Let’s Get Fresh! what to make and drink with all that winter citrus

Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.

When you have too many Meyer Lemons:

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.com

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup

Meyer Lemon Bitters

What about Tangellos:

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.com

Tangelocello

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:

Smoky Sage Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

And then there’s always the cocktail option:

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Boozy, Edible Christmas Gift Roundup

Go the extra mile this year and make them something delicious for the holidays. Just make sure there’s booze in it.

Eggnog Jello Shots

Fernet Branca Jelly

Angostura and Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Meyer Lemon Bitters

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

 
Holiday Spice Syrups

Peppermint Mocha S’Mores Cocktails with brown-butter bourbon and marshmallow creme

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Don’t ever let someone tell you s’mores are only for summer. Can you get your hands on a kitchen blow torch? Yes? Then you’ve got a reason to have s’mores all year round.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comToday though we’re going to be drinking our s’mores! Holiday style!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comWe’re back at the bar mixing it up with Jackson Morgan and their delicious, and very holiday appropriate, Peppermint Mocha Cream. I always associate peppermint and chocolate with Christmas time. It’s about the only time of year I bake something with that flavor profile because there is always a party I can bring them to. See, you are either a lover or a hater of that flavor combo. I, obviously, am a lover. My husband on the other hand…. Let’s just say if I make some Grasshopper Brownies and don’t have a reason to bring them out of the house, I am probably consuming that whole pan by myself. I’d tell you I would regret it, but I’d be lying.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comThis is also perfect for holiday time because it’s pretty decadent. When are you infusing browned butter into whiskey and topping your cocktails with marshmallow creme? During the holidays, when all bets are off. So let’s talk about what is going into this s’mores cocktail. First, Peppermint Mocha Cream, of course. Next takes a little prepping but it’s worth it for the final result and you also get extra to just chug straight if you choose: brown-butter infused bourbon. This gives the cocktail a subtle nutty, buttery component that you’d get from the graham cracker. And a s’mores cocktail wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows! I’m giving you an easy way and a homemade way to do this in the recipe below. Both will work but honestly, making your own version of marshmallow Fluff is dang easy!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comYou might think that the consistency would be very thick and rich tasting, but the brown-butter bourbon cuts through the peppermint mocha cream for a nice balance. Served over ice the cocktail goes down very smooth and the peppermint is not quite as strong as it is on its own. Torching the marshmallow creme binds it together a bit so you can pop off pieces from the top while sipping on your drink. It’s like you have your own bar snack you don’t have to share.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comSome notes on the cocktail:

  • I’ve made the recipe for one but this easily doubles and batches well.
  • The brown-butter bourbon yields 16 ounces (2 cups) so there is plenty left over if you are going to batch multiple drinks.
  • The topping is marshmallow creme, not marshmallows. The marshmallow creme has a soft consistency and therefore easily piped.
  • If you are torching the marshmallow creme, use heat proof glassware. Even kitchen torches get quite hot and I don’t want to be held responsible if you explode your favorite vintage glass.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comFor the cocktail:

3 ounces Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme
2 ounces brown-butter infused bourbon
marshmallow creme (I made this recipe from The Kitchn, but store bought Fluff will work as well)
graham cracker for garnish

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add in the Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme and brown-butter infused bourbon. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a heat-proof glass or mug filled with fresh ice. Pipe marshmallow creme on top. Using a kitchen torch,brûlée the marshmallow creme to desired “doneness’ (I like mine lightly toasted but I know some of you probably like your s’more’s marshmallows burnt to a crisp). Garnish with a graham cracker square.

