The Hot Ward 8 Cocktail

hotward8I tend to go back and forth on bottled cocktails. Will the juice taste fresh enough? Should I even bother with juices or should it be all booze and bitters? Can I just drink this whole bottle and not share it?

The best thing about bottled cocktails though? The convenience factor. Batch up a couple to bring to a party and you’re fawned over like you invented cute puppies. But what if you need to take that cocktail on the road? And what if it’s freezing outside because some friend convinced you it would be an awesome idea to go camping? In winter…

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comLet me introduce you to your new best friend, the insulated thermos. Keeping your hot cocktails hot, and your sanity in check this winter.

When you’re making hot cocktails there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll be adding in hot water so you want to keep your juices to a minimum (if your cocktail requires them). Why water your cocktail down even more? I’ve found the best way to work around this is to make an oleo saccharum to ensure you have that bright zesty citrus flavor in concentrated form and none of the excess juice.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSecond, you want to keep your cocktail hot. For my thermos cocktails, I use a Stanley Classic Vacuum thermos. It’s old school looking; like something my Dad would bring with him to work to keep his soup hot. And this guy keeps it hot for HOURS. At 1.1 quarts it also holds enough drinks for you and some friends so no one need go without a drink. But don’t just pour your drink into the thermos! If you preheat it while you’re making the cocktail it will prevent heat loss when you pour the drink in. So, to do that, just add boiling water and stick the cap on while you’re doing the mixing. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is sufficient time to get that thermos nice and hot. When you’re ready to pour the finished cocktail in, dump out the water and you’re good to go.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThird, make a cocktail that actually tastes good hot. For my first venture with the thermos, I made a variation of a Hot Ward 8, Boston’s only real pre-prohibition contribution. I’d love to tell you the history on this but there is so much competing information out there as to its true origins that putting anything down in print seems like hearsay.

I chose this for a few reasons. I thought it would taste good hot, and it uses up some seasonally appropriate produce (Are your kitchen counters filling up with citrus yet? Mine are.). You could always go with some cocktails that are already served hot. Some nice Hot Toddies while you’re ice fishing, or some Irish Coffee while you’re out snow-shoeing, or whatever you do in the snow.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThe Ward 8 delivers a bit more complex flavor here with sweet and spicy rye and that bright citrus from the oleo saccharum. I also add in a touch more syrupy citrus sweetener with a dry orange curaçao and round out the drink with tart fresh pomegranate juice (the last of my season’s batch). For a spicy/bitter finish, a few dashes of Angostura are added in to the mix to keep it from getting too sweet.

There’s plenty of cold months ahead of us, so let’s start planning on a few hot cocktails to get us through. And don’t forget your thermos.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comFor the Oleo-Saccharum:

Zest from 2 lemons
Zest from 1 orange
4 1/2 ounces (130g) sugar

  • In a heatproof container with at least a 36-ounce capacity, toss together lemon and orange zests with sugar. Muddle for 30 seconds to release the oil from the zests. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

For the Cocktails:

8 ounces (235ml) boiling water, plus more for preheating thermos
16 ounces (475ml) rye whiskey, such as Bulleit 95
4 ounces (120ml) unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 ounces (60ml) dry orange curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand
8 dashes Angostura bitters
8 lemon zest strips, for garnish (optional)

  • Pre-warm thermos by filling with water just off the boil and let stand. Meanwhile, pour rye whiskey, 8 ounces boiling water, pomegranate juice, orange curaçao, and bitters over the oleo-saccharum. Stir well until sugar is completely dissolved. (If you find you’d like your drink hotter, pour everything except the rye into a sauce pan and heat to desired temperature. Then add in rye and continue with the recipe)
  • Discard hot water from thermos, then carefully strain rye mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into thermos (a funnel can help avoid spills); discard spent zests. Seal thermos.
  • Optionally, when ready to drink, add new lemon zests to your cocktail, expressing the oils over the top first.

An Amaro Hot Chocolate for Every Taste

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comThe careful observer on here might notice that many, but not all, posts lately have been recipes I’ve developed for Serious Eats. Honestly, when I’m doing lots of R&D for articles, sometimes I find that my energy for more is tapped. Also, it’s the holidays and I’d like a little break.

But not a break from chocolate.

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comFor 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.

Amaro Hot Chocolate // stirandstrain.comMy 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.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comA few years back I started a short series on Amaretto. See, I had acquired a bottle from somewhere (as one does), and really had no clue what to do with it. So I started scouring books and the internet in search of what to do with a bottle of Amaretto. The first drink I made was an Amaretto Sour, naturally.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comBut oh boy! A drink that I had mostly associated with decades past and little old ladies threw me for a loop–I loved it! It was sweet, but balanced by being also very tart so the two sorta canceled themselves out and made for a smooth, easy drinking cocktail. Alas, I forgot about making more as I kept up my search and eventually turned towards other liquors to play with. Until today, when I was craving something a little sweet and a little sour and not too boozy.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comI also was staring at the extra ginger laying out that I had not yet stuck in the freezer. Sweet and sour can also use a little spice, and ginger has that edge I love in drinks. Why not add some fresh ginger in there then? Almond flavors go particularly well with wintery baking spices, so it’s a nice match to that kick found in ginger, and in the Angostura you’ll dash in.

Adding in spicy ginger automatically makes this a holiday drink (says I) and so I’ve doubled up the recipe for you and someone to sip cozily by a fire. Maybe throw on some holiday music of your choosing and break out the Ferrero Rocher balls too.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comYields 2 Cocktails
1 (1-inch) knob of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1-3/4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
2-1/4 ounces amaretto, such as Disaronno
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 egg white
Crystallized ginger, for garnish

  • In a cocktail shaker, muddle the rounds of ginger with lemon juice. Add the amaretto, bitters, and egg white. Shake hard to incorporate the egg white for 20 seconds, then fill shaker 2/3 of the way with ice and shake for an additional 20 seconds. Strain drink through a standard cocktail strainer and a fine-mesh strainer into two small aperitif glasses. Garnish each glass with a piece of crystallized ginger.

Note: amaretto is not especially high in the booze department with an ABV of around 25%. So feel free to follow this up with something stronger to get the party started, or serve this at the end of your holiday meal. Ginger does make a wonderful digestive aid! And that egg white in there is for silky, silky mouthfeel. If you JUST CAN’T with the raw egg whites, feel free to leave it out.

I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Eats site!

Tropical Rum Peach Frozen Blended Cocktail frozen peach cocktails part two

Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSee? I told you more ways were coming to use up all of your last summer peaches!

So this weekend would mark the last weekend before Fall official starts and while that’s laughable here in Southern California, what with our week of 100° temps, I do want to start transitioning into Fall flavors. But first, we’ll leave summer with a tropical BANG. A bang with rum and cinnamon and coconut and more peaches.Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail //

And more rum, because we’re calling it tropical.

You know guys, if we’re all thinking ahead. Maybe we should just freeze a bunch of peach slices, and then in a few months when we’re complaining about the cold, we can turn the heat up really high in the house and make a couple of these frozen peach cocktails? That sounds like a plan.

Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAnd while we’re on the subject of future endeavors, Stir and Strain will be taking a much, much needed vacation in October. A real one, unlike last year’s where I spent countless nights staying up scheduling out content and then still kept working through the break. I have to start convincing myself now that I don’t need to bring my laptop to go look at Fall foliage for two weeks.

But until then, we got a few more recipes and a couple extra special treats coming up! And now onto those cocktails…

Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail // stirandstrain.comServes 4.
6 ounces white rum, such as Caña Brava
4 ounces coconut cream, such as Coco Lopez
2 ounces simple syrup
2-3 ripe peaches, pitted and cubed
8 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce dark rum, such as Blackwell, divided (optional)
Ground cinnamon and 4 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

  • Combine rum, coconut cream, simple syrup, and Angostura in a zipper-lock bag or resealable container. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
  • To serve, transfer the rum mixture to a blender and add 3 cups ice. Blend at high speed until well mixed and thick, about 45 seconds. Pour into 4 highball glasses and top each with 1/4 ounce dark rum (if desired), a dash of cinnamon, and a cinnamon stick.

The fresh, ripe fruit adds a ton of intense flavor in this creamy cocktail. The spice from the Angostura, the slightly sweet coconut and all that rum make for a fresh, tropical cocktail. For an extra boozy punch, float dark rum on top with a dash of cinnamon to enhance the aroma.

Looking for a more savory blended peach cocktail? Check out the Tequila-Suze frozen peach cocktail!

The Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail… is better than a regular Blood and Sand Cocktail

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLike many ideas we take for granted, I was wrong on this one. For the longest time I was under the impression that the Blood and Sand cocktail was, in fact, a tiki cocktail. My assumption was based on the fact that local tiki bar, Tiki Ti, served this bevy up on their regular menu. A drink that elicits shouts of Toro! Toro! Toro! by patrons when ordered had to be born of tiki blood.. right? Wrong.

The Blood and Sand cocktail is actually pre-tiki, although the idea of putting “sand” into your name almost always guarantees it’s of the tropical variety. And all that toreador fanfare at the bar smacks of Tiki’s theatrics. But this drink goes a bit further back in time than the Tiki era, as it takes its name from Valentino’s 1922 bullfighting movie and appears in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (and not an original name by myself, which for some reason, people were really confused about when I originally offered this recipe up on Serious Eats). And really, what about the Scotch? Scotch seems like such an un-tiki spirit. But every liquor nowadays can star in a tropical libation.Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail //

And for me, whipping it up into a frozen version makes it even more so.

Which brings me to today’s drink. Let’s all be honest here; the Blood and Sand cocktail is not really good. All that orange juice, ugh. Orange juice as a mixer is like adding a lot of bland, marginally flavored water to your drink. And you usually need A LOT of it to even taste the essence of the orange. So what you usually get when you order a Blood and Sand cocktail is something very unbalanced.

This drink tries to mix that up, adding more flavor and using the original blood orange juice in place of just plain old OJ. And on top of that, a bit of Grand Mariner for extra orange sweetness. There’s some super peaty scotch in here, but if that’s not your bag, sure, I guess go for something a bit more subdued. Keep in mind though that this is a very cold drink, and you need that extra flavor to punch it up. I’ve also batched this for 4 because if you’re having frozen cocktails, you’re having a party. Even if that party is for one.Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail //

Makes 4 drinks

6 ounces peated Scotch whisky, such as The Peat Monster
4 ounces fresh blood orange juice from about 4 blood oranges
3 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica
2 ounces Luxardo cherry syrup
1 ounce Grand Marnier
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 blood orange slices and 4 Luxardo cherries, for garnish

  1. Pour Scotch, blood orange juice, sweet vermouth, cherry syrup, Grand Marnier, and Angostura bitters into a resealable freezer-safe container. Seal and freeze for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
  2. When ready to serve, pour Scotch mixture into a blender with 4 cups ice. Blend until smooth. Divide between four coupe glasses and garnish each glass with an orange slice and Luxardo cherry.

Sierra Madre Sunrise

Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere is this very clear memory I have of accompanying my mother to this one liquor store when I was a child. We were probably there to buy wine coolers for her (as was the hip thing for moms to drink in the late 80’s). In my memory the store was gigantic, like a well-lit supermarket, but instead of produce or cereal boxes, it was just aisle after aisle of colorful and exotic liquors that I felt the need to stop and read all the labels of.

I’m sure that it wasn’t that big, but I do remember that this was the first place I ever saw tequila at. You know, the kind with the scorpions at the bottom. I don’t remember how or when I learned that not all tequila requires there to be a scorpion, but there’s a good chance it is much later in life than I am willing to admit to.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail //

I wish I could remember the first time I tried mezcal, or even heard of it. Although I’ve tried to rack my brain for that one time, it exists as if I somehow always knew about it. I wish I was that cool. Probably it was sometime over the past 5, maybe 7, years when we collectively started giving other liquors a chance to star in our drinks.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail //

Now I like to put mezcal in everything. And today’s drink is one from my ongoing “to make” list. Here my notes were: meaty, but refreshing. I’m guessing this was a late night scribbling where I had something particular in mind but what exactly is no longer clear. But I like these challenges. To make things even more interesting, bitters will play a unique supporting role in transforming the drink into two different sips. For a slightly savory cocktail, Angostura will be dashed in. And for a sweeter alternative, chocolate bitters will be used. All versions have Aperol there, an assertive liquor that stands up next to the flavors of mezcal without getting lost.

It’s kind of a choose your own adventure cocktail.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail //

Now that I’m remembering that liquor store, I’m realizing that the other reason I liked going over there was that next door there was a Christian store that sold Bible action figures like Samson and Delilah. What a way to get kids thrilled about the Old Testament. When I was Catholic I was all in, until I wasn’t anymore.

Ok, enough about Bible Liquor stores. Let’s get to cocktail making!

1 ounce mezcal, Del Maguey Vida Organic used here
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
3 ounces club soda
2-3 dashes of either Angostura or Chocolate bitters, like Scrappy’s Chocolate Cocktail Bitters

lemon peel for garnish

  • In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice and bitters of your choice. Shake to combine and then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon peel.

I’m using the Vida mezcal here because it’s both a wonderful sipping liquor and it mixes well with others. It’s assertive without being aggressive. Aperol is not too bitter and not too sweet. (But it’s just the right amount of both that you don’t need to add another sweetener.) Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds in a touch of tartness, and the whole thing is topped off with a glug of club soda to mellow it out and give some effervescent pep. Angostura adds spice that compliments some of the cinnamon and earthy flavors found in the mezcal. Or you can change that up with a few dashes of chocolate bitters. The sweet, roasted chocolate flavors in the bitters play up the sweet and bitter orange in the Aperol and also some of the vanilla found in the mezcal. This makes the drink excellent for a slightly sweet digestif or a surprisingly refreshing nightcap.

*I originally created this recipe for Serious Eats.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comHoliday season is punch season. Ok, well, holiday season means more punch at every party. Everyone wants a punch, but let’s be honest, most of them are pretty meh.

Holiday season also means that hosts are pulling out the good booze because, hey, they’re in the spirit of sharing right now. I see a lot of Scotch brought out. Good scotch. Sometimes so good I’m hesitant to tell the host they should hang on to it and not start passing it about willy nilly. But then I’m selfish and want to drink said scotch so I’m shutting up about it.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comThis holiday season I decided to combine both. I also wanted to create a punch that people who turn their noses up at scotch would like… and I did it. In fact, I got to test this punch out on a pretty varied crowd before I posted it. Initially when I showed up with the punch, people would eagerly ask what was in it then inevitable scrunch their nose as I listed scotch as an ingredient. People who don’t usually drink scotch really tend to have strong opinions about what they assume it will taste like: gym socks, band aids, burnt…stuff… So they already have a negative opinion before they start.9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch //

But the thing about holiday parties is that you always end up staying longer than you thought, and by this point you’re drinking whatever is left. For these people, initially turning down the scotch punch, they begrudgingly took a glass after finding out someone had drank all the good champagne. And then they found themselves confounded: they really liked the punch made with scotch.

Color me amused when the same folks who seemed genuinely annoyed/disgusted/sad when told the giant bowl of punch was made with scotch later came up to me with giant grins asking again what was in that punch? Had I just made converts of this bunch?9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch //

It’s holiday time, the season of giving, so I hope you all will allow me this one time to toot my own horn and smirk just a little as person after person drank up a scotch punch they earlier swore they’d never touch. Curious about the name? If you know your holiday songs, then you’ve recognized this from the 12 Days of Christmas. My punch, with 9 integral ingredients, was for a party with this theme. The Table Set guys sure love a theme party.

Now it’s your turn to try it. Please, be honest, and let me know if I’ve made you a convert too.

For the Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup:

4 (3- or 4-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean seeds and pod, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain. The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For the Chai Tea:

2 cups boiling water
3 chai tea bags

Combine boiling water and tea in a heatproof container. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature before adding to punch.

For the Punch:

1 (750 ml) bottle blended Scotch, such as Monkey Shoulder
2 1/4 cups Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 cup fresh juice from about 6 lemons
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup
2 cups Chai Tea
1/8 cup Angostura bitters
6 orange wheels, star anise, ice block*, for garnish

In a punch bowl or large container, combine Scotch, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, tea, and bitters. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, add an ice block and garnish as desired.

*If you want to get really festive, you can add some decorative elements to your ice block. I added extra cranberries to mine. As the night progresses and the ice melts, they’ll start popping out and floating about. So make sure whatever you use is washed and makes sense with the rest of the ingredients!

So yes, scotch is definitely present. I chose Monkey Shoulder blended scotch, which offers a strong punch of malt, smoke, and baking spice flavors, perfect for a winter punch. Next I added in some chai tea just below full strength. The tea adds a wonderful assortment of appropriate flavors: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom and black pepper all work beautifully with the whisky. Then I followed that up with Sherry for a little sweet nuttiness; Angostura for bitterness but also extra spice; and vanilla-laced cinnamon sugar syrup for a slightly floral and woodsy sweetness.


This recipe was originally posted on Serious Eats.

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail //

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse //

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies //

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail //

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

Salted Peanut Bottled Old Fashioneds

Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comVisit any bar worth going to for well made cocktails and on almost every menu you’ll likely find printed there (or hand typed cause that bar is really cool) the ubiquitous bottled cocktail. Bottled cocktails feel at once an easy convenience and also something of magic because, quite frankly, who has time to sit and bottle cocktails at home?

Turns out we were all wrong about that.Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail //

Bottling cocktails to have on hand at home (or to bring to a party, or give out as baby shower gifts, whatever) is really very easy. Yes, like any project, you need to invest in some basic equipment. The internet is a great source for that (I’ll post some sources below), but if you’re in a town that has a beer supply shop you could also hop on down to one and very likely find these items. Let’s assume you have the booze on hand for a cocktail you’d like to bottle, then all you need are bottles, caps and a capper. And 2 out of the 3 items can be used over and over again.

Now what to bottle?Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail //

Last week Serious Eats published a recipe of mine that was a jumping off point to start bottling cocktails at home. I love single serving bottles that can be handed off to guests when they show up late to your house and demand that you make them a fancy cocktail. I’m not a night person, so my brain after 9pm is staticky at best (no one ever shows up for cocktails at 10am). However, if I have a small supply of varying fanciness in the fridge ready to go at a moments notice, then I look cool. And no one can tell I’d rather be in bed then entertaining (until I fall asleep mid-sentence on the couch).

Cocktails that work well in a bottled cocktail form have the standard rules of NO dairy and NO fresh juice due to stability issues (although I’m testing one of those out next week so check back in here!!). Instead of bottling the household standards of a Manhattan or a Negroni, likely choices since they’re all booze, I decided to riff on an Old Fashioned. It being summertime, I wanted a recipe that worked well both in terms of summer flavor and also would work in a bottle. Thus, the Salted Peanut Old Fashioned was born. Using peanuts in an Old Fashioned I’ve seen before, but I see it a lot on the sweet side. For this drink I wanted to cut back on the sugar, and create a more savory profile. The whole idea made me reminisce about late summer baseball games and eating peanuts and you can read all that in the original post. The summer 6-pack of beer was being replaced by a 6-pack of cocktails!Salted Peanut Old Fashioned #Cocktail //

Couple facts to point out before we begin:

  • Water. Water is added to the base since we will NOT be stirring the cocktails. These are stand alone and can be poured right into your mouth and enjoyed from that bottle they’re living in. Or, if you want to get sophisticated, they can be poured into a chilled cocktail glass too. Also, the amount of dilution can be based on YOUR desire as well. Want it to be a tad stronger? Decrease the amount of water, but don’t forgo it altogether unless you want to stir these with ice when you crack them open.
  • Yes, there is an infusion in the recipe, but nut infusions tend to move rather quickly. 24 hours isn’t that long if you’re already dedicated to the project.
  • The amount of salt added is to MY taste, not your taste. So if you like things less salty, add less. More salty, add more. You should actually want to drink this.

Ready to start bottling? Let’s go!

Peanut Infused Rye

Note: the peanuts will soak up a few ounces of liquor, so you’ll start with more base rye than you think you’ll need.

16 ounces rye whiskey, such as Rittenhouse 100
1 cup (about 5-6 ounces) raw peanuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread raw peanuts on a baking sheet and roast in oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Let cool. Combine rye and roasted peanuts in an airtight container for 24 hours. Strain peanuts through cheesecloth over a fine strainer, and then strain liquid once more through a new cheesecloth. (If you feel like you’re not getting all the oils/fats/solids out, freeze the mixture for a few hours and scrape off any fats that rise to the top. Thaw, and then use below)

Salted Peanut Old Fashioned

12 ounces peanut-infused rye (recipe above)
9 ounces water
4 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
12 dashes Angostura Bitters
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

In a large measuring cup, combine all ingredients. Using a small funnel, pour 4 ounces of the mixture into each bottle. Using a capper, cap each bottle. Refrigerate if you’re using soon or you can store in a cool, dark place for several months.

The aroma is sweet and nutty while the cocktail has a rich, savory flavor that is complimented by the addition of salt. Bottling this will not change the flavors too dramatically (yes, they will meld a bit together) as we are not barrel-aging, we’re stopping the flavors in time. Summertime.

All of the materials to bottle cocktails can be found online and probably at your home brewer store. Want some guidance? Here’s where I got mine: Caps / Bottles / Capper

Make It: Smoked Ice (and a cocktail to enjoy it with)

Smoked Ice Hazy Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you like tinkering in your home bar with projects, then this post is for you.

Today I give you a magic trick for your guests (and drinks): the transforming cocktail. Now, for most of you who go out and enjoy a cocktail or three, the idea of a cocktail changing flavor as you drink it shouldn’t be too strange to you. But I’ve found it’s the usual roster of changing flavors, Campari ice, fruity ice, familiar flavors that transform your drink from this to that. But earlier this year when I was hosting the SMOKE MxMo, Raul from Death to Sour Mix sent me a link to this guy (strangely enough from a site that Christopher has looked at for BBQ) that had tested and given detailed instructions for making your own smoked ice. His ice cubes were going into a Bloody Mary, which seems like a perfect vehicle for smoky flavors, but I wanted to take that idea and put it into an unexpected cocktail.

I had pitched this idea over on the Serious Eats site, and they also thought it was a cool idea. And now I’m making sure all of you get a chance to play around with it too. OK, granted you will need some special equipment, although if you want to MacGyver a roasting pan with a grate and tinfoil, that works surprisingly well too. Now, if you’re wondering how complicated it is to create smoked ice, allow me to reassure you: it is simple.Smoked Ice //

Since I tinkered awhile with this technique, here are some tips to consider:

  • A smoker makes this easy. Whether it’s a stovetop smoker, or an electric smoker (which is what we have already), it means just dumping wood in and starting a fire. Easy.
  • The type of wood you use is important! Apple wood is very mild. Mesquite is quite strong. It really just depends on your tastes, but I would consider playing with a few if you’re already gone this far considering it.
  • The size of your ice matters! Do you want your drink to quickly taste of smoke? Use small ice that melt fast. Want your cocktail to take its time changing flavors? Use big ice.
  • And speaking of ice, yes, it totally makes sense scientifically that starting with ice cubes, letting them melt, and then refreezing them will give you smokier ice cubes per the principle of thermophoresis.
  • Lastly, consider your cocktail. If you have doubts that smoke will improve, or at least make interesting, your drink, then perhaps you should pick another to work with.

Smoked Ice // stirandstrain.comOk, so let’s start with that ice!

1 tray ice cubes
Wood chips for smoking
stovetop or electric smoker

  • Place ice cubes in baking dish or pie plate. Following instructions of your smoker, heat wood chips until smoking. Set dish of ice in smoker, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, line bottom of roasting pan with aluminum foil and arrange 1/2 cup wood chips on one side of pan. Using a butane torch or long-reach lighter, carefully burn wood chips until smoking but not in flames. Carefully set rack in roasting pan, set dish of ice on rack opposite the wood chips, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Pour smoked water into ice-cube tray and freeze.

For the cocktail, I wanted something a bit surprising that would really showcase how the smoked ice slowly changed the flavors of the drink. I’ve created this recipe specifically to highlight that transformation; you can, however, think of it as a suggestion or a first-timer’s guide… and then feel free to try the same technique on another drink. This cocktail, the Hazy Sunset, is at first sip a tropical, Tiki-inspired pineapple-rum drink. However, as the ice cubes melt, it starts to add just a subtle hint of smoke until the entire drink is transformed into a rich, almost savory sipper. A long way from its beginnings.

Ready to try those smoked ice cubes in a drink now?

Hazy Sunset

1-1/2 ounces light rum, such as 10 Cane
1/2 ounce overproof rum, such as Lemon Hart Demerara
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
non-smoked ice cubes for mixing
Smoked ice cubes
Fresh cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig, for garnish

Add both rums, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker and fill 2/3 full with non-smoked ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Add smoked ice cubes to a double rocks glass, and strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with a cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig. Serve immediately.

If you try this experiment out, I’d love to hear what you’re using them in!