Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAbout a year ago I saw an article about a new (very old) elixir riding on the coattails of the cocktail world’s shrub renaissance. This drink’s name: Switchel. I think switchel sounds a bit more fun than shrub. Shrub sounds like the friend you have who won’t go out on a Thursday night because they have to turn in a term paper the following Monday and need the time to study. Switchel sounds more like that friend calling you at 4am asking if you want to get doughnuts.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAnyway, Switchel quietly died down and I completely forgot about the saved article. I continued on with shrubs despite the name. (see here here and here) Recently though I remembered I had saved this article and revisited it again. More likely out of my desperation for it to be Fall already, I was looking for recipe ideas using apples. Instead it uses apple cider vinegar, a starting point I’d use to adapt to my own Autumnal tipple.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comSwitchel recipes are all basically the same plus or minus an ingredient or two. It also batches really well. So you can mix up at gallon of it Sunday night and drink it all week.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comGuys! Maybe I should back up here a second and remind you that switchel is NON ALCOHOLIC. Just like a shrub it contains no alcohol, but you can use it as a base for your cocktail creations. I even have a recipe for you I’ll link to. The flavor of this switchel on its own is sharp and tangy and almost like drinking a cocktail, or at least that’s what you tell yourself if you’re -cough- well into your second trimester and desperately miss cocktails. So, pregnant ladies out there, you’re welcome.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comFor my variation on a switchel, I added in some of my favorite Fall flavors: cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and steeped that in a base of apple cider vinegar, ginger and maple syrup. The spices are subtle when compared to the strong, zingy ginger, but I like that those flavors are not too overpowering. The apple cider vinegar provides a sharp sour contrast that you can adjust by adding or subtracting the water from the mix. Personally I like that sour flavor and I find the drink quite refreshing. If you’ve found shrubs to be a bit too strong for you, you definitely might want to scale back on the vinegar and up the water a bit; taste and see.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 5″-piece fresh ginger (about 6 ounces)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 cups water
2 4-6″ pieces of cinnamon
6 green cardamon pods, lightly crushed
4 cloves, whole

Pass ginger through a juicer (you should have about ⅓ cup). Strain the juice through a fine sieve to remove any larger pieces. Combine ginger juice, vinegar, maple syrup, and water in a large container and stir until maple syrup is dissolved. Add in cinnamon sticks. And then put the cloves and cardamom pods into a tea filter bag (Bags are not necessary but help in collecting all the bits later on. I prefer the bags with the drawstring for easy collection later on.) and add to the mix. Refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.

When ready to drink, remove the cinnamon sticks and the bagged spices. Switchel can be drunk as is, over ice with a splash of lemon juice or in a cocktail.

And speaking of cocktails, we’ll have an end of Summer cocktail using the Autumn Apple Cider Switchel here tomorrow! Enjoy!

The Fig and Tonic Cocktail

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Figs were never eaten around my house growing up. Unless you count that ubiquitous yellow box of cookies that I feel every 80’s parent was forcing on their kid because it might be seen as healthy. Fig Newtons were so weird. They had those crunchy bits and they weren’t that sweet, and yet they were called cookies. I probably couldn’t recognize a fig until I reached my twenties when I started working for a company that imported gourmet food. And then came the chocolate covered figs at holiday time. OH man–SO many people calling asking for those. The figs were not just covered in chocolate, they were enrobed. Which somehow just that word made them the most sexiest thing on the shelf. Enrobed in chocolate… I’d like to be enrobed in chocolate.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, one word of marketing and suddenly figs were a delicacy, not an unidentifiable fruit. Now they’re a common farmer’s market item. They’ve lost a little of their sultry shine but I still find them a touch exotic. And this past week I received a whole basket of them in our CSA box and decided they were ripe for a cocktail.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comToday I’m mixing up this cocktail with Everclear as part of their Make It Your Own campaign. We’ve been using Everclear on the site for years to make everything from infusions to liqueurs to tinctures. And now we’re using it to make cocktails too! Let’s be clear, Everclear on its own is 190 proof, but when you mix it with non-proof ingredients like syrup and water, then the final proof will significantly reduce. Here we’re only looking at a total of 27 to 32 proof depending on how much tonic water you desire–the less tonic the higher the proof.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comWhy mix with Everclear? Because I wanted to taste the ingredients and not so much another liquor flavor in the cocktail this time. It also makes for a stronger cocktail that doesn’t get watered down from the tonic. And what a complex tasting cocktail this is!

