Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail

Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur. Recipe and ideas are my own.

For a little over 3-1/2 years now I’ve been freelancing full time and while I love the multitude of perks that come with that (slippers! showers at 10am! Punch R&D before noon!) around holiday time I miss one of the best perks about working in an office: the vendor gift baskets.

They start sometime around Thanksgiving. You can always tell which vendor made a whoops that year by the size of the gift basket. Oh hey guys, let’s forget about trying to install that wrong range in the restaurant, instead, look at all this CANDY AND BOOZE we’ve sent you!!!!

Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThere was the ubiquitous popcorn balls (bleck), the really cheap wine (Ok, we can try that come 3pm on Friday) and my favorite, the bon bon boxes. You know the ones: giant, golf ball sized chocolates filled and flavored with all kinds of fruits and nuts. The chocolate raspberry? Oh yeah, that’s mine thanks.

This week we’ve teamed up with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur to recreate a drinkable version of that indulgent treat. Kerrygold Irish Cream is made in Ireland with milk from grass-fed cows so it is SO rich and SO creamy, and the chocolate is real, not just flavoring, which you definitely want if you’re making a cocktail like this. With a hint of oaky Irish Whiskey it’s rich treat on it’s own but also fantastic for mixing in a cocktail. This drink is super simple to whip up and I’m giving you guys the option to either make your own raspberry syrup, or buy it, because sometimes… you just can’t.

Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comAlso, FOLKS!!! If I’ve inspired you to grab a bottle of Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur just a head’s up that they’re giving away a trip to NYC for TWO to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! Stir up your own cocktail and submit it online for a chance to win this fab trip (21+ USA residents only please!). Full details here: https://www.kerrygoldirishcream.com/NYC Contest runs from November 13, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

So let’s treat ourselves and make a cocktail!

Chocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comChocolate Raspberry Bon Bon Cocktail

1-1/2 oz Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur
1 oz vodka
1/4 oz Allspice dram
3/4 oz Raspberry syrup (recipe below or use store bought, we recommend Monin)
3 raspberries and Cinnamon for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, combine Kerrygold Irish Cream, vodka, allspice dram, and raspberry syrup. Stir 20 seconds to chill and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with raspberries and a dusting of cinnamon for garnish.

Raspberry Syrup

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1 pint raspberries

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve and add raspberries. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, remove from heat and let sit 30 minutes. Strain into an airtight container. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Extras

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail tequila - maraschino - citrus - currants - walnut - cider

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).

I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.

It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

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

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

The older I get, the more I want to create my own set of holiday traditions. While Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be where one’s mind goes to when we think “holiday traditions”, in our house, Halloween is a big deal.

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comFor a brief period of time in my late 20’s, my husband and I threw some really fun Halloween parties (and Tiki parties, and Christmas parties, and OH BOY do we love a themed party). But now that we have our little family here we tend to go out for parties now, leaving the themes for others to make. Halloween night, though, we’ve started having a party for 2.

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

While yes, one can raid your kid’s treat bag and gorge yourself on low quality store candy (is it me, or do brands tend to crank out sub-par versions of their candy to stuff into those 10 lb mix bags this time of year?). But as an adult you should do yourself a favor and make yourself something special; at least for one night.

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comIf you’ve been visiting this site for some time, you know I L-O-V-E making adult jellies (or jell-o shots or what-have-you). You can forget everything you knew about those terrible things you choked down in college, and instead congratulate yourself on making a sophisticated treat with this recipe. And just for balance, I’m going to cut mine out in bat shapes for Halloween—I don’t want to be that serious. (You could just as easily put them in a spherical mold or pour your mixture in a non-stick baking pan and cut squares out too.)

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comAnother fun part of this recipe is that you get to go out and buy a bag of candy for the infusion. My Scandinavian side of the family dictates that I must enjoy black licorice but on the rare occasions that I do have a bag of it in the house, I am the only one who touches it and I almost always have too much left over. However, any extras that are leftover this time, go into today’s infusion!