For the brown-butter bourbon:

*Adapted slightly from Gabriella Mlynarczyk for NYT Cooking

16 ounces bourbon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Pour bourbon into a wide mouth jar or heat-proof container. Cut butter into cubes and add to a heavy-bottom small saucepan over medium-low heat. You’ll need to watch the pan as the butter will go from being nutty and golden to burnt pretty fast. Watch for the butter to start to foam and stir until you see some brown flecks on the bottom of the pan. At this point you’ll smell a nutty aroma, like hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute and then pour into the bourbon. Whisk together until well incorporated and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • The fat will separate from the bourbon while it cools. Use a butter knife to loosen the edge of the fat and it should pop right out of the container. Then strain bourbon through a coffee filter to remove any additional fat solids and debris from the butter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAbout a year ago I saw an article about a new (very old) elixir riding on the coattails of the cocktail world’s shrub renaissance. This drink’s name: Switchel. I think switchel sounds a bit more fun than shrub. Shrub sounds like the friend you have who won’t go out on a Thursday night because they have to turn in a term paper the following Monday and need the time to study. Switchel sounds more like that friend calling you at 4am asking if you want to get doughnuts.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAnyway, Switchel quietly died down and I completely forgot about the saved article. I continued on with shrubs despite the name. (see here here and here) Recently though I remembered I had saved this article and revisited it again. More likely out of my desperation for it to be Fall already, I was looking for recipe ideas using apples. Instead it uses apple cider vinegar, a starting point I’d use to adapt to my own Autumnal tipple.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comSwitchel recipes are all basically the same plus or minus an ingredient or two. It also batches really well. So you can mix up at gallon of it Sunday night and drink it all week.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comGuys! Maybe I should back up here a second and remind you that switchel is NON ALCOHOLIC. Just like a shrub it contains no alcohol, but you can use it as a base for your cocktail creations. I even have a recipe for you I’ll link to. The flavor of this switchel on its own is sharp and tangy and almost like drinking a cocktail, or at least that’s what you tell yourself if you’re -cough- well into your second trimester and desperately miss cocktails. So, pregnant ladies out there, you’re welcome.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comFor my variation on a switchel, I added in some of my favorite Fall flavors: cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and steeped that in a base of apple cider vinegar, ginger and maple syrup. The spices are subtle when compared to the strong, zingy ginger, but I like that those flavors are not too overpowering. The apple cider vinegar provides a sharp sour contrast that you can adjust by adding or subtracting the water from the mix. Personally I like that sour flavor and I find the drink quite refreshing. If you’ve found shrubs to be a bit too strong for you, you definitely might want to scale back on the vinegar and up the water a bit; taste and see.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 5″-piece fresh ginger (about 6 ounces)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 cups water
2 4-6″ pieces of cinnamon
6 green cardamon pods, lightly crushed
4 cloves, whole

Pass ginger through a juicer (you should have about ⅓ cup). Strain the juice through a fine sieve to remove any larger pieces. Combine ginger juice, vinegar, maple syrup, and water in a large container and stir until maple syrup is dissolved. Add in cinnamon sticks. And then put the cloves and cardamom pods into a tea filter bag (Bags are not necessary but help in collecting all the bits later on. I prefer the bags with the drawstring for easy collection later on.) and add to the mix. Refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.

When ready to drink, remove the cinnamon sticks and the bagged spices. Switchel can be drunk as is, over ice with a splash of lemon juice or in a cocktail.

And speaking of cocktails, we’ll have an end of Summer cocktail using the Autumn Apple Cider Switchel here tomorrow! Enjoy!

Make It: Aquafaba what is it, how to make it and what to do with it

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comA few years ago I attended an event here in Los Angeles where I watched a local bartender use BEER in place of an egg white to make a cocktail vegan; it blew my mind. It even inspired me to make this Vegan Pisco Sour. The consistency, feel and look were almost identical to using an egg white, the only issue was that there was the slight presence of “beer taste”.

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comI haven’t used the technique too much since then though as I almost never have beer in the house. Well, I have a few bottles, but not the right kind to make this replacement (you’ll need a wheat beer). And then a few months ago I heard about another egg white replacement being used by local bartender Gabriella Mlynarczyk (also of the blog Loving Cup): aquafaba, or aguafaba. I had no idea what this mystical sounding ingredient was so I sought it out and turns out… it’s bean water.

