Make It: Homemade Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Peppermint liqueur and I have a bit of a… sordid past if you will. It was definitely a favorite of mine when I first discovered it among the contents of a family friend’s liquor cabinet. But now with time in-between us, a lot of time, I can revisit this old favorite of mine and class it up a bit for my current tastes. And that means making my own.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, I definitely am a little obsessed with holiday DIY projects. In my mind, friends and family look forward to this time of year as I bestow copious amount of boozy concoctions on them. This year is no exception.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFriends, if you really want to impress someone with a DIY gift, make it sparkle. Seriously. “Hey, I made you some Peppermint Liqueur.” “Thanks.” “Oh, but look, it also sparkles and kinda looks like a lava lamp!” “OMGEEEEEE THANKS!!!”

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSee, they’re going to love it because it looks like you spent a great deal of time researching and making this spectacular liqueur. You win the holidays. And no one will need to know it took you less than 15 minutes to make a big batch and divvy it up among bottles for gifts. It will probably take you longer to drive to Target, park, pick out some cute holiday cards, stand in line, drive home, and write a special note to attach to the bottles. And don’t forget some ribbon!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comIf you’re short on time, but want to give something special for the holidays, this is IT. Today I partnered with Everclear to help you folks win holiday gift giving with this super easy, Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur. You all know that I love using Everclear for my infusions, tinctures and bitters, and today it’s the base for this liqueur. Starting with a higher proof means I can adjust the ABV as I see fit. Maybe I want to go a little higher on one batch, a little lower on the next; I get to decide. Everclear also has a neutral taste so just the delicious, invigorating peppermint taste comes through, not notes of grass or potatoes, or, I dunno, tree bark.

Once you make this, you’ll definitely want to store it in some clear, air-tight bottles because NO ONE can resist holding it up to some light and swirling it around. NO ONE. Maybe stick some fresh greens and some ribbon on the outside and your gift is done.

Note: make sure you buy NON-TOXIC, EDIBLE luster dust. There are some luster dust products that are for decorative use only and not intended for consumption. Don’t buy those. Read the label. Also, do not put your head directly over the warm syrup when adding the peppermint extract. Any steam will send the extract right into your eyes! And it might sting!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comNow, let’s make some liqueur!

Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
1 cup Everclear
1/2 teaspoon luster dust, pearl color (see note above)

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add in peppermint extract and Everclear. Stir everything to combine.
  • To create shimmery effect, sprinkle luster dust in the bottom of the container you’ll store the liqueur in. Pour in the peppermint liqueur. Seal, and shake well to combine. Luster dust will settle to the bottom after awhile so shake well before serving.

This is great on its own, but if you’re looking to use it in a drink, here are a few suggestions:

  • Spike your Hot Chocolate
  • Stinger Cocktail
  • Peppermint White Russian (you’ll need to experiment on this one but I think it could be a winner)

 

For more information on Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, please visit them at makeityourown.com

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

The older I get, the more I want to create my own set of holiday traditions. While Thanksgiving and Christmas tend to be where one’s mind goes to when we think “holiday traditions”, in our house, Halloween is a big deal.

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comFor a brief period of time in my late 20’s, my husband and I threw some really fun Halloween parties (and Tiki parties, and Christmas parties, and OH BOY do we love a themed party). But now that we have our little family here we tend to go out for parties now, leaving the themes for others to make. Halloween night, though, we’ve started having a party for 2.

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

While yes, one can raid your kid’s treat bag and gorge yourself on low quality store candy (is it me, or do brands tend to crank out sub-par versions of their candy to stuff into those 10 lb mix bags this time of year?). But as an adult you should do yourself a favor and make yourself something special; at least for one night.

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comIf you’ve been visiting this site for some time, you know I L-O-V-E making adult jellies (or jell-o shots or what-have-you). You can forget everything you knew about those terrible things you choked down in college, and instead congratulate yourself on making a sophisticated treat with this recipe. And just for balance, I’m going to cut mine out in bat shapes for Halloween—I don’t want to be that serious. (You could just as easily put them in a spherical mold or pour your mixture in a non-stick baking pan and cut squares out too.)

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comAnother fun part of this recipe is that you get to go out and buy a bag of candy for the infusion. My Scandinavian side of the family dictates that I must enjoy black licorice but on the rare occasions that I do have a bag of it in the house, I am the only one who touches it and I almost always have too much left over. However, any extras that are leftover this time, go into today’s infusion!

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve teamed up with Everclear again to create this easy and sophisticated adult treat. I’m using the neutral tasting Everclear as the base of my licorice infusion, and then adding that to a simple mixture of amaro and gelatin (and some shimmering edible powder for extra oomph). You can make this recipe your own by using whatever amaro you enjoy, and you can take or leave the luster dust (I say take it though).

