Peach-Basil Sorbet & Saison Float (Beer Float)

peach basil sorbet and saison beerfloat // stirandstrain.com

Me and Beer are not what you would call best friends. We spy each other from across the room and keep a cool distance. Once and awhile we’re forced to spend time together. Usually out of desperation. But before you Beer Lovers out there delete me from your feedly account, I will say that I can be turned sometimes. For example, last time I was in San Francisco I had a Nautilus Saison. It was really good. And if I’m out at a place that only is doing beer, I won’t be that a-hole not drinking. Usually I ask for a sour beer, and more than likely they have one.

What I really like in a Beer Experience is something luxurious. I take the beer cocktail movement seriously. Amazing things have been created and imbibed by myself. However, I haven’t quite knocked one out of the park yet to share on here. What have I done with beer lately though? Make a damn float. A luxurious Saison float with some homemade sorbet. Oh yes….

First, you cannot take any old ice cream/gelato/sorbet and stick it with any old Pilsner/IPA/Double Chocolate Stout. Oh wait.You totally can stick that Double Chocolate Stout with a lot of flavors. But the point is that when you are going to create a beer float, you need to look at it as you are crafting a cocktail. The flavors should compliment each other, have a good body together, introduce new flavors into the party. Also, you shouldn’t be afraid to add some enhancers such as bitters and herbs. Again, like making a cocktail.peach basil sorbet and saison beer float // stirandstrain.com

After I tried that Saison I knew that the profile of that type of beer would work really well with some seasonal fruit sorbets. I like making sorbets. But usually I make alcoholic sorbets. This time I would leave that part out, focus what is in season and what would pair well with the beer.

Peaches were overcrowding the fruit basket, so they needed to go. The last of my basil was also starting to look a tad sad so I figured these two would make a great pair for a sorbet. I made a small batch, knowing that freezer space is limited in my house right now so I needed this guy in and out quick. After the batch was done, taste tests were conducted with a variety of Saisons and the winning combo was the Foret Organic Saison.

The pairing was great, but what put it over the top and rounded out the float was a sprinkling of freshly ground Coriander. Have you guys ever smelled the stuff freshly ground?! It has the most striking lime aroma. It was the extra brightness that this float needed to make it exceptional.

Thirsty? Let’s get started.peach basil sorbet and saison beer float // stirandstrain.com

Peach-Basil Sorbet

recipe adapted from the James Beard Foundation (cut in half, but I kept the same amount of basil)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
8 basil leaves
2 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

Bring the sugar, water, and basil to a boil in a small pot. Gently simmer 10 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for one hour.

Strain the syrup.

Purée the syrup with the peaches until smooth in a food processor. Chill mixture in the fridge for at least an hour.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker. I found that this small batch took only about 10 minutes to come together. Depending on temp and humidity in your kitchen, could take a few minutes more.peach basil sorbet and saison beer float // stirandstrain.com

The Beer Float

3 scoops of the Peach-Basil Sorbet
3-4 oz of Foret Organic Saison
Pinch of freshly ground coriander

In a pilsner glass, add the scoops of sorbet. Pour the Saison over the scoops and add a pinch of the coriander to the foam. Add a straw if you like.

The ground coriander has vivid lime notes that bring out the citrus from the Saison. Dry start with a sweet finish. The peach and basil are soft in the background on initial sip, until that is, you get a chunk in your straw, at which point you get this potent herbal fruit flavor.

This drink is SO light you can drink multiples without feeling too heavy. It’s even delicious with food (I had a Cuban sandwich and it was a super match!).peach basil sorbet and saison beer float // stirandstrain.com

Check out the Boozy Dessert Round Up on Clinton Kelly for this recipe from me and more!

Make It: Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.comOverachiever. Two posts for Mixology Monday and you can start to attribute that to yourself. I’m not officially submitting this, since it’s an alcoholic dessert, but the FIRE theme this month is the reason why this post went up.

