Valentine’s Day Bar Cart Styling

Turn down the lights, turn up the music, and put a little something sexy on… your bar cart.

A well stocked bar cart is essential for setting the mood. Sure, you’ve got the booze (ahem, maybe some chocolate whiskey too?), but don’t forget the accessories! Some glittering coasters and cups look awful nice against a roaring fire. And nothing says love more than hand squeezing some limes, except maybe some heart shaped drink stirrers? Want to go over the top? Perhaps you need a pink neon sign proclaiming your love (of cocktails) to hang over your freshly adorned bar cart.

1. Chocolate Whiskey 2. Glass Citrus Juicer 3. Blush Decanter 4. Hammered Brass Coasters 5. Gold Wine Opener 6. Neon Cocktail Sign 7. Copper Mule Mug 8. Feelin’ Tipsy Drink Stirrers 9. Beth Kushnick Bar Cart

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

What You Should Be Drinking on Super Bowl Sunday

Let’s get ready to foooooot balllllllll!!!! Right? Pretty sure that’s what they say at football games. Let’s make some drinks.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

 The Pineapple Hop Cocktail

Texas Tea Beer Cocktail

Rhubarb-Vanilla Beer and Pisco Cocktail

5 Spice Bourbon Punch Cocktails

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 Ways

And if you must….

Fireball Cider

Boozy, Edible Christmas Gift Roundup

Go the extra mile this year and make them something delicious for the holidays. Just make sure there’s booze in it.

Eggnog Jello Shots

Fernet Branca Jelly

Angostura and Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Meyer Lemon Bitters

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

 
Holiday Spice Syrups

Peppermint Mocha S’Mores Cocktails with brown-butter bourbon and marshmallow creme

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Don’t ever let someone tell you s’mores are only for summer. Can you get your hands on a kitchen blow torch? Yes? Then you’ve got a reason to have s’mores all year round.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comToday though we’re going to be drinking our s’mores! Holiday style!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comWe’re back at the bar mixing it up with Jackson Morgan and their delicious, and very holiday appropriate, Peppermint Mocha Cream. I always associate peppermint and chocolate with Christmas time. It’s about the only time of year I bake something with that flavor profile because there is always a party I can bring them to. See, you are either a lover or a hater of that flavor combo. I, obviously, am a lover. My husband on the other hand…. Let’s just say if I make some Grasshopper Brownies and don’t have a reason to bring them out of the house, I am probably consuming that whole pan by myself. I’d tell you I would regret it, but I’d be lying.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comThis is also perfect for holiday time because it’s pretty decadent. When are you infusing browned butter into whiskey and topping your cocktails with marshmallow creme? During the holidays, when all bets are off. So let’s talk about what is going into this s’mores cocktail. First, Peppermint Mocha Cream, of course. Next takes a little prepping but it’s worth it for the final result and you also get extra to just chug straight if you choose: brown-butter infused bourbon. This gives the cocktail a subtle nutty, buttery component that you’d get from the graham cracker. And a s’mores cocktail wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows! I’m giving you an easy way and a homemade way to do this in the recipe below. Both will work but honestly, making your own version of marshmallow Fluff is dang easy!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comYou might think that the consistency would be very thick and rich tasting, but the brown-butter bourbon cuts through the peppermint mocha cream for a nice balance. Served over ice the cocktail goes down very smooth and the peppermint is not quite as strong as it is on its own. Torching the marshmallow creme binds it together a bit so you can pop off pieces from the top while sipping on your drink. It’s like you have your own bar snack you don’t have to share.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comSome notes on the cocktail:

  • I’ve made the recipe for one but this easily doubles and batches well.
  • The brown-butter bourbon yields 16 ounces (2 cups) so there is plenty left over if you are going to batch multiple drinks.
  • The topping is marshmallow creme, not marshmallows. The marshmallow creme has a soft consistency and therefore easily piped.
  • If you are torching the marshmallow creme, use heat proof glassware. Even kitchen torches get quite hot and I don’t want to be held responsible if you explode your favorite vintage glass.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comFor the cocktail:

3 ounces Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme
2 ounces brown-butter infused bourbon
marshmallow creme (I made this recipe from The Kitchn, but store bought Fluff will work as well)
graham cracker for garnish

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add in the Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme and brown-butter infused bourbon. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a heat-proof glass or mug filled with fresh ice. Pipe marshmallow creme on top. Using a kitchen torch,brûlée the marshmallow creme to desired “doneness’ (I like mine lightly toasted but I know some of you probably like your s’more’s marshmallows burnt to a crisp). Garnish with a graham cracker square.

