Thanksgiving Bar Cart 2018

Picture this: a bunch of grumpy relatives are sitting around waiting hours for a meal, avoiding talking to each other pretending to watch football. You amble in, pushing a bar cart laden with cheese, snacks, and a giant punchbowl filled with holiday booze. Suddenly Uncle Don doesn’t seem like such a jerk anymore. And look!! People are talking and laughing and all that holiday stuff. Let’s plan that bar cart, shall we?

Thanksgiving Bar Cart 2018 // stirandstrain.com

It’s Thanksgiving! Get yourself a cornucopia already! Stuff it with napkins and straws and get ready to look festive. But not my fancy napkins. The relatives get the punny ones. And if you’re using a cart to serve snacks, get yourself one with 3 shelves. It won’t be pretty shoving it all on two. And then hitting a bump in the rug and spilling everything. You’re already stressed, so just upgrade. And since you bought cranberry sauce in a can, fancy that sh*t up with some cranberry bitters. In fact, throw these bitters into everything you cook and drink. Don’t forget, cocktail picks do double duty as cheese picks too. And stock up on some ginger beer. Your stomach will thank you on Friday.

1. Punch Bowl 2. Orange Chevron Glasses 3. Turkey Napkins 4. Wild Turkey 101 5. Red Straws 6. New England Spiced Cranberry Bitters 7. Three Shelf Bar Cart 8. Cornucopia 9. Cocktail Picks 10. Ginger Beer

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Crafting a Sweet Cocktail Kit

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

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

Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSo, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comTruvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.

Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSmall box, tin, or basket
4 ounce amber bottle
1 ounce amber bottle
Whiskey of your choice
Aromatic bitters of your choice
2-4 Truvia Natural Sweetener packets
Label maker
Rocks glass
Mixing spoon
Jigger
Muddler
Index card and markers

For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comFirst, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comI hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!

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!

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Rum Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Daiquiri Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to the final installment of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today we’re looking at the rum cocktail, the classic, the Daiquiri. You might only be familiar with the frozen kinds you get at the bar by the beach, but let me tell you, a simple Daiquiri is deceptively good, and super easy to make. And no, you don’t need a blender. (Also, realizing there’s a LOT of limes in these cocktail this week, so if you’re not so into those, shoot me an email or leave a comment below that you’d like a different, easy to make cocktail, and I’ll get back to you!) Hope you’ve enjoyed this series!

Daiquiri Home Bar Under $50 ($47.04)

  1. Rum: there are some great under $20 light rums out there now. Pick one you’d like to drink cause you’re going to taste it in this drink.
  2. Jigger: can’t stress enough how important an accurate pour is.
  3. Sugar: go ahead and make a large batch of simple syrup (1:1) and keep it in the fridge for up to a month.
  4. Pairing knife: there’s lime juice in the recipe so you’ll need to cut up some fruit.
  5. Limes: like I said…limes.
  6. Cocktail glass: again Ikea comes to the rescue. However, hit up some Goodwill shops or Etsy for my creative finds.
  7. Cocktail shaker: no need for a separate strainer as these have the built-in kind (Also, use your refrigerator’s ice maker to fill this with ice. No need for fancy cubes here).
  8. Citrus reamer: you need a lot of lime juice here so get it all out with a reamer.

Upgrade to an El Presidente ($32.05)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Tequila Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Paloma Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to day three of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

It’s Tequila Thursday around here and today’s guide will get you set up with a Paloma cocktail plus a few extra tools and ingredients (Like a pinch tin of salt! Where my salt lovers at??). The grapefruit garnish is optional but I love a big slice of grapefruit in my drink to be honest.

Paloma Home Bar Under $50 ($49.74)

  1. Grapefruit: as I mentioned in the note above, this is optional, but it does make a pretty garnish.
  2. Jigger: nothing fancy but it gets the job done. The job being an accurate pour!
  3. Limes: fresh juice is essential here so make sure you have some fruit on hand all the time.
  4. Tequila: You can get a 100% blue agave blanco tequila for under $20 so go ahead and get the 750 ml.
  5. Pairing knife: you can’t cut fruit with your fingers so a basic pairing knife is a must.
  6. Ice cube tray: 1.25″ ice cubes are the perfect size for your highball glass so get a tray that makes enough for you and guests.
  7. Bar spoon: for gentle stirring of drinks.
  8. Salt: throw a pinch into your drink and rim your glass if you like it like that.
  9. Grapefruit soda: an essential part of the Paloma and these cans are great to stack in your bar.
  10. Highball glasses: Ikea has 5 glasses for under $5. Go ahead and stock up.

Upgrade to a Spicy Margarita ($42.98)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Gin Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Gin and Tonic Edition // stirandstrain.comWelcome to the second installment of our “Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50 (including booze!)” series. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today is for all you gin lovers out there. The Gin and Tonic is another easy to whip up, refreshing cocktail to have on hand for yourself and guests. You’ll just need a few essential bar tools and only three ingredients to make your drink. This cocktail is also easily adaptable to other ingredients on hand, so you can change it up when the feeling strikes.

Gin & Tonic Home Bar Under $50 ($49.60)

  1. Ice cube tray: 1.25″ ice cubes are the perfect size for your highball glass and you’ll need a whole tray for guests and your next round.
  2. Limes: because you’ll need a squeeze of lime. I like to keep at least 3 on hand because I find odd numbered things pleasing to look at.
  3. Pairing knife: a sharp knife will precisely cut your limes and double opening that stubborn wrapper on your gin bottle.
  4. Bar spoon: for gentle stirring of drinks.
  5. Gin: you can splurge for a full 750 ml bottle of Beefeater because it’s good and cheap.
  6. Jigger: 1 ounce and 2 ounces is all you’ll need here for precise measurements.
  7. Tonic water: I’m a fan of Q-Tonic and tonic in cans I find easier to store in my home bar.
  8. Highballs: get yourself to Ikea and get yourself some perfectly acceptable highball glasses in cases of 6 under $5. Sweet deal.

Upgrade to a Negroni ($30.98)

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Outfitting a Home Bar Under $50: Whiskey Edition

Outfitting a bar under $50: The Old Fashioned Edition // stirandstrain.comOver the next week we’ll be giving some guides on how to outfit your home bar under $50 (and that’s including booze!) depending on what your house cocktail is. These guides are meant to be used either as is, or as a starting point to at least get the essentials in order so you’re not stuck with guests and no cocktails. If you have some extra change we’re also including one way to upgrade it as a bonus at the end of the guides!

Today’s home bar surrounds the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. You don’t need much in the way of tools or liquor to get this set up quick, so it’s an easy way to start!

Old Fashioned Home Bar Under $50 ($49.07)

  1. Large ice cube tray: a basic large ice cube tray makes enough cubes for you and a guest plus another round.
  2. Sugar cubes: save your granulated sugar for syrups and the kitchen. Place a few of these out in a glass to have them at the ready.
  3. Bar spoon: for stirring cocktails!
  4. Bourbon: you don’t have to invest in large bottles to start your home bar. Get a 375ml to try and you’ll still get 6+ drinks out of it!
  5. Angostura bitters: you need bitters for an Old Fashioned so get an all purpose aromatic.
  6. Jigger: sure you could eyeball it but this way you know exactly how much booze to make the perfect cocktail.
  7. Muddler: a basic muddler will crush those sugar cubes as good as a really fancy one.
  8. All purpose glass tumbler: these are my GO TO glasses right now for cocktails to water to wine. And they’re cheap so you won’t worry when a guest (or, *ahem* you) break one.

Upgrade to a Manhattan ($24.39)

 

**Prices on products are subject to change and we cannot guarantee that you’ll still be able to score all this under fifty bucks come holiday season. Or two years from now. Pricing not including shipping and local taxes.

Cocktail Pin Collections

Cool Sh*t: Cocktail Pin Collections // stirandstrain.comThere’s a trend gaining momentum right now that has me feeling nostalgic, and maybe you’ve seen it pop up in your Instagram too: cocktail pin collecting.

Pin collecting always seemed akin to baseball card collecting, kids mostly, or adults geeking out on some fancy pins. But right now you can get your favorite tiki drink (or mug!!) in pin form, or favorite cocktail! You can even show your love of Angostura with a teeny tiny bottle pinned to your collar.

I’ve rounded up a few small shop artisans and a few more commercial makers of pins to highlight some really cool and unique concepts that are out there right now.

Are you into pins? How do you display yours? Or is this trend not for you? Comment below!

1. Gin and Tonic Pin 2. Aperol Spritz Pin 3. Tiki Ti Bar Pin 4. Angostura Trio Pin 5. Beer Pin 6. Rosé Pin 7. Zombie Pin 8. Alien Tiki Mug Pin

Gift Guide: Father’s Day 2018

Dad does not want a tie this year…unless that tie is covered with tiki drinks.

Gift Guide: Boozy Father's Day Gifts for 2018 // stirandstrain.com

What kind of boozy Dad do you have? I’m sure we’ll find a gift for him! Mail order of the month club Dad? Now with Rum! Athletic Dad? Beer bike! Swinger Dad? Sexy coasters! DIY Dad? Mix your own cocktail! Grilling Dad? Hot Dickel! Nerd Dad? Vader-Stein! Gourmet Dad? Beer chocolates! Getting Dad a bad gift is not an option this year.

  1. Flaviar world of spirits members club 2. Whiskey Wood Engraving 3. Cocktail Crate Classic Old Fashioned Mixer 4. Darth Vader Stein 5. Sexy Legs Coasters 6. Tiki Cocktail Tie 7. Hot Dickel 8. Theo Beer Chocolates 9. Peroni Bike

Catch up on all the gift guides here!