Sparkling Coffee & Amaro Cocktail

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comHey guys! We’ve been enjoying a summer break around these parts (read: preparing for termite tenting and urging my husband to dispose of years of saved New Yorker magazines). But now we’re back with you today with a cocktail AND some awesome news!

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comFirst up, the awesome news.

Stir and Strain is a finalist AGAIN this year for Saveur’s Best Blog awards in the Drinks Coverage category. We are now up against some beer and wine folks and not just cocktails. Third time’s a charm? Or always a bridesmaid never a bride? We’ll see in September. For now, if you want to vote for Stir and Strain to win, you can do that today (and actually, they are allowing you to do that every day until August 31st. But I won’t pressure you guys either way.).

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comAnd now here’s a cocktail.

I’ve been digging Montenegro Amaro for a few months now, but mainly just as a digestif. It’s not new–it’s been around since 1885, but it was new to my line up this year and I couldn’t be happier. Looking for a new way to enjoy this but still keeping it at a low ABV, I thought about that kooky combination of cold brew coffee and tonic water I heard about last year. I don’t keep up with coffee trends, but I do enjoy putting coffee    into my    cocktails.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comSo I decided to pair Montenegro, with its super flavorful and wonderfully bittersweet taste, with a robust coffee and slightly bitter tonic. I finished the cocktail with a touch of grapefruit oil in the garnish–don’t skip that folks, it makes the drink with a light floral aroma. It’s hard to nail down exactly all the flavors you get with Montenegro, but there’s citrus and dried cherry and gentian root and just a lot of herbal notes. It provides enough sweetness along with the tonic water so there is no need to add any further sweetener.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.comYou could have this as your digestif, or maybe a Sunday early afternoon drink. Up to your preference. I’ve been enjoying them in the late afternoon when I need a pick-me-up, but also, you know, want a little cocktail too.

Sparkling Coffee Cocktail with Montenegro Amaro // stirandstrain.com5 ounces tonic water (Fever-Tree Indian Tonic used here)
1 ounce Montenegro Amaro*
3-1/2 ounces cold brew or chilled espresso (we have a Nespresso machine at home and for this I used one Lungo capsule of their Fortissio)
grapefruit zest for garnish

  • In a collins glass, fill with ice cubes and pour in tonic water. Add in the Montenegro and coffee. Express the grapefruit oil over the drink and add the peel to the cocktail. Stir gently to combine.

Your 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Drinking and Eating Guide (from the Stir and Strain archives)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Let me help you pick out what you should be drinking and eating today. I am a 1/4 Irish after all…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.com

Irish Coffee Jello Shots

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Bitter Irishman

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

Anise Cream Coffee

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Irish Derby Cocktail

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

And a few Green Drinks…

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

old tom's mistake cocktail

Old Tom’s Mistake

Make It: Irish Coffee Jello Shots Two Ways

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comProcrastination has gotten the better of me this week as we speed, much too fast for my liking, into the 3rd month of the year. March is looking to be the most jam packed month yet this year as I’ve said “yes” to maybe one too many events, my mother is in town, and we celebrate multiple birthdays, St. Patrick’s Day (I am a 1/4 Irish), and Easter. So of course, instead of working on projects, I’ve been covering my ears and eyes going NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH and making batches of brownies and spending copious amounts of time photographing my purse contents.

I did take the time to make you guys a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day though this year. I hope it makes up for those purse photos.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIt’s like a cocktail, but you eat it: Irish Coffee Jello Shots.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comSo here’s the thing. I enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time; like, a few sips and then I’m usually done. It’s a lot of hot coffee and I’m usually drinking it late in the evening when a giant hot coffee is not really what I want right then. I’m also usually drinking them at a party or an event and bless their hearts for trying, but the coffee is usually not very good either. To control this situation for myself, and hopefully for you all, let’s get a delicious coffee and miniaturize it with the right amount of booze and not force people to drink giant hot coffees at 8pm.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comI went ahead and created a straight up Irish Coffee version, garnished with the tiniest of lemon peel, and then bastardized it and went crazy adding in chocolate and Fernet Branca because I love chocolate mint anything including my coffee and for this one occasion, with my whiskey. Ooooh, I’m so crazy…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comThe original version of these has a strong, rich coffee flavor with a hint of whiskey at the finish. The cream is mixed in so you’re not trying to eat a delicate jello shot while whipped cream melts all over your fingers – gross. For the mocha-mint version, you get a lot of Fernet (a little goes a long way!) with a strong mocha finish and a more subtle whiskey punch at the end.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIrish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
lemon zest for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with lemon zests and serve!

