Mom wants a lot of Rosé, some frozen drinks by the pool, and a whole lot less whining from you.
May is teeming with twofer drinking holidays and this weekend is another. Is Mother’s Day a drinking holiday? (This lady says YES!)
It’s also World Cocktail Day on Sunday, so I thought we would offer up this cocktail that could work for both holidays. It’s called Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail, a tea cocktail made with Angostura’s Amaro.
You might be asking yourself, “Mmm. I love amaro, but who is a Siegert and what does he have to do with this cocktail?” Well! In 1824, Dr. Johann Siegert produced his first aromatic bitters as a medicinal tincture designed to alleviate stomach ailments of soldiers while serving as the Surgeon General in Angostura, Venezuela. By 1850, Siegert was exporting This magical potion to England, the Caribbean, and United States. From there the manufacturing became a family business with his sons in Trinadad, and Angostura Bitters went on to win awards and become an integral part of cocktail culture to this day.
A fitting little tidbit as we celebrate World Cocktail Day with an ingredient that is as big a star in the cocktail world as the cocktails themselves. Now on to the drink!
Tea! Tea service! Mother’s Day! It’s also Mother’s Day on Sunday so we’re serving up a sparkling cocktail made with aromatic Earl Gray tea syrup. Combined with a little acidity from the lemon juice and the richly complex Amaro di Angostura, it’s layered with spices, subtle citrus and just a pop of effervescence from the tonic water. This cocktail would go great with brunch or listening to Mom tell you about how much better your other sibling is doing with their life. (OK, so maybe in that case you should have this drink.) Either way, it’s delicious. Enjoy!
Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail
Earl Gray tea syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 bags earl gray tea
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring sugar to a boil and then remove from heat. Immediately add tea bags to the simple syrup and let stand 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Let syrup cool and store in an airtight container for up to one month.
In a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, add in Angostura Amaro, Earl Gray Tea Syrup, and lemon juice. Shake 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Pour in tonic water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon peel.
If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com
This past holiday season I discovered the insanely delicious and ridiculously easy recipe that is the chocolate tart. Folks, if you can melt some chocolate in a bowl, stay with me here because it’s about to get even better.
Add amaro to that chocolate and BOOM: adult dessert nirvana.
Why am I using so many superlatives here? Because I feel like I stumbled upon a recipe that really is that easy and that tasty. And the best part is that this recipe is easily adaptable too.
Showing up a Valentine’s Day with a giant chocolate tart might be OK, but it’s not the norm. No one wants to stare down at an empty pie tin knowing how much damage they’ve done. They want vague numbers, they want… chocolate truffles.
How many truffles did you start with? Who cares! They’re all gone, but you swear you only ate a couple. Truffles are magic like that. And they’re even more magical with the addition of booze.
Today we’re showing you all another way to incorporate some boozy goodness into your food with this Angostura Amaro Chocolate Truffles recipe. They require a little more work than a tart, but handing over a box of handmade truffles to someone shows how much you care about them.
We teamed up with Angostura this month to highlight cool ways you can use their products in your food and as well as drinks. For the truffles, we paired the chocolate with their Amaro di Angostura. The amaro has a sweet and slightly spiced flavor profile that isn’t too heavy on the bitter. It adds a nice richness to the chocolate but doesn’t overpower it. We think you’ll like them a whole lot!
Ready to roll? Let’s make some truffles!
In a double boiler set to a simmer, add chopped chocolate and pour cream over the top. Stir constantly to combine until glossy and no chocolate chunks remain. Whisk in Amaro di Angostura and cayenne pepper if using. Refrigerate for at least two hours, and up to overnight. Once firm, scoop out desired truffle size and roll into a ball. Roll in cocoa powder. Truffles will last, refrigerated, up to 2 months.
If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com
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.
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.
If 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.)
Another 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!
Today 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!
Licorice 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
- 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.
First up, the awesome news.
Stir and Strain is a finalist AGAIN this year for Saveur’s Best Blog awards in the Drinks Coverage category. We are now up against some beer and wine folks and not just cocktails. Third time’s a charm? Or always a bridesmaid never a bride? We’ll see in September. For now, if you want to vote for Stir and Strain to win, you can do that today (and actually, they are allowing you to do that every day until August 31st. But I won’t pressure you guys either way.).
And now here’s a cocktail.
I’ve been digging Montenegro Amaro for a few months now, but mainly just as a digestif. It’s not new–it’s been around since 1885, but it was new to my line up this year and I couldn’t be happier. Looking for a new way to enjoy this but still keeping it at a low ABV, I thought about that kooky combination of cold brew coffee and tonic water I heard about last year. I don’t keep up with coffee trends, but I do enjoy putting coffee into my cocktails.
So I decided to pair Montenegro, with its super flavorful and wonderfully bittersweet taste, with a robust coffee and slightly bitter tonic. I finished the cocktail with a touch of grapefruit oil in the garnish–don’t skip that folks, it makes the drink with a light floral aroma. It’s hard to nail down exactly all the flavors you get with Montenegro, but there’s citrus and dried cherry and gentian root and just a lot of herbal notes. It provides enough sweetness along with the tonic water so there is no need to add any further sweetener.
You could have this as your digestif, or maybe a Sunday early afternoon drink. Up to your preference. I’ve been enjoying them in the late afternoon when I need a pick-me-up, but also, you know, want a little cocktail too.
5 ounces tonic water (Fever-Tree Indian Tonic used here)
1 ounce Montenegro Amaro*
3-1/2 ounces cold brew or chilled espresso (we have a Nespresso machine at home and for this I used one Lungo capsule of their Fortissio)
grapefruit zest for garnish
- In a collins glass, fill with ice cubes and pour in tonic water. Add in the Montenegro and coffee. Express the grapefruit oil over the drink and add the peel to the cocktail. Stir gently to combine.
But not a break from chocolate.
For all of you who find chocolate and booze maybe a bit too much, then wait for next week when I have an all new SUPER savory cocktail. But for this week, I’m making adult hot cocoa and I’m not apologizing. And I’m topping it with Angostura infused whipped cream because WHY NOT? It’s the holidays and I’m holed up at my in-laws and I’m not going to admit how many chocolate covered almonds (milk and dark chocolate) I’ve eaten for the past 4 days.
This hot cocoa is not spiked in your usual way. There’s no bourbon, or spiced rum, or vodka (not sure I’d even recommend that). What it is spiked with is bittersweet amaro. But Elana, there are SO MANY amari out there! You can’t possible imagine that every bottle will work here (is what I imagine ALL of you are saying out loud right now. In unison.)! And yes, not every bottle will work, but most will work with a particular kind of chocolate. You just need to do a little creative legwork to find your right combination.
My favorite combination is Averna and semisweet chocolate. Why Averna? Besides the fact that I’ve accumulated several bottle of the stuff, it’s a good balance between sweet and spicy with a touch of herbal in the finish. Also, it isn’t overly boozy tasting. But that’s just me. If you like the bracing, earthy edge of a dark chocolate, try it with a sweeter amaro like Gran Classico. For the milk chocolate lovers, that sweetness needs some spice or a blast of menthol; try it with Fernet. Semisweet chocolate is the sweet spot in the center, with a nice balance of rich and earthy that works well with most types of amaro. What I’m getting at is: take your favorite bottle of amaro and make this.
Note: you don’t need to spike your entire batch of hot chocolate. Make the base separately and spike at will. That rich, velvety chocolate base is delicious all on its own and perhaps you have some folks staying with you who don’t drink. Don’t deprive them of the magic that is homemade hot cocoa. But maybe insist they add the Angostura whipped cream. Angostura isn’t alcohol after all, it’s like.. medicine. Medicine from the 1800’s.
For the Angostura Whipped Cream:
1 cup (237ml) heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon (15ml) simple syrup (see note above)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
6 dashes Angostura bitters
Using an electric mixer or stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat heavy whipping cream at high speed until soft peaks form, then add simple syrup, vanilla extract and Angostura bitters. Whip until medium peaks form, about 1 minute longer. (Alternatively, you can add all the ingredients to a Whipped Cream Dispenser and use that instead.)
For the Hot Cocoa:
1/4 cup (58g) unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
1 tablespoon (13g) granulated sugar
Pinch kosher salt
3 cups (710ml) milk
8 ounces (227g) semisweet chocolate chips (or other type of chocolate, such as milk chocolate, depending on your taste)
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
5 ounces (148ml) Italian amaro, such as Averna
In medium saucepan, stir cocoa with sugar and salt. Stir in milk and chocolate. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is hot. Gently whisk to completely blend mixture. Add vanilla and amaro and stir to combine. Pour into glasses and top with Angostura whipped cream.
I’ve got a last minute round up of some drinks for all your parties tonight. Whether you require something sparkly, something overflowing, or maybe something not-too-boozy to start your night off, I’ve got some good picks for you. See you all in the New Year, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all of you!
In addition to me just generally being lazy, my family is coming to visit this week and already I’ve been hearing over the phone how they can’t wait to try my “fancy drinks”. Now, I now my mom’s inability to metabolize alcohol: one drink and she’s asleep. If I made her one of my regular “fancy drinks”, she might just sleep for a day. Which… well, as tempting as that sounds, she did fly across the country to see us, not sleep the day away. So that’s where some more low alcohol drinks come in. One whole highball and only a 1/2 ounce of liquor over 40 proof. Instead of making scotch here the star, I’ve turned to Zucca, an Italian amaro that only clocks in at around 16%.
Zucca leans more towards the sweeter end of the bitter amaro spectrum, without quite evoking the flavor of its namesake rhubarb (although I’ve been schooled on the fact that it’s Chinese rhubarb used in the making of this, which gives the amaro a bitter flavor). What makes this amaro particularly special is the slightly smoky flavor profile that complements its syrupy bittersweetness. For me, it’s a perfect companion to scotch, so I’ve put them together in this cocktail*.
With these two great ingredients, I’m still considering this fancy. Looking for something a little lighter for the summer? Try this!
1 ounce Zucca
3/4 ounce Scotch, such as Great King St. Artist’s Blend
3 ounces Bitter Lemon soda, I prefer Fever-tree’s
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
lemon peel garnish
In a highball glass filled with ice, add Zucca, scotch and grapefruit bitters. Top with soda and garnish with lemon peel.
Slightly sweet, with a lingering bitterness on the tongue. The bitter lemon soda lightens everything up while adding a different layer of bitterness. The bitters add a floral note both on the nose and the palate. The cocktail is seriously refreshing and an easy to drink summer libation.
*I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats!
While I also will be out and about that week seeing what Los Angeles bars have concocted, I’m also offering up a favorite variation here on the site that you can try all year round.
I’ve swapped out the gin with mezcal (because I can’t help myself), and the sweet vermouth with Amaro Nonino (I don’t need a reason other than to tell you I love this stuff). The Campari stays the same.
1 ounce Vida Organic Mezcal
1 ounce Amaro Nonino
3/4 ounce Campari
orange peel for garnish
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, stir together the mezcal, amaro and Campari. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Express orange oils over the ice and plop the peel in the glass.
Bright, juicy citrus battles it out with the mezcal and licorice on the nose. The first sip is rich, smooth with a not subtle bitter hit from the Campari immediately with the earthiness of the mezcal right behind. Campari can really stand up to the aggressive nature of the smoke in a mezcal and I love pairing them here. The Amaro Nonino adds some spice and complexity, as well as a nice mouthfeel to the whole drink.
Do you have a favorite Negroni variation? Or do you prefer the old tried and true recipe? Also, don’t forget that Stir & Strain is running a GIVEAWAY (check it out and enter).
Amaro is Italian for bitter, and for this post I am specifically focusing on Italian Amari. So Amer Picon and Becherovka have to sit out this round (but not to worry, they’ll be back on here soon!). Usually used as a digestif (after dinner to help aid in digestion), these bitter liqueurs also make for great bases in cocktails. They range from mildly bitter to the insane, cough-syrupy varieties and may take some getting used to. Use this as a gateway to explore and add one to your liquor cabinet; it’s worth it.
I also wanted to focus on some lower alcohol content drinks for the Holiday season. I don’t know about you, but my normal intake of cocktails in a night somehow skyrockets during the holiday season (stress??) and I find that if I make myself a drink with a lower ABV I can convince myself it’s just like drinking water… flavorful water.
Not all Amari though have a low alcohol content, so read your bottles! You can always adjust to your liking and below I have two choices under 40ABV (although just marginally on the second recipe).
2 oz. Averna (29% ABV)
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
4-1/2 oz. Q-Ginger
2 dashes ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters
In a highball glass, build your drink by adding ice, then the Averna, lemon juice, bitters and then Q-Ginger. Express lemon peel oil over the drink and garnish on glass. Straw optional.
Averna is sweet and slightly syrupy, a gateway amaro with less bitterness, and here the sharpness of the ginger cuts through the sweetness to balance it out. The tiki bitters bring out more of the spice that is there while the lemon adds citrus to the nose and lingers in the background of the drink.
Fernet Branca Highball
1-3/4 oz. Fernet Branca (39% ABV)
3/4 oz. Orgeat
4-1/2 oz. Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water
In a highball glass, build your drink by adding ice, then the Fernet Branca, orgeat, and tonic water. Express grapefruit peel oil over the drink and garnish on glass. Straw optional.
Fernet Branca is on the crazier side of the amaro scale with a very strong and distinct flavor. There’s some minty, bittery… gosh, I dunno, there’s a lot going on with that liqueur and although it’s clearly the star flavor, it’s cut back a bit by the almond-sweet orgeat and mellowed with the tonic. The effervescent nature of the tonic works incredibly well with the Fernet Branca and it disperses the grapefruit oil through out offering a slightly citrusy bitterness to the drink. It’s layers of bitter and sweetness in this glass.
One aspect that makes both these drinks versatile is that they work in warm and cold weather. They are both refreshing when it’s hot out, but also have a lot of spice that works well when it’s cold. If you venture to try one of these, let me know what you think. First time with an amaro? Awesome! Welcome to the club.