Holiday Gift Guide: Christmas in Hawaii

Mele Kalikimaka! Get your surf board and a Mai Tai, we’re going gifting!

Holiday Gift Guide: Christmas Hawaii 2018 // stirandstrain.com

Cocktail gifts as bright and colorful as a Hawaiian sunset. And slushie machines. And light up fountains. For the person in your life who likes a side of tropical flair with their drinks, we’ve picked out a few of our favorites that would make great additions. Coconuts, pineapples, RUM, and more pineapples. I think all our bases are covered.

1. Mele Kalikimaka Sign 2. Slushie Machine 3. Copper Pineapple Bar Spoon 4. Leaf Glasses 5. Glass Straws 6. Banana Dolphin Pin 7. Coconut Mugs 8. Tiki Bitters 9. Glass Decanters in Yellow and Orange 10. Coconut Rum 11. Light Up Fountain 12. Pineapple Cocktail Shaker

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Crafting a Sweet Cocktail Kit

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSo, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comTruvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.

Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSmall box, tin, or basket
4 ounce amber bottle
1 ounce amber bottle
Whiskey of your choice
Aromatic bitters of your choice
2-4 Truvia Natural Sweetener packets
Label maker
Rocks glass
Mixing spoon
Jigger
Muddler
Index card and markers

For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comFirst, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comI hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Whiskey Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Old Fashioned Edition // stirandstrain.comOver the next week we’ll be giving some guides on how to outfit your home bar under $50 (and that’s including booze!) depending on what your house cocktail is. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today’s home bar surrounds the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. You don’t need much in the way of tools or liquor to get this set up quick, so it’s an easy way to start!

Old Fashioned Home Bar Under $50 ($49.07)

  1. Large ice cube tray: a basic large ice cube tray makes enough cubes for you and a guest plus another round.
  2. Sugar cubes: save your granulated sugar for syrups and the kitchen. Place a few of these out in a glass to have them at the ready.
  3. Bar spoon: for stirring cocktails!
  4. Bourbon: you don’t have to invest in large bottles to start your home bar. Get a 375ml to try and you’ll still get 6+ drinks out of it!
  5. Angostura bitters: you need bitters for an Old Fashioned so get an all purpose aromatic.
  6. Jigger: sure you could eyeball it but this way you know exactly how much booze to make the perfect cocktail.
  7. Muddler: a basic muddler will crush those sugar cubes as good as a really fancy one.
  8. All purpose glass tumbler: these are my GO TO glasses right now for cocktails to water to wine. And they’re cheap so you won’t worry when a guest (or, *ahem* you) break one.

Upgrade to a Manhattan ($24.39)

 

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

The Tequila Mint Julep tequila - mint - bitters

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by El Mayor Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This weekend we’ve got a double dose of reasons to celebrate. Saturday marks the 144th Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, both happening on the same day. No need for a sad case of FOMO, we’ve got a drink that celebrates both: the Tequila Mint Julep.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comNot long ago a Mint Julep was a Mint Julep: bourbon, mint, sugar, silver cup. Bam. But as bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts have brought an inquisitive eye to old recipes, here today we’re riffing on this classic with our partner, El Mayor Tequila.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comEl Mayor Añejo Tequila is fantastic sipped on its own, but the tequila also mixes quite well in cocktails. Especially when the spirit needs to be strong and shine through a whole lot of crushed ice! The 100% blue agave añejo is aged in white oak barrels for 18 to 36 months, giving it the distinctive oak-y nose, golden color and slightly sweet and spicy flavor profile. If you’re going to use a tequila in a julep recipe, this is the one.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor this recipe I forgo the muddled mint (*gasp*) and instead opt for a creme de menthe liqueur to add the minty flavor and a touch of sweet. I like the bracingly cool mint liqueur up against the tequila. Also, if you’re serving this up at your party it’s going to save you some time since you won’t have to muddle all those mint leaves. To round out the drink, I’ve added in a few dashes of aromatic bitters and a touch more sweetness with some demerara syrup. The drink needs that last touch of sugar to balance it out along with the bitters.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comLastly, I gave this julep a crown of mint (I couldn’t leave the fresh mint out completely), like its own little laurel wreath. And you don’t have to make it rain powdered sugar on your julep for a garnish, but it sure does look pretty.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo, let’s jump start this Cinco de Derby party and mix up a batch of Tequila Juleps. It’s a sure bet!

The Tequila Mint Julep

2 ounces El Mayor Añejo Tequila
1/2 ounce creme de menthe
1/4 ounce demerara syrup (see notes below)
3 dashes aromatic bitters
mint and powdered sugar

In a silver julep cup, or double rocks glasses, pour in El Mayor Añejo Tequila, creme de menthe, demerara syrup, and bitters. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle until glass is frosty, about 20-30 seconds. Fill with more crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint and powdered sugar. Add a short straw if you’d like!

