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.

Trinidad Spell (with a whole lot of bitters)

Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOne day trolling the internet I came across a drink called the Stormy Mai-Tai. This tropical sounding cocktail totally threw me for a loop–there was a whole lot of bitters in there. Like, a WHOLE lot. An ounce and a half.

Somewhere along the way through my cocktail education, I mistakenly thought bitters contained lethal amounts of alcohol that when taken in large doses would kill me. Clearly I was mistaken. Here was a drink that showed you could use bitters as a base and not just an accent. Also, I had overlooked the fact that Angostura only clocked in at 44.7% ABV, not lethal.Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I had thought of recreating the Stormy Mai-Tai here for this site, but when I was asked to come up with a bitters-heavy drink for Serious Drinks, I thought I’d see where else I could get bitters to work in large doses; so I turned to Tiki drinks.

I adapted the Polynesian Spell (which you can find in the Grog Log) by replacing the grape juice (there’s a head scratcher), triple sec, and peach brandy with Angostura, apricot brandy, passion fruit and citrus; I kept the gin. I was going out on a limb trying to shove Angostura in there, but after a couple of tweaks…wow. It was a success.

1 ounce Angostura bitters
1 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Apricot Brandy
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice from 1/4 orange
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup (see note)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

bamboo straws

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake hard for 30 seconds to incorporate and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish according to your own inner-Tiki style.

Yes, the flavor is strongly bittered, but there’s also a cascade of cherry and clove, fruit and sweetness. The aroma is fiery from the Angostura with strong hints of passionfruit and orange. The slight numbing of your tongue may serve to remind you: you’re drinking a heck of a lot of bitters.

For this recipe, I used a Cobalt shaker*. I was sent this shaker to try out and I’ve used for several of my tiki drinks for a few reasons. One, the shaker gets things cold, really cold. And two, for the boozier drinks, I like the small ice chips that slowly melt as I drink the cocktail. It’s also roomy for large volume recipes like these too.

cobalt shaker // Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. All opinions are my own and no monetary compensation was given. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comIt’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.

My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comA couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from the book “Bitters”
Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water

  1. To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
  2. In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
  3. After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
  4. After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.

Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.

I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

Cocktail Quickie: Rosé “Champagne” Cocktail

Róse Champagne Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou’d be correct to say I’m on a bit of a rose kick right now. Earlier this week I had posted the Roses in the Snow cocktail, and that’s not the first time rose has made an appearance around these parts. I’d say I’m also on a rosé kick, but frankly, I’d drink a good bottle of one any time of year.

Last week a bottle of Chandon Rosé fell into my hands and instead of just cracking it open right then, I thought I’d get a wee bit creative and use it in a cocktail. Most of the “cocktail quickies” end up on Instagram and not on here, but I thought that if you need to impress someone real quick on Friday then this might work in your favor.Róse Champagne Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Here’s a tip: invest in a big box of sugar cubes. If you make classic cocktails at home, you may have noticed that several recipes require them, such as this or in an Old Fashioned. I’ve had the same box hanging around the house since I started this blog and they are in the same condition now as they were when I opened the box. That means that they are always on hand. Also, sometimes when I want to be fancy and my in-laws are over I break them out when I do tea service (because Christopher’s mother does do tea time, every day, at 4pm).Róse Champagne Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Róse Champagne Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now let’s get fancy!

1 sugar cube
10 to 15 drops Bitter Tears Hina Hibiscus Rose Bitters
4 to 6 oz. Chandon Rosé*
grapefruit peel

Soak the sugar cube with the bitters by dropping the liquid over the cube until desired amount is reached (the rose scent is strong, so take some whiffs after the first few drops). Add the sugar cube to the bottom of a champagne flute and top with the roée. Add grapefruit peel to the glass.

The grapefruit peel provides a great waft of aroma in the glass followed by a deliciously sweet berry-cherry flavor from the rosé. The rose-hibiscus soaked sugar cube sends up little bubbles of mostly rose to accent the other flavors. It’s a quick drink for this Friday (Valentine’s Day), or like me, sitting around in the afternoon sipping one outside.

 

Watch that pour!
Watch that pour!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.