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve teamed up with Everclear again to create this easy and sophisticated adult treat. I’m using the neutral tasting Everclear as the base of my licorice infusion, and then adding that to a simple mixture of amaro and gelatin (and some shimmering edible powder for extra oomph). You can make this recipe your own by using whatever amaro you enjoy, and you can take or leave the luster dust (I say take it though).

The end result are spicy and anise-y jellies with just a slight boozy kick. Look for an amaro on the mellower side so that you get that warming flavor from the black licorice.

Let’s make some treats!

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comLicorice Infusion (2 options)

10 ounces Everclear
1 cup black licorice, chopped

Option #1: Place licorice in an airtight container and pour Everclear over. Seal, shake to combine and let sit 5 days. Shake gently once a day. Test your infusion after 5 days and either strain through a coffee filter or let sit an additional day or two until desired flavor. Once desired flavor is reached, strain into a clean, airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 6 months.

Option #2–quick infusion method: Into a whipping canister, add Everclear and black licorice. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use mixture immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Black Licorice and Amaro Jellies
yields 16 1 oz squares

8 ounces Amaro
2 packs gelatine
8 ounces boiling water
2 ounces Licorice Infusion
black food coloring, optional
1/4 teaspoon coral luster dust, optional

  • Line an 8×8 baking pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  • In a 4 cup capacity measuring glass, pour in amaro and sprinkle gelatine over the top. Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Next, pour boiling water over the mixture (it should have firmed up a little), stirring constantly to combine.
  • Stir in Licorice Infusion and food coloring and/or luster dust if using.
  • Pour into the lined 8×8 baking pan (or, alternatively, molds of your choice). Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
  • When mixture has firmed, cut into desired shape and serve immediately.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coastal Tincture

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

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

Hi, my name is Elana and I’m that weirdo at Target standing in the hand soap aisle smelling every bottle trying to determine which scent comes home with me. Scent is a powerful determining factor of what gets used in my home. If a dish soap, or hand lotion, or candle has a scent that doesn’t jive with what I consider olfactory perfection, out it goes. Aroma with cocktails is also a similar experience.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comCertain scents may sound strange when referencing a drink, but think about how we throw around terroir with wine (and now, there’s lots of spirits doing that as well). You may like a drink because it reminds you of cut grass from your childhood, or bell peppers, or–and this is a favorite of mine–hot tar. Many times, the aroma of a drink will keep me going back again and again. So I thought I’d try capturing a smell from one of my favorite places, the Central Coast of California, and putting it into a drink.

Today we’ve teamed up with Everclear to recreate the aroma of the California coast in a tincture: fresh green rosemary, wafts of woodsmoke, and a spray of salt air. Everclear has a neutral base and with the higher ABV it also helps to preserve the infusion with no added flavors.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comTinctures are easy ways to get new layers of flavor and aroma into your cocktails without changing the amount of liquid already present. They also will not alter the ABV of your drink in any considerable way. You only need a few drops or a spray or two and your drink is transformed. All you really need is a few ingredients, a bottle of Everclear, and some time.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, let’s make this tincture and then I’ll give you a few quick and simple ways to use it once it’s done! Who knows, maybe this will inspire you to create your own tincture from your favorite place, or, err, hand soap.

Note: I find having some refillable spray bottles and droppers around helpful to bottle my tinctures, but these are totally not necessary. As long as you have an airtight, non-reactive container you should be fine (that glass canning jar your bone broth came in? Give that guy a wash and use that for storage!).

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comCalifornia Coastal Tincture

2 ounces kosher salt
2 ounces water
10 ounce Everclear
2 tablespoons lapsang souchong tea
4 sprigs rosemary, cleaned

  • In a small saucepan over high heat, combine water and salt and whisk vigorously to dissolve (it’s fine if not all the salt dissolves). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight container with well fitting lid, combine Everclear, lapsang souchong tea, rosemary sprigs and salt mixture. Seal container and shake well to combine. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 5 days, giving the container a shake every day or so.
  • After 5 days remove the rosemary sprigs and taste the mixture for smokiness. If you want your tincture to go even smokier, leave the tea in for another 3 days, tasting until you reach your desired level.
  • When desired aroma/flavor is reached, strain the contents through a coffee filter into a clean, airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

How do I use this tincture?

  • My absolute favorite way to enjoy this tincture is a few drops in a Martini using a 1:1 London dry gin to vermouth. The aroma pops and makes the drink much more complex.
  • You can mist this over a citrusy Old Fashioned. The rosemary pairs really well with citrus flavors.
  • Add a few drops to a Cachaça Sour for an earthy, tangy mix.

To learn more about Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, click here!

Monday Booze News haunted distilleries, the origin of your favorite booze, and we're all dummies and using the squeezer wrong

Monday Booze News: it's aperitif time! // stirandstain.com

Welcome back, let’s get to the boozy news.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

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

For years, whenever I ate out at an Indian Restaurant, I somehow overlooked the self serve bowl of seedy bits by the cash registers. Maybe I did notice, but not having a clue as to what it was (or thinking to even ask), it fell off my radar. And then I met my husband, who is half Indian, and going out to Indian restaurants with his mom became a whole new experience. Besides getting stuff not on the menu, or having food cooked a particular way (hello extra spicy!), I began to notice the unspoken ritual at the end of the meal. A small spoonful of those seedy bits, poured into a palm, and eaten, or rather, crunched on.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThose seedy bits were usually fennel seeds, plain, sometimes with brightly sugar coated seeds, other times a mix of those and aniseed. Each restaurant had its own mix. It was not usually presented to the diner. It would sit quietly at the register, or sometimes at the end of a buffet. It was a ritual that didn’t need to be spoken of, one just consumed it. I learned it was to help digestion, fennel seed naturally helping in that department, with the potential to cleanse one’s breath after a meal.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comSo I began to try a spoonful after a big meal (a little too much that first time), and I think it did help digest the meal a little quicker, and easier, than if I hadn’t eaten any. And today I thought I’d turn towards making a liquid version of this helpful digestif: Fennel Liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comMaking this liqueur is easy, but takes some time. I’ve made a smaller batch to cut down on the steeping time, and also because I make a lot of infusions and don’t need so many full size bottles. I’d imagine if you’re trying this out for yourself you’d like to keep the sample down to a manageable size as well.

For the base liquor I’m turning to Everclear, one of my favorites for infusions and when I’ll be cutting the strength of the ABV down. Everclear has a clean, neutral taste so there aren’t any surprise flavors when I’m making an infusion. With the higher ABV, it also means that after cutting the infused liquid I will not end up with a watered down liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThe liqueur is just sweet enough, as the fennel itself has its own sort of sweetness along with that slightly numbing anise flavor. The aroma is exactly as you’d expect: strongly fennel. After a few sips I do feel like it’s helping move the meal along, as a proper digestif should.

Here are a few ways to use the liqueur:

  • over ice with a squeeze of lemon
  • with a splash of dry orange curaçao and tonic water
  • neat, in a tiny glass, pinky up

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comFennel Liqueur

~72 proof
*Note: if you’d like to make a larger batch, adjust sugar as needed to your tastes. 

1/2 cup fennel seeds, lightly crushed
16 ounces Everclear
16 ounces water, filtered
10 ounces granulated sugar

  • In a sterile, air-tight glass jar, combine fennel seeds and Everclear. Seal, shake to combine, and let sit, giving a shake every day or so, for 2 weeks.
  • After 2 weeks, taste and if the fennel flavor is strong enough for your taste, strain the seeds out through a fine mesh strainer, reserving fennel infused Everclear. Discard seeds. Set liquid aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, combine fennel infused Everclear with the simple syrup in a new airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

Late Summer Entertaining: Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad and a Picnic Giveaway!

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Beaujolais Wines, Regnié, Franck Cinquin, Domaine des Braves, 2014. Recipes and ideas are my own.

As we’re wrapping up Summer and starting to think about Fall, this is the time of year I start to stockpile my end of season summer fruits and veggies. And per usual, I overdo it with the produce.

