Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.comFYI guys: you’re probably saying my name wrong. I don’t take offense; it’s been an issue going back to preschool. The spelling is what usually trips people up, especially now that I live in Los Angeles and an “a” is almost always pronounced “ahhhhh” when in fact my “a” is just a short “A”. Why am I talking about this then if it’s a non-issue?

Well, a few weeks back for Serious Eats I decided to make a festive riff on the Caipirinha. It’s a cocktail I love to drink, but only recently. Why the wait? Well, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I was shy about mispronouncing the name. I just sorta froze up about being schooled on the correct way to say the drink. Until I finally got comfortable with one bartender and had them say the name to me over and over and then it stuck.

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.comI’m sure you all have had that moment in a bar. Intrigued by a drink but one look at the name and you end up passing on it. Too bad! You probably would have liked it. But you want to know what? Your bartender is NOT going to judge you (OK, let’s be real. Maybe one or two a-holes will.). They are there to tell you how to say things right so you can impress your friends next time when you order that intriguing sounding drink. They want to pass on that knowledge and inform you, their customer.

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.comI had a similar experience with wine years ago when I was up in Napa at a tasting. The Sommelier, some laid back guy in jeans, and quite possibly a jean shirt too, told me that you either like a wine or you don’t. You can hate an expensive bottle and like something you picked up for $7. You don’t need to know if you’re smelling aromas of cherry or rotting wood, you should just want to drink it. I also learned that “legs” on a wine glass are bullshit and when you’re at a tasting, don’t throw back the whole glass (oops! I was young!!).

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.comBut back to the drink. Now that we’re in the dull days of January, you already have this sunny Suze cocktail on hand, but here’s a zingy drink with a beautiful jewel tone, all thanks to some pomegranates. A Caipirinha is similar in structure to a Daiquiri, only swapping in cachaça for the rum, and whole lime pieces instead of just the juice, this cocktail has a bolder, huskier quality to it over the more refined and quieter Daiquiri.

That sour bite of the lime gets punched up by the sweet-tart pomegranate, with a little added crunch there from the seeds (sometimes I like a little something extra in my cocktails). Cachaca has an earthy flavor and here, the Leblon adds some floral aroma alongside a slightly peppery taste. By adding the sparkling wine, I find that it mixes the flavors together without dulling down their strong characteristics. You just need a touch of sugar here for balance, so don’t be afraid of adding that bar spoon full.

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.comOn a side note here, some of you might read the recipe and see sparkling wine then pass over this because the thought of opening a whole bottle just to make one cocktail seems so wasteful. But wait! No need to pass on this, just buy a split! Yes, it’s enough for two of these but really, once you make one you’ll want another. And now, let’s say it together kye-peer-EEN-yah. And by the way, it’s e-LAY-nuh.

1 barspoon superfine sugar (1 teaspoon; 4g)
10 fresh pomegranate seeds
1/2 lime, quartered
1/2 ounce pomegranate juice (1 tablespoon; 15mL)
2 ounces cachaça, such as Leblon (4 tablespoons; 60mL)
3 ounces sparkling wine (6 tablespoons; 90mL)

In the bottom of a mixing glass, add the superfine sugar and pomegranate seeds. Crush the seeds with a muddler to break open. Add lime wedges and muddle 6 times to release their juice. Add pomegranate juice and cachaça and fill glass 2/3 full with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Add sparkling wine to glass, then pour contents, without straining, into a double rocks glass. Add more fresh ice cubes if desired and serve immediately.

Memorial Day Roundup!

You know what’s kinda sad? Listening to the radio this morning NPR was doing some snippets talking to various people who serve (or have served) here in the US and I was suddenly struck at how “Memorial Day” had no real meaning to me other than “it’s a 3 day weekend”. I can’t blame the wash of ridiculous food holidays that now exist and fill every single day, I can’t blame commercials where hot dogs march on a grill waiving flags (this might not exist but just be a dream I had), I can only blame my own self-absorption into my own affairs. Which shouldn’t be the case. My Dad served. Even though he doesn’t talk about it I know he did. My Dad also likes a stiff drink, or half a dozen beers (depends on the day), so this weekend I am being mindful of what the holiday means. I’m also offering up some suggestions for all the dads, the moms, the relatives, friends and those we don’t know, and for all of us taking the time to sit back and enjoy a drink with one another as we take some time off.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Pineapple Hop

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Steak Island Cocktail

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail

peach basil sorbet and saison beerfloat // stirandstrain.com

Peach Basil Sorbet and Saison Beerfloat

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

And… Fireball Cider (because Dad likes it)

MxMo: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the “Perfect” Hurricane

Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.comWhoa! Mixology Monday has rolled around once again and this month Joel from the Southern Ash blog has challenged us with “Perfect Symmetry”. Just what does that mean? “Perfect” as in a cocktail that splits one of the liquors equally (you guys can read the full announcement here!). Not “perfect” as in the absolute best; I don’t think I’d ever refer to a drink as perfect. Improved, yes.

I’m coming off of a few weeks vacation on here (although you guys probably didn’t notice what with all the posts going up) and although that might read to you as “I’m totally rested and going to write a million posts”, what that actually means is “dang guys, I have waaaaayyyy too many emails to go through”. So, I’m keeping this post brief today.Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.com

What’s a perfect Hurricane? Well, I decided after a long debate about what to do for MxMo this time that rum and cachaça might be a good combo to try and make into a “perfect” cocktail. So naturally my mind went to Tiki drinks. But you know what? It’s kinda hard finding a Tiki drink with one rum in it. Now, there were a few contenders with just one rum in the recipe but I wanted to revisit the Hurricane. I just love passion fruit and, well, I have a crap load of homemade syrup in the fridge right now.

Cachaça is a close cousin to rum. I tried to make the distinction in an earlier post but I believe here that there is enough of a difference that it qualifies for this recipe (they have different names!!). If you disagree, please feel free to leave a comment below.Mixology Monday: The South American Hurricane a.k.a. the "Perfect" Hurricane // stirandstrain.com

2 ounces aged rum
2 ounces aged cachaça, Leblon used here*
2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-3/4 ounces passion fruit syrup (homemade if you got it!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake well. Fill a hurricane glass or large tiki mug with about 20 ounces of crushed ice. Strain drink over the ice and add more crushed ice if desired.

Thanks to Joel for hosting again this month, and to Fred for keeping MxMo alive!

 

*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.

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere’s a lot going on in that title. I know. Forgive me. I’m trying to shove all the fruits I’ve been eating lately into something I can drink. And when I say eat I really mean grill. 

Oh yeah. I’ve been grilling fruit again.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This time it was for the folks over at Serious Eats; they enjoy a good grilled fruit drink every once in awhile. One life altering aspect of this drink, besides telling people you own and have used a bottle of cachaça, is that you get to grill cherries. I’m sure you’re reading that sentence and going… and? No, but really, have you done this before? Have you experienced these awesome morsels that have somehow gotten transformed on the grill from just yum into the intoxicatingly rich, smoky, sweet bites? Do yourself a favor and grill a bunch of these, not just for the drink, and then while you’re sipping your cocktail, pop these in your mouth. By the handful. Also, I’m grilling lime wheels, which is sorta covering up the fact that I’m still finding sad, sad limes at the store.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Oh! So let’s talk about the cachaça for a second. Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil and is a very close cousin of rum. In fact, we could just call them siblings. The only major difference, if we’re generalizing here, is that cachaça does not have to be aged, unlike rum which needs to be aged to some degree. It’s distilled from fresh sugarcane, like rhum agricole and has that funky aspect in the flavor profile. For this recipe we’re actually using aged cachaça, so if you just can’t get your hands on that, substitute a golden rum like Flor de Caña 12 Year (I tried both versions and quite frankly, am a fan of both for this drink).

So have I piqued your interests in grilling up some fruit? Let’s have at it…

Makes two drinks!
1 nectarine, halved
1 lime, cut into 4 wheels
4 cherries
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 springs lemon thyme (or regular thyme with a pinch of fresh lemon zest)
2 cups crushed ice
3 ounces aged cachaça, such as Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged

  • Skewer halved nectarines, lime wheels, and cherries on three skewers (with one variety of fruit per skewer) and place on a hot, oiled grill. Cook until fruit begins to bubble and char lines are visible on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 4 minutes for cherries and 8 to 10 minutes total for nectarines and limes. Remove from grill and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut nectarines into quarters.
  • For each drink, muddle 2 cherries, 2 lime wheels, 2 nectarine quarters, one sprig thyme, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass until nectarine is broken up. Remove lime wheels from glass. Pack 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces cachaça and stir gently. Pack 1/2 cup more crushed ice into glass and garnish with second thyme sprig. Repeat for second drink. Serve immediately.

The nectarine flavor really sings in this drink, and the cherries add wonderful richness. One might think these fruits would be heading you toward the overly-sweet side. But the lime, once grilled, actually takes on a slightly savory essence that only gets more earthy with the addition of lemon thyme.

And one last mention here: the giveaway for the wine/ice bucket ends in just TWO DAYS! Enter now for a chance to win!