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comLetting the muddled figs steep in the Everclear for a bit makes the honeyed juice more prominent. Then to complement the figgy flavor, I created a vanilla syrup that gets some extra warming spice from black pepper, green cardamom, star anise and cloves. The vanilla really comes through but is much more complex in flavor from this spice blend. To offset some of the sweetness, a good dose of tonic water incorporates some bitterness into the cocktail while its effervescent bubbles distribute the flavors and bring out some aroma to your nose. The resulting cocktail is complex and yet clean tasting, refreshing and packs a punch. Ready to try one out?

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFig and Tonic Cocktail (27-32 proof)

1 ounce Everclear
2 figs, roughly chopped
3/4 ounce Spiced Vanilla Syrup (recipe below)
4-5 ounces tonic water

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle Everclear and figs. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add syrup and ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with tonic water. Garnish with fig slice.

Spiced Vanilla Syrup

2 vanilla beans cut into 2″ pieces
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 star anise
4 whole cloves
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Scrape seeds from the vanilla pieces and add to a small sauce pan. Then add in the vanilla pieces, peppercorns, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, sugar and water. Stir to combine and turn heat to high. Bring to just a boil and lower heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain syrup into an airtight container. Syrup will keep up to one month in the refrigerator.

MxMo: An Isle Away coconut cardamom foam cocktail

An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoI bet you were wondering what the heck to do with that bottle of cardamom tincture we all made last week. Well, wonder no more!

For awhile I’ve been wanting to pair up coconut and cardamom, and this month fate stepped in and gave me Mixology Monday’s challenge of COCONUT! Want to know more about what exactly MxMo is? Read on here.

This month, Rated R Cocktails challenged us to work with the versatile coconut. A cocktail ingredient that not only gives us several liquid choices, but also offers itself up as a drinking vessel as well! It’s also in the name of the Tiki-inspired supper club I am part of. (We even have a coconut cocktail served in the shell.)An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

This recipe came about in my search to find a light, refreshing cocktail that wasn’t weighed down by the usual culprit of coconut cream. However, I still found myself wanting to mimic the cream and I remembered awhile back that Todd over at Honestly Yum, did a pear foam last year that had similar structure for what I was looking for: light as air foam that still had a dense appearance. So here coconut water becomes a coconut foam. Adding the cardamom to the foam also meant getting the lovely aroma in there, but not effecting the taste profile I wanted for the cocktail under the foam. This is one of those times where I was looking to transform the drink from first sniff to last sip.An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

Again, as for many posts, you will need a piece of special equipment. An ISI whipped cream canister makes this fast and gives you a stable foam. I suppose you could whip this up in a stand mixer and then spoon it on your cocktail, but, well, I like an excuse to bring out the toys. All of this is available online and I’ll provide links below.

There was a possibility that this drink was going to make it on to the supper club menu, but we decided to go another direction. Also, I’d hate to ruin the surprise at the dinner when you get one!

The foam makes enough for quite a number of drinks, so if you’re having some guests by, table side foam art is highly encouraged.An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

Part 1: Make the Coconut Cardamom Foam
adapted from Honestly Yum

7 ounces coconut water
2-1/2 ounces egg whites
2 ounces simple syrup
3-4 drops cardamom tincture (recipe here)

Add all ingredients to a whipped cream canister. Close the canister, shake hard, charge it with a whipped cream charger and refrigerate at least one hour until ready to use. Will keep fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Part 2: Make the Cocktail

2 ounces white rum, such as Selvarey*
2 ounces coconut water
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
cardamom pod for garnish

In a cocktail shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine rum, coconut water, lime juice and passion fruit. Shake to combine about 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Using the whipped cream canister pointed straight down over the drink, add foam in a circular motion until the top of the drink is covered, about a 1/2″. Add a cardamom on top for a garnish.

Strong cardamom aroma with a hint of coconut. The cocktail itself is very light and dry. Coconut flavor sits in the back while more of the fruit notes move forward from the passionfruit and this particular rum’s flavor profile. Quite delightful.

Where do I get the equipment from?

 

Thanks to Rated R Cocktails for hosting this month, and to Fred for keeping the party going!

 

*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.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.comThere’s this Indian spiced rice pudding that I make every now and then. It’s one of those recipes where you have to stand there and stir over a flame for about 20 or 30 minutes. It’s a labor of love, but it’s also a lesson in patience. To have the patience not to scoop out scalding spoonfuls into your mouth because the heavy scent of cardamom is so powerful you have to succumb to it. Maybe it’s just me, but a dish with a nice balance of cardamom is never a let down.

That idea I found is also true in cocktails.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.comIt’s been awhile since I’ve worked on tinctures and this one has been in my “to make” pile for awhile. I made a small batch for you all since a little goes a long way, and if this is for your home bar, quite frankly I wouldn’t want you to end up with more than you could ever use.

Cardamom goes wonderfully with a London Dry style gin and pairs well with lots of citrus. However, it also works great with flavors like coconut and pear. You can use this tincture to add just a few drops to a cocktail, or sprayed over it to give another aroma to your drink experience. Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Cardamom Tincture // stirandstrain.com

This tincture is pretty easy to assemble, it just takes a few days to brew.

1/2 cup grain alcohol
1/3 cup green cardamom pods, slightly cracked (you can use a mortar and pestle to do this easily)

In an airtight container (mason jars with lids work great) combine alcohol and cardamom pods. Swirl to combine and leave in a cool, dark place for 6 days. After 6 days, strain out solids using a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Store in a airtight jar. Flavor will last up to a year.

The aroma the tincture imparts is an intense cardamom smell that has sweet, floral notes. Looking for a recipe to go along with this? Stay tuned! One coming up this week.

Bake It: Molasses, Cocoa Nib and Black Strap Rum Cookies

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com
Santa gets cookies and a cocktail at our house.

Panic. Panic is setting in as I look at the calendar and realize that Christmas is in two weeks and I haven’t even sent out cards yet. But I did make a batch of holiday flavored cookies and my house smelt amazing the whole time. That should be all we need during the season, houses filled with the smells of cinnamon and ginger. And rum. Cookies should have rum in them too.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

And I did that for my first time participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap.

Secret Ingredient: RUM
Secret Ingredient: RUM
Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com
More secret ingredients: cocoa nibs

But you’re a cocktail blog! I know! But sometimes there are food goodies on here and this was for charity and also: I love cookies.

Fresh grind your cardamom please.
Fresh grind your cardamom please.

Right from the beginning of this challenge I knew I wanted to make molasses cookies. They ship well and combined with Black Strap Rum they are filled with deep, dark, molasses-y goodness. So that’s what I sent. Of course there was a hiccup; the first batch accidentally got much more cardamom then they should have and ended up in the garbage. Seriously guys, a little cardamom goes a LONG way. The next batch however was perfect: nicely spiced, smelled divine, and they were edible. The 3 recipients also got a couple extra cookies thrown in because they ended up being smaller than first anticipated and I am nice like that.Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Let’s get to the baking!