For our end of summer entertaining post I thought I’d crack open a bottle of Beaujolais and show you this simple but flavorful dish you could serve up while we squeeze in the last few summer parties of the season (check the end of the post for our giveaway if you’re in need of some picnic swag!). Sometimes the perfect late summer get togethers can be as simple that: wine and a beautiful salad that showcases the bounty of the transitioning seasons.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comBut this is a spirits site, why are we talking salads?? Well, because we’ll be using that wine you’ll be serving your guests as an ingredient too! The star of the salad is the pickled stone fruit: nectarines, plums and cherries. These pickled stone fruit take a 3 day dip in a sweet and sour bath laced with wine and come out the other end transformed into some crazy delicious bites. I love it when I can incorporate elements from both the drinks and the food together for dishes.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comIn addition to this yummy salad, we’re also taking wine today. If we want to keep our get togethers simple and laid back, we also need a laid back wine. Enter Beaujolais; more specifically Régnié.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comRégnié (pronounced like rein-yay) is the ultimate outdoor entertaining wine. It’s food friendly and pretty much pairs with all those foods you’d want to eat at your outdoor fête. Charcuterie plate? Yes. Spinach salad? Yes. All the cheeses?!?!? Yes yes yes! That’s why we’re pairing this medium-bodied red Beaujolais (did you know Beaujolais comes in red, white AND rosé?) with our salad; the slightly spicy berry, tart and dry wine compliments the pungent, sweet and sour flavors of the pickled stone fruits as well as the salty goodness of the charcuterie and cheese perfectly.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comThe idea of this salad came about because, well…I’m not really a cracker person. Shocker, what?! Is that a thing?? I’m usually the odd one just eating cheese and meat slices off a fork; I just don’t want all the filler. My husband however is a water cracker connoisseur and is baffled by this approach to eating a cheese and charcuterie board. I thought that if I want to eat my meat and cheese and all the components of a well-dressed spread in a more substantial manner, I can put them all in a salad. The added bonus is the wine in the pickled stone fruits which punches their taste way up, and the resulting brine is an amazing substitute to plain old vinegar in the dressing for the salad.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comAre you guys ready to throw one last summer party now?

Here are some tips for serving your wine, party style:
  • Beaujolais is a pocket friendly wine, so stock up for the party
  • serve Régnié at slightly cooler than room temp but never totally chilled (and it’s fine if you forget and leave it at room temp too!)
  • don’t be afraid to pair this wine with “picnic” foods: fried chicken, crab dip, pâtés…
  • serve it all day long: Beaujolais is easy to drink from apps to dessert and everything in between

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.comWine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad

1-1/2 cup of pickled stone fruits plus 2 tablespoons of brine, reserved (recipes follow)
4 ounces sliced prosciutto and salami
1/4 cup sliced cornichons
1/4 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 cups mixed greens
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper
basil, chives, parsley, basil flowers for garnish
toasted baguette slices, optional

Start by mixing together brine, olive oil and salt and pepper to make a dressing. Build your salad by placing greens on a large plate and top with stone fruits, charcuterie, cornichons, olives, and cheese. Toss to combine and top with fresh herbs. Optionally serve toasted baguette slices to mop up any juices left over on your plate.

Pickled stone fruit

4 large stone fruits (mix of nectarine, plums and/or peaches), sliced into 1/2″ slices
1-1/2 cups white vinegar
1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper, whole
1 teaspoon coriander, whole
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, pour in white vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Heat over medium-high heat until sugar has dissolved. Stir in chili flakes, black pepper, coriander, star anise and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Place the stone fruit slices in a large glass container and pour the hot liquid over the fruit and stir in wine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. Let the mixture sit for three days for best taste. Keeps up to two weeks.

*Sweet and pungent with a nice lingering heat from the small addition of chili flakes.