I’ve actually had this idea in my back pocket for awhile now. There was this recipe in the Los Angeles times online for Prosecco gelee and I knew I’d have to make them sometime with some liquor. The time had to be right, and the flavors needed to make sparks (otherwise it would just be a fancy jello shot).

Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.com

In the Eyes of Angelique post, I started to play around with Campari and cayenne in a foam, and when that combination came together, I thought I would try a more straight on approach to the flavors, more concentrated, and Aperol and cayenne seemed like the duo to try. There is a touch of chipotle powder in there to bring an earthiness to the sweet, bitter and hot flavors.

This might seem like a project, but it’s really hands off, and the sugar coating is optional. In fact, here’s a tip with that. If you do go the way of sifting the jellies with sugar, coat them twice. There is an issue with something called ‘weeping’ that happens when the sugar starts to melt a bit (after they’ve sat for awhile). So if you do sugar them, coat twice and then eat immediately! Otherwise the unsugared jellies will stay firm in the fridge up to 4 days, covered.Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.com

Recipe adapted from L.A. Times
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 water
12 oz. Aperol
3/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
9 sheets of gold gelatin

Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan. Bring to just about a boil and remove from heat. Soften gelatin sheets in a bowl of water for 2 minutes, ring water out and mix them into the sugar syrup. Stir until gelatin is dissolved. Add Aperol, cayenne and chipotle powders to the syrup and stir to combine. Line a 8″x8″ pan with plastic wrap and pour mixture into the pan. You can also pour into individual silicone molds. Refrigerate overnight to set. To serve, cut into squares.

Optional sugar coating:
Pour a 1/2 cup of granulated sugar into a bowl. Add jellies a few at a time to coat. Shake off excess and coat a second time. Serve immediately.

Each little square has the sweet bitter flavor of the Aperol, but with an earthy fire from the powders. That cayenne heats hits the back of your throat for a nice spicy bite. You do not need to sugar coat them, but if you do, you could pass them off as elegant candies.

Red Ruth Cocktail

Red Ruth Cocktail // Stirandstrain.comLos Angeles over the past few years has become laden with some of the best craft cocktail bars in the country (deal with it New York). But where will you find me come Happy Hour on a Tuesday? Probably bar-side at the Tonga Hut out in the Valley. A darkly lit Tiki Bar nestled in-between a model train shop and a store front bridal “boutique”, this place sees my face almost weekly. Why? Currently I am trying to complete the Grog Log along with fellow drink/food blogger Nathan Hazard so that after completing the imbibing of all 90-something drinks on the list (within one year), a plaque with my name will be placed on the wall of this darkly lit Valley bar. But still, why bother you ask? I love having goals. But really, it’s a great way to become VERY familiar with Tiki drinks and all the ways the flavors come into play. This bar does a lot of in-house mixes and syrups and the woman running the beverage program, Marie, takes it all to heart and is adamant about making Tiki drinks taste the way they were meant to taste from way back in the heyday of Tiki days. I appreciate it. If you’ve trolled around my blog long enough now, you would see that I share the same sentiments when it comes to cocktails. Even tiki cocktails can be craft.

So why am I writing about this? Besides needing something to write about for an intro, I was over at the Tonga Hut the other night completing my list and tasted the Cruzana cocktail. Its ingredients were modest: grapefruit, maraschino syrup, rum. It was not very sweet, and had a lovely bitter quality to it that I enjoy in cocktails, which got me thinking… how could I expand on this? Twist it into something my non-Tiki drinking friends would like to have? Take the rum out and make a syrup!

And so I did just that.

Let’s ignore the beige walls and countertop in the photo. This was perfected over the 4th Holiday at my in-laws, who love beige. Let’s just focus on how tasty and refreshing this drink is when temps are soaring over 90 lately.
cherry-syrup //stirandstrain.com

The first ingredient I sought to improve upon was the cherry syrup, or rather, the dredges from the kool-aid colored cherries. Cherries are in season right now, why not make a super-tasty syrup from them? It barely takes any effort other than pitting them. But that’s what a cherry pitter is for. Bam, done in two minutes.