More specifically it’s the cooking liquid from beans, and pretty much chickpeas. Recently I discovered there’s even a whole website devoted to the magic of this liquid. So if you really want to get down into the details, check that out at aquafaba.com. But here’s the gist of it from their site:

Aquafaba can be used to replace egg whites in many sweet and savory recipes. Its unique mix of starches, proteins, and other soluble plant solids which have migrated from the seeds to the water during the cooking process gives aquafaba a wide spectrum of emulsifying, foaming, binding, gelatinizing and thickening properties.

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comNeat, huh? Now, to make this post as useful as possible, I performed a few experiments so that I can try and answer a few questions that might come up.

  • First, you don’t need to cook beans from scratch constantly to have this on hand, although to me that sounds delicious. You can easily crack open a can of chickpeas, drain the liquid and reserve it in an ice cube tray, freezing for future use.
  • In fact, go ahead and freeze your aquafaba into 1 ounce (the equivalent of one egg white) portions right now. Unless you plan on using it all right away, there’s no reason to have it occupying space in your fridge. Microwave the frozen portion for 25 seconds, let it come to room temp and use in your cocktail. I saw no changes between the frozen aquafaba and the fresh or from can.
  • The color of the liquid from the home cooked beans resulted in a darker color, while the canned beans were lighter, however, no change in appearance of the cocktail was detected.
  • Will your cocktails taste of beans? NOPE! I cooked off a batch of dried chickpeas and while they had a pleasant nutty flavor, the cooking liquid did not impart any of that taste into my cocktail. And when I used canned chickpeas, the liquid did not taste of beans or have a metal aftertaste.
  • So how does a cocktail made with aquafaba compare with one made with an egg white? Guys, they’re almost identical. Let’s look at the comparison I did making a Sloe Gin Fizz below.

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comTo test how aquafaba compares to using an egg white in a cocktail, I made two identical Sloe Gin Fizzes. The precise amounts of sloe gin, lemon juice (came from the same lemon!), and simple syrup were added to shakers within seconds and then 1 ounce of aquafaba was added to one and an egg white to the other shaker. Both were dry shaken with one ice cube, and then filled 2/3 with ice and shaken again for about 25 seconds.

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com
Aquafaba on the left, egg white on the right.

When poured out, they both had a frothy head and gave about an inch and a half of head when topped with club soda. They also both passed my straw test, which means I stuck a straw in the center and it stayed there without moving.

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com
Aquafaba on the top, egg white on the bottom.

And how did they taste? Practically the same. Neither had a taste other than sweet sloe gin and tart lemon, which is great for subbing one for the other and not affecting the taste of your cocktail. I found that the cocktail with the aquafaba had more body to the drink, while the egg white cocktail felt lighter. Then, I let the drinks sit for awhile to test how long the foam of the cocktail kept its structure. Both did dissipate, but the aquafaba held on longer than the egg white by about 15 minutes at room temperature. It kept its structure in the fridge about an hour.

For the complete Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz, please head over to the recipe page!

This is just the beginning of the experiments. How it will work with other ingredients and spirits will require a lot more research, but that’s the fun part! I hope you guys go out and experiment too. If you’re curious about an ingredient, or have any questions about aquafaba I didn’t answer, feel free to leave a comment or reach out on social! Cheers!

Make It: Irish Coffee Jello Shots Two Ways

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comProcrastination has gotten the better of me this week as we speed, much too fast for my liking, into the 3rd month of the year. March is looking to be the most jam packed month yet this year as I’ve said “yes” to maybe one too many events, my mother is in town, and we celebrate multiple birthdays, St. Patrick’s Day (I am a 1/4 Irish), and Easter. So of course, instead of working on projects, I’ve been covering my ears and eyes going NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH and making batches of brownies and spending copious amounts of time photographing my purse contents.

