Orange-Pecan American Triology a.k.a. “The Clusterf*ck”

american-cluster-3Apologies are in order first, as these bitters used here you can’t actually buy anymore. Clusterf*uck bitters were named after a kitchen mishap from Miracle Mile Bitter’s owner Louis Anderman where he accidentally mixed a batch of pecan bitters with orange bitters creating this delicious one-off. I, of course, ran as fast as I could to a local shop to pick up a bottle before they sold out. Which they did. Quickly. But fear not, you can mix your own at home to pretty much replicate the same flavor. 2:1 pecan to orange bitters.

american-cluster-2Ok, now that the caveat is out of the way. Here’s the cocktail. It’s actually Anderman’s way of enjoying these bitters in a simple, straight-up cocktail, the American Trilogy. More apologies are in order I guess if you’ve read this far thinking I might start talking about the Elvis song. I’m not going to, except maybe to say it’s a decent song. And possibly wonder how far up the google ladder this post would have to climb in order for it to have some relevance to Elvis. Anyway, this recipe comes via the Looka! Blog, a fellow Los Angeles cocktail lover, and lover more so of all things New Orleans. Check him out.

Via Looka! via Caroline on Crack with respect to Miracle Mile Bitters
1 oz Rittenhouse 100 rye whiskey
1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 barspoon rich Demerara syrup
3 dashes Miracle Mile Clusterf*ck bitters (sub out 2 dashes pecan bitters and one dash orange bitters)
Orange peel for garnishamerican-cluster-1

Combine all ingredients except peel in a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Express orange oil from the peel over the drink and around the rim then drop it into the glass.

Fresh orange fills your nose as you get into the glass, while that first sip, expecting fire from the rye and applejack, is actually soft and nutty. There’s a touch of sweetness, but not overpowering. The rich syrup works well with the liquors to balance out. Lovely, simple and solid.

Mixology Monday: Lazy Sunday Punch

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

mxmologo

Sundays should be lazy. You shouldn’t have to think that far ahead in your day; events should just roll in and out. And no one judges you if you stay in your soft clothes until Monday morning. This drink came about in that lazy Sunday way. There was definitely a driving force behind it. Mixology Monday was due the next day, and clearly I had to produce something to show for it. Not to knock this month’s theme Drink Your Vegetables, hosted by Fogged In Lounge (whose blog name is so fantastic by the way). This month has just been particularly hard for posts due to outside circumstances, any other month I could have been running wild with fennel and kohlrabi and other vegetables. But here I am on Sunday with a couple cucumbers, and a blender, in my yoga pants.

Mainly when I think of cucumbers I think light, refreshing, and I wanted this drink to come off that way. And it does. It’s not very sweet, although it is sweet enough for me. There is an overwhelming taste of cucumbers, which is the point since we are highlighting veggies here, but it’s not like drinking a V-8. The citrus gives a nice sweet-tart bite, while the elderflower and rose water take away some of the ‘green-ness’ of the drink with a peppery finish from the mint. The tequila is very soft in the background, cucumbers are surprisingly overpowering in flavor. I chose to blitz it all with ice since it seemed like a perfect way to imbibe it on this warm afternoon.

If you find the need for a bit more sweetness, a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce of simple syrup should do the trick.lazysundaypunch-2

4 oz Cazadores Tequila Blanco
1-1/2 oz St. Germain
4 oz freshly squeezed oro blanco grapefruit juice (or sub white grapefruit)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz rose water
2 small cucumbers, peeled and seeded
small handfull of mint leaves

1 cup of crushed ice
cucumber spear for garnish

Add all ingredients except ice to a blender and blend for 15 seconds to combine. Add ice and blend for another 15-20 seconds. Pour into chilled margarita glasses or oversized martini glasses. Garnish with cucumber spears.

I am just realizing that this post is also killing two birds by getting a MxMo post up and getting another round of drinks for two into the mix. Although this makes more like drinks for two and then some.

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria for Two

sage blackberry sangriaCocktails are rarely a solitary experience in my household. Many of the cocktails you find on this site are created in duplicate because they are shared among two or more people in one sitting. Which got me thinking, why don’t I have more cocktails for two on here? So, I’m going to try and have more of those around in the next few months.

First up, Sangria. Except, this is way more complex of a Sangria than I thought I would be able to get out of it. This is due to an extreme case of being flustered, tired, and combatting a cold. To sum it up, I was too lazy to check in on it after the first day and just let it sit for two days in the fridge. Result: a sangria for cocktail lovers.

Sangria holds a special place in my memory. I remember the first time I drank it. At the office going away party that was thrown for me when I turned 21 and moved out to Los Angeles. Let’s get our story straight though; turning 21 had nothing to do with moving West. It was a passing fancy when a friend of mine decided to move out here and I decided I would too. It was a last minute decision. Rarely did I make well thought-out decisions at that age. Anyway, since there was a table of us, and technically, we were at lunch and people would be returning to the office, a pitcher of Sangria was ordered. At 21 this seemed exotic and fancy, the same way that seeing someone bring out a flaming bowl of liquor at a Chinese restaurant was exotic 10 years prior. I don’t remember how it tasted, only that it was red Sangria. Since then, I’ve been spectacularly disappointed by this drink many a time.

But now something in me wanted to make this again, and make it good. Thankfully procrastination made this work in my favor.sageblackberrysangria-1

Burnt sage? YES. Just lightly torch the edges, don’t try and burn up the whole leaf. If you find you’ve charred it too much, just break that part off. This was also an excuse to use more of the black pepper syrup I have stored up in the fridge, it’s really much more versatile than I thought and adds a peppery bite to the syrupy blackberries and wine.sageblackberrysangria-2

This drink is for two but can easily be adapted into a larger batch. If you have a third of a bottle laying around it’s a good way to use that up.

4-1/2 oz Red Wine (Malbec used here)
3 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1 oz black pepper syrup (recipe here)
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
4-5 burnt sage leaves
8 blackberries

4 slices of blood orange

Burn the edges of the sage leaves and let cool for a few seconds. Add the leaves to the bottom of a mixing glass, add syrup and lime juice. Lightly muddle. Add blackberries and crush, leaving some pieces more intact than others. Pour in wine and whiskey, add orange slices, stir to combine and cover (I used the other half of the Boston Strainer for a cover). Let sit for two days refrigerated to steep. After two days, stir gently. Fill two rocks glasses with ice cubes. Carefully pour the contents of the mixing glass between the two glasses.sageblackberrysangria-3

Don’t be afraid of the overpowering smell of whiskey you will have when you first make this. It needs to sit and steep. What you get at the end of two days is a sweet and sharp elixir.  On the nose are orange and berry followed by more berry on the palate with subtle layers of tart and pepper with an earthy undertone. It’s rich, which is the one characteristic that I find lacking in most Sangrias. There is a heavier body that the whiskey contributes to overall making this seem almost more like a rather large cocktail than just a ‘wine’ drink.

Now I somehow need to do this with a white wine. Wish me luck.

In the Garden UPDATE

garden-plantsJust a quick update here. Having 6 weeks off this winter was wonderful for the blog, but now that’s come to an end so posts might slow down a bit here for awhile until I get back into functioning with life. I.e. that 2 hour commute and not being able to make cocktails whenever I want.

Anyway, we have some new additions in the garden for the spring which I’m excited about! We’re trying tomatoes again (now that I’ve learned how not to kill them), also some Mexican limes and cilantro. All for cocktails. Ok, mostly for cocktails- we do cook a lot around my house.

I’m kind of obsessing with punches and sangrias lately, so I’d expect to see some of those here in the next month or so. And yes, I’ll find a way to stick serranos and edible flowers in there.

Stay tuned!

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Jesus Juice

jesus juice cocktail // stir and strainMarch seems to scream Irish Car Bombs for the Low Rent Cocktail of the month (but that’s not cool so we won’t do that), but seeing as we’ve covered Jameson and Baileys already, I thought we’d tackle Easter instead. Apart from bunnies and eggs, I’m sure there is a large part of the population who actually think JESUS for this holiday (think of the man, not just proclaim the name). So today we get to know the abomination that is Jesus Juice.

I have a feeling we may have just cleared the room a bit with this post. But let us carry on.
Trying to find a ‘recipe’ for this started to border on ridiculous as you will find that everyone has their own version. I laugh when I see people trying to be fancy. Put the Cassis DOWN people. You cannot gussie this up! I recalled there being wine involved. And soda pop. Maybe there was Everclear in this too? Oof, maybe it’s smart to steer away from the Everclear.jesus juice players
Like most of the Low Rent Cocktails, I just threw everything together, closed my eyes and took a sip. I didn’t die, but I wanted to.
Red Wine meet Diet Dr. Pepper.
4 oz Red Wine (Malbec)
4 oz Diet Doctor Pepper
Build over ice in a double rocks glass.
jesus juice2
Depending on what cola and wine you use, there will be varying levels of sweet and spicy. I imagine if you find red wine too strong, this is one way to water that down. Dr. Pepper and Malbec resulted in a syrupy, peppery concoction that had me exclaiming a couple names from the Holy Trinity.
More research would show how this morphed from a drink I’m familiar with in some older blues songs called Wine Spodieodie, a mixture of cheap red wine and whatever you have got around to make it taste good. It’s also a fantastic song, covered by so many talented musicians over the years. You can read a bit about it here if you’re interested in old blues and such.
Happy Easter! jesus juice napkin

Improved Aviation Cocktail

improved aviation cocktailAmazon is both a pleasure and a curse. When a box arrives on our doorstep, the first thing I think is “Oh crap. How much did we spend this time?”. And then I open up the box and all questions of financial insanity are wiped clean away. Because I got a new cocktail book! My husband was browsing this time around and picked it out due to the crazy techniques in the description he found online. A Japanese take on cocktails, Cocktail Techniques by Kazuo Uyeda instructs the reader on making an ice sphere by hand, and the author’s well-known technique of “hard shaking” to mix cocktails. He thought it would make for an interesting break from the cocktail books I have been reading.

Not very far into this book and I’m already feeling schooled. There is a discipline that Uyeda not so subtly is trying to get across to the reader. Mainly, I should know how to make all great cocktails well first before I try and make my own. Well, hrm. This blog would start to get very boring if I just ran through the roster of drinks you’ve already heard of. One point he makes that stuck with me is that once you can make a cocktail, make it better. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and re-make the martini, but what I got from this was go out and make it great and to your liking.

Which brings us to the Aviation cocktail.

Personally, I find it boring. With it’s unique blend of ingredients (VIOLET!) there should be more… flavor? Balance? Anything. Taking the cue from Uyeda I decided that I’ve had this enough out and at home that I think I could find a way to improve upon it. In the end I believe, for my preferred tastes, that I have.improved-aviation-3

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
1/4 oz Bénédictine
3 drops Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 drops Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.improved-aviation-2

The resulting cocktail has more layers of flavor. In short, less boring. They are not loud, in your face flavors, but they balance the drink out considerably. Lime works as a better acid with the floral violet than the  lemon did. Adding the Bénédictine and both bitters creates those more complex layers this drink needed, as well as a more pleasant citrus and cherry nose instead of the heavily perfume-y nose it originally had.

So is there a well known drink you’ve had but are not wowed by it? Go ahead and let yourself make it better. You’re the one who has to drink it.

Mixology Monday: Old Tom’s Mistake

old tom's mistake cocktailmxmologo

I really shot myself in the foot this month for Mixology Monday. Kidding around thinking Midori would be a fantastic ingredient for this month’s theme: From Crass to Craft – hosted by Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain & Sip, I soon discovered I was having quite the time trying to actually make a ‘craft’ drink I could proudly show off.

In my mind there is a strong memory of Midori being one of the first liqueurs I ‘made cocktails’ with. Sophomore year of high-school there was one memorable night where a friend’s parents had gone away and several of my girlfriends and I showed up and raided the liquor cabinet. I don’t recall how I knew of the recipe, but I do remember there being a drink of orange juice and Midori. Perhaps its pretty colors, perhaps there not being much on hand, I remember drinking those until I was quite possibly intoxicated. No, wait. I’m also remembering a bottle of Rumple Minze too. Regardless, I don’t think I’ve touched a bottle since then and there was a small part of me that wanted to try it again for the first time as an adult. And really, it’s quite a crass one with it’s ‘melon’ bubblegum smell and OH-SO-SWEETNESS hiding there under a lovely shade of emerald. But dang, OJ and Midori was not going to cut it for “Craft”.

Let’s talk about procrastination shall we? As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become fascinated/kinda obsessed with dehydrating liquors and finding ways of using them. So before I even came up with an inkling of a recipe, I shoved a tray of Midori in the oven and let her go. I had much better success this time around than with the Baileys. After 24 hours the Midori formed these neon crystals that looked like crumbled rock candy. But alas, I still couldn’t think of a recipe to go with them.dehydrated-midori-1

Until now. Part of the fun of thinking up new cocktail recipes is just going through lists in your head of flavor combinations (well, it’s fun for me). Sometimes when I have an ingredient I want to use, but not sure how to, I turn to flavors in cooking (or baking) I would use with it. This usually helps me through a roadblock. In this case I also had a black pepper syrup that I had been dying to try out in something and thought “melon and black pepper”- hey, they could work!

Altering the recipe for a Tom Collins, I was able to work in both the Midori and the black pepper syrup into something I really *gasp* liked.

2 oz Old Tom Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
1/2 oz black pepper syrup (see recipe below)
1/4 oz Midori liqueur
1-1/2 to 2 oz tonic water

dehydrated Midori (see recipe below) lemon slice

In a Collins glass 2/3 filled with ice, build your drink by adding the gin, Meyer lemon juice, black pepper syrup and Midori. Stir gently and top with tonic water. Garnish with a lemon slice rolled in dehydrated Midori.old-tom-midori-2

Admittedly I did find this refreshing. It leans on the side of sweet with a sharp tart tang while the black pepper syrup grounds it with a subtle earthy layer. The melon is mellowed out by the sweet acidity of the Meyer lemon juice while the tonic helps the ingredients move throughout the drink. I probably wouldn’t have two right after another, but just the one drink worked out in the end for me!

Done. I haven’t sweated over an assignment this bad since college. Thanks to Scott for hosting this month!
old-tom-midori-1

Black Pepper Syrup

(based loosely on this recipe found at the bottom of that page)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup black peppercorns, about half lightly cracked

Heat all the ingredients until boiling. Remove from heat and let steep 15-20 minutes. Strain peppercorns out and allow to cool. Once cool, fine strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated for up to a month*.

*Since I didn’t see myself using this daily, I also added a 1/4 oz of vodka to the mixture and refrigerated it. This will probably keep it safe in there for at least 3 months.

Dehydrated Midori Crystals

1/4  cup Midori

Set oven to 170°. In a silicone container (I only had on hand a silicone Madeleine pan), evenly spread out the Midori. A baking sheet underneath will help keep it steady going in and out of the oven. Place in oven. At the 17 hour mark, take Midori out and break up chunks in the container by squeezing the container around to expose any wet spots. Place back in oven and continue to heat until a full 24 hours has been reached. After 24 hours, take the sheet out of the oven and break up pieces again and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove crystals and either place in an airtight container in the fridge, or grind with a mortar and pestle if using immediately.old-tom-midori-3

And here’s the roundup post!

Bake It: Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

Jameson Whiskey TrufflesThis year while thinking of a St. Patrick’s day cocktail I recalled a post on a website that made Irish Car Bomb cupcakes. They’re fantastic, albeit a lot of work, FYI. And as much as I wanted to do an Irish Car Bomb for the Low Rent Cocktail of the Month in March, I thought something less obvious would be better for my Irish Holiday. But something with Irish Whiskey all the same.jameson-truffles-1

So this month we’re ‘baking’ up the alcohol and throwing it into truffles. Chocolate Truffles can look amazingly elegant, but let’s not kid ourselves. They are chocolate we melt, let it get hard again and form into balls which we eat by the handful. Not as much work as those cupcakes but just as nice looking.

Taking it a step further I also dehydrated (as best as I could) Baileys Liqueur to keep with the Irish-ness of this alcoholic dessert. Initially I was going to fill the truffles with the Baileys until I saw this post on the Alcademic’s blog, where I learned about the world of dehydrating liquors for cocktails. Totally blew me away as I now had a new concept to play with.

Dehydrating the Baileys though was tough. Keeping the basic rules to follow from that post, I still ended up keeping it in the oven for about 36 hours at 170° and all of the liquid never fully dehydrated. However, enough did for a lovely crunchy topping to put on the truffles, so not all was lost. One change for the next time I dehydrate liquor (or a liqueur), is to keep it in a thinner layer. I found that the bottom liquid stayed gelatinous under the top crust that crystallized first. Best advice for any of you wanting to try this is to test several times to see what works best in your oven!

jameson-truffles-3I use a 1/4 cup of Jameson in this recipe. That might seem like too much, but the flavor becomes very subtle as it is mixed into the chocolate and cream. It is definitely there, but not blaringly WHISKEY. If you want more of that flavor, slowly try adding in more and tasting as you go. Keep in mind that the whiskey does not cook out, since it’s added in at the end, so let’s keep this dessert 21+.jameson-truffles-2 jameson-truffles-4jameson-truffles-7

Recipe adapted from Food Network
8 oz Extra Bitter Chocolate (Callebaut 70.4%), finely chopped
4 oz Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Callebaut 53.8%), finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Jameson Irish Whiskey

For Garnish:
1/2 cup Valrhona Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
Baileys Irish Cream, dehydrated and ground into a powder (see recipe below)

  1. Place chocolates in a medium sized heat-proof bowl. Set aside. In a 1-1/2 quart saucepan, heat cream on the stove until boiling and immediately pour the cream over the chocolate. Let sit for five minutes. Stir chocolate until smooth. If, like me, you did not chop your chocolate fine enough, you may need to create a double boiler (by placing your bowl of chocolate and cream over a sauce pan of simmering water) and reheat chocolate until fully melted. Try and chop it fine on the first try. Stir in Jameson. Mixture will look separated, however keep stirring until smooth- it will happen.
  2. Refrigerate for about an hour until firm but not rock solid.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a disher, or spoon, portion out the chocolate mixture into balls around an 1″ in diameter. I was able to get roughly 30 balls. Refrigerate again for 15 minutes. Pour cocoa powder in a shallow bowl.
  4. Take the truffles out and either toss directly into the cocoa powder as is using a fork to move around and coat the truffle, or smooth out the truffles into smooth balls and then coat in the cocoa powder. Coat the top of the truffles with ground Bailey’s crystals working quickly by hand. Your fingers will create some heat that might make the crystals warm and sticky. If you find this happening while you coat the truffles, refrigerate the mixture for 5 minutes and take back out again to finish.

Dehydrated Baileys Irish Cream

1/4 cup Baileys Irish Cream

Set oven to 170°. Pour Baileys into a silicon container and place into oven. As mixture starts to solidify on top, break up top bits to expose all of the liquid. Test for doneness starting after 18 hours. Like I mention above, my mixture hit its wall at 36 hours as some of the mixture was more like a caramel and never dried out. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Break up all of the crystalized parts and, using a mortar and pestle, grind the mixture into a powder. Refrigerate in an air tight container until ready to use.jameson-truffles-5

By combining the extra bitter and semi-sweet chocolate, these truffles are not too sweet, but have a deep earthiness from the dark chocolate with a hint of sweetness and the subtle flavor of the Jameson. The crunchy bits of the Bailey’s on top provide a touch of caramel sweetness. Want to make this like an Irish Car Bomb? I bet they taste spectacular beside a pint of Guinness.

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!