Notes:

  • To make demerara syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup demerara sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. When all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. Store in an air tight container, refrigerated, for up to one month.
  • Julep cups come in all different sizes but choose one around 12 ounces for this cocktail. A double rocks glass will make an acceptable substitute.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.com

For more information on El Mayor Tequila and their entire product line, please visit them at elmayor.com!

Angosangrita beer - citrus - Angostura - hot sauce

This post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

My calendar of nonsense drink holidays tells me that tomorrow April 7th is National Beer Day! So what are we going to do here? Make a beer cocktail of course!

Beer can be a pretty versatile ingredient in cocktails (you can even substitute it for an egg white in a sour!) but sometimes you want to play up the beer part more and not break out the hard liquor. Today we’ve teamed up with Angostura to show how their bitters can make a bold new spin on one of those classic drinks a lot of people think of when they hear “beer cocktail”: the Michelada.

A Michelada can vary greatly depending on who’s making it, but mainly it consists of beer, lime juice, hot sauce, spices… lots of delicious bits. I decided to take that spicy base and mash it up with the idea of Sangrita (no, I spelled that right, it’s not sangria), the side shot that accompanies tequila and translates to “little blood”. Sangrita is usually, but not always, a tomato based drink. Here, instead of a tomato base, we’re using a good dose of Angostura. Sound crazy? Crazy delicious!

Beer cocktails are warm weather cocktails in my opinion, and this weekend it’s getting a little toasty around SoCal so I thought now is a good time to crack open a beer and mix up one of these. It’s another great way to use Angostura bitters in a drink other than adding an accent to a cocktail.

Have you guys made a drink that uses a lot of bitters? Let me know! And if you try this, tag us and let us see! Cheers!

For the Sangrita:

2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
4 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1-1/2 ounces Angostura Bitters
1-2 dashes hot sauce (more or less to taste)
Pinch salt

For the Cocktail:

4 ounces beer
4 ounces Sangrita
Garnish: lime juice and spicy salt mix (equal parts salt, chili powder and black pepper)

In an airtight non-reactive container, pour in lime juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, Angostura, hot sauce and the pinch of salt. Stir together and set aside until ready to use or refrigerate up to a week.

Rim a double rocks glass with lime juice and spicy salt mix. Add ice. Add sangrita mix to the glass and pour in beer. Stir gently to combine.

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Make It: Angostura Dusted Popcorn

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Whether you want something different for snacking during the big game (*ahem*, like this Sunday!), or if you’d like a little pink-tinted treat when you’re watching a movie just for two, Angostura Dusted Popcorn checks all the boxes. Super easy to put together but a snack like none they’ve seen before!

Angostura Dusted Popcorn // stirandstrain.comAngostura Dusted Popcorn

25 g tapioca maltodextrin (available online and on Amazon)
30 g olive oil
10 g Angostura Bitters
3 g kosher salt
popcorn

Combine olive oil, angostura bitters and salt in a small bowl, whisking to combine. In a food processor, add into the largest bowl the tapioca maltodextrin. Place the cover on, begin pulsing and slowly pour the oil and bitter mixture through the feed tube. Continue pulsing until all the liquid is absorbed and powder is fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and pulse a few additional time to combine. Mixture will keep in an airtight container, in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.

Pop popcorn using your desired method. When finished popping and still hot, sprinkle Angostura dust over the popcorn. Enjoy!

Let’s Get Fresh! what to make and drink with all that winter citrus

Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.

When you have too many Meyer Lemons:

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.com

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup

Meyer Lemon Bitters

What about Tangellos:

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.com

Tangelocello

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:

Smoky Sage Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

And then there’s always the cocktail option:

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

Gift Guide: Falling for Apples

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but keep those apple cocktails coming.

Gift Guide: Falling for Apples // stirandstrain.com

 

We’re squeezing in apples every which way now that Fall is almost here. Apple shaped ice in an apple ice bucket? I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at that. A couple of big ol’ cinnamon sticks make perfectly fine cocktail stirrers when we’re talking apples. But you’ll need a giant one to stir that punch bowl of spiked apple cider. And you’re spiking it with Apple Jack, correct? And what will you top your apple cocktail off with… bitters and shrubs (made from apples of course).

