Cherry Sumac Swizzle

Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m realizing that since it’s gotten warmer around these parts, I’ve been prone to make a lot of crushed ice recipes. Apologies if you do not own an ice crusher and have had to resort to a bag and rolling pin method. Unless that’s your de-stress time which concludes with a cocktail. Actually, that doesn’t sound half bad.

Before we get to today’s drink, I just wanted to let you guys know that I’ve been hopping all over the internet this week invading other people’s websites, like I sometimes do. Please check out the links for some drink recipes not found on this site! Especially tasty for summer!

Blog Links

dinexdesign freutcake

Now, onto the drink.

Cherries are just blowing up right now at the farmer’s market, so I keep using them. And also apparently crushed ice. But what I’m seriously, stupidly, into right now is spices. That might sound weird, so let me explain. In the same way that I will read cocktail books and make lists of all the ingredients I don’t have so that I can purchase at some point in time, I tend to read cookbooks and do the same with ingredients I’m unfamiliar with. After getting the Jerusalem Cookbook I started making lists of spices that I’d never heard of, or had seen before and hadn’t a clue as to what I should do with them. So now I have packs of za’atar, urfa pepper, ras el hanout and sumac crowding the shelves with 3 different kinds of cinnamon, pounds of multicolored peppercorns, and so much star anise I’m considering turning it into a wreath for Christmas this year (I’m never going to use it all). Clearly, I like to hoard spices (at least it’s not cats).Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So I decided to use one of these unique spices to come up with a drink for the Serious Eats team: sumac. Sumac is awesome by the way. It has so much going on that it’s a pretty versatile spice to have on hand. Both sweet and savory, a little bitter, a bit more sour… it really can be used in place of lemon in a lot of dishes. But, since we’re talking cocktails here, I decided that those sweet summer cherries could use a little sourness to them. That and tons of ice.

Swizzles are serious drinks with a not so serious name. They can pack a punch on the booze side, and should be treated as a sipper, not a big gulp. Also, they require special tools. To make a proper swizzle one must use a swizzle stick that comes from the swizzlestick tree. Seriously, that’s its name. You can get by with a bar spoon too, so don’t feel like you need to go buy any special equipment. Although, if you’re already planning on doing that, I’ve picked out a couple things at the end of this post.Cherry Sumac Swizzle Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now, some of you are probably properly trained in the ingredients of a swizzle, so allow me some liberties here as I tell you I left out the traditional lime juice so that the tartness from the sumac shines through. There’s some falernum added to justify that though too.

For the cherry-sumac syrup:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons dried sumac

For the cocktail:

2 ounces demerara rum (such as El Dorado 15 year)
1 1/4 ounces cherry-sumac syrup
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
Crushed ice
Dried sumac, for garnish

  • For the syrup: Combine sugar, water, cherries, and sumac in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container, reserving cherries for garnish. The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • For the cocktail: In the bottom of a highball or pilsner glass, add rum, cherry-sumac syrup, and falernum, and fill glass with crushed ice. Throw in a couple of those reserved cherries left over from the syrup too. Using a swizzle stick or bar spoon, rapidly spin back and forth between your hands while also moving it up and down. Add more ice to fill the glass. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and several of the reserved cherry quarters from the syrup.

First, this is a pretty satisfying drink. The tangy sumac and cherry syrup balances the heady vanilla and spice flavors of the rum and falernum. Second, it’s not super boozy, but the rum is very much present.

Will you be seeing more crushed ice recipes on here in the coming months? Yeah, probably, so be prepared to whack that hammer.

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.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria for Two

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

At the end of May I caught a tweet from the NY Times food section that completely changed my mind about what a Sangria should be. Lavender? Sake? What were these crazy components I’d never dreamed of adding to what I considered to be a drink of wine and fruit thrown in for good measure. You can read the whole article through this link, just come back here when you’re done.

That Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria I did? Little did I know what path I would start going down next. Suddenly that article made me want to try it with all kinds of wine. White Sangria I am still working on, but Rosé? I think I have something pretty special here. (Oh, and I got Sherry waiting in line too, FYI).Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

In developing this recipe, I made the Rosé tell me where to go. By that I mean I bought a relatively cheap bottle in case this was a bomb (Hello Trader Joe’s!) and tasted it, and from there went with what I thought would enhance the flavor profile of the wine and compliment it on several levels. Apples, plums, basil. It’s all in there along with some not so well known ingredients: Cardamaro (a complex wine-based Amaro). And unexpected: Rum.Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

For me, I want Sangria to be complex, like a cocktail, but on the obvious larger scale in size.The only downfall here is the wait time. Sorry folks, this needs to sit for 2 days, it’s just better that way. Trust me.

5-6 basil leaves
2 plums, sliced
1-1/2 green apples, sliced
1/2 large pear, sliced
1 oz. Cardamaro
4 oz. El Dorado 15 year Rum
1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir Rosé (pick a Rosé that is light, dry and subtly sweet with hints of berries)

Lightly crush the basil in the bottom of your pitcher. Add fruit. Pour liquids over the fruit and stir to combine. Refrigerate for two days. To serve, pour over ice filled double rocks glasses.Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

The Rosé, regardless of what else is added here, is still the dominant flavor, but now there is a wonderfully warm, light syrupy taste from the liquors. Apples our among the fruit with this particular ratio, however it’s a nice crisp addition. Plum is more of a subtle flavor in the background while the basil adds a slight earthiness that compliments this Rosé. Some people disagree with adding fruit during the resting period because it can become soggy. I am not one of those people. The fruit I stick in there I want infused into the drink. They are not merely a garnish. In fact, I might not even eat them.

If you can wait for this, it’s a light, crisp, refreshing and seriously easy to drink Sangria.