Make It: Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita

Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.comOnce November rolls around I usually am kinda over apples and my obsession of fruit goes to the pear. While a lot of recipes call for spiced pear that and spiced pear this, I thought I’d turn to some lighter notes and make something slightly boozy, and good enough to eat. Actually, you can eat this; it’s dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

While I hear reports of snow hitting ground in some cities, Los Angeles still is having a personality crisis and can’t decide whether it wants to be Fall or Summer. It’s a perennial problem. So, I made a dessert that encompasses this contrast: Fall flavors encapsulated in a frozen dessert.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Following along similar veins to that apple-packed cocktail from a few weeks ago, I went ahead and packed this boozy dessert with pears: fresh pears, pear liqueur, and bubbly pear soda. Then I added some honey and St. Germain. I know that St. Germain gets thrown into cocktails much like salt gets thrown into everything, but have you stopped and just tasted it by itself lately? I forgot how rich it was, with beautiful notes of honey and spice, as well as the floral element it is known for. I wanted to bring this bottle back out after a brief hiatus and pair it with an ingredient that would accentuate those notes: like a pear.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

St. Germain was actually one of the first bottles of liqueur that I bought when I was trying to add more “fancy stuff” to my home bar years ago. I remember traveling to this high-end liquor store in Pasadena and having to ask the clerk if he’d ever heard of it. Well, duh, of course he had. I forget what I made with it that first time around, but besides the unique taste, I also bought it in part because of the fancy looking bottle. You’ll still see those purchases in my home bar now; I’m a sucker for great packaging.

Now, this dessert requires a bit of hand-holding. However, if you start it early enough in the afternoon, you will be rewarded with a delicious treat by night. And by hand-holding, you’re mainly sticking a fork in it every few hours or so.Honeyed Pear and St. Germain Granita // stirandstrain.com

Ok, let’s begin.

2 heaping cups cubed pears
1/4 cup Pear Liqueur
1/2 cup St. Germain
1 cup water
1 cup Sipp Summer Pear Soda*
1/4 cup honey (note: heating up the honey in the microwave for 15 seconds makes it pourable)
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth. Pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish and move to the freezer. About every hour, run a fork through the mixture until it forms ice chunks or until you’re happy with the consistency. Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Lots of pear flavor with strong notes of honey. The boozy aspect of this comes through, but I don’t find it off-putting, it’s just another layer to the dessert. The elderflower is subtle, and gives this a slight earthiness. Overall, just sweet enough. If you can adjust the honey based on your own preference (taste the mixture in the food processor first before freezing to make any adjustments).

Hey Guys! If you want to get your hands on your own Sipp Sodas, stayed tuned this week for another giveaway on the site!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

Make It: Macadamia Nut Orgeat

Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.comEvery word I just tried typing in the title I misspelled. It’s late and it’s been one of those weeks. This recipe was a lot like that. Every turn was a mistake until I finally threw up my hands and swore at the second batch I’M GIVING UP ON YOU.

But I couldn’t really give up. So I shelved this orgeat recipe until I felt like I could confidently proceed with it again. Third try was indeed a charm.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Initially I tried a few different recipes but in the end I turned to the Beach Bum for help on this one. Who else would know more about this essential Tiki drink ingredient?Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

I’ve had this recipe out there for so long on my “to make” list that I can’t even remember how I decided to come to develop a macadamia nut version of this almond-based syrup. All I can say is that regular orgeat is lighter in flavor, while the roasted macadamia nuts give a more hefty, robust nuttiness to the final product. It’s still quite sweet, as it should be – it’s a syrup. That said I don’t see this as a blanket replacement for regular almond orgeat. The macadamia nuts would do well to balance out some sweeter flavors like coconut or give dimension to some blander fruits like banana.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

If you make this, tell me what you found it worked best in!Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Now on to the recipe!

Adapted from Beach Bum Berry Remixed
Yields aproximately 1-1/2 liters

500 grams raw macadamia nuts
800 ml water
700 grams granulated sugar, organic
1 ounce vodka
2 teaspoons orange flower water (start here and gradually add more to taste)

  1. Start by roasting the macadamia nuts. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lay macadamia nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 15-17 minutes until golden in color. If your oven runs hot, start checking around 12 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Macadamia nuts are expensive and you don’t want to waste them.
  2. Cool the nuts and place them in a bowl. Fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer (I found this work much better than with a rolling pin and I didn’t feel like busting out the food processor).
  3. Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 800 ml of water to it. Let stand for two hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
  4. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I recommend making chocolate bark because… chocolate). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air tight container.

 

P.S. if you happen to be in Los Angeles in October on either the 6th or the 27th, you can taste this wonderful orgeat at The Coconut Club in our signature drink. Just saying. 

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.comThere’s this Indian spiced rice pudding that I make every now and then. It’s one of those recipes where you have to stand there and stir over a flame for about 20 or 30 minutes. It’s a labor of love, but it’s also a lesson in patience. To have the patience not to scoop out scalding spoonfuls into your mouth because the heavy scent of cardamom is so powerful you have to succumb to it. Maybe it’s just me, but a dish with a nice balance of cardamom is never a let down.

