Gingerbread Winter Warm Up

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Do you have a holiday cookie tradition? I think I may have perfected my gingerbread cookie recipe this year. I mean, I’m using Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe as the base, so you really can’t go wrong with that. But, it is the first year that I made a cookie like this that didn’t just separate and spread all over the cookie sheet pan. I’ve yet to find my perfect sugar cookie recipe though. That I can never get right and that always spreads and won’t hold its shape. So, we all have to go without any holiday cookies that are gingerbread; thankfully no one complains. Sorry Santa.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comWhile making these cookies I thought about how great the baking spices would be in a cocktail. Sure, we see lots of dashes of cinnamon or nutmeg this time of year, but those in combination with an intense ginger flavor…well we’ve got a perfect pair for some whiskey and a hot cocktail. I refer to these heated cocktails during holiday time as winter warm ups. They’re a great companion to a fireplace and a pair of hands in need of warmth.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis month I’ve teamed up with Kerrygold Irish Cream to make my perfect fireside winter warm up with all the wonderful baking spices found in these gingerbread cookies. It packs a punch of ginger but also has lots of nice spice from the Irish whiskey, and that touch of chocolate and cream in the Kerrygold adds a superb richness to the drink that doesn’t get watered down. And that’s probably because they use real chocolate, and the cream used to make the liqueur comes from grass-fed cows and is a third creamier than what you usually find on the market. You can alter the hot water amount in here to your liking; I keep it around 3 ounces. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might think about making your own whipped cream and adding some gingerbread syrup to the mix for a super dose of yummy gingerbread-ness (I did. It’s so worth it! Just a tablespoon is all you need to add to your canister.).

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comAfter making this cocktail I need to rethink my gingerbread recipe and add a little chocolate and whiskey and there too now. Then it will be perfect.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comLet’s get warmed up!

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up (makes two drinks)

3 ounces Irish whiskey
1-1/2 ounces Kerrygold Irish Cream
1-1/2 ounces gingerbread syrup, see recipe below
3 dashes Angostura bitters
6-8 ounces hot water (just under boiling)
whipped cream, optional

In a mixing glass, add the Irish whiskey, Kerrygold Irish Cream, gingerbread syrup and bitters. Stir to combine everything and divide between two glasses. Pour in 3-4 ounces of hot water into each glass and stir gently to combine. Optionally top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Syrup

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger (or 3 slices, 1/4″ thick fresh ginger with skin on)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain fresh ginger out if using, and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, place in an air-tight container. Refrigerate up to one month.

Candy Inspired Cocktails

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Master of Mixes. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The closer I get to Halloween, the more my brain starts chanting…candy candy candy candy candy. I mean, it’s actually Garfield chanting it, because I still think of that Halloween special from the ’80’s that I grew up on, and I still, to this day, identify with his love of sarcasm and, well, candy.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comYes, I love the spooks and the change of season, but free candy always topped the list of reasons why October 31st was THE BEST. Now, as an adult, I can hop in my car, or rather, have Instacart deliver, all the candy my heart desires. At any time of year. But I’ve learned restraint and I don’t usually buy any until the week before Halloween when stores start having candy sales. And then again the day before Halloween because I’ve eaten it all the past week.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

This year I made the exception and bought some candy a little early so I could make some treats for all of you! My readers! Working with Master of Mixes, I’ve crafted THREE tasty candy inspired cocktails you can make for yourself, or batch for your Halloween party this weekend. If you’re not familiar with them, Master of Mixes has been crafting high quality, delicious mixers for 40 years! They have more than 45 flavors in their catalog, but I narrowed down today to just three of my favorites: their Mint Syrup, Blood Orange Margarita Mixer, and Piña Colada Mixer. And my inspiration? Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, and Almond Joy.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

First up is the Junior Mint inspired cocktail. And it’s ALL about that super mint flavor. Here I’ve used Master of Mixes Mint Syrup to give me a strong punch of mint flavor. Their syrup is made with Pacific Northwest Spearmint and has a clean, fresh taste. I’ve paired this with vodka, cream, and coffee liqueur to mimic the creaminess of the candy, and instead of the richness you’d get with the chocolate, I’ve opted to use a strong coffee liqueur to make this more sophisticated.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

My love of sour drinks probably started with my love of Sour Patch Kids growing up. For this next cocktail, I’m taking the sweet and sour citrus flavors of the candy and crafting a Blood Orange Margarita with Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer. To get more citrus in, and to add a bitter element to this, I’ve mixed the blanco tequila with a touch of Dry Orange Curaçao. I’ve also created a “sour” sugar rim with citric acid and sugar to fool the taste buds. The blood orange mix is housed in an ice sphere that will make the cocktail sweeter as you drink it!