Mocha-Mint Irish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. After the gelatine has bloomed, sprinkle cocoa powder over the mixture. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream, Fernet Branca and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve!

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comAre you guys into these? I have a few more ideas up my sleeve I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.comIt’s that time of year where I put booze in baked goods and share the recipe with you!

This year I participated in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap once again. I was so set on making rum balls (it’s another thing I’m getting to cross off the “to make” list) that I didn’t really think about how well they would transport across the country. So, if you’re reading this and you received a box from me… apologies if they were either melted/smooshed/etc… Hopefully that shouldn’t matter cause you thought they tasted so good you ate them anyway.

cookie swap

These rum balls are different from what I grew up with. Mostly they’re like fudge chock full of nuts and aged rum. Then rolled around in coffee flavored jimmies. Do you call them jimmies? Apparently these are one of those regional food items that every part of the country calls something else. You may know them as sprinkles. Or.. I dunno. What else do people call them? I also grew up eating American Chop Suey which apparently only people from Rhode Island and New Hampshire eat.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

There is no actual baking in this recipe. Yes, there’s a double boiler but all that is required of you there is to get some water hot and then stir for about 5 minutes. What I’m really saying here is don’t be afraid of the confection; it’s amazingly simple to make but looks super hard and that means people will fawn all over you for making this.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

I’m keeping this post short. It’s the holiday season! You all have a million other cookie recipes to make (or gawk at).Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Let’s do this!

Adapted from Carla Hall’s Rum Balls

1/4 cup aged rum, Brugal 1888 used here
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
coffee flavored jimmies for rolling

  1. Heat the rum in a small skillet over medium until reduce by half. Set aside.
  2. In a heat proof bowl, melt chocolate, espresso and butter over a double boiler (or if you don’t have one, a medium sized sauce pan with about an inch of simmering water with a stainless steel bowl on top will also work). Stir to combine.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the pecans, rum, powdered sugar and salt until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. This can also be prepared a few days in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge. (If refrigerating, let mixture fully come to room temp before trying to scoop.)
  4. Portion dough into 1-inch balls and roll in sprinkles. Chill in an air tight container until ready to serve.

The consistency is very close to fudge with lots of crunchy bits from the pecans. While present in flavor, the rum takes a backseat and is pretty subtle. If you want more punch from the rum, then increase rum by a tablespoon before reduction.Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Happy holidays guys! I hope you try your hand at making these!

Mixology Monday: Anise Cream Coffee

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoWeekend mornings always start with several cups of coffee. Years ago I had a French Press but it was kind of chintzy and broke on me; I only just replaced it a month ago. Since I am the only one drinking coffee in my house, I still make a full pot and will pour cup after cup, not thinking about how much caffeine I am ingesting until hours later my heart is pounding as if Animal is playing the drums in there. I’ve started to cut down on the coffee by replacing the giant coffee pot with a French press. It’s very unlikely I will clean the whole thing out just to make another round too.

So why the coffee talk? Well, because it’s the base for this month’s Mixology Monday cocktail! No, it’s not a coffee theme, Nick from the Straight Up blog has given us ANISE as the special ingredient this month.

Since it’s all kinds of cold lately, I decided a nice hot, boozy drink was in order. But where to put the anise? In a cream! Seriously though, I saw this challenge as an excuse to go buy myself a whip cream dispenser. It will have other purposes later (none of which will include whippets FYI) so I figured now was the time to splurge on one. Tis the season to give (to oneself).Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

First thing you need to do is make the cream infusion:
1 cup organic whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3-4 whole star anise

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat. Bring to just under a boil and reduce heat to low. Keep at a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand until room temperature. Strain the mixture, cover and refrigerate over night. The next day, whip by hand (stand mixer, hand mixer, etc…) or funnel contents into a whipped cream dispenser. Keep refrigerated if not using right away.

For the Drink:
1 oz. Rittenhouse 100 Rye
4 oz. Hot Brewed Coffee (Groundworks Black Magic Organic Espresso used here)
1/4 oz. simple syrup (or more/less to taste)
infused anise & vanilla whipped cream

1 whole star anise for garnish

In a glass mug (or regular mug if you want), add simple syrup, rye and coffee. Stir gently to combine. Top with anise vanilla whipped cream and garnish with the whole star anise.

By itself, the coffee and rye are quite strong, and too…’alcohol forward’ if you catch my drift. The cream drastically cuts that back and evens out the whole drink. Rye and anise are a wonderful combination together. Although usually strong flavors on their own, here they work as accents to the other players in the drink. The espresso has an earthiness that pairs well with the vanilla, and as a whole, the drink is only slightly sweet with a nice kick of spice.

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.comWhy not put sugar in the cream mixture? Personally, I’m not a big sweet drink drinker. Here it’s important to balance the sweetness of each drink with the person’s preference. Did I mention this is a great brunch drink? Whipping cream has a slight sweet edge to it and I find that adding a touch of simple syrup to the coffee itself disperses enough sugar throughout. Could you flavor the whipped cream to just be sweetened? Yes, Add about a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup to the mixture before beating/funneling into a whipped cream dispenser.

The El-El After-Dinner Cocktail

El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLet’s jump into this post with a story.

A few weeks ago I received an email from a friend of mine asking if I was available to make some drinks for a Thanksgiving-Hanukkah related dinner party. Not just any dinner party, one hosted by the guys behind The Table Set Podcast. I would be responsible for providing a dessert cocktail to accompany dessert. Naturally I jumped at the chance. And in the end, they let me do TWO drinks. The first one you guys have seen before, the Averna Highball, which proved itself a lovely companion to some Turkey Broth with Thanksgiving “Stuffing” Matzo Ball soup.

Dessert was going to be a new to everyone cocktail. Besides working as an ‘after dinner’ type drink, it also had to pair with the actual dessert (which you can find out more about by listening to the podcast. It’s a doozy! Look for it later this week.). In my mind, after dinner drinks fall into 3 categories: coffee, port and, well, more cocktails. For this drink I decided to dump them all into one cup. One tasty, caffeinated cup.El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Prior to this, I had been considering infusing coffee into a rum to try out for drinks, and low and behold, the opportunity presented itself here. This is a quick infusion folks, so don’t go fretting about having to wait. I mean, it’s not going to be ready in an hour, but at least you’re not waiting a whole week!

The garnish you’re looking at is a nod to the dessert it accompanies, and no, it’s not the dessert you think it is. Since this was at a Thanksgivukkah dinner, originally I had thought of including a gold coin garnish (admittedly I know very little about the holiday, being raised Catholic and all, even we got these coins in our stockings at Christmas), but decided that a gilded pecan would look prettier (it does). Paired with a Luxardo cherry it’s also mighty tasty too.

The dinner itself was great, and I’m still dreaming about the dishes. Also, I learned how to actually play the Dradle game for real; and I won. And if you’re curious, the El-El is not a phonetically Jewish spelling of some sort. I just combined the names of the rum and coffee because I was drawing a blank on what to call it… real imagination here.El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1-1/2 oz. Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum (see recipe below)
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Yalumba Antique Tawny Port
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

Garnish:
Maple Glazed Pecan (see recipe below) dusted with edible gold glitter
Luxardo Cherry

Combine rum, allspice dram, port and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled miniature snifter glass. Garnish with a cocktail pick speared with the pecan and cherry.

Rich and decadent are the two words that first popped out of my mouth. Full coffee wafts up on the nose and stays on the palate. A spicy, bittersweet finish pops with each layer of flavor. This is definitely an after-dinner sipper with a lot of complex allspice, ginger and chocolate notes to it. It pairs wonderfully with a vanilla ice cream. So, if you’re looking for something to pair with dessert this holiday season, here you go.

Make It: Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum

14 oz. 15 Year El Dorado Rum
1/2 cup Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast

Combine ingredients in an airtight container (I reused my rum bottle). Swirl to cover the beans. Let sit for 2 days. Fine strain to catch any broken coffee beans. Bottle. Use within two years.

Golden Maple Glazed Pecans

Adapted from Food Network
1 cup pecans
3 tablespoons organic maple syrup
pinch of salt

Dry heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add pecans, maple syrup and salt. Stir to combine and keep stirring until pecans are covered and syrup has evaporated from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Pour out pecans onto a silpat or parchment paper to cool. While still warm, dust edible gold glitter over the pecans. Shake off excess. (This is easier if you spear onto toothpick first.). Tastes best up to a week in an airtight container.

Action shot from dinner.
Action shot from dinner.

Big thanks again to Andy, Greg and Nathan from The Table Set for inviting me over to talk cocktails and for allowing me to serve strangers alcohol.

Also, in case you haven’t see all the tweets, Stir & Strain now has a Facebook page! You can find it over here.