Pickled cherries

adapted from Whole Foods

1-1/2 cups cherries, pitted
1-1/2 cups water
1/3 cup sugar
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coriander
4 green cardamom pods
1 bay leaf
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 ounce Régnié Beaujolais wine

In a medium sized non-reactive saucepan, add in water, sugar, cloves, cinnamon stick, coriander, cardamom pods, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and wine. In a medium sized glass container, place cherries at the bottom and pour hot mixture over them. Let cherry mixture cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for three days for best flavor. Keeps up to two weeks.

Régnié Beaujolais and Wine-Pickled Stone Fruit and Charcuterie Board Salad // stirandstrain.com

*Sweet, sour and spicy!

Up Your Beaujolais Game! from Honest Cooking on Vimeo.

You’ve got your wine, you’ve got a tasty salad, and now you guys need some picnic swag! Enter below for a chance to win a Wine Picnic Bag for 4 valued at $119! (Giveaway ends 10/15/17)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information on Régnié and all theBeaujolais wines, please visit DiscoverBeaujolais.com today!



Crustafied whiskey - orange curaçao - lemon - angostura - notes on moving on from craft cocktails

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comAre you going to Tales this year? Can we meet at Tales? I’m reaching out to you about meeting up at TOTC… Sorry guys, I did not attend Tales of the Cocktail this year. I really don’t know when I’ll make that happen, if ever. However, I was able to bypass the crowds and the sweltering, miserable 105° heat with god-knows-how-high humidity and just look at everyone’s Instagram and Twitter and quite frankly that was great and totally enough, thanks.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comLately though it’s been hard to muster up the interest to pretend everything is OK and go eventing and snap some ‘grams. Instead I’ve been compulsively scrolling through the news with an ever increasing knot in my stomach wondering what the hell is going on in the world. It makes all this social media and even this website seem, well…¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But I’ll save those thoughts and actions for offline, where I can actively do things and not just type type type on here. Anyways, to say the least, I’ve been pretty uninspired with drinks lately. I recently read on article on the End of the Craft Cocktail Movement, and while I initially wanted to get cocky and yell in an obnoxious manner no it’s not, I had to give the author a nod for touching on some truths. The truth being that, yeah, you can get a good cocktail practically anywhere and we as cocktail drinkers have come to expect that now. It’s not novel to be craft and to use fresh ingredients and make your own bitters and muddle in some cucumber. We ALL know how to do that and that’s a good thing. The scary part for people like myself is how do we move on from there.

When I was perusing the images from TOTC, one of the most intriguing things I saw was on Craft & Cocktails’ twitter. It was 4 images of weird stuff with the caption that they were “all cocktails”. You can see that post here and read my comments on it below. To sum up, I was most into the weirdest, the most wrong, the most confusing cocktail of the bunch that was a glass with what looked like dentures sitting in it.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comSpectacle. We’re now moving onto spectacle. When we all expect what’s in the glass to taste great, you’re going to need a 3 ring circus to bring the audience in, at least when we’re talking about here in the blog/social media world. There has been a trend with the younger, newer drinking age audience to stop making drinks at home and to cease entertaining. Their eyeballs are glued onto their phones looking for the next great cat bar, not to necessarily go there, but to “like” the idea of it and quickly move on to the next strange idea.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comThis is a weird spot to be in when you’ve been happily plugging along on your website, coming up in the (second? third?) craft cocktail movement and sharing a love of home bartending. The newer audience will not be home bartenders, and the audience you’ve been talking to is going to start getting home bartending fatigue. Even I see that in myself. I’ve stopped reading a lot of sites, even ones I’ve loved, and stopped browsing through a good chunk of the social media sites, and instead started reading more actual books again. I chuckle at the newest hashtag of #readafuckingbook and am actively giving my brain a break from the nonsense and just the relentless tragedy that coexist in the same feeds.

And so, here’s a little spectacle, wrapped around a good drink. The good folks at Copper & Kings just released an orange Curaçao that is pretty darn great and I added that into my variation here on a Brandy Crusta. First, I swapped some California rye whiskey in for the brandy and then instead of the sugar crusted rim and lemon peel, I made some lemon zest infused sugar and spun that around the glass. The sugar looked like amber when it hardened, and it made me happy to look at it. Like a little artwork on my glass.