The end result are spicy and anise-y jellies with just a slight boozy kick. Look for an amaro on the mellower side so that you get that warming flavor from the black licorice.

Let’s make some treats!

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.comLicorice Infusion (2 options)

10 ounces Everclear
1 cup black licorice, chopped

Option #1: Place licorice in an airtight container and pour Everclear over. Seal, shake to combine and let sit 5 days. Shake gently once a day. Test your infusion after 5 days and either strain through a coffee filter or let sit an additional day or two until desired flavor. Once desired flavor is reached, strain into a clean, airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. Use within 6 months.

Option #2–quick infusion method: Into a whipping canister, add Everclear and black licorice. 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 mixture immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Black Licorice and Amaro Jellies
yields 16 1 oz squares

8 ounces Amaro
2 packs gelatine
8 ounces boiling water
2 ounces Licorice Infusion
black food coloring, optional
1/4 teaspoon coral luster dust, optional

  • Line an 8×8 baking pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.
  • In a 4 cup capacity measuring glass, pour in amaro and sprinkle gelatine over the top. Let sit 5 minutes.
  • Next, pour boiling water over the mixture (it should have firmed up a little), stirring constantly to combine.
  • Stir in Licorice Infusion and food coloring and/or luster dust if using.
  • Pour into the lined 8×8 baking pan (or, alternatively, molds of your choice). Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
  • When mixture has firmed, cut into desired shape and serve immediately.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coastal Tincture

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Hi, my name is Elana and I’m that weirdo at Target standing in the hand soap aisle smelling every bottle trying to determine which scent comes home with me. Scent is a powerful determining factor of what gets used in my home. If a dish soap, or hand lotion, or candle has a scent that doesn’t jive with what I consider olfactory perfection, out it goes. Aroma with cocktails is also a similar experience.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comCertain scents may sound strange when referencing a drink, but think about how we throw around terroir with wine (and now, there’s lots of spirits doing that as well). You may like a drink because it reminds you of cut grass from your childhood, or bell peppers, or–and this is a favorite of mine–hot tar. Many times, the aroma of a drink will keep me going back again and again. So I thought I’d try capturing a smell from one of my favorite places, the Central Coast of California, and putting it into a drink.

Today we’ve teamed up with Everclear to recreate the aroma of the California coast in a tincture: fresh green rosemary, wafts of woodsmoke, and a spray of salt air. Everclear has a neutral base and with the higher ABV it also helps to preserve the infusion with no added flavors.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comTinctures are easy ways to get new layers of flavor and aroma into your cocktails without changing the amount of liquid already present. They also will not alter the ABV of your drink in any considerable way. You only need a few drops or a spray or two and your drink is transformed. All you really need is a few ingredients, a bottle of Everclear, and some time.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, let’s make this tincture and then I’ll give you a few quick and simple ways to use it once it’s done! Who knows, maybe this will inspire you to create your own tincture from your favorite place, or, err, hand soap.

Note: I find having some refillable spray bottles and droppers around helpful to bottle my tinctures, but these are totally not necessary. As long as you have an airtight, non-reactive container you should be fine (that glass canning jar your bone broth came in? Give that guy a wash and use that for storage!).

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: California Coast Tincture with Everclear // stirandstrain.comCalifornia Coastal Tincture

2 ounces kosher salt
2 ounces water
10 ounce Everclear
2 tablespoons lapsang souchong tea
4 sprigs rosemary, cleaned

  • In a small saucepan over high heat, combine water and salt and whisk vigorously to dissolve (it’s fine if not all the salt dissolves). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight container with well fitting lid, combine Everclear, lapsang souchong tea, rosemary sprigs and salt mixture. Seal container and shake well to combine. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 5 days, giving the container a shake every day or so.
  • After 5 days remove the rosemary sprigs and taste the mixture for smokiness. If you want your tincture to go even smokier, leave the tea in for another 3 days, tasting until you reach your desired level.
  • When desired aroma/flavor is reached, strain the contents through a coffee filter into a clean, airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

How do I use this tincture?

  • My absolute favorite way to enjoy this tincture is a few drops in a Martini using a 1:1 London dry gin to vermouth. The aroma pops and makes the drink much more complex.
  • You can mist this over a citrusy Old Fashioned. The rosemary pairs really well with citrus flavors.
  • Add a few drops to a Cachaça Sour for an earthy, tangy mix.

To learn more about Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, click here!