Fresh Cherry Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup pitted cherries
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 oz. freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice
1/2 oz. grenadine (home made is best!)

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let sit for two hours. Strain solids from liquids and add next three ingredients to mix. Stir to combine. If not using immediately, add 1/2 ounce of vodka to mix, or leave out vodka if using within 2 weeks.redruth-cherry

The syrup produces a fresh cherry flavor with light syrup. It’s more juicy than syrupy. The citrus and grenadine balances the syrup out from being too subtle in flavor. They act almost like bitters in that it rounds it out to a fuller flavor. And on a side note, I could totally pour this all over some pancakes. Just FYI.

And then there was the drink.

2 oz. St. George Botanivore Gin
2 oz. freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice
3/4 oz. home made cherry syrup (recipe above)
2 drops of Miracle Mile Chocolate Chile Bitters

3 Luxardo cherries for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, shake and pour unstrained into a Collins glass. Garnish with Luxardo Cherries.

Like I said, I took the rum out, and the flavor profile completely changed. That sweetness and spice from the rum took a backseat in the cherry syrup, and a more botanical, herbaceous flavor moved to the front. The bitters tone down the sweet just enough. Citrus flavors are complimented by the bright, herbaceous gin. I specifically used this gin from St. George spirits to create a more interesting layer with the fruits and in the end, a refreshing summer drink that moves away from the realm of Tiki.

This past weekend I was asked “what makes a drink tiki?”, and admittedly, I was stumped to have a concrete answer. Is it a drink with rum? Well, no. There are drinks in the Grog Log with vodka, whiskey and gin. Is it the tropical flavors? Again, not necessarily. And at that point I realized I couldn’t give a concrete answer. Maybe it’s all in the garnish, the presentation…the state of mind! Regardless, here, by switching out the gold rum with a gin, and having some softer fruit flavors, the cocktail no longer is a tropical drink and more in line with just something for summer. Thoughts are always welcome on this subject….

Make It: Passion Fruit Syrup // The Hurricane Cocktail

hurricane cocktail // stirandstrain.comDid you know that passion fruit had a season? Neither did I until earlier this week. Big thanks to Nathan from the Chocolate of Meats blog for hipping me to this fact.

If you are a lover of Tiki drinks you know that passion fruit is a major component in many of those elusive Grog Log drinks. If you’re not familiar, now you know. Pretty much though you’re stuck with commercial flavored syrups that taste more like sad kool-aid than anything resembling a fruit derived substance. Until now. My passion fruit did not come locally unfortunately, they were flown in. I thought that was the only way I would get them until I found out a local catering company, Heirloom LA, were growing them in their backyard. Note to self, plant that ASAP.passionfruit // stirandstrain.com

So before we get to the drinks, lets get to making the syrup. If you don’t raise your hand to the question Who’s going to use this syrup up in a month? Then you can either add a 1/2 oz of vodka to the mix to prolong it up to 3 months, or make a large batch and freeze up containers to use when passion fruit is not in season.

Although a basic recipe, credit goes to Tiare from the Mountain of Crushed Ice blog for some of the tips to making this syrup.

Passion Fruit Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Just under 1/2 cup of Passion Fruit seeds/juice (about 7 smallish fruit)
2 passion fruit

Combine first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, cut the heat and remove from the stove. Add the juice and seeds from the last two passion fruit to the mixture, stir to combine and cover. Let this sit for two hours, then strain and bottle.passionfruit-2 // stirandstrain.com

Let’s ease into the Tiki now with the Hurricane cocktail. With just 3 simple ingredients this is where quality really counts. And perhaps your garnishes too.

I always associated the Hurricane with a red/pink color, in fact, I assumed that passion fruit were this color too (I seriously had no idea). So to my surprise, this Hurricane really is the color of a passion fruit, yellow-orange. Dealing with the fresh passion fruit also has taught me what I smell in a lot of Tiki drinks I’ve had out of the house. The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to be serious with drinks, or food even, get to know the fresh stuff, not just what comes in a can at a grocery store, you’ll very quickly start to favor the fresh ingredients. I’ll probably be heading back to the market to buy a couple pounds of passion fruit this week just so I can make enough syrup to freeze a sizable stash. God, I just hope they’re not out of season by Tuesday.

