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!

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.

MxMo: Vegan Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon

Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Mixology Monday LogoI was never a milkshake kinda kid. Also, cereal milk was vile to me. An ideal treat growing up was either bizarre exotic fruit (to which my mother “treated” us to starfruit and kiwis until we learned about processed sugary goodness) or peanut butter cups once I hit grade school. Now I feel I cheated myself out of half a lifetime of milkshake goodness. So naturally I am making up for missing out on them in full force, now that I can either drive myself to get one, or in this case, make one. One that is kinda unconventional, and well, has booze in it.

This month I hosted the online gathering of cocktail enthusiasts (in this case an all-inclusive term since we have everyone from the novice to the seasoned bartender here) called Mixology Monday and gave everyone the theme of NUTS. You can read the original post here for more info. Last time I hosted the overachiever in me kicked in and I came up with a couple of fun cocktail ideas. This time around, life threw me a curveball so you guys only get one entry. It’s not even a cocktail, but as you might have guessed from the intro and title, it’s an adult milkshake. But hey, I made the damn milk from scratch!Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Like many of my posts, this recipe has multiple steps and takes several days to do. So feel free to swap out the cashew milk for a milk of your choice, or better yet, an ice cream and milk of your choice. The vanilla bourbon though is too good to pass up, so just make a larger batch and keep it around for later use.Vegan Cinnamon Cashew Milkshake with Quick Infused Vanilla Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Cashew-Oat-Cinnamon Milk

slightly adapted from Joy the Baker

1-1/2 cups raw cashews
3 cups of water for soaking
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups filtered water
3 tablespoons honey

  • Place raw cashews in a clean bowl and top with 3 cups of water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight, or for 8 to 12 hours. Once soaked, drain the cashews and run under cool water until clean and the water runs clear. Set aside.
  • Grind oats in the spice grinder until oats turn into a fine powder. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can also grind oats in the blender.
  • Combine oats, cinnamon, cashews, filtered water, and honey in the bowl of a blender. Cover tightly and blend on low speed, increasing to high speed, until smooth.
  • Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl lined with a single layer of cheese cloth. Pour half of the cashew mixture into the fine mesh strainer. With a spatula, work the liquid through the strainer. Continue to strain the milk until all of the liquid has passed through the strainer. Solids can be discarded.
  • Set milk aside if continuing, or transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.

The Milkshake

(makes 2)

2 cups cashew milk (recipe above)
4 ounces Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon
1 large Vanilla Bean, organic if possible
cinnamon and luxardo cherry for garnish

  • Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the cashew milk and freeze into cubes 4 hours up to overnight.
  • In a small sauce pan, combine the bourbon and vanilla over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and continue to steep for an hour. Strain mixture and set aside.
  • In a blender container, combine bourbon, frozen cashew milk and cold cashew milk. Blend well for one minute (more or less depending on the power of your blender) until the cubes are broken up and the consistency is slushy but not solid.
  • Transfer to two glass, top with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a cherry.

Aroma of cinnamon and vanilla with hints of earthiness. Wonderfully nutty flavor with just a hint of the bourbon. I upped the sweetener from 2 tablespoons of agave to 3 of honey because I wanted an additional amount of sweetness here, but it’s still not overwhelmingly sweet. If you prefer this even more dessert-like, might I suggest some bourbon salted caramel sauce?

Can’t wait to see everyone’s submissions for this month! And as always, a big thanks to Fred for keeping MxMo going, and for letting me host again.

Make It: Chocolate Smoked Porter Mousse

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.comBeer doesn’t make too many appearances here, so when you see it in the title, expect it to be special.

Today I thought I’d try and get a recipe in before a holiday arrives, kinda a big deal around this site. For me, Easter has always been about the baskets of candy. Although I may have been raised Catholic, I jumped ship from that a long time ago and now Easter is another holiday associated with a big family meal. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

For this recipe I teamed up with a friend of mine who recently joined her Dad’s business… of MAKING CHOCOLATE at Kakao Berlin. How cool is that job? Kakao Berlin is a non-GMO chocolate company that sources beans from all over the globe and is crafted in Germany, the land of chocolate and beer. She gave me some chocolate to try out and I settled on a nice semi-sweet 64% (Stuttgart). If you want to go darker the 75% (Brandenburg Dark) is fab too. Oh? What are we making today? BEER MOUSSE!kakaoberlin_logo-sm

The unlikely suspects.

I was introduced to the many uses of beer by an old work colleague of mine several years ago. He was the type making cheese and beer in his apartment before you started hearing about everyone making their own cheese and beer. He introduced me to beer ice cream floats and beer mousse among other other recipes. The beer mousse here is made from scratch (unlike the first version I ever tried using a can of powder. It was gross; don’t do it.) and it’s super easy to whip up, although you’ll need 3 bowls. Sorry. Ask your significant other or roommate to be on dish duty with promises of fluffy chocolate mousse with hints of smoky beer. Watch how quickly they wash those bowls.

Also, a big thanks goes out to Jackie a.k.a. the Beeroness, who helped me with this beer and chocolate pairing. She has a chart; go check it out. The beer that worked the best here was Epic Brewing’s Smoked Porter. The smokiness is more aggressive than Stone’s Smoked Porter, so take that into consideration when making this. I tried a few chocolate stouts too, and found it a bit redundant to put into chocolate. The best part is that you don’t use too much beer in the dessert, so when it’s done you can “pair” the rest of the beer with the mousse. It works.

Couple of tips: don’t go too stiff on beating the egg whites or the cream. I did that on the first batch and sadly it did not incorporate well into the chocolate and looked weird. Tasted great so I ate it all, but, alas, not photogenic. You also don’t need a double boiler to melt chocolate. A sauce pan with about an inch of water simmering with a heat-proof bowl over it works great (and is my way). If that doesn’t work for you, very carefully try the microwave version. You just need to watch that and melt in small time increments since it will easily burn.Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from Chow.com
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, callets, or chopped from a block, Kakao Berlin 64% Stuttgart used here
1/4 cup Epic Brewing Smoked Porter
3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup cold heavy cream

  1. Fill a sauce pan about 2″ with water and place a heat-proof bowl over the top. When the water is simmering, add chocolate and beer. Start stirring to combine. You want the end result to look glossy. At that point remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the cold heavy cream until firm, but not stiff peaks form. A chilled bowl will help move this along. Fold the cream into the chocolate/beer mixture.
  3. Lastly, beat the egg whites until firm, but not stiff, peaks form. Fold in half of the eggs, and then stir in the rest gently.
  4. Chill mixture until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes.

*If you’d like some homemade whipped cream for this, beat together 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar until you reach desired consistency.

Not too sweet and richly chocolate with hints of the smoked porter. The mousse firms up quite a bit in the refrigerator and gets a more ‘dense’ consistency to it the longer it sits. So, if you want a more delicate, light as air dessert, eat it out of the bowl.

Make It: Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mixology Monday: Classic Blackberry Shrub

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

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

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

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

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

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

Classic Blackberry Shrub

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

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

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

Sparkling Blackberry Shrub (no booze)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Hanky Panky!

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

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

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

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

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

Now on to thinking about what goes in there next…