

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

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Ok, so here’s some chocolate for you too…

Bake It: Angostura Brownies with Luxardo Cherries // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Brownies with Luxardo Cherries

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Rose and Violet Gelées

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This summer one of my best gal pals is packing up her family and leaving SoCal for humidity and real winters on the east coast. Boo. As much as I’d like to sit and cry about it, we’ve decided to go full on into crafting and get togethers as much as possible before she leaves.

Our biggest project together will be for Easter. This year we’ve decided the adults should have some candy fun too. So, we’ve come up with a fun brunch cocktail DIY that we can make, eat, AND drink. Intrigued? Read on!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

I’m not a giant candy fan, but I do love jelly candies. Jelly beans, pâtes de fruits, those weird orange slices found in the bulk candy section… all of them are favorites of mine. And, if you’ve been a long time reader you know I also love making edible cocktails in the “gelée” way. This week we’ve teamed up with Truvia Natural Sweetener, the zero calorie sweetener with natural sweetness from the stevia leaf that gives you that sweet touch without all the calories! The stevia-based sweetener is also twice as sweet as regular sugar, which means you only need to use half as much! Truvia also comes in several different varieties but today we’re using the zero-calorie Natural Sweetener for the base of our gelées and our cocktail syrup. Truvia Natural Sweetener dissolves crystal clear so there are no lumps, bumps, or crystals floating around in the gelées.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Since we have three different flavors, the two gelées and the syrup for the cocktails, it’s easiest to start with one large batch of simple syrup then divide and conquer! If you want to have your own get together like us, you can assign your friends each a flavor station. I’m including some notes on batches below if you want to create more flavored edible cocktails than just the ones I’m providing.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

The fun part of this cocktail is the tiny edible cocktail garnishes, but let’s not overlook the actual cocktail too! Brunch almost always means sparkling cocktails, and while you could easily pop open a bottle of bubbly, I like my brunch cocktails with a bit more character. An easy one to use as the base is to make sparkling gin lemonades. I always make a fresh batch of lemonade during the winter, because: hello, SoCal; lemons practically fall from the sky here during the winter/early spring. I like ginger lemonade but this cocktail is so versatile, any variation, or just plain lemonade, would work. Lemonade is also a great base for a cocktail because you have your sweet, sour and a touch of bitter. So all you need is the booze part! I’m including just a straight lemonade recipe below, but feel free to play with what you like. For the sparkling part, I like a sparkling water, but you could get extra fancy and pop that bubbly anyway to top these off. The effervescent bubbles meld the flavors of the lemonade and the herbal notes of the gin (use an American batch here, not a London Dry, so it’s not all juniper and a touch of a softer palate), and of course: bubbles = brunch.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

As for the gelées, and since it’s finally spring (!!!), I’m playing with the idea of flowers. There are a few ways you could incorporate flower aroma into your gelées, from making syrups to using flower infused spirits, but today we’ll use rose water and creme de violet to flavor them. I’ll be using the Truvia Natural Sweetener to make a simple syrup, and then will add the flavors to the divided batches. These firm up super quick, so if you make them in the morning, you’ll definitely be snacking on them come brunch time.

This Easter brunch theme has me feeling spring big time! I hope you all enjoy a few flowery gelées and a nice glass of sparkling gin lemonades. Cheers!

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Gin Lemonade Cocktails with Rose and Violet Gelées (makes 2)

3 ounces American Style gin
2 ounces lemonade (recipe follows)
4-6 ounces sparkling water

rose and violet gelées for garnish (recipes follow)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in gin and lemonade. Shake 20 seconds to combine and strain into two rocks glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water and garnish with rose and violet gelées. Serve immediately.

Lemonade Recipe

1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups simple syrup, sweeten to taste (see notes for big batch simple syrup)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups water

In a large pitcher, combine simple syrup, freshly squeezed lemon juice and water. Stir to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep up to one week in the refrigerator.

Sparkling Gin Lemonades with Flower- Infused Boozy Gelées for Easter Brunch // stirandstrain.com

Rose Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1 teaspoon rose water
1/2 cup vodka
pink food coloring, optional

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in rose water and vodka. Add food coloring if using. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Violet Gelée Recipe

1-1/2 cups simple syrup
2 packets gelatine
1/2 cup creme de violet

  • In a small sauce pan, pour in simple syrup. Sprinkle gelatine packets over the simple syrup and let bloom for 1-2 minutes. Turn heat on high and bring to a simmer, whisking gelatine to combine. Remove from heat and stir in creme de violet. Stir to combine and pour into a small baking tray or molds if using.
  • Refrigerate for two hours. You can then remove from molds, if using, or cut into shapes and garnish cocktails. *I used these mini cutters to make the shapes!

Notes:

  • The gelées are best used within a few hours, discard after 24 hours.
  • The main ratio for making a gelée is 1:1 (one cup liquid to one gelatine packet). The only issue I have had in the past is with pineapple juice. You will need to cut it with water as the gelatine does not bloom and hold when there is just straight pineapple juice. You can vary the amount of alcohol (or make it nonalcoholic) but do not go more than 50% alcohol in your liquid ratio.
  • If using molds to make the gelées, use silicone, as there is no need to grease and they pop right out.
  • To make a large batch of simple syrup for all 3 recipes: combine 3 cups water and 3 cups Truvia Natural Sweetener in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, whisking to dissolve Truvia. Remove from heat, whisk again. And cool to room temperature. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container up to two weeks.

For more information on Truvia and all their products, please visit their site at www.truvia.com.

National Cocktail Day Greatest Hits

It’s National Cocktail Day tomorrow in case you didn’t know (And it’s totally fine if you didn’t know. I forgot too until I read a recent press release). So I thought I’d round up a few of you readers’ favorite posts from the site because, if you’re here, you like cocktails. Funny thing though, you guys seem to like a lot of the DIY syrups/bitters/tincture posts just as much as the drinks. So I’m including those too because it’s always good to have some fun syrups and mixers around to get your creative cocktail juices flowing. Cheers!

Passion Fruit Syrup // The Hurricane Cocktail

Classic Blackberry Shrub

Pineapple Gomme Syrup

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria

Smoke Tincture and Boulevardier

The Vegan Pisco Sour

 

And if you’re looking for more inspiration, here are a few of my favorite books on cocktails (in no particular order) and all the fun stuff that goes into them! Enjoy!

There’s so many more I like to read, you can check out the Book Shelf Page for even more (not currently updated but it’s a lot to start with!).