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comLastly, Almond Joy bars in my opinion are far superior to a Mounds bar. Because… almonds!! When I think coconut cocktails, I think Piña Coladas, and Master of Mixes has a perfectly balanced Piña Colada Mixer that will be the base of our final drink. A few drops of almond extract, vanilla vodka, and a chocolate float turns this drink into an over-the-top cocktail for Halloween. I’ve been calling it a Choco-joy-lada, but you can just call it delicious.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comSo grab some extra candy this year, a couple of Master of Mixes bottles, and let’s plan a sweet Halloween party!

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

Junior Mint Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Master of Mixes Mint Syrup
3/4 ounce coffee liqueur
3/4 ounce cream

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in vodka, Master of Mixes Mint Syrup, coffee liqueur, and cream. Shake 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Pop a couple Junior Mints.

Sour Patch Kids Cocktail

4 ounces Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer
2 ounces blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Dry Orange Curaçao
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

First, to make the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere, you will need a spherical ice mold like this. Alternatively, you could also use a large ice cube mold as well. Pour the mix in the mold and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight (depending on your freezer). Next, combine citric acid and sugar in a shallow bowl large enough to fit the rim of your glass. Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime wedge and roll in the prepared mixture. Then, in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the tequila and Dry Orange Curaçao. Shake and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Add the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere to the drink and stir about 20 seconds to start melting the mix into the drink. Take a few sips and try not to pucker your lips too much.

Almond Joy Cocktail

2 ounces vanilla vodka
bar spoon of almond extract
4 ounces Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer
1 – 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (or if you’re feeling extra fancy, then try it with the chocolate liqueur of your choice!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in vanilla vodka, almond extract, and Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer. Shake 20 seconds and pour everything into a highball glass. Using the back of a spoon, float chocolate syrup on top of the drink. Grab a reusable straw and gently mix it together, or not. Cause sometimes you feel like mixing, sometimes you don’t.

For more information on Master of Mixes, loads of cocktail recipes, and more how-to’s, please visit them at MixologyPro.com

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy and let's talk about swearing

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comA few days ago I grabbed my phone, opened Instagram, scrolled down to a fellow cocktail blogger I follow and wrote something to the effect of “this is cozy AF” to describe their photo. And it was super cozy! But it got me thinking, when did we collectively decide that we want to curse, or rather, give the illusion of cursing, so frequently on social media?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comNow, I’m a seasoned swearer in my day-to-day life. Well, before I had children, and now I’ve adapted to effectively cursing with substitute words as if I was actually dropping an f-bomb (like when I screamed OH FUDGE immediately following a head-butt to my chin rattling my jaws shut the other night while trying to wrestle a kid into pajamas.). However, I have chosen, for the most part, to refrain from using obscenities on my blog or social media sites because it just felt… not necessary. However, there has been a subtle shift with our acronym usage over the past several years where I might not have spelled it out, but I definitely let a WTF slide into a conversation that was being publicly broadcast over twitter. And now, commenting nonchalantly that someone’s fall-themed cocktail is definitely cozy enough to warrant an “AF”.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comThis masked profanity usage made me do a second glance at an email recently as an online course in social media was being promoted as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Make your photos cool AF on Instagram”. I mean, sure, I’d like my photos to be professional, cool even. But this marketing ploy felt kinda clumsy, and definitely not geared towards a level I would consider spending money on to become an expert. I half expect the course would show you how to incorporate some animated gifs of cats vomiting rainbows or the like.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comAll of this, while I accept it, still feels strange. Maybe it’s a turning tide of age lines, and that I have been doing this blogging thing for a while now and there’s a new crop of DGAF social media personalities that don’t want to be too polite (but polite enough not to spell out that they are, in fact, swearing). Or are they even aware that what they’re shortening is a curse word? Or maybe with our collective need for brevity we would all be cursing at each other but we just don’t have the attention span, or time. Well…shit. What do you guys think?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comBefore we conclude, I actually AM feeling some fall feelings finally and since it got into the low 70s in Los Angeles this past week, I made myself a Hot Toddy! I’ve had “turmeric hot toddy” scribbled on a note for some time now ever since I started making a tea with ground turmeric, black pepper, honey and almond milk. How on trend you might be thinking. But! It actually came from my Indian mother-in-law who grew up drinking something similar when she was sick and suggested I drink it the last time I came down with a cold. Turmeric is supposed to help with inflammation along with the addition of black pepper, and improve immune functions, and blah blah blah, this isn’t WebMD so I can’t say any of this works for sure. What I can say, with certainty, since this is a cocktail blog, that it is very tasty with the addition of rum and apricot liqueur. The earthiness of the turmeric is balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the apricot and honey, then the sharp citrus cuts through so that it doesn’t lean too much toward the sweet side. The aged rum give the whole drink flavors of spice and vanilla.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comI might even go so far to say it’s tasty AF.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comTurmeric Rum Hot Toddy