Hurricane Cocktail (adapted from the Grog Log)
4 oz dark rum (I chose Goslings Black Seal Rum)
2 oz freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 oz passion fruit syrup

large sprig of mint and pineapple cubes for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add first 3 ingredients and shake well. Fill a hurricane glass or large tiki mug with about 20 ounces of crushed ice. Strain drink over the ice and add more crushed ice if desired. Garnish with mint (give it a good slap between your hands to release some of the oils from the herb) and 3 pineapple cubes on a cocktail spear.

Don’t forget that mint! The mint adds an aromatic nose that is a perfect compliment for this sweet-tart drink. The Goslings was chosen because it gives a nice deep spice layer, while the Meyer lemon balances out the passion fruit tartness. Overall this was not what I remember a Hurricane tasting like, and that’s probably a good thing. Enjoy!

Make It: Tangelocello

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.comTangelocello. The name makes me think of some late 70’s disco/synth band but there wasn’t any other way to describe this liqueur.

As I mentioned in this post, I was able to pick quite a bounty of tangelos from my backyard this year. The problem with these tangelos? They’re SUPER tart. It’s not like you can just peel and eat them. Unfortunately with a bag full of them I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with them all. Then I recalled my Limoncello experiment (found here and here) and realized if you can make tart lemons drinkable, then tart tangelos should also work. tangelocello-3

And you know what? It did work! In the end I had a sweet, citrus liqueur with some tang, but not enough to make my cheeks pucker and spit it out.

One small caveat. You’re going to need 8 weeks. It is a project, but really, let’s be honest. It’s a project where you barely put in any effort and you’re rewarded with liqueur you made with your hands that tastes awesome. That should be reward enough!

Making tangelocello falls into two major steps, and one small half step. I’m including everything here on this one post for convenience purposes.tangelocello-2

4-5 medium sized Tangelos
1-1/2 cups high proof vodka (I used Belvedere Vodka INTENSE 100 Proof)

Wash a jar large enough to hold the vodka and dry well. Add the vodka to the jar. Zest the tangelos and add those to the vodka. Juice the tangelos, put the juice in a ziplock bag, and throw that in the freezer. You will need it in two weeks. Seal the jar and place it out of direct sunlight. Shake the jar once every day for two weeks. I find putting it someplace in sight will help you remember to do this. After two weeks strain the zest from the vodka and get ready for Step Two.tangelocello-1

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
juice from the 4-5 tangelos, defrosted (if you had left it in the freezer)

First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool and add that and the juice to the vodka. Seal and keep in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks. No need to agitate this time.

After 6 weeks, strain again into a bottle and seal. Keep in the refrigerator so you always have chilled Tangelocello on hand for a digestif. Aren’t you fancy!?

Being Seasonal // Meyer Lemon Rosemary Sparkler

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.comOne of goals of this site was to integrate seasonally appropriate ingredients into cocktails. Sometimes I remember to do that… sometimes not so much. Right now, everyone is inundated with citrus, and has been for a couple months now. I just came back from visiting my in-laws who have Meyer lemons, Bears limes, key limes and tangerines at their house. Magically, anything planted there thrives beyond expectations and around January/February every year it seems I have BAGS of citrus laying about. Even at my own house this year my tangelo tree exploded with fruit. I wish my lime trees would do that though (they’re still recovering from those nasty wind we had in Los Angeles in December 2011).

So I thought I’d come up with a few seasonally appropriate posts that will hopefully help you use up what citrus fruits you have laying around. The first of which is a pretty simple Meyer Lemon simple syrup to which I’m adding rosemary (another plant that no matter how much I cut it back, my entire front yard is crawling with it). And then I’ll make a drink with it for you. Because I’m a nice host.