Make It: Fennel Liqueur

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

For years, whenever I ate out at an Indian Restaurant, I somehow overlooked the self serve bowl of seedy bits by the cash registers. Maybe I did notice, but not having a clue as to what it was (or thinking to even ask), it fell off my radar. And then I met my husband, who is half Indian, and going out to Indian restaurants with his mom became a whole new experience. Besides getting stuff not on the menu, or having food cooked a particular way (hello extra spicy!), I began to notice the unspoken ritual at the end of the meal. A small spoonful of those seedy bits, poured into a palm, and eaten, or rather, crunched on.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThose seedy bits were usually fennel seeds, plain, sometimes with brightly sugar coated seeds, other times a mix of those and aniseed. Each restaurant had its own mix. It was not usually presented to the diner. It would sit quietly at the register, or sometimes at the end of a buffet. It was a ritual that didn’t need to be spoken of, one just consumed it. I learned it was to help digestion, fennel seed naturally helping in that department, with the potential to cleanse one’s breath after a meal.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comSo I began to try a spoonful after a big meal (a little too much that first time), and I think it did help digest the meal a little quicker, and easier, than if I hadn’t eaten any. And today I thought I’d turn towards making a liquid version of this helpful digestif: Fennel Liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comMaking this liqueur is easy, but takes some time. I’ve made a smaller batch to cut down on the steeping time, and also because I make a lot of infusions and don’t need so many full size bottles. I’d imagine if you’re trying this out for yourself you’d like to keep the sample down to a manageable size as well.

For the base liquor I’m turning to Everclear, one of my favorites for infusions and when I’ll be cutting the strength of the ABV down. Everclear has a clean, neutral taste so there aren’t any surprise flavors when I’m making an infusion. With the higher ABV, it also means that after cutting the infused liquid I will not end up with a watered down liqueur.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThe liqueur is just sweet enough, as the fennel itself has its own sort of sweetness along with that slightly numbing anise flavor. The aroma is exactly as you’d expect: strongly fennel. After a few sips I do feel like it’s helping move the meal along, as a proper digestif should.

Here are a few ways to use the liqueur:

  • over ice with a squeeze of lemon
  • with a splash of dry orange curaçao and tonic water
  • neat, in a tiny glass, pinky up

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.comFennel Liqueur

~72 proof
*Note: if you’d like to make a larger batch, adjust sugar as needed to your tastes. 

1/2 cup fennel seeds, lightly crushed
16 ounces Everclear
16 ounces water, filtered
10 ounces granulated sugar

  • In a sterile, air-tight glass jar, combine fennel seeds and Everclear. Seal, shake to combine, and let sit, giving a shake every day or so, for 2 weeks.
  • After 2 weeks, taste and if the fennel flavor is strong enough for your taste, strain the seeds out through a fine mesh strainer, reserving fennel infused Everclear. Discard seeds. Set liquid aside.
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Once cool, combine fennel infused Everclear with the simple syrup in a new airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months.

Make It: Fennel Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

King Cake Cocktail

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

The older I get, the more the traditions and holidays leading up to Easter get blurry. When I was a kid at parochial school, there was Lent, there was a day where we all got palms and some day where we all walked around with ash on our foreheads (this could have been the same day, I can’t remember now), and for what seemed like an eternity we were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays. I vaguely remember having a carton the size of an individual milk serving where we collected change to give to… someone during this time too but mainly went barren until my mom made us empty out our piggy banks to fill it. But then after all this we were rewarded with waking up one morning able to stuff our faces with chocolate before we even had our daily OJ. Score.

I don’t remember the exact time in my life when I learned about Mardi Gras, and I use the term “learned” loosely as I still don’t know all the intricacies surrounding this event, but I was intrigued by this parallel party during this season. Again, the ideas and customs are still a bit fuzzy, there’s a parade, beads, lots of drunk college kids, general overindulgence, and King Cake, where you bake a baby into dessert. Out of all these ideas I’ve tended to gravitate towards the cake because… cake; I just don’t focus too much on the baked baby part of it.

This month I partnered with Everclear again to develop a cocktail to celebrate with during Mardi Gras, and that made you think of the flavors of New Orleans and that special infant-hidden-in-a-cake cake. This cocktail is more on the sweeter side, it’s indulgent and a good fit for getting in all that excess before you need to cool off for 40 days (or if you don’t do that, hell, you can still party it up all the way through April drink in hand). The passion fruit and lemon juice started as a riff on a Hurricane and then I added in some almond and berry flavors to represent the cake. The Everclear is my neutral backbone for all the flavors and to give it that boozy kick.

And if you’re wondering why the green sanding sugar garnish, that and the purplish drink color also represent the green and purple colors of the King Cake. The sugar is optional, but for this party drink I’m pulling out the flourishes. Except for the baby. I’m leave that addition up to you.

Now let’s get mixing!

1 ounce Everclear
1 ounce Passion Fruit Juice
3/4 ounces Amaretto
3/4 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounces Cassis Liqueur

green sanding sugar for garnish

First, rim a chilled cocktail coupe with green sanding sugar. Then, in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, shake for 20 seconds. Strain into the chilled and garnished cocktail coupe. Enjoy!

If this recipe looks familiar to you, you may have seen it next to a bottle of Everclear at your local liquor store (or package store! Who calls it that outside of New England?). 