I did take the time to make you guys a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day though this year. I hope it makes up for those purse photos.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIt’s like a cocktail, but you eat it: Irish Coffee Jello Shots.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comSo here’s the thing. I enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time; like, a few sips and then I’m usually done. It’s a lot of hot coffee and I’m usually drinking it late in the evening when a giant hot coffee is not really what I want right then. I’m also usually drinking them at a party or an event and bless their hearts for trying, but the coffee is usually not very good either. To control this situation for myself, and hopefully for you all, let’s get a delicious coffee and miniaturize it with the right amount of booze and not force people to drink giant hot coffees at 8pm.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comI went ahead and created a straight up Irish Coffee version, garnished with the tiniest of lemon peel, and then bastardized it and went crazy adding in chocolate and Fernet Branca because I love chocolate mint anything including my coffee and for this one occasion, with my whiskey. Ooooh, I’m so crazy…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comThe original version of these has a strong, rich coffee flavor with a hint of whiskey at the finish. The cream is mixed in so you’re not trying to eat a delicate jello shot while whipped cream melts all over your fingers – gross. For the mocha-mint version, you get a lot of Fernet (a little goes a long way!) with a strong mocha finish and a more subtle whiskey punch at the end.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIrish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
lemon zest for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with lemon zests and serve!

Mocha-Mint Irish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. After the gelatine has bloomed, sprinkle cocoa powder over the mixture. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream, Fernet Branca and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve!

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comAre you guys into these? I have a few more ideas up my sleeve I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

An Amaro Hot Chocolate for Every Taste

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comThe careful observer on here might notice that many, but not all, posts lately have been recipes I’ve developed for Serious Eats. Honestly, when I’m doing lots of R&D for articles, sometimes I find that my energy for more is tapped. Also, it’s the holidays and I’d like a little break.

But not a break from chocolate.

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comFor all of you who find chocolate and booze maybe a bit too much, then wait for next week when I have an all new SUPER savory cocktail. But for this week, I’m making adult hot cocoa and I’m not apologizing. And I’m topping it with Angostura infused whipped cream because WHY NOT? It’s the holidays and I’m holed up at my in-laws and I’m not going to admit how many chocolate covered almonds (milk and dark chocolate) I’ve eaten for the past 4 days.

This hot cocoa is not spiked in your usual way. There’s no bourbon, or spiced rum, or vodka (not sure I’d even recommend that). What it is spiked with is bittersweet amaro. But Elana, there are SO MANY amari out there! You can’t possible imagine that every bottle will work here (is what I imagine ALL of you are saying out loud right now. In unison.)! And yes, not every bottle will work, but most will work with a particular kind of chocolate. You just need to do a little creative legwork to find your right combination.

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comMy favorite combination is Averna and semisweet chocolate. Why Averna? Besides the fact that I’ve accumulated several bottle of the stuff, it’s a good balance between sweet and spicy with a touch of herbal in the finish. Also, it isn’t overly boozy tasting. But that’s just me. If you like the bracing, earthy edge of a dark chocolate, try it with a sweeter amaro like Gran Classico. For the milk chocolate lovers, that sweetness needs some spice or a blast of menthol; try it with Fernet. Semisweet chocolate is the sweet spot in the center, with a nice balance of rich and earthy that works well with most types of amaro. What I’m getting at is: take your favorite bottle of amaro and make this.

Note: you don’t need to spike your entire batch of hot chocolate. Make the base separately and spike at will. That rich, velvety chocolate base is delicious all on its own and perhaps you have some folks staying with you who don’t drink. Don’t deprive them of the magic that is homemade hot cocoa. But maybe insist they add the Angostura whipped cream. Angostura isn’t alcohol after all, it’s like.. medicine. Medicine from the 1800’s.