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.comI hope you all find a little something that makes you happy this week.

Crustafied!

2 ounces whiskey, Spirit Works Straight Rye Whiskey used here*
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce orange curaçao, Copper & Kings intense orange curaçao used here*
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Dash Angostura bitters
lemon-sugar garnish (recipe follows)

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice, orange curaçao, maraschino liqueur and Angostura. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into lemon-sugar crusted glass.

Lemon Infused Spun Sugar Garnish

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon zest, stir to combine. When sugar starts to melt, stir constantly until sugar reaches a golden-brown color. Remove from heat immediately and continue to stir. As the sugar mixtures begins to cool, the liquid will thicken. Sugar is ready when a wooden spoon is dipped in and sugar pours off in a ribbon. Dip a coupe glass into the sugar and slowly pull out, twisting the sugar as you remove the glass. Hold upside down for about 30 seconds and then stand up to finish cooling. Set aside until ready to use.

The Toasty Russian vodka - coffee liqueur - homemade toasted coconut milk

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.comYesterday on Instagram a gave a little hint as to what I’ve been working on lately… THE FUTURE OF COCKTAILS is alternative milks?!

Well, in the short-term it is for me anyways.

A few months back I had to cut out dairy, soy, eggs, red meat and shellfish for medical reasons. Not for some crazy diet! It doesn’t cut into the cocktail making that much, but there are a few drinks that I’ve had to shelve because of these restrictions. Eggs are an easy one to cut out since I’ve covered so many alternatives for them on the site. Dairy though can get tricky, it imparts a particular taste and mouthfeel that can be hard to replicate. With that in mind, there’s just going to be some drinks I can’t have right now. But this also opens up a new door of twists I can make instead.

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.comToday’s drink is a pretty basic recipe riff on a White Russian. Except… with homemade toasted coconut milk. WHAAAAA?!

Sure, you could add coconut cream or regular coconut milk in here, but the toasty quality of this is OH SO delicious and really stands out in the drink when you put it up against the coffee. I got the idea a few months back when I saw Heidi from 101 Cookbooks make this and for whatever reason I immediately thought about subbing it for cream in a White Russian. Fast forward to now and it is so worth the extra steps to make the toasted coconut milk. And it makes enough so you can add it into your coffee all week and maybe eat some cereal with it too.

Now, this coconut milk behaves differently than cream would; it’s not thick and it’s not going to significantly lighten the color of your cocktail. That also means it’s going to give a lighter feel in your mouth and not coat your tongue like cream does. Maybe for some of you this is a plus. That said, it’s definitely worth trying out if you’re looking for an alternative to dairy or just looking to try something new!

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

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce coffee liqueur, St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur used here
3/4 to 1 ounce toasted coconut milk (recipe follows)
toasted coconut flakes for garnish, optional

In a rocks glass, build your drink by pouring vodka, coffee liqueur, and toasted coconut milk over ice. Stir to combine. Garnish with some toasted coconut flakes if you’re feeling fancy.

Toasted Coconut Milk

recipe adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1-1/2 cups of shredded coconut
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

  1. Heat your oven to 350°F. Toast your coconut on a sheet pan for approximately 10 minutes, stirring half-way through. Set aside to cool.
  2. Once coconut is cooled, combine toasted coconut and water. Let sit for 3 hours.
  3. Pour into a blender and add salt and maple syrup. Blend for 30 second to combine.
  4. Pour mixture into a nut bag placed over a bowl to strain out solids. You may need to skim the top after straining.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

What You Should Be Drinking This 4th of July

And then George Washington took out his Margarita machine and said, “Let there be frozen drinks!”. Happy 4th folks!

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle

Frozen Negroni Cocktails (regular and watermelon)

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Frozen Peach, White Pepper and Green Tea Daiquiri

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail

Peach and Tequila Frozen Cocktail

Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: The Snowden