Gunpowder Gin Punch

Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comHappy Friday everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s posts on the site. Have you entered to win some summer reading? You can do that here if you’d like.

Have the fireworks died down in your neck of the woods? Where I live in Los Angeles, fireworks started popping off around mid-June… and they’re still going off almost a week after the 4th. After moving out here over 13 years ago the surprise has worn off and I’ve just accepted this as a natural part of summer out here. At all times of day. Like 10am (why even bother?!). Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Since the weekend is just about here, I’d like to offer up a punch for you to bring to your next summer party. I’m sure you have a few on your calendar coming up, and maybe a few penciled in for tomorrow. While it may not produce multi-colored fireworks, it does have gunpowder! Well, gunpowder tea, which isn’t an actual explosive but sounds pretty darn close. (Apparently it gets its name from the way the tea is rolled… like the little pellets used in the old days)Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

At its base, there’s an oleo-saccharum (your fancy term for muddled citrus peels and sugar) and with the tea, it’s kinda like a boozy, refreshing Arnold Palmer. The kicker here is the addition of celery bitters (!!!). So the result is a sweet and savory punch that has unexpected flavors but it definitely a crowd pleaser.

Plus, people will be intrigued just by you saying ‘gunpowder’ in the title.  But maybe sneak in a few sparklers one last time this weekend for good measure as well.

For the Oleo-Saccharum:

2 lemons
1 lime
4 ounces granulated sugar

Peel zest from lemons and lime, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Muddle gently until peels begin to express their oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the Gunpowder Tea:

3 teabags gunpowder green tea
16 ounces boiling water

Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool to room temperature before using.

For the Punch:

8 ounces gin, such as Aviation
16 ounces Gunpowder Tea at room temperature
8 dashes celery bitters, such as Scrappy’s
Lemon wheels and celery stalks for garnish

In a pitcher or punch bowl, combine gin, tea, bitters, and oleo-saccharum. Stir to combine and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, add ice to rocks glasses, pour in the punch and add a lemon wheel and celery stalk for garnish.
This recipe originally written for Serious eats. 

Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails the Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni

Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.comSometime over the past 6 months the Negroni cocktail became my go-to drink at home. Maybe it’s the simplicity in the recipe, or the rush of the bitter with the sweet. Maybe I just got tired of making Manhattans.

Making a nightly Negroni meant that I rapidly ran out of certain ingredients like sweet vermouth. And Campari. So when I couldn’t make it to the store to stock back up, I started to get a little clever with the bitter and the sweet elements (the gin, of course, always stayed the same).Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.com

I’m also talking about the Negroni cocktail today because next week is Negroni Week! It’s not just an excuse to drink this cocktail, but there’s also a great cause behind it. You can read all about that right here.

Last year I switched out the gin with mezcal, but this year we’re keeping the gin but adding in some extra flavor goodness. Like coconut. And coffee.Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.com

St. George Spirits put out this NOLA Coffee Liqueur a little while ago and I’ve been obsessed with getting a bottle. I could drink this stuff straight, but today I’m using the liqueur in lieu of sweet vermouth in the first Negroni variation. This Negroni combines that bittersweet, robust coffee liqueur with toasted coconut infused gin and a touch of Campari (and don’t worry, if you feel you haven’t the time for another cocktail project I’ve got a pretty simple variation below too). It’s more of an after-dinner drink, or actually, a pretty amazing weekend brunch cocktail (or breakfast cocktail if you prefer).Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.com

Coconut Coffee Negroni

Toasted Coconut Gin

1 cup coconut flakes
1 cup Martin Miller’s Gin

Set your oven to 350°F. On a cookie sheet, spread out the coconut flakes in an even layer. Place in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. Let cool and move to an airtight container (I used a wide mouth canning jar). Cover with the gin, seal, and let sit out overnight. The next day strain through a coffee filter into a new, clean airtight container (I often use old liquor bottles).