For the Angostura Whipped Cream:

1 cup (237ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) simple syrup (see note above)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
6 dashes Angostura bitters

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat heavy whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form, then add simple syrup, vanilla extract and Angostura bitters. Whip until medium peaks form, about 1 minute longer. (Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients to a Whipped Cream Dispenser and use that instead.)

For the Hot Cocoa:

1/4 cup (58g) unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
1 tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3 cups (710ml) milk
8 ounces (227g) semisweet chocolate chips (or other type of chocolate, such as milk chocolate, depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
5 ounces (148ml) Italian amaro, such as Averna

In medium saucepan, stir cocoa with sugar and salt. Stir in milk and chocolate. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Gently whisk to completely blend mixture. Add vanilla and amaro and stir to combine. Pour into glasses and top with Angostura whipped cream.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comFor the longest time… I was afraid of eggnog. I don’t mean I would just turn my nose up at it, I mean, seriously, I thought if I had just a sip it would be the most horrible thing I ever drank and some unknown terrible thing would happen (like projectile vomit). Somewhere deep in my memory bank is a loop of a slovenly drunk man chugging eggnog from a carton and hurling all over the place. This was the image that my mind conjured up when I heard the word eggnog.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comAt some point in the last 10 years I was convinced by some person that what I really needed was to make it from scratch and try the “real thing” and it would be a life changing experience. Maybe it was Alton Brown. At least, that was the first recipe I consulted when I made it for a holiday party a number of years ago.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comAnd holy crapballs it was delicious. Like custard, but lighter, and drinkable and somehow nothing about it was what I was expecting. I think that I was preparing to drink a cocktail the consistency of pudding and have it taste of raw eggs.. this, this cocktail, and I say cocktail because there was copious amounts of liquor in it, it was so good.

Now, despite my complete transformation on the drink, there were still people at the party who were in the former camp and nothing I could say would convince them to try it. Nevertheless, the punch bowl of eggnog was emptied at some point, and found later under a desk. This told me that I’d made something pretty good.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comI’ve made eggnog from scratch with raw eggs quite a number of times now and there are still those I cannot get to try even a sip (perhaps they too are seeing a drunk uncle puking up streams of the stuff). So this year I thought I’d try something different, something most people can’t resist. An edible cocktail.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comInstead of an intimidating punch bowl, I’m trying out tiny bite sized shots of the stuff. These beautiful hemispheres might not get you sloshed, but they might just be the gateway into drinking the stuff. Why?

Because we’re using from scratch eggnog for the base. Yup: Raw. Eggs. In fact, you can whip up your regular eggnog for the party and then save some of the liquid to batch these up. Then maybe people will gradually move to the actual punchbowl. These taste JUST like the same eggnog and you don’t even have to garnish them. The nutmeg gradually sinks to the bottom while they’re setting, forming a lovely sprinkled top.

(And if you simple can’t do with the raw eggs, you can also use the store bought kind. See the note below.)

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comIf you’re curious about what mold to use, silicone is best for removing the jello shots. I used these mini hemispheres from World Cuisine, but you can use any shape you’d like. If you’d like to get really fancy, use a larger mold, and then serve in a tiny cup with a spoon.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.comHappy Holidays!

*Note: If you want to use store-bought eggnog or any of our flavor variations, start with 12 ounces eggnog. Pour half of the eggnog into a heatproof bowl and half into a small saucepan. Whisk 1/2 cup dark or spiced rum into eggnog in the heatproof bowl. Sprinkle 2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin onto the surface of the eggnog in the saucepan and let stand 5 minutes. Set saucepan over low heat and bring to just under a simmer, whisking constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let stand 2 minutes to cool slightly. Pour eggnog-gelatin mixture into the eggnog-rum mixture and whisk to combine. Proceed with instructions in Step 5.