Let’s get to it.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-2

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
zest from 2 Meyer lemons
1 sprig of rosemary (about 6″ in length)

Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Take off from the heat, add juice, zest and rosemary. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain out solids and let sit in a container (I used a bowl) until cool. Bottle. This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Add 1 oz. of vodka and it will keep for months in the fridge.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-3This syrup is so fragrant and I attribute the combination of zest and juice. The rosemary is subtle but noticeable. Together it’s a sweet and woodsy potion. Don’t want to use it in cocktails? Sweeten your tea with this and you’ll get a similar magic in your cup.

Now let’s make you a drink.

I’m keeping this simple so that the flavor of the syrup will shine through, but not so simple you can say I’m phoning it in. Ginger is a great pair for the flavors of the Meyer lemon, which is  sweeter and a less acidic lemony lemon, and the earthiness of the rosemary.

1-1/2 oz. Broker’s Gin
3/4 oz. Meyer lemon rosemary syrup
4-6 oz. Ginger Beer
sprig of rosemary for garnish

Build the drink in a Highball glass by adding ice, gin, syrup and topping with the ginger beer. Add a clean piece of rosemary for garnish.mlrs-bottleopener

The result is light and refreshing, which I find I want more lately than my usual heavy whiskey. The cocktail is not too sweet, but the syrup does cut through the sharp bite of the ginger beer.

I have a couple more of these citrus posts ready to roll out this week, so please check back!

What to do with Amaretto: Part Two, make whipped cream

amaretto-whipcream-1January always seems like a “hands off” month when it comes to any subject other than how to be healthy. People are waking up, shaking off a month and a half food and booze induced coma, swearing off all evils for at least a few weeks. February seemed a more proper month to post this. All of those resolutions are out the window right now and people need a reason to put whipped cream on everything.

Booze spiked hot cocoa really doesn’t need a recipe (add alcohol until satisfied). However, measurements might be needed for a topping. Yes, a topping. Not being much of a marshmallow lover, I always have enjoyed a rather large dollop of whipped cream on my hot cocoa. And in this scenario, I have a bottle of Amaretto that needs using up. So for the next installment of “What to do with that bottle of Amaretto“, we will spike some whipped cream with it. Mmmm….amaretto-whipcream-6

Have you seen those new bottles of already spiked alcoholic whipped cream? Are you as freaked out as I am? Why does this exist if it takes 10 minutes to make on your own? You don’t even need to put pants on.

amaretto-whipcream-2Let’s make some Amaretto Whipped Cream:

8 oz. of cold heavy whipping cream
1 oz. of Amaretto
2 tbsp of sugar (I am using granulated and it dissolved just fine)

  • Start whipping the cream and add in the Amaretto and sugar. Mix until medium/firm peaks form, around 5 to 7 minutes. For softer whipped cream, beat it less. The colder the environment, mixer, whisk, etc. is, the faster your whipped cream will whip up.
  • When desired consistency is achieved (and you’ve taste tested, and maybe tested a few more spoonfuls if no one is looking), use right away or store in an air-tight container. Whipped cream will last 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

amaretto-whipcream-3amaretto-whipcream-4amaretto-whipcream-5Concerned your whipped cream will taste too much of alcohol? Don’t fret, even with an ounce of Amaretto, this recipe yields more like 2 to 2-1/2 cups, and mixed throughout is more subtle than you think. Also, the cream and sugar help cut through the sting of alcohol to let more of the almond flavor of the Amaretto stand out. I added my whipped cream to a mug (an awesome Mayan tiki mug no less) of Mexican Hot Chocolate. The flavor of the Amaretto was a match for the earthy, spiciness of the drink. Adding a touch of nutmeg on top doesn’t hurt either. I imagine this would work just as well with Swiss Miss.

Don’t want hot chocolate? Sneaking a piece of cake during your bout of trying to be healthy? This is spectacular on spice cakes or just dipping cookies into. Or strawberries! Valentine’s Day is this week…

Make It: Grenadine // Semi-Homemade Tequila Sunrise

grenadinespoon-1About 8 or 9 years ago I finally had an apartment to myself, no roommates(!), and in celebration went to the closest liquor store and picked up a bottle of Tequila. OK, it was Jose Cuervo. I already had OJ in the fridge, and had picked up a bottle of grenadine at work. It was a time in my life where I thought it would be adult of me to have a small ‘bar’ at my place. This was fancy for me; I was in my early twenties. Having picked up my first cocktail recipe book, I had decided on making a Tequila Sunrise. This was a cocktail name I had heard before, it was less scary than some of the other recipes in the book and I knew all the ingredients (even if I had no idea what went into grenadine). You have to start somewhere.

The other day, flipping through one of the Bum’s cocktail books, I realized I had no grenadine in the house. That lone bottle I bought some 8 or 9 years ago had stayed with me through several more apartments, a couple boyfriends, and my own wedding. Its existence being extinguished at one of our Tiki parties two years ago. I hesitated to go buy a bottle. There are more bad reviews of grenadine out there than good, and I recently had been reading about just how easy it was to make it. There are two approaches one can make their own grenadine with: the cold method (pomegranate juice and sugar shaken together until the sugar is well incorporated), and the cooked method. I went with the cooked method. Taking inspiration from the SippitySup blog and the Imbibe site, I combined a method I was happy with. I wanted to keep it simple, and the addition of the orange flower water gives it just the subtlest floral hint without being too perfume-like.

2 cups of POM Wonderful Pomegranate Juice (or freshly squeezed if you have it on hand)
1 cup of sugar
1/2 tsp of Orange Flower Water
1/2 oz of Vodka (for a preservative), optional

Combine juice and sugar in a pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then leave at simmering until reduced by half (I ended up with about a cup and a half). This can take 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, add the orange flower water and leave to cool. Once cool, stir in vodka and bottle.grenadine-2grenadine-4grenadine-1

Couple notes here: Why heat? Testing the cooked method, I enjoyed the more syrupy consistency of the end result. It also resulted in a more intense “berry” flavor. Does orange flower water taste like orange? No. Have you ever smelled fresh blooms on an orange or lime tree? It’s like that, floral, not citrus.grenadine-3

Reminiscing about the grenadine, I thought, for nostalgia reasons, I’d make a Tequila Sunrise to test out the final batch. With a couple of tweaks it was just as satisfying as I remembered drinking it standing in my ‘bar’ of that first studio apartment.This time around, I juiced my own oranges in a rather large batch (I am finding new uses for this juicer we just committed to buying), which, because of how sweet they are this season, I decided on adding a touch of lime juice. And to round the whole drink out, a few dashes of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters.tequilasr-1

2 oz. Avión Silver Tequila
2-1/2 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 dashes of Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters
Splash of grenadine (house made if you got it!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine tequila, orange juice, lime juice and bitters. Shake well to combine and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the grenadine to the center of your drink so it drops to the bottom of the glass. Stir gently with a bar spoon and watch as the colors float up.

A touch of sweet earthiness from the grenadine floats throughout the drink. I know that in this case it’s mainly a beautiful way to add color, but the richness of the syrup cuts through some of the sweetness of the orange juice too. Those bitters provide a subtle balance to the drink, that tends to just be very citrus forward and not much else.

I hope this post shows just how easy it is to have this bar staple on hand! No need to buy, just shake or simmer…

Make It: Holiday Spice Syrups

The hard ciders and glogg are starting to roll out. It’s Fall- hell, it’s almost Thanksgiving already. For me that means starting to plan for Christmas. My personality is such that I painfully start planning things much too far in advance, forget about them, and freak out at the last minute trying to get these plans into action.

A good chunk of gift giving is pretty easy actually when it comes to my friends. They all like booze. But really, putting a bow on a bottle of Jameson a couple years in a row starts to become too easy and predictable. Yes, you can step it up and maybe shell out for a bottle of Booker’s. However that becomes expensive when you multiply that by just 4 people.

When I started making my own infused syrups at home it occurred to me the potential these had for gift giving. One can make up a batch, pair it with a small bottle of something, and write up a little card with a drink recipe on it. For me, it’s a way of sharing an interest with my friends and getting them tipsy in the process. Win! Even better when you can open it together.