Yields about 60 1″ cookies
Recipe inspired by Williams Sonoma

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 tbsp. Cruzan Black Strap Rum
1/2 cup Valrhona Cocoa Nibs
1/2 cup white or clear sugar crystals

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg. Then beat in molasses, vanilla and rum. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat an oven to 350° F.
  4. Cover 3 half sized sheet pans in parchment. Using a 100 size disher, scoop out cookie dough onto sheet pans. Once dough has been scooped, by hand round out scoops into balls, toss in a small bowl filled with the sugar crystals and flatten out the ball into discs about 1/4″ thick. Refrigerated for 20 minutes.
  5. Move the sheet pans directly from refrigerator into the pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 12 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool on sheets for about 10 minutes and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
  7. Once cool, cookies can be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.comThe rum here accentuates the already present molasses. These are pretty much what I think of/what I want in a holiday cookie. They are fragrant with spices, not too sugary and are small enough that I can eat a handful without thinking twice. I hope all my recipients enjoyed their batches, and I hope that you try a batch this year.Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Mixology Monday: A Winter Pear Cocktail

Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoHalloween was skipped this year. Not on purpose, but Christopher and I found ourselves on a flight crossing coasts on the 31st. By the time we landed and arrived home, there was just enough time in the day to stare at the tv and zonk off to sleep due to jetlag.

When I woke up it was time for Thanksgiving. So, naturally, I need to start thinking about Christmas RIGHT NOW.

I’m using this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the Booze Nerds, to do just that; think about winter holidays. The theme picked this month is “Resin”. What, you may ask yourselves, is that all about? You can read the full post on their site here, but mainly it’s using SAP (from Trees, not the accounting program).

My eyes drifted over in the direction of the front of my house, which is covered with rosemary plants. The likes of which you’ve seen as ingredients in my drinks here here and here. This month, rosemary is strictly a garnish as I bring out another beauty of the deciduous kind, Douglas Fir Eau de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery. I saw this on the shelf at a liquor store and picked it up for the sheer fact that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the smell of fir trees (i.e. Christmas Trees). This probably falls in at #3 on my list of favorite smells, which is a list that I have.

Pears are replacing apples right now as the seasonal fruit and I thought that a pairing of pear and fir tree is about as winter holiday of a cocktail as I can pull off right now. Adding cardamom also helps. And it works for the MxMo challenge.Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1/4 asian pear, cubed
3 whole green cardamom pods, pods discarded and seeds lightly crushed
1/2 oz lemon juice
1-1/2 oz Chopin Rye Vodka*
3/4 oz J Vineyards Pear Liqueur
1/4 oz Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

Garnish:
Pear wheel
rosemary sprig

Combine pear cubes and cardamom seeds in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add lemon juice and muddle well to full combine and break down the pear. Next add in ice about 2/3 up the way of the mixing glass. Pour in vodka, pear and fir eau de vie. Shake to fully combine about 20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a pear wheel skewered with the rosemary sprig.

Strong rosemary and cardamom nose with sweet, lemony notes. Flavor is juicy pear with a nice balance of tartness from the lemon. The presence of the fir is not subtle, as it stands out next to the pear, but it also compliments the sweetness by offering an unexpected earthiness and woodsy layer to the drink.

Thanks to the Booze Nerds for this month’s MxMo challenge and for making me break into this bottle, it was a delicious experiment and kinda like drinking a Christmas Tree.

*This bottle of Chopin 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.

Make It: Cardamom, Vanilla, Muscovado Sugar Compound Butter

This is the recipe for the butter base in my Hot Buttered Warm Up drink (which should be the next post after this or links here).

½ cup (4oz) unsalted butter
2 T of muscovado sugar
4 large cardamom pods cracked and seeds ground finely
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste (Vanilla paste can quite pricey and is usually used by a. people who bake things in large quantities and need containers of paste or b. people who find the act of trying to slice open a single vanilla bean and scrape out its contents an utter pain in the ass. I am not a baker. I’m sure you could use vanilla extract here and get the same flavor, but I wanted pretty flecks of seeds in there.)

Cream the butter and the sugar together in a stand mixer. Add in next 2 ingredients, mix to incorporate. Scrape butter mixture into a dish, cover tightly and refrigerate.