The Cocktail

1 ounce coconut infused gin
1 ounce St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur
3/4 ounce Campari

  • In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in coconut infused gin, coffee liqueur, and Campari. Stir 15 seconds to chill and serve.Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.com

Now, for those of you who’d like something with a little fewer steps, I give you this Negroni variation. Basically I ran out of most of the ingredients one might need to make one and ended up with this. It’s still got a nice bite and the Zucca does the double duty of being both semi-sweet and bitter with a little more orange-y bitterness from the orange bitters.Negroni Week 2015 Cocktails: Moorish Dance and a Coconut Coffee Negroni // stirandstrain.com

The Moorish Dance

1-3/4 ounce gin, Ford’s used here
1-3/4 ounce Zucca
2 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s No.6 used here
orange peel for garnish

  • In a double rocks glass with a large ice cube, pour in the gin and Zucca. Add the dashes of bitters, stir 15 seconds to chill and express the oils from the orange peel over the drink. Add the zest for garnish.

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two and an excuse to turn off the internet

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.comI told myself I was going to relax tonight and watch tv. That was two and a half hours ago right before I jumped on Instagram. Now I feel like I’ve wasted so much time I should just go back to work. Have you ever looked at so many photos of food that you felt sick? Instagram makes that a reality for me now.

But photos of booze? Can’t get sick from looking at that. Or maybe it’s just all the screen time making my eyes go funny. Maybe that’s what is making me feel sick.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Lately I’ve been wanting to put a ban on having electronic devices on at certain times at home. But with both myself and Christopher working out of the house, attempts to do this have been eagerly thwarted. If your office is in the same structure that you sleep in, then you can pretty much count on a 7 day work week. Unless you have the amazing ability to do such a thing as limit screen time. You, then, are an enigma to me.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Regardless, there are always a few minutes in the day when neither one of us is holding on to a device. The best times are when we’re holding on to a cocktail glass and talking about not work things. Occasionally things get so busy around these parts that, to make things easy on ourselves, I batch up a cocktail and keep it in the fridge. It might be a Manhattan for later in the day (and yes, I might have made it at 9 that morning) or the base to something that can get perked up later on with something sparkling.

This drink is a little something like that.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

I had originally written this for Serious Eats as a more Valentine’s Day centered recipe, but I think the sentiment of taking a break from the internet to enjoy another real person’s company is even more fitting for the everyday.

For the Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 chamomile tea bags
Zest of 2 tangerines, white pith removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags, tangerine juice, and zests. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard tea bags. Cover and let stand an additional 30 minutes. Strain zest and keep syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

For the Base:

4 ounces Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup
3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
4 ounces London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray

Combine syrup, white balsamic, and gin in a swing-top bottle. Gently swirl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Base will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.

For Each Cocktail:

5 ounces chilled dry sparkling wine, such as Cava

Measure out 2 3/4 ounces of the base into a Champagne flute or cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.

 

So yes, I ventured out into the land of floral ingredients here with the chamomile, but it’s subtle and mild. For a sweet note, I used the in-season tangerines, and combining their tangy juice and zest with a good dose of chamomile flowers gives a fragrant sweetness without being too perfume-y. It’s a fresh, tangy base with very subtle floral flavors in the background. To make it more zippy in flavor, white balsamic adds some needed acidity while a London Dry style gin adds another herbal layer with just a touch of juniper in the finish. While this base is tasty on its own, it really comes together when you top it off with some sparkling wine. I tried a few varieties and a dry cava brut is best to offset the syrupy base.

Happy New Year Everyone! Sparkling, punches, and other ideas for tonight!

I’ve got a last minute round up of some drinks for all your parties tonight. Whether you require something sparkly, something overflowing, or maybe something not-too-boozy to start your night off, I’ve got some good picks for you. See you all in the New Year, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all of you!

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Amaro Highballs // stirandstrain.com

Amaro Highballs

Smoky Sage Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.comI hope you’re curled up on a couch right now watching movies. I hope that someone else is making you dinner and you’re only concern is how long can you wait before you seriously have to get up and use the bathroom.

Lazy days are the best, but this past year I’ve had a whole lot of trouble turning the internet off for a second to be able to do just that: be lazy. Starting a new business, starting a family, remembering to put out the trash so that you’re not going on TWO weeks of forgetting. All of this takes so much…TIME. But as we rapidly put a nail in 2014 and I try and remember to reflect on this past year, I can say I regret nothing about my choices this year, even forgetting to be lazy. Actually, especially that.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

I was considering putting this post up on Wednesday for Christmas Eve, but I figured you all were off doing bigger and better things and not sitting around looking at a cocