Fir-Groni

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comToday I bring you a weekend cocktail. A festive, fir tree scented drink you can sip on as you bake cookies, or wrap gifts, or use as a palate cleanser between licking all those damn holiday cards you still haven’t got out in the mail yet.

Wait… did she say fir tree scented???

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comYes! You might be familiar with eau de vie spirits made from fruit, but there is one that is made from pine buds. I have three favorite scents in this world: lilac, wood smoke, and fir trees. So the first time I saw this brandy I went absolutely nuts over it and immediately started making drinks (see here and here). I bring it out during the winter months because that’s when I associate this particular smell, and it makes me a little homesick for the New England winters. And then I remember trying to de-ice a windshield in below freezing temperatures and driving my car into a snowbank one year and I snap right out of that fantasy.

So yes, it’s another groan-inducing variation on a Negroni; a twist on a twist as this stems from a White Negroni. But really, you can call it a Holiday Fir Tree Cocktail for all I care, but what I do want you to do is drink this, especially if you’ve never tried a spirit like this before.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comFor this drink, stick with a dry or extra dry vermouth, you want a little less residual sugar in there so that the fir tree aroma and flavor stands out. This is on the slightly less bitter side than a classic Negroni, as Bitter Bianco is used, which adds some citrus and delicate floral notes that really work with the pine forest effect of the eau de vie.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comTotally optional, but I had a lot of fun garnishing the drink with what looked like snowy tree branches. If you’re trying to impress guests and want a festive garnish, go ahead and add these to the drink. It’s just powdered sugar and rosemary. I’ve made a note on making these following the recipe. Keep in mind though that rosemary imparts its own strong aroma, which can work here, but I would present the drink with the garnish and then remove before imbibing.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comFir-Groni Cocktail

3/4 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Bitter Bianco
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Douglas Fir brandy
optional: “snowy branch” garnish (how to follows recipe)

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the gin, Bitter Bianco, dry vermouth and Douglas Fir brandy. Stir 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally garnish with a “snowy branch”.

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.com

The Fir-Groni Cocktail: a holiday twist on the White Negroni // stirandstrain.comTo make the “snowy branches”, take a cleaned rosemary sprig and coat lightly with egg whites using a silicone pastry brush. Shake off any excess liquid and immediately dip into a shallow bowl filled with about a 1/4″ of powdered sugar. Swirl the rosemary sprig around to coat and let dry. Once dry, use a garnish on your cocktail. Also looks cute on a some baked cake!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails with Wine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Vinho Verde Wines. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Labor Day will soon be here. The end of summer is in sight…sigh. But I’m going to stretch these last few weeks of warm days and cool nights the best way I know how! With a picnic!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comPicnics sure have changed a lot since I was little, obviously. There’s definitely wine now. However, the bugs are still there in droves. But I get to stay out a lot later so…win!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comToday I’ve partnered with Vinho Verde Wines from Portugal to help you find an easy, breezy way to celebrate summer’s last hoorah. The Vinho Verde wine region has been producing these young wines for over 2,000 years and is home to Portugal’s largest wine region. While 86% of their wines are white, they also produce some red, rosé and sparkling wine as well as brandy. These wines are also super affordable, and pair well with food. In other words, a great picnic wine! Don’t think of these Vinho Verde wines as a summer sipper only though; they transition from Summer right into Fall and are the versatile wine to keep around all year long.

For our Labor Day picnic I’m bringing along this Avesso wine from the Vinho Verde region. This refreshing wine has aromas of citrus, peach, and almond with a slight acidity and touch of minerality. You can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also wonderful in a spritz cocktail, which we’ll make and take along.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comYou can’t have a picnic without some great picnic food too. And if we’re drinking Portuguese wine, we are definitely eating Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts). These light, slightly sweetened tarts hold up well outdoors. I have a few bakeries here in Los Angeles that I like to buy mine from, although I’m linking to a solid recipe below if you’d like to bake yours. I do like to dress mine up a bit for the picnic with some wine-candied lemon peels which I DO have a recipe for below using the same wine we’ll make spritzes with.

I’m feeling so ready to spread out a blanket, have a few spritz cocktails, and snack on some yummy tarts. I can feel that warm, late summer breeze now. So let’s open that wine and start putting this picnic together!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comA picnic should not be a stressful affair. Here’s some tips to help make your day go off without a hitch!

  • Pre-batch the spritz mix! The night before, measure out all the ingredients minus the soda water. Refrigerate the mix, and the next day bring along some ice, portion out the drinks, and top with the soda water!
  • No time to bake egg tarts, but want this transportable, delicious picnic snack? Buy them! Both Portuguese and Chinese bakeries are home to wonderful egg tarts.
  • You don’t need a picnic basket! Sure, they’re cute, but if you don’t have the space, or the desire to buy one, some reusable bags, a cooler, or even an old Amazon box will do. If it holds stuff, use it!
  • A combination wine opener/pocket knife. I’m a big fan of Opinel knives and they have a beautiful combo one. Get that wine open, zest a lemon, and cut up some tarts. Maybe whittle some sticks for marshmallow roasting later. It’s a like a picnic swiss army knife, but with only the most important tools.
  • And speaking of gadgets to have outdoors, I really love a double insulated wine chiller. If I’m going to be hanging out in the sun for a few hours at a picnic, I want to keep my wine cool.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comVinho Verde Spritz (makes one Spritz)

2 oz Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine
1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur
1 oz Bitter Bianco
1/4 oz Lemon syrup from candied lemon peels
3 oz Soda water
Lemon wheels

In a shaker filled with ice, pour in Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine, elderflower liqueur, Bitter Bianco, and lemon syrup. Shake 20 second and strain into a wine glass. Add fresh ice and pour in soda water. Stir gently to combine and garnish with lemon wheel.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comWine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata (Egg Tarts)

2 medium sized lemons
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2-1/3 cups water, divided
1/3 cup Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine

Using a wide vegetable peeler, zest the two lemons into wide strips making sure not to include of the white pith. Cut strips into quarter inch wide strips. Place strips in a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes uncovered. Drain. Rinse in cold water.

Return the lemon strips to the pan. Add in 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and wine. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until a syrup forms. About 8-10 minutes. Turn to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes until peels are translucent. Remove from heat. Pour remaining sugar onto a sheet pan and spread evenly around. Using a slotted spoon or fork, remove peels and place on sugar. Toss to coat peels in the sugar. Separate peels so none are sticking together. Move to a drying rack and let sit about one hour. Store in an airtight container. Will keep several months refrigerated.

Save syrup from pan into an airtight container. Refrigerate. Will keep up to one month.

Garnish tops of Pastéis de Nata with a few strands of the wine candied lemon peel and a few drops of their syrup.

**Feel like making your own tarts? Check out this recipe from Tasting Table for Pastéis de Nata.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.com

For more information on the Vinho Verde wine region, please visit them at winesofvinhoverde.com