1. Apple Ice Bucket 2. Apple Ice Cube Tray 3. Shrub & Co. Apple Shrub 4. Laird’s Apple Jack 5. Bar Keep Apple Bitters 6. Cinnamon Sticks 7. Large Copper Punch Bowl

The Foaming Pineapple Yes, you CAN drink Tiki for brunch

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

That’s the sound of me squealing that we’ve got another round of The Coconut Club under our belts. This last run was the best yet. Not only were we set up in an actual, OG L.A. Tiki space, but we also had a seance and a giant glowing tiki god. Small fires aside, it was magical.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

When you go to events like this, or any event really, where custom drinks are served up, do you ever stop and think about all the drinks that just couldn’t make it to the table that night? Nathan (who also makes drinks for the Coconut Club and who you will see behind the bar more than me) and myself spend countless hours alone and together mixing up possible drinks that we think our audience will love. As much as we’d like to serve them all, some need to get cut from the line up due to timing and to prevent you all from getting alcohol poisoning from over indulging. We have your best interests at heart.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This drink came about during one of my R&D days but realized we already had the Piscolada Shrimp Cocktail, a customer favorite, already on the menu and the ingredients were too close to justify serving it.

So consider this the B-side drink. Turns out it makes a fabulous brunch drink. So, yes, you can drink Tiki at 10am.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This recipe utilizes frozen pineapple juice cubes for two reasons:
1. I had a huge amount of excess pineapple juice leftover from another drink and I can’t bring myself to waste things so I froze the juice up instead.
2. Frozen pineapple juice cubes mean way less watering down of your drink.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you don’t want to go through the effort of making the cubes, then I would suggest chilling all your ingredients ahead of time so that you still get a nice cold base.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comServes 4 – 6
4 ounces white rum
3 tablespoons coconut cream
5 frozen pineapple juice cubes or 8 ounces chilled pineapple juice (see note above)
3 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot used here

nutmeg for garnish

  1. In a blender, combine rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice cubes and bitters. Blend until well combined and no ice remains; consistency will be more like a thin soup, not a slush.
  2. Pour about 3 ounces into the coupes and top with champagne.
  3. Grate fresh nutmeg over the cocktails.

An interesting effect occurs when you top the base with champagne: the cream causes the drink to bubble and foam on top. It looks like a beautiful pillow of coconut cream that smells faintly of pineapple. While the cream and juice are quite sweet, as well as some sweetness from the rum, the champagne cuts right through offering some bitter and savory notes for balance. These particular bitters lend some notes of citrus and spice for further flavor enhancement. The cocktail is super light and easy drinking. Perfect for your next brunch, breakfast, or mid-week snack.

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI know. That’s a mouthful of a title. But in actuality it’s an incredibly easy drink to make so don’t go running off just yet.

Right now I’m on a kick of making life EASIER for myself. I’m hustling in other areas so that means the drinks need to get whipped up with ease. Are you hustling in life? This one’s for you then.Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I’ve come into possession of a number of rums as of late. In part, I’m tasting them for potential candidates to star in The Coconut Club drinks. Not all our drinks are rums, but we ARE a Tiki supper club, so we NEED some rums. And the other reason is that, after many years, I’ve come to like and appreciate rums. If you’ve been a long time reader on here, you may remember in the early years of this site that I was frequently confused by rum. I blame my mother’s rum and cokes that I would sneak sips of during bedtime story readings, and would cringe with disgust (I still don’t like them), as to why I had such distaste for the liquor. It turns out I was just drinking the wrong kind of rum.

So fast forward to now. As I said, I’ve been filling my days with a lot of other work that sometimes makes tinkering all day with drinks hard, if not impossible. When that happens there will suddenly be a lot of Manhattans or Negroni cocktails around the house. In doing so I finished all the Campari. And then I was out of rye. And then I decided what the hell am I doing?! Make something just a tad more creative lady!!Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

In stepped a bottle of rum and my copy of The Bar Book.

Still looking for a straightforward cocktail I looked to Morgenthaler’s Rum Old Fashioned. If the rum is good, like the bottle I had on hand, then you just want a few elements to highlight that rum; an Old Fashioned is perfect for that. I made the first round exactly as it was laid out in the book: the result was good but then my eye drifted over to the (vast) array of bitters taking up more space every day on the bar shelf. Smoked orange bitters! Yes!

The next round I changed it up, taking the lime peel out, adding in some smoked orange bitters, a spritz of orange oil; it changed the whole drink. Just as tasty as the first, but all new flavors that still highlighted the base rum, just in different ways. The recipe below is for the latter (go buy the book for his recipe and learn some more drinks!).

Inspired by The Bar Book

2 ounces Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 Rum*
2 dashes Cocktail Punk Smoked Orange Bitters
5-10 ml demerara syrup (1:1 ratio)
orange peel for garnish

  • In a double old fashioned glass, add a large cube of ice. Build the drink by pouring in rum, syrup and the bitters. Gently stir 15 seconds. Squeeze the orange peel over the drink to release the oil and add the peel to the drink.

Mostly burnt caramel and grassy notes from the rum with just a hint of citrus. The bitters add a subtle layer of smoke that works really well with the rum. Makes me want to try some rum and mezcal drinks…

*This bottle was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.