For the brown-butter bourbon:

*Adapted slightly from Gabriella Mlynarczyk for NYT Cooking

16 ounces bourbon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Pour bourbon into a wide mouth jar or heat-proof container. Cut butter into cubes and add to a heavy-bottom small saucepan over medium-low heat. You’ll need to watch the pan as the butter will go from being nutty and golden to burnt pretty fast. Watch for the butter to start to foam and stir until you see some brown flecks on the bottom of the pan. At this point you’ll smell a nutty aroma, like hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute and then pour into the bourbon. Whisk together until well incorporated and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • The fat will separate from the bourbon while it cools. Use a butter knife to loosen the edge of the fat and it should pop right out of the container. Then strain bourbon through a coffee filter to remove any additional fat solids and debris from the butter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

What You Should Be Drinking on Thanksgiving

I’m not one to tell you guys what to do, but if you’re looking for something to make this week for your holiday table, here are a few suggestions! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktails

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lemony Suze Sparkling Pitcher Cocktails

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Spooky (and not so spooky) Fall Cocktails

I’m back east right now visiting with family in New England and everywhere I go I am reminded of just how much more it feels like Autumn. Besides the fact there is an actual chill in the air, we drive by corn mazes and apple stands and people really deck out their houses for Halloween. Entire towns decorate for Halloween. I’m trying not to think about the 90° temps that we will be returning to in Southern California. For now, I’m just going to soak all this Autumn in and give you guys some of my favorite Spooky, and just plain seasonally appropriate cocktails.

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction Cocktail

 Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Mixology Monday: Night Call Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Night Call Cocktail

Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fir Tree Pear Cocktail

green hell cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Green Hell Cocktail

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Private Club Cocktail

Gift Guide: Giddy Up! (Kentucky Derby Time!)

One week from tomorrow it’s OK to carry around a riding crop and wear a helmut in public. Be prepared. Get bourbon.

Gift Guide: Kentucky Derby 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Leave those tiny silver cups at home, we’re feeding a crowd. And by feeding I mean drinking a giant silver punch bowl filled with Mint Juleps. So get your Maker’s Mark, and a commercial ice crusher, and if you have the time, grow some mint! Or, you could just fake it and add in some mint simple instead. Stir it all up with some wild horses, and please, gentlemen, use a napkin.

1. Feeling giddy napkin 2. Grow your own mint plants 3. Triple Crown Napkins 4. Gold Horse Drink Stirrers 5. Maker’s Mark Bourbon American Pharoah Commemorative Bottle (available May 1st!) 6. Mint Julep Simple Syrup 7. Commerical Ice Crusher 8. Silver Vintage Punch Bowl

Valentine’s Day 2016 Gift Guide

What’s more sexy than your booze dripping in hot red wax? This year we’re skipping the bubbles and getting down to business.

Gift Guide: His & Her Valentine's Day 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Box of chocolates? Lame. Dozen roses? Done that! How about a dozen jelly shots? YASSSS! And nothing says I care like his & her flasks filled with something boozy and delicious. Except maybe having a bedside hangover remedy ready first thing the next morning. Staying in this weekend? Break out your finest pineapples and don’t forget the stirrer pizazz. But first, let’s scrub that pucker up with a good ol’ Mint Julep. There’s more than one way to enjoy a drink!