That idea I found is also true in cocktails.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.comIt’s been awhile since I’ve worked on tinctures and this one has been in my “to make” pile for awhile. I made a small batch for you all since a little goes a long way, and if this is for your home bar, quite frankly I wouldn’t want you to end up with more than you could ever use.

Cardamom goes wonderfully with a London Dry style gin and pairs well with lots of citrus. However, it also works great with flavors like coconut and pear. You can use this tincture to add just a few drops to a cocktail, or sprayed over it to give another aroma to your drink experience. Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.com

This tincture is pretty easy to assemble, it just takes a few days to brew.

1/2 cup grain alcohol
1/3 cup green cardamom pods, slightly cracked (you can use a mortar and pestle to do this easily)

In an airtight container (mason jars with lids work great) combine alcohol and cardamom pods. Swirl to combine and leave in a cool, dark place for 6 days. After 6 days, strain out solids using a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Store in a airtight jar. Flavor will last up to a year.

The aroma the tincture imparts is an intense cardamom smell that has sweet, floral notes. Looking for a recipe to go along with this? Stay tuned! One coming up this week.

Salted Peanut Bottled Old Fashioneds

Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comVisit any bar worth going to for well made cocktails and on almost every menu you’ll likely find printed there (or hand typed cause that bar is really cool) the ubiquitous bottled cocktail. Bottled cocktails feel at once an easy convenience and also something of magic because, quite frankly, who has time to sit and bottle cocktails at home?

Turns out we were all wrong about that.Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Bottling cocktails to have on hand at home (or to bring to a party, or give out as baby shower gifts, whatever) is really very easy. Yes, like any project, you need to invest in some basic equipment. The internet is a great source for that (I’ll post some sources below), but if you’re in a town that has a beer supply shop you could also hop on down to one and very likely find these items. Let’s assume you have the booze on hand for a cocktail you’d like to bottle, then all you need are bottles, caps and a capper. And 2 out of the 3 items can be used over and over again.

Now what to bottle?Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Last week Serious Eats published a recipe of mine that was a jumping off point to start bottling cocktails at home. I love single serving bottles that can be handed off to guests when they show up late to your house and demand that you make them a fancy cocktail. I’m not a night person, so my brain after 9pm is staticky at best (no one ever shows up for cocktails at 10am). However, if I have a small supply of varying fanciness in the fridge ready to go at a moments notice, then I look cool. And no one can tell I’d rather be in bed then entertaining (until I fall asleep mid-sentence on the couch).

Cocktails that work well in a bottled cocktail form have the standard rules of NO dairy and NO fresh juice due to stability issues (although I’m testing one of those out next week so check back in here!!). Instead of bottling the household standards of a Manhattan or a Negroni, likely choices since they’re all booze, I decided to riff on an Old Fashioned. It being summertime, I wanted a recipe that worked well both in terms of summer flavor and also would work in a bottle. Thus, the Salted Peanut Old Fashioned was born. Using peanuts in an Old Fashioned I’ve seen before, but I see it a lot on the sweet side. For this drink I wanted to cut back on the sugar, and create a more savory profile. The whole idea made me reminisce about late summer baseball games and eating peanuts and you can read all that in the original post. The summer 6-pack of beer was being replaced by a 6-pack of cocktails!Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Couple facts to point out before we begin:

  • Water. Water is added to the base since we will NOT be stirring the cocktails. These are stand alone and can be poured right into your mouth and enjoyed from that bottle they’re living in. Or, if you want to get sophisticated, they can be poured into a chilled cocktail glass too. Also, the amount of dilution can be based on YOUR desire as well. Want it to be a tad stronger? Decrease the amount of water, but don’t forgo it altogether unless you want to stir these with ice when you crack them open.
  • Yes, there is an infusion in the recipe, but nut infusions tend to move rather quickly. 24 hours isn’t that long if you’re already dedicated to the project.
  • The amount of salt added is to MY taste, not your taste. So if you like things less salty, add less. More salty, add more. You should actually want to drink this.

Ready to start bottling? Let’s go!

Peanut Infused Rye

Note: the peanuts will soak up a few ounces of liquor, so you’ll start with more base rye than you think you’ll need.

16 ounces rye whiskey, such as Rittenhouse 100
1 cup (about 5-6 ounces) raw peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread raw peanuts on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Let cool. Combine rye and roasted peanuts in an airtight container for 24 hours. Strain peanuts through cheesecloth over a fine strainer, and then strain liquid once more through a new cheesecloth. (If you feel like you’re not getting all the oils/fats/solids out, freeze the mixture for a few hours and scrape off any fats that rise to the top. Thaw, and then use below)

Salted Peanut Old Fashioned

12 ounces peanut-infused rye (recipe above)
9 ounces water
4 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
12 dashes Angostura Bitters
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using a small funnel, pour 4 ounces of the mixture into each bottle. Using a capper, cap each bottle. Refrigerate if you’re using soon or you can store in a cool, dark place for several months.

The aroma is sweet and nutty while the cocktail has a rich, savory flavor that is complimented by the addition of salt. Bottling this will not change the flavors too dramatically (yes, they will meld a bit together) as we are not barrel-aging, we’re stopping the flavors in time. Summertime.

All of the materials to bottle cocktails can be found online and probably at your home brewer store. Want some guidance? Here’s where I got mine: Caps / Bottles / Capper

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.