2 large eggs, separated
2-1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1.1 ounces; 28g), divided
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
2 packets unflavored powdered gelatin (1/2 ounce; 14g)
1/2 cup (120ml) dark rum, such as Gosling’s, or spiced rum, such as Malahat Spiced Rum
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  1. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk and beat at low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until they are about the consistency of shaving cream, about 90 seconds. Reduce speed to medium. With mixer running, add half of sugar and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape whites into a large bowl. Do not wash stand mixer bowl.
  2. Add egg yolks and remaining sugar to stand mixer bowl and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow and ribbony, shutting off machine and scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary, about 2 minutes total. Add milk and cream and mix at low speed to combine.
  3. Pour half of the yolk mixture into a small saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over the surface. Let stand 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add rum to remaining yolk mixture in stand mixer bowl and mix at low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Set saucepan over low heat and bring to just below a simmer, whisking constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved; do not let boil. Remove from heat and let stand until cooled slightly, about 2 minutes.
  4. With stand mixer running at low speed, slowly pour gelatin mixture into the yolk-rum mixture. Gently whisk in egg whites until smooth.
  5. Strain mixture into a large measuring cup with a spout. Sprinkle in nutmeg and stir gently to combine. Carefully fill your molds with the eggnog. Refrigerate until set, about 8 hours.
  6. To remove jello shots from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Eggnog jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Make It: Eggnog Jello Shots // stirandstrain.com

I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats

Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail For when you wish you could drink the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving...

Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis space is too lighthearted to get very political or get in-depth about current news events, but with Thanksgiving coming next week, it’s a good reminder to be thankful for whatever you have in your life. And if it’s Thanksgiving, I’m shoving cranberry sauce in my face like no one is watching.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I’m of the camp that you need a little sweet with the savory. And while I enjoy pretty much all the flavors that grace the holiday table (except maybe you, green bean casserole), you bet that on every forkful of turkey or potatoes or creamed onions, there is a little bit of cranberry sauce. Ok, maybe a LOT of cranberry sauce.

And I’m not picky either. You want to feed me the jello version from the can? Sure, I’ll take it. Or you made a passed down recipe from your great-grandmother that is laced with a little booze? Sure, I’ll take that too. I’ll take them all.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So why am I not eating it more often so that when Turkey Day comes I’m not feeding myself like a ravenous zombie? Well, I kinda forget about it. I think the ensuing coma from eating resets my brain every year and I spend the rest of the time oblivious until a week or so before Thanksgiving when I see some ad in a magazine and my mouth starts salivating in a Pavlovian response.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This year it was decided that since I have such a short window of time to enjoy cranberries, I’ll make the most of it and enjoy them by not only eating those berries, but also drinking them! In fact, I figured if I made a shrub with them, I’d get to enjoy them a little bit longer (although, it’s so darn tasty I doubt it will stick around for very long).

This black pepper–spiced cranberry shrub is sweet, savory, and tart. It mixes up quick and with a fruity sparkling wine and citrusy bitters, the drink works wonderfully to lighten a meal packed with sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and more. And if you don’t use up the whole shrub in one go, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub

2 cups (approximately 10 ounces by weight) cranberries
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Cook, opening the lid and stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and some of the cranberries begin popping open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Pour entire mixture into an airtight, nonreactive container. Refrigerate at least 8 and up to 12 hours. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one month.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cocktails (yields 12 drinks)

36 ounces chilled sparkling wine (from 2 bottles)
20 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s used here
12 ounces chilled Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
Cranberries, for garnish

Slowly pour chilled sparkling wine into a pitcher. Add bitters and chilled cranberry-black pepper shrub. Stir very gently to mix. Serve immediately. Individual glasses can be garnished with cranberries.

Note: For a non-alcoholic alternative, combine 1 ounce of the cranberry-black pepper shrub, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and 3 ounces club soda (I love Q-Club!) in a wine glass. (Add two dashes of orange bitters, if desired—they contain a tiny amount of alcohol.) Garnish with cranberries and serve.
This recipe originally appeared on Serious Eats