Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar Rims

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comToday I’m taking part in Stage’s virtual holiday party and sharing my Cranberry Sauce Margaritas to help celebrate and #SetYourHolidayStage! I’m making them extra festive with an easy DIY rosemary sugar rim you can whip up in minutes and use all holiday season long. As my older readers know, I have an entire front yard full of rosemary. So when the Fall and Winter seasons are upon us, I’m sticking it in everything. Food, of course, but also in lots of cocktails. If you’re finding us through the Stages Holiday Party, a quick search through the archives will introduce you to a whole new world of using rosemary in cocktails; take a look!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comWe still have two whole weeks until Christmas and who knows how many parties we’ll be going to or hosting up to then. If you’re in charge of drinks, Stages has all the accessories you need to make prepping and decorating easy! We did a quick shopping trip online to get all our gear for our virtual party including glasses, those cute gold foil holiday napkins, a caddy to hold the napkins and straws, a chalkboard sign to write out the name of our Signature Cocktail, the containers to store the rosemary sugar, a dipping tray for all the ingredients for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas, as well as some festive decorations like this teeny tiny lights and the nutcracker. Even my holiday sweater came from there! SO MANY GREAT ENTERTAINING OPTIONS.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThe recipe for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas has just a touch of sweetness in it from the cranberry sauce and the Grand Marnier. You can adjust going up or down with either to your liking. I also think adding just a touch of the rosemary sugar into the drink doesn’t hurt either, just remember to shake it really well to combine it all! TIP: use the spent lime wedges from the cocktail recipe to help rim the glasses. Then you won’t need to waste additional lime wedges just for rimming. Also, when rimming your glass, use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate and push the sugar out towards the edges so that the sugar will evenly coat around the glass.

Let’s make some drinks!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comCranberry Sauce Margaritas

1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
rosemary sugar (see recipe below)
rosemary sprig

First, rim a rocks glass with the rosemary sugar. Set aside. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake well to combine, about 30 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared rocks glass. Add additional cranberry sauce if desired. Optionally garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comRosemary Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 3 to 5 inches long, divided

Take one sprig of rosemary and remove all the needles. Finely chop them. Combine the chopped needles and the sugar in an airtight container. Mix well to evenly distribute the rosemary. Add a few extra sprigs to the jar, shake, and let sit overnight or up to a few days. Sugar may look clumpy but it will dry out and break down. Remove the sprigs, seal the jar, and keep in a cool, dry place up to three months.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Rum Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Daiquiri Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to the final installment of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today we’re looking at the rum cocktail, the classic, the Daiquiri. You might only be familiar with the frozen kinds you get at the bar by the beach, but let me tell you, a simple Daiquiri is deceptively good, and super easy to make. And no, you don’t need a blender. (Also, realizing there’s a LOT of limes in these cocktail this week, so if you’re not so into those, shoot me an email or leave a comment below that you’d like a different, easy to make cocktail, and I’ll get back to you!) Hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

Daiquiri Home Bar Under $50 ($47.04)

  1. Rum: there are some great under $20 light rums out there now. Pick one you’d like to drink cause you’re going to taste it in this drink.
  2. Jigger: can’t stress enough how important an accurate pour is.
  3. Sugar: go ahead and make a large batch of simple syrup (1:1) and keep it in the fridge for up to a month.
  4. Pairing knife: there’s lime juice in the recipe so you’ll need to cut up some fruit.
  5. Limes: like I said…limes.
  6. Cocktail glass: again Ikea comes to the rescue. However, hit up some Goodwill shops or Etsy for my creative finds.
  7. Cocktail shaker: no need for a separate strainer as these have the built-in kind (Also, use your refrigerator’s ice maker to fill this with ice. No need for fancy cubes here).
  8. Citrus reamer: you need a lot of lime juice here so get it all out with a reamer.

Upgrade to an El Presidente ($32.05)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Tequila Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Paloma Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to day three of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

It’s Tequila Thursday around here and today’s guide will get you set up with a Paloma cocktail plus a few extra tools and ingredients (Like a pinch tin of salt! Where my salt lovers at??). The grapefruit garnish is optional but I love a big slice of grapefruit in my drink to be honest.

Paloma Home Bar Under $50 ($49.74)

  1. Grapefruit: as I mentioned in the note above, this is optional, but it does make a pretty garnish.
  2. Jigger: nothing fancy but it gets the job done. The job being an accurate pour!
  3. Limes: fresh juice is essential here so make sure you have some fruit on hand all the time.
  4. Tequila: You can get a 100% blue agave blanco tequila for under $20 so go ahead and get the 750 ml.
  5. Pairing knife: you can’t cut fruit with your fingers so a basic pairing knife is a must.
  6. Ice cube tray: 1.25″ ice cubes are the perfect size for your highball glass so get a tray that makes enough for you and guests.
  7. Bar spoon: for gentle stirring of drinks.
  8. Salt: throw a pinch into your drink and rim your glass if you like it like that.
  9. Grapefruit soda: an essential part of the Paloma and these cans are great to stack in your bar.
  10. Highball glasses: Ikea has 5 glasses for under $5. Go ahead and stock up.

Upgrade to a Spicy Margarita ($42.98)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Gin Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Gin and Tonic Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to the second installment of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today is for all you gin lovers out there. The Gin and Tonic is another easy to whip up, refreshing cocktail to have on hand for yourself and guests. You’ll just need a few essential bar tools and only three ingredients to make your drink. This cocktail is also easily adaptable to other ingredients on hand, so you can change it up when the feeling strikes.

Gin & Tonic Home Bar Under $50 ($49.60)

  1. Ice cube tray: 1.25″ ice cubes are the perfect size for your highball glass and you’ll need a whole tray for guests and your next round.
  2. Limes: because you’ll need a squeeze of lime. I like to keep at least 3 on hand because I find odd numbered things pleasing to look at.
  3. Pairing knife: a sharp knife will precisely cut your limes and double opening that stubborn wrapper on your gin bottle.
  4. Bar spoon: for gentle stirring of drinks.
  5. Gin: you can splurge for a full 750 ml bottle of Beefeater because it’s good and cheap.
  6. Jigger: 1 ounce and 2 ounces is all you’ll need here for precise measurements.
  7. Tonic water: I’m a fan of Q-Tonic and tonic in cans I find easier to store in my home bar.
  8. Highballs: get yourself to Ikea and get yourself some perfectly acceptable highball glasses in cases of 6 under $5. Sweet deal.

Upgrade to a Negroni ($30.98)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Whiskey Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Old Fashioned Edition // stirandstrain.comOver the next week we’ll be giving some guides on how to outfit your home bar under $50 (and that’s including booze!) depending on what your house cocktail is. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today’s home bar surrounds the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. You don’t need much in the way of tools or liquor to get this set up quick, so it’s an easy way to start!

Old Fashioned Home Bar Under $50 ($49.07)

  1. Large ice cube tray: a basic large ice cube tray makes enough cubes for you and a guest plus another round.
  2. Sugar cubes: save your granulated sugar for syrups and the kitchen. Place a few of these out in a glass to have them at the ready.
  3. Bar spoon: for stirring cocktails!
  4. Bourbon: you don’t have to invest in large bottles to start your home bar. Get a 375ml to try and you’ll still get 6+ drinks out of it!
  5. Angostura bitters: you need bitters for an Old Fashioned so get an all purpose aromatic.
  6. Jigger: sure you could eyeball it but this way you know exactly how much booze to make the perfect cocktail.
  7. Muddler: a basic muddler will crush those sugar cubes as good as a really fancy one.
  8. All purpose glass tumbler: these are my GO TO glasses right now for cocktails to water to wine. And they’re cheap so you won’t worry when a guest (or, *ahem* you) break one.

Upgrade to a Manhattan ($24.39)

 

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

5 Quick Tips for Entertaining this Labor Day Plus what you should be drinking!

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Uh-oh! You’re reading this a few hours before you decide to throw an impromptu party and need help?! First, take a shot of something, anything. Your significant other’s fancy whiskey they’re saving? Sure! Some cheap vodka you found in the freezer? Yeah, that will work. Fireball shots? Um, Ok I guess. Your kid’s cough syrup. NO. Don’t touch that. They’re all going back to school this month and breed germs, you’ll need that. Put it back.

You know what I hate? Entertaining tips that are totally useless. As we celebrate a day of rest, I hope these tips will take some of the work out of your Labor Day party.

  1. BATCH BATCH BATCH!
    What’s easier than measuring out cocktails with your measuring cups? Nothing. Bring out a punch bowl–it’s festive. Or bottle some cocktails up if you have the time. The point is that you want to make being at the party easy on yourself, and your guests, and self service is the way to go.
    Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // Smoky Sage Punch // Salted Peanut Bottled Old Fashioneds
  2. Pre-freeze your frozen cocktails
    Making frosé this year? If you want to cut down on the amount of ice in your frozen cocktails, you’ll want to stick them in the freezer the night before. This goes along with batching your cocktails, but this step means less watered down drinks. And that makes you a good host.
    Frozen Watermelon White Negroni // Frozen Blood and Sand // Peach and Tequila Frozen Cockails
  3. Label what your guests are drinking
    If you’re making a few drink options (or even if it’s just one), save yourself from having to repeat ALL the ingredients in something a hundred times by writing out the name and ingredients and sticking it on/next to/on top of the drink. You can get fancy and make something on the computer, or a scribbled on index card will also work just fine.
  4. Have your booze delivered
    Yes, it may seem a bit indulgent, but I’m trying to create less work for you guys. There’s a slew of great delivery apps/services out there who will bring you booze. And some even bring you food too. You decide how much $$$ you want to shell out.
    Saucey ($10 credit for you guys too) // Drizly // Instacart (also with $10 credit)
  5. Invest in a large cooler or mini fridge
    Not all your guests are going to want cocktails so you’ll need beer and water and whatever else people drink besides cocktails. You know what’s great? Your guests have access to all the drinks they want at arm’s length. You know what’s not great? Having people rifle through your fridge. Get a cooler.

If you’ve got a hot tip, let us know! Leave us a comment or reach out to us online. We’re listening.

Holiday Entertaining Tips: What to Do With Leftover Wine

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Banfi Wine. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Of all the holidays over fall and winter, I’d say that Thanksgiving is the holiday where we drink the most wine. Maybe it’s because we’re matching all that food that is being shoveled down our gullets, or maybe it’s always a thoughtful gift to bring to the party. Inevitably, after the meal, and the dessert, and that second meal at 1am, there are always a few stray bottles that have just a little too much wine left in them to finish off standing over the sink. So what to do?

This holiday season I’m going to give you guys a few quick and dirty tips to make entertaining easy for you. First up: leftover wine, because it happens.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThere’s a pretty easy solution that probably has never crossed your mind: freeze it into ice cubes. Because wine has a low alcohol proof and is made of a higher percentage of water, it will freeze. Now, it will never get a solid as an ice cube, but it will freeze and hold a shape. I would suggest freezing the wine for a full 48 hours before use, and to store in the ice cube trays (I like these big guys). You might want to cover with plastic wrap as well so the wine will not brush off onto other items in your freezer.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comI used Banfi Wine’s Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce for my ice cubes. This Lambrusco is a sweet red wine that is a perfect match for your holiday table. The sweetness of the wine is a nice addition in ice cube form when mixing up drinks so you won’t need much (or any) added sugar.

And just how should you use up those wine ice cubes? Here’s a few ideas for you all:

  • Instant Sangria: slice up some oranges and apples, add a wine ice cube and give the whole thing a generous splash of sparkling water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Wine spiked cocktails: wine ice cube + liquor (gin, whiskey, rum) + a slice of lemon or orange = tasty.
  • Wine granitas: instead of freezing in an ice cube tray, add the wine to small ramekins (like these), give a good spritz of lemon juice, a scant teaspoon of sugar, mix and freeze. After a few hours give it a stir, then do the same again a few hours later. When frozen to the consistency you desire, take them out and eat right from the ramekin. YUM!

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comDo you have a trick for using leftover wine? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

For more information on Banfi wine and the Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce Lambrusco, please visit their site at banfiwines.com!

Florals generously donated by BloomsyBox.com

Gift Guide: Spring Entertaining Essentials

Forget the picnic basket. Break out your wooden 6 Pack Holder and head outside for Spring Entertaining.

Gift Guide: Spring Entertaining 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Throw out your sad winter blues and put some springy color into your bar and entertaining getup. Purple punch bowls? YES! Unbreakable green tumblers? Double yes. And if we’re packing up to head outside, let’s all agree to leave our heavy metal pineapples at home and sip on some lightweight dayglow ones instead. What’s in mine? Some lemon spiked gin all the way from Italy, and probably some pineapple ice cubes too. Rainy spring day? I’ll be hanging up some punchy booze art until the sun peeks out again. Happy Spring everyone!

1. Pineapple Ice Cube Tray 2. The Bar Cart Print 3. Wooden Six Pack Holder 4. Malfy Gin 5. Somewhere Beyond The Sea Coaster 6. Pineapple Tumbler 7. Purple Punch Bowl Set 8. Facet Acrylic Tumblers

Spring Drinking 2016

Spring Drinking 2016 // stirandstrain.com

It may not feel like Spring where you are, but here in Los Angeles many of us are scratching our heads asking where is this wet, cold weather we were all told was coming. But in just a few weeks it will be Spring, so everyone’s new cocktail menus are going to start rolling out around town. (In fact, they’ve already started and you can peep a few like these above ^^^) Keep your eyes tuned to the Stir and Strain Instagram and Snapchat for the next few weeks as we test drive some menus here (and beyond!).

Valentine’s Day 2016 Gift Guide

What’s more sexy than your booze dripping in hot red wax? This year we’re skipping the bubbles and getting down to business.

Gift Guide: His & Her Valentine's Day 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Box of chocolates? Lame. Dozen roses? Done that! How about a dozen jelly shots? YASSSS! And nothing says I care like his & her flasks filled with something boozy and delicious. Except maybe having a bedside hangover remedy ready first thing the next morning. Staying in this weekend? Break out your finest pineapples and don’t forget the stirrer pizazz. But first, let’s scrub that pucker up with a good ol’ Mint Julep. There’s more than one way to enjoy a drink!

1. Ludlows Jelly Shots 2. Gold Fringe Firecracker Drink Stirrers 3. Copper Pineapple Tumbler 4. Silver Pineapple Tumbler 5. Gold Flask Bracelet 6. Maker’s Mark Whisky 7. Stanley Adventure Flask 8. Mint Julep Lip Scrub 9. Motive Pure Electrolyte Hydration Pack

Catch up on all the gift guides here.