1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of freshly ground black pepper (2 turns on coarse in a mill)
1 tsp honey
3/4 ounce freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur, Giffard used here
2 ounces rum, Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 year used here
3-4 ounces hot water

In a heat proof mug, pour in turmeric powder, black pepper and honey. Mix together until a paste forms. Then add in lemon juice, apricot liqueur and rum. Pour hot water into the mug and then carefully stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Fall Feelings Boozy Round Up 16 boozy ways to get in the fall spirit!

Put out some decorative gourds and make some cocktails! It finally feels like fall!The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple-groni Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Pairing Rosé with Apples

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

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

The Negroni Nero Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Negroni Nero

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Private Club Cocktail

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.com

Whiskey Round the World

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.com

The Toasty Russian

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Old Fashioned

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.com

Crustafied Whiskey Sour

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise Cocktails

The Fall & Halloween Bar Cart 2018

What’s black and gold and goes bump in the night? You tripping over your fabulously decorated bar cart. We’re going spooky elegant this year…

Halloween and Fall Bar Cart 2018 // stirandstrain.com

This month let your bar cart transition back and forth from elegant to macabre with a few black and gold touches. And a giant pumpkin punch bowl because DUH! A rich, dark amaro is good for spooky drinks, or sipping neat. And if you’re looking to conjure some fiery spirits, fill your bitters bottle with a tincture that will have your guests spitting fire. And a block of dry ice wouldn’t hurt either.

1. Black and gold jigger 2. Bitters bottle 3. Skull rocks glass 4. Pick your poison coasters 5. Pumpkin punch bowl 6. Black metal straws 7. Amaro D’Abruzzo 8. Gold bar cart 9. Scrappy’s Firewater Tincture

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to create a Pumpkin Spiced syrup to use in the base of our coffee cocktail. It’s made with less sugar than what you’d get at your local coffee shop AND it’s made with real pumpkin too. So you end up with way fewer calories than a traditional sugar syrup. The Truvia Natural Sweetener comes in a spoonable jar for ease of use in the kitchen, and ½ teaspoon of Truvia Natural Sweetener is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. So you don’t need to drown your cocktail in syrup to get just the right amount of sweetness in there.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comNow, when I say I love coffee, I mean I love it. My last thoughts before going to sleep usually involve me thinking about how good that first cup of coffee will be in the morning. And I cannot start my day until I’ve at least had one sip of that invigorating elixir. Naturally, then, I also will put coffee in my cocktails whenever possible.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comAn Old Fashioned cocktail is a satisfyingly simple drink, and if you’ve been on this site before, you’d know it’s also one of my favorite drinks to use as a base for a new creation. At its most basic, an Old Fashioned is just spirit, sugar and bitters, and even those elements can change into whatever you’re in the mood for. And I’m in the mood for pumpkins and coffee.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comThere’s a myriad of ways you can infuse coffee into cocktails but today we’re going the quick and easy way with coffee liqueur. We’ll spend our time instead on making a rich, spicy pumpkin syrup that will make your house smell AMAZING when you’re warming it on the stove. The syrup doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to make, so don’t worry, you’ll have your cocktail in no time! And what a flavor bomb! Bourbon forward but with deep coffee aroma and sweet pumpkin and spices in the finish. And don’t forget those bitters—they balance out the whole drink and prevent it from becoming too sweet.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
1/4 ounce Truvia pumpkin spice syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange zest and cinnamon stick

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Apple-groni With apple chips!

