Fall Cocktail Roundup

For those few of you who have a job that gives you a 3 day weekend starting today, lucky you. I’m pretty sure that last time I had that Monday off I was in college… a long time ago in college. But let’s not focus on that for now. Even if your weekend is only two days long, or even one, I’ll also give you guys an excuse to drink a good cocktail. Here’s a roundup of my Fall favorites.

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.comPrivate Club Cocktail

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

The Golden Hour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThe Golden Hour

Honey Vanilla Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.com

Honey Vanilla Chai Hot Toddy

Private Club Cocktail

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMaple. Walnut. There really are only two places your mind is going to go after hearing these words in rapid succession. One is breakfast cereal, the other is wood types. If you can think of a third I’d love to hear about it.

I got it stuck in my head a few weeks back that what I needed on the site was a maple cocktail. But I couldn’t get out of the loop that it had to be a maple walnut cocktail. Problem with that duo is that it evokes a sticky sweetness that quite frankly sounded like a cocktail I would be serving at a kid’s party…if that makes any sense at all. Shear stubbornness on my part to keep this flavor duo won the house over in the end though. Want to know why? Citrus is the key to balancing a sweet cocktail. Well, and some bitter too but let’s keep this simple.

In its infancy, I was trying to work with a Manhattan variation but Rye was just not cutting it; too harsh. Cognac needed to step in and take over. And then I threw the sweet vermouth out and Amaro Nonino took its place. Angostura stayed put with the maple walnut flavor; just had to cut it with some lemon juice for balance.

Then suddenly it all made sense. The dark wood. The sexy cognac. This was a cocktail you’d find in a private club. I’d say gentlemen’s club but then you’d start thinking of pole dancing and that is not what I mean. This rich and superbly balanced cocktail is meant to be sipped in an overstuffed chair while you debate the sturdiness of the legs on some race horses you no doubt put a lot of money on for the win. There or by the fireplace wishing for the winter chill to pass.The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pro Tip: Just like you would sharpen/hone your knives, did you know you can also extend the life of your paring knife by doing this too? If you have knives you care about and own a Sharpening Steel, make sure you hone your paring knife before every use. Believe me, once I tried this out it made cutting citrus zest SO much easier since I had a nice sharp blade to work with. You can pick up a sharpening steel for relatively cheap online, and save yourself the trouble of having to go and constantly replace your paring knives. Saving money, that’s my gift to you all. 

2 oz. Camus Cognac
3/4 oz. Amaro Nonino
1/4 oz. organic medium amber maple syrup
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice (Eureka lemon used here)
3 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

2″ long strip lemon peel for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add cognac, amaro, maple syrup, lemon juice and bitters. Stir to chill about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Express lemon oils from the peel over the drink and add the zest to the glass.

Lemony aroma that has a bright, clean start that eases into a warm, nutty sweetness. I served this cocktail over a large (2″ square, like this one) ice cube and found that the slow dilution kept this balanced the whole time I sipped it.

Sweet Saddle Cocktail

Sweet Saddle Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLately, there’s a tendency to pull the same books down off the shelves. I can see a variety of covers staring back but autopilot takes over and I just reach out for the familiar cover. However today I changed course and took the Bitters (A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas) book down off the shelf, forgetting that, hey- there’s recipes in there for drinks too! One stuck out for its simplicity, the Black Scottish Cyclops. I was looking for simplicity. And that recipe inspired just that…

Two liquors, two bitters. A complete surprise. That’s what this drink is.

Here you need to use a very peaty scotch (read: super smoky/toasty). I had picked up a bottle of Peat Monster because it promised super peaty flavor, and delivered, and also I loved their label design (I can be a sucker for that, don’t judge). A lighter blend of Scotch isn’t going to cut it, unless it’s two crazy peated scotches and I’d love to hear about it ASAP! Otherwise the cocktail will be flat and too mellow and why waste the liquor.peatmonsterbox

2 oz. Peat Monster Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
1 oz. Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 Dashes of Fee Brothers Walnut Bitters (if your local shop doesn’t carry them, ask them nicely to or get them on Amazon Here)

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and stir to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe. Find another synonym for chill.

The nose, wow, is all smoke with sweet chocolatey notes. The first sip will stop you in your tracks as you taste both savory and sweet. It’s like liquid candied bacon; that’s a good thing FYI. The bitters here are the key. While the black walnut plays off the sweet earthiness of the Cocchi, the Angostura softens the Peat Monster, creating a balancing act that tones the smoke just right. The cocktail has a wonderful mouthfeel with a hint of syrup. Sweet Saddle Cocktail // stirandstrain.com