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.

Caramel Apple Jellies the cocktail you eat!

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Ok everyone! Are you ready to start talking holiday entertaining? No? Wasn’t it just August?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI’d say it feels that way except for this mountain of apples on my counter and the JUG of apple cider I decided was an economic buy this week. Why don’t they ever sell cider in small containers? However, I’m actually happy to have it around because it really is time to start thinking about holiday parties and batching drinks and well, making things with apple cider.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comAre you the person tasked every year with bringing the drinks to the party? I am. Regardless of whether I am going to a friend’s house or a relatives house, if I don’t show up with some sort of boozy concoction it’s as if I killed Rudolph and used him for the Thanksgiving Turkey. I mean, I get a lot of shade thrown at me and very raised eyebrows.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis year for the earlier Fall parties I have a new trick up my sleeve. Instead of the vast caldrons of spiked apple cider I usually inflict upon people, I’ve downsized the drink. Actually, I made the drink edible and it fits in the palm of your hand. Neat, huh?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comEdible cocktails have appeared a few times on this site and I stand by them as completely appropriate party “drinks”. To get in the festive Fall spirit we’re using up some of those apples you all probably have piled on your counter and, of course, that jug of apple cider. The booze portion is courtesy of Everclear. As part of their Make It Your Own campaign we’re elevating the edible cocktail into a fantastic fusion of apples, cinnamon, and rich caramel sauce. OH yeah. Caramel sauce.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI made a small batch of my own caramel sauce but store bought is completely acceptable. I’ve linked to a favorite recipe of mine below if you feel up to making it from scratch (plus, if you do, it takes less than 20 minutes and tastes SO DANG GOOD).

The recipe for making these jellies easily doubles or triples depending on the size of your crowd. You can make it your own by customizing how you serve these. I hollowed out apple halves and sliced those after the jellies set (cute, right?), but you also have the option of using a mold and then popping them out to serve on their own.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo at your next pumpkin carving/Fall party/barn raising this season, show up with a tray of these Caramel Apple Jellies instead of the usual spiked cider and you will be cheered. Believe me, no one is going to miss it when they’re scarfing down these goodies.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies (approximately 35-38 proof)

4 ounces apple cider
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
2 ounces Everclear
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ounce (or 2 tablespoons) salted caramel sauce (Dessert for Two has my go-to recipe)

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in apple cider. 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 Everclear, cinnamon and salted caramel sauce and stir. Pour into cored apple halves or molds and let sit refrigerated for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jellies 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.
  3. To serve from apple halves, slowly slice apple into desired thickness. Caramel Apple Jellies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

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.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comIt’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.

My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comA couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from the book “Bitters”
Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water

  1. To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
  2. In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
  3. After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
  4. After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.

Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.

I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture

Aroma in Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture // stirandstrain.comRemember when I promised I’d stop posting so many recipes using rosemary? I lied; I’m sorry. Here’s just one more.

This is more a fun project than a recipe, if that helps any.

A few months back I explored adding aroma to cocktails by way of a Smoke Tincture. Today while we’re in the depths of winter I thought that a lovely, woodsy aroma would bring some warmth to our drinks.

Capturing essences for use as an accent to cocktails opens up the possibilities by adding another level to drinks. Even if those drinks are as simple (or for some not so simple) as a Martini. A Gin Martini is only as good as its base ingredients, but add another level with the deep sweetness found in rosemary and you’ve got something special. You could easily play off a London Dry for a more straightforward rosemary accent, or add to something as busy as Uncle Val’s gin and your senses are getting hit with both vegetal, floral and earthy notes. No need to go the simple route too. A gin fizz or, hell, you could pair some rosemary accents with a tequila or mezcal cocktail to highlight those notes.Aroma in Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture // stirandstrain.com

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make the tincture first.

Rosemary Tincture

1/2 cup grain alcohol (151 proof)
1/2 cup rosemary leaves, cleaned and de-stemmed

Combine alcohol and rosemary in an airtight container. Let sit for 7 days in a cool, dark place, gently agitating once a day. Filter leaves out of the liquid through a fine strainer. Bottle into dropper bottles, or in an airtight container.

*Note: although the color of the tincture will start out bright green, it will naturally settle into a brownish color. Albeit, not as nice, but the aroma will still be present. 

Aroma in Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture // stirandstrain.com

Rosemary Martini

2-1/2 oz. gin, Fords Gin used here
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1-2 drops rosemary tincture (recipe above)

In a chilled cocktail glass, add rosemary tincture and rise glass, pouring off excess. In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir gin and vermouth for about 20 seconds. Strain into prepared cocktail glass.

Here the subtle rosemary is a great companion for the juniper and citrus notes in the gin. It’s a pretty bright martini and that woodsy accent helps round out the drink.