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFirst, we can all acknowledge that I could have come up with a better name for this cocktail, but really, it’s almost Fall and we’re all about the apples around here. So I’m not even going to try and be fancy.

Second, the cocktail itself. If you’ve been on my Instagram at Happy Hour, or skimmed through the recipe archives on this site, you know that I love a Negroni, and I have no qualms whatsoever about perpetually riffing on this drink. Now, I’m not a one-trick pony here and I can make some pretty darn tasty original cocktails (again, check the archives), but when I have to quickly throw together a drink for Happy Hour, there’s a good chance I’m reaching for gin, sweet vermouth and some Campari right now.

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis week I’m looking at the first sightings of apples in my produce box and I remembered how much I enjoy apple chips. They are so very easy to make as long as you have time. And if you don’t have time to watch an oven, then you might want to invest in a dehydrator. I, unfortunately, have hit max capacity for the amount of stuff that can sit on my counter or be tucked away in a closet, and also I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, so I really do take objects in my hand, thank them, and then decide whether or not to chuck them out. And that’s a lot of work so I’d rather just not buy crap.

Anyways, apple chips! Thinly slice an apple up and then dry it out in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Do you folks really need a recipe or can we just leave this here? They make a tasty Happy Hour snack and you can eat a whole bunch and not feel gross. Also, they make beautiful garnishes. They’re wonderfully “Fall” on your glass and when you’re done with your drink you can eat that too. Can’t do that with an orange peel.

This Apple-groni is pretty basic. There’s more of the suggestion of apples with baking spice and bittersweetness in the finish. The riff is so minor I wavered back and forth about whether to publish this or not. I still like content to live on this site though and not just on Instagram where it gets lost almost instantly when I do do a quick ‘gram. So here you go…

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1 ounce Caorunn gin (it’s infused with apples!)
1 ounce sweet vermouth, Vermouth di Torino used here
3/4 ounce Campari
2 dashes apple bitters
apple chip for garnish

Combine gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with apple chip. Think Fall.

Wine Scavenger Hunt with Sheep Thrills Wine

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.comSheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sheep Thrills Wine.

This year I’m trying to bring simple, spontaneous pleasures into a year that’s been… draining, to say the least. While I am thankful to spend this week with family, I wanted to switch things up a bit after the meal. So, what can you do to entertain a house full of guests this thanksgiving? Send them on a wine scavenger hunt!

If you’re looking to have some adventures with out-of-town guests while being told to stay out of the kitchen, or if you need an activity to do the day after the big meal instead of sitting around arguing politics with your curmudgeonly uncle, or you’re having a few (or 20) pals over for Friendsgiving and it’s going to be in the high 80’s and you don’t have air conditioning (hello, Los Angeles!), this is a fun one!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

We’ve teamed up with Sheep Thrills Wine this week to get you out of the house and on this wine adventure! I was always a huge fan of scavenger hunts as a kid and the other day, thinking of what to do with a house full of guests, I thought—adults like this game too! I mean, it’s going to be even better with wine involved.

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills wine, made in the Abruzzo region of Italy, is available in both a red blend and a Pinot Grigio so you’ve got your guests covered. And, with a price point that won’t break the bank (under $15 a bottle!!), you can afford to stock up and even give out a few bottles as prizes for winning the scavenger hunt. (Free wine is a big motivator to win a game. Trust me on this.)

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

Check out the printable below to play your own Sheep Thrills scavenger hunt. Or use it as a starting point to make your own game—just get outdoors and have fun!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Sheep Thrills Wine, please visit their website at www.sheepthrills.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail tequila - maraschino - citrus - currants - walnut - cider

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).

I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.

It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.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.