1. Ludlows Jelly Shots 2. Gold Fringe Firecracker Drink Stirrers 3. Copper Pineapple Tumbler 4. Silver Pineapple Tumbler 5. Gold Flask Bracelet 6. Maker’s Mark Whisky 7. Stanley Adventure Flask 8. Mint Julep Lip Scrub 9. Motive Pure Electrolyte Hydration Pack

Catch up on all the gift guides here.

Holiday Gift Guide: Time to Stuff Your Stocking

Come Christmas morning, I have to admit, I find the thrill of digging through a filled stocking almost more fun than opening the presents. One fun trinket after another (and there better be a damn chocolate orange in there). And yes, I may be in my 30’s but I still get a stuffed stocking. This year, fill your loved one’s with booze.

Holiday Gift Guide: Stuff Your Stocking with Booze! // stirandstrain.com

Just because the gift is small, doesn’t mean it’s cheap. A personal crystal shaker? Yes please and thank you. Now a little bourbon to fill it with. And a bourbon candle for extra bourbon-y goodness. Need to take that wine on the go (to your kid’s Christmas pageant?)? Got you covered. And if you can’t finish it all, put some lips on it. Expensive, bronze lips. Stir it all up with a few choice cacti and put a sock on it.

1. Maker’s 46 2. Gold Shark Teeth Bottle Opener 3. Pink Flamingo Bottle Warmer Sock 4. Green Genie Bottle 5. Crystal Shaker 6. Bronze Lips 7. Bourbon Candle 8. Cactus Stir Sticks 9. Portable Wine Glass

Five-Spice Bourbon Punch

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comCurrently I am sitting in a nicely air-conditioned room while outside is reaching temperatures of 117°F today. My birthday was this past week and I’ve decided that I’d like to spend all of my 30-year birthdays drifting around in a pool, drink in hand (or in an inflatable cup holder,what’s wrong with that?) while spending a few days in Palm Springs. For most of my 20-year birthdays, I somehow coordinated almost all of them to happen at bowling alleys and I’m a person who likes traditions so if I could somehow work it out that all of my 40’s are spent in castles in Europe I’d very much like that.

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comBut I’m not in the pool today. It’s too hot. While it might seem that the best way to counteract the scorching heat would be to live in the pool, I find that when temps creep almost to 120°F, the water ceases to be refreshing. The water, too, is hot.

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comSo the backup plan is to escape to the air-conditioned comfort of the house, draw the shades, and make myself a beverage to cool off with. Sweet, icy drinks are no good when it’s this hot out. Anything with a high sugar content right now makes me cranky and gives me a headache, and that’s the last thing you want when you have guests that are around trying to celebrate you. (Cake, by the way, does not count in this category.) So instead I batched up a savory, spicy syrup (because spicy is actually good for you when it’s hot out. Look at Indian food.) and mixed it up with some bourbon for a refreshing punch. Spicy bourbon punch is refreshing? Read about that argument here on Serious Eats when I just recently batched this drink up.

For now, I’ll park myself next to a large window, occasionally glance outside and remind myself it’s too hot to breathe and enjoy my cocktails in air-conditioned comfort. Happy weekend folks (and Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there)!5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.com

For the Five-Spice Syrup:

1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 whole star anise pod
1 (6-inch) cinnamon stick or 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

  • Toast Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and fennel in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, tossing and stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cinnamon stick, sugar, and water and place over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until just starting to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Five-spice syrup will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

For 4 Cocktails:

6 ounces bourbon, such as 4 Roses Yellow Label
3 ounces Five-Spice Syrup (see above)
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
8 ounces club soda
Lime wedges for garnish

  • In a pitcher, combine bourbon, 3 ounces Five-spice syrup, and lime juice. Stir well. Add club soda and stir gently. To serve, fill rocks glasses with ice, pour in 4-3/4 ounces of the cocktail and top with lime wedges.

The sweet, savory, and pungent flavors of the Five Spice Syrup are an excellent pair to the rich, slightly sweet bourbon. And when you add in the lime juice and club soda, the whole cocktail gets loosened up a bit and really is quite refreshing.