This year I’m expanding my usual arsenal of syrups to include some Fall spices that I want to try out. Adapting the clove syrup recipe from the PDT Cocktail Book, I’ve scaled that down and also worked up a cinnamon syrup too. Bottle these up and give away, or keep for yourself.

For this recipe, I made a master batch of simple syrup and then divided it to steep the cloves and cinnamon separately.

Master Simple Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine water and sugar in a sauce pan. Swirl to combine and place over high heat until warmed through and transparent. Do not let it come to a boil. Once sugar is dissolved, remove from heat if using immediately for below or keep over a very low flame- you will need the syrup to be warm to infuse.

Clove Syrup

1/2 cup simple syrup
1/4 oz of cloves (I used a kitchen scale to weigh this out. It’s about 3 tablespoons if I were to eyeball it.)

Combine a half cup of the warm simple syrup with the cloves in a heat-proof container. Let sit for 15 minutes. Strain into a bottle through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Let the mixture cool and store in the refrigerator.

Cinnamon Syrup

1 cup simple syrup
5 sticks of cinnamon, 2″ to 2-1/2″ in length

Combine a half cup of the warm simple syrup with the cinnamon sticks in a heat-proof container. Let sit for 15 minutes. Strain into a bottle. Let the mixture cool and store in the refrigerator.

Syrups will keep approximately 1 month in the refrigerator (or at least they do in my house).

Make It: Mixed Berry Sorbet with Mint and Hendrick’s

This post has been staring at me for several days now. Recipes are backing up in the queue because this needs to go out. I want to share it, but for some reason it has seemed daunting writing it all down. There is no reason to shy away from it, it’s delicious and not that difficult to make. And the mint syrup gets used in a myriad of ways later on. So here it goes…

Tart, sweet and minty. Very minty depending on who you are talking to. I taste tested the recipe and found the mint here to be subtle, however my husband, who pretty much hates mint in desserts (I think he only finds mint tea acceptable) found it to be very strong. Keep this in mind while making the simple syrup. If you like a pretty subtle mint taste, maybe only a half cup of mint leaves will be best for you. And as always, try and get the ripest berries you can find. It creates a lovely sweetness and a heightened tartness that is enhanced by the addition of the lime.

Another note about this recipe. Using what I learned with the strawberry basil sorbet here, I increased the amount of alcohol to 2 ounces, making the consistency softer, even when frozen for 5+ hours. I actually prefer being able to scoop out the sorbet with little difficulty. And that Hendrick’s in there? You can totally taste it, in the background, adding a soft cucumber-gin flavor in both the smell and after-taste. Love it.

I made this over the course of a couple days, hence the crazy discrepancy in lighting. But also because I like to let the mixture sit and mingle for a day, letting the flavors come together.

First thing you need to do is make the Mint Simple Syrup.
1 cup of granulated cane sugar
1 cup of water
1 cup of mint leaves

Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan. Swirl to combine. Add the mint leaves and push into the liquid. Over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the leaves and leave mixture to chill, or at least bring to room temperature.Recipes yields about a cup and a half.

Second you need to make the berry mixture for the sorbet.
1 lb. of mixed berries ( I used 2:1 raspberries to blackberries)
1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 cup of Mint Simple Syrup from recipe above

In a food processor, break up the berries and add the rest of the ingredients. Continue to process until smooth.

Strain out the mixture through a fine sieve or through a cheesecloth. Note: if you use a chinoise, make sure you have the proper wooden dowel to push the solids. Otherwise you will be standing for at least 20 minutes trying to strain out the mixture wishing you had one.

Chill the mixture in the fridge for 24 hours. Also, if you are using a kitchen-aid ice cream maker, throw the bowl and all the parts into the freezer. You want everything to be really cold when you go to mix later.

When your mixture is thoroughly chilled and mingled, start your ice cream maker and throw in your mixture. Sorbet only needs about 15 minutes to set. After set, scoop into freezer safe containers and freeze until solid.