Source It: Flask Gifts

Christmastime this year felt easy. With Pinterest, if you’re me, you mindlessly pin stuff when you have some down time, you pin on your phone when you’re standing in line at the grocery store. You pin in the dentist’s chair. At some point you find you’ve pinned some 3000+ images that you for some reason or other felt compelled to want to hang on to. When it came time to start thinking about what to get people this year (and I am a person who LOVES to give gifts) I turned immediately to my Pinterest boards.

A flask is always a nice little stocking stuffer for those booze lovers in your life. A gift that works both personally or impersonally depending on the gifting situation. This year my husband received a nifty flask I had found while sifting through my boards. It does double duty being a flask with a whopping 8 ounces of booze holding capacity and embedded in the side is a collapsable cup- just in case you would rather sip from a cup then throw back out of a flask. Or for sharing!

St. Patrick’s Day? St. Joseph’s Day? Bunsen Burner Day?!? There’s tons of reasons to buy your loved one a flask this March. Here’s a couple of my Pinterest finds.

shot and a flask Gold Flask Mini Flask Copper Flask Wood Flask Giant Flask

From top to bottom: Shot and a Flask, Gold Flask, Mini Flask, Copper Flask, Wooden Flask, MEGA Flask
For these and more flask ideas, check out the Home Bar board on Pinterest.

Satan’s Breath

satans-breath-1At some point in the last 10 years I’ve developed a tolerance for heat in my food. I’m a sucker for foods that make me cry just a little. Those that I’ll sweat over but clean my plate (hello Thai food!). And the other day I realized maybe a cocktail could be just as satisfying with the right amount of heat. Also, I had picked up a sampler pack of The Bitter End Cocktail Bitters and I have been looking for a cocktail to use them in. I had sampled the Memphis bitters at Bar Keeper here in LA and with just one drop my mouth was on fire. Awesome.

My Tres Palmas cocktail includes some jalapeños, but they sit way in the back and don’t come out to mingle very much. What I really wanted was a cocktail that breathed fire.satans-breath-2

This particular cocktail took much more trial and error than I was expecting but I was determined to get the right balance of sweet and heat. The first batch I made with Gin and most of a chili pepper thrown in. It resulted in something akin to drinking MACE. Second round I subbed out the gin with añejo tequila, a much richer flavor, but still almost undrinkable due to the amount of pepper I had opted to keep in. There was also a missing element and I turned to the kumquats dying a slow death on my counter. That bite of citrus and a bit less hot pepper and I’d hit it out of the park.satans-breath-3

Be forewarned! As this drink sits it steeps and the heat develops more. So if you want to lessen that, use less jalapeño with no seeds, or just drink it very quickly. Your choice.

1-1/2 oz Don Julio Añejo Tequila
1-1/2 oz Cynar
2 slices of fresh jalapeno
2 whole kumquats sliced in half, seeds removed
1 hefty drop of The Bitter End Thai Cocktail Bitters

Muddle jalapeño and kumquats together in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients and fill the shaker 2/3 with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Sweet heat is a lovely way to describe this cocktail. The nose is all citrus with a touch of bittersweet from the Cynar. That sweetness continues through the first sip where the heat immediately kicks you in the back of the throat but then softens with a rich smokiness from the Añejo. Tequila and Cynar blend well making this cocktail seem less like ‘tequila’ and more towards something brown and bitter, with only subtle tequila hints. Besides heat, the jalapenos also provide a grassiness that makes the whole cocktail more of a bittersweet flavor overall.

Sweet, smoky, fire. What I think a devil’s breath would be like. Enjoy at your own risk!

Yuzu Whiskey Sour

Yuzu Whiskey SourRight now while I’ve had quite a lot of time on my hands I’ve been looking for projects that I can bunker down and spend some time on. One of these projects was learning to make marmalade; a perfect solution to the citrus situation going on right now. The other night I took a class at a local restaurant/jam store Sqirl where I learned the art of making marmalade. At first completely overwhelmed, our teacher, the owner, guided us step by step until I felt like a pro. A parting gift was a jar of her small batch yuzu marmalade. Heaven. Also I thought, great for adding to a drink.yuzusour-1

Once a long time ago I used marmalade in a drink and I patted myself on the back for thinking of trying it. And then I realized that my Eureka moment had been experienced by many a cocktail maker. Oh well. Great minds think alike right?yuzusour-4

Yuzu is a Japanese citrus that tastes similar to a sour orange and is very aromatic. The Sqirl marmalade has a nice bitter, sour and sweet flavor profile. You can sub in an orange marmalade that is more on the tart side and not too sweet to get similar results in this cocktail. Don’t sub the Yuzu bitters though, you’ll want to track these down online if your local store doesn’t carry them.

[Update, 2018: If you’re not a fan of egg whites or looking for vegan alternatives, SURPRISE! You have a lot of options now. You can use Aquafaba, or Instafoam to replace egg whites in cocktails.]

Adapted from Saveur
2 oz Old Grandad 100-proof bourbon
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 tsp Sqirl Yuzu marmalade (or a bitter orange marmalade)
1 egg white
2 drops Miracle Mile Yuzu bitters

1 lemon strip for garnish

Combine all ingredients except your garnish in a Boston shaker. Dry shake for 30 seconds to incorporate the egg white. Add ice and shake vigorously for about a minute. Double strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the lemon strip.yuzu whiskey sour garnish

Sharp and tart, this drink provides a nice contrast with a subtle sweet flavor and floral notes from the bitters. Those bitters also provide balance between the bite of the whiskey and the sour flavor of the citrus. Again I’m delving into the semi-scary world of raw eggs but fear not, that egg white adds a lovely creaminess to the drink with a rich mouthfeel. On its own, the Yuzu marmalade is quite tangy, but mellows out into the drink. Overall it’s surprisingly dry, not unlike my sense of humor.

Tiki Month is over but here’s a Planter’s Punch

planterspunch-6Did you know that this month was Tiki month? According to the Pegu Blog it was. My last Tiki post went up at the end of January- close enough, and I thought I’d squeeze one more in since my other drink recipe that was going to be sitting here went south real quick when I caught the garnishes on fire and burnt the syrup. Here’s a tip: when dealing with boiling sugar, try not to get distracted and walk away for even a minute. As soon as you leave the stove all holy hell will be up in your kitchen.The Players

There are names of cocktails in the Canon of Tiki drinks that everyone is aware of, albeit they probably don’t know what goes in it or what it’s supposed to taste like. One such drink that I know I’ve had before but couldn’t remember anything at all about it was the Planter’s Punch cocktail. To be honest, grenadine is one of the ingredients and I wanted something I could use the syrup in as well.Angostura drops

Planter’s Punch, in my memory, was on the menu of every Polynesian restaurant that my family went to growing up back east. Polynesian also subbing in as a Chinese restaurant; I lived in Rhode Island, it’s a small state and had to be as compact as possible. This drink should also come with no less than 5 pieces of fruit as a garnish and at least one flower. Today we’ll have to suffice with a Tiki mug and my attempts at using a zester to make a lime peel garnish (still needs some work).planterspunch-2

planterspunch-4Drink Recipe adapted slightly via Beach Bum Berry Remixed
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz Appleton Estates gold Jamaican rum
1/2 oz Trader Vic’s Dark rum
1 oz Mt. Gay Eclipse gold rum
1/2 tsp homemade grenadine
1/2 tsp falernum
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
6 oz crushed ice

1 carved lime leaf for garnish*

Put everything in the blender and blend for 5 seconds. Pour unstrained into a tiki mug and garnish with carved lime ‘leaf’.

*To make a carved lime ‘leaf’, use a zester to carve lines into the outside of a lime. Use a pairing knife to cut out a lime shape from the peel, pull the segment out, peeling off the inside of the flesh. Voila! (For this garnish, my limes are a bit yellow. A darker green might have helped this pop more.)planterspunch-5

Planter’s Punch is a sweet and strong drink. A tad too sweet for my tastes, but a nice spiciness from the dark rum and the bitters. The amount of syrups added in would account for the sweet nature of the punch (sugar, grenadine, falernum). However, if you eat something along with this that is very savory, say a steak sandwich, that savoriness cuts right through the sweet making it a pleasing combo. Next time around I’d cut the syrups back and add more juice. Maybe get a little better with the zester too before throwing it out to the public.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: A Shot of C

emergency-lrc-1I have a small staff that I manage at my day job. They’re an amusing lot. Conversations tend to be about food, not surprising considering where we work, my confessions of trashy tv I’ve been watching lately and occasionally cocktails. The other day my main assistant, or at least the one I yell over at the most, was describing “cocktails” that he and his roommates make at home and immediately I figured I’d use one for this month’s LRC.

Besides the obvious Red Bull and Vodka which I believe was one of their first choices for drinks at home, one rather timely cocktail for this winter was the combination of Emergen-C and vodka. To paraphrase my assistant, “It’s surprisingly good”.

So in the name of curiosity, here we go…

1 packet of orange flavored Emergen-C
2-1/2 oz. vodka, chilled

Mix the two in a small rocks glass and shoot it back. No need to sip this one.

While this “cocktail” isn’t made with real citrus, it is close enough to fit in with the current theme of citrus cocktails. Right? Right. There’s vitamins in there somewhere.

Flavor-wise you’re looking at what you’d expect to taste with one of those vitamin packs, backed by a throat-ripping burn of vodka. FYI, do NOT ever drink this room temp.

emergencypack

Source It: Glassware Love

I’ve gotten a couple comments lately on the glassware that I use in my shoots and I thought now is as good a time as any to elaborate on that.

Every time I visit a vintage store I have dreams of walking in and finding all sorts of mid-century tumblers and goblets and what-have-you, all with a reasonable price tag. Reality is that I’ve NEVER had that happen. I’m either disappointed with the selection (my Nana might love it) and/or the price tags are outrageous. I want to drink out of the glass, not lock it up in a curio cabinet.

This perfect combination of stock and reasonable price tags does though exist. I’ve found it through Etsy. Although you have to sift through a lot of what you don’t want, there is a large selection of what I DO want.

Below are some selections from the site of just the type of vintage barware you can find, without hefty price tags. Besides glassware, I’m also collecting vintage bar shakers that I hope to one day use/display when we finish our home bar.

1 & 2 are from my own Etsy purchases. 3-6 are a couple of choices I picked out to share from Etsy. Click for links to their pages. All photos from Etsy sellers.

{Etsy had no bearing on this post whatsoever. All content of my own choosing. Just FYI.}

Happy National Margarita Day!

When did we, the world, decide to make almost every day of the year a food/drink holiday? Sometime in 2010?

Hey, I’m not going to pass up a day dedicated to tacos or, in this case, Margaritas. I’m just going to go with it.

Need some inspirational cocktail recipes? Here are my two takes on the Margarita. Cheers!

El Jardín de mi Abuela

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The Bar Keeper Margarita

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Want even more Margarita inspiration? Check out my Stir & Strain Pinterest board for some recipes I pinned.

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!

Mixology Monday: El Jardín de mi Abuela

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mxmologoMixology Monday time again; how quickly this year is flying. This month’s host is Stewart Putney of Putney Farm who has asked us to “invert” our cocktail ingredients.

When I first read the announcement I was all on board for busting out some of my crazy chemicals and turning liquids into solids, etc… until real life got in the way and I had to abandon those ideas real fast. Some day you’ll see some posts on that, some day.

Instead I liked the idea of turning a cocktail into a ‘long drink’ and having a new batch of hibiscus infused tequila on hand I opted to make one from a Margarita recipe. Not just stopping at switching the proportions of the tequila and lime juice around, I added some extra touches to turn the other ingredients on their heads. Lime wedges encased in ice? Yes. Dry Orange Curacao syrup? Why not. Vanilla salt?! Let’s do that too!

Sometimes I want a project to work on, and this particular cocktail seems to be just that. However, once you make a couple of the ingredients that go into this, you can use them in lots of other ways. That vanilla salt is going atop some dark chocolate cookies soon. And the limeade is perfect without the booze in it too.

Let’s build this.

2 oz. Hibiscus Infused Tequila (recipe on this post)
1/2 oz. Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao Syrup (recipe below)
6 oz. Limeade (recipe below)
3 drop of Bitter Tears’ “Hina” hibiscus and rose bitters
pinch of vanilla salt (recipe below)

lime wedge ice cubes (add lime slices to ice cube tray and freeze)

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Build the drink by adding lime wedge ice cubes to a Collins glass. Pour in tequila, syrup and limeade. Add the bitters and pinch of salt and stir with a straw gently to combine.longmargarita-3

Limeade Recipe

3 cups of water
1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 cup of sugar

Heat all three ingredients over medium heat and stir to combine. Cool and transfer to a pitcher. (Those may look like lemons, but the Bears limes from my in-laws trees are more yellow than green this year).longmargarita-2

Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao Syrup

1/2 cup of Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao

Simmer the curacao over medium heat until reduced in half. This can take about 10-12 minutes. Cool and bottle.

Vanilla Salt (this recipe is adapted ever so slightly from The Chocolate of Meats website)

1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean
1/4 cup of kosher salt

Combine the salt and vanilla bean and shake vigorously. Let sit for a few hours before use to allow the vanilla bean scent to permeate the salt. Store in an airtight container.

The result? Instead of a strong tequila forward/ sweet and sour mix, this cocktail becomes a softer, lighter version that is both fruity and floral, with a bite of citrus at the finish. Hibiscus and lime are a wonderful pair, and with a pinch of the vanilla salt, this drink is well balanced. I purposely made the limeade not too sweet so that I could control that with the orange curacao syrup. That syrup’s sweet orange contrasts quite well with the tart lime, creating a more dynamic version of a sweet and sour mix. The drink also has strong floral notes from the hibiscus tequila that are pushed forward more from the bitters and from the vanilla salt due to the Tahitian vanilla bean. Tahitian vanilla is more floral than Mexican or Madagascar vanilla beans. Don’t worry though, this doesn’t taste like perfume.

The name? It translates to the garden of my grandmother. And that came about because the rose scent and the hibiscus flowers reminded me of her garden. Why in Spanish? It’s a riff on a Margarita. I couldn’t just name it in English.longmargarita-5

Thanks to Frederic for keeping Mixology Monday alive and to this month’s host Stewart. Cheers!

I’m trying to be better about posting the roundup post for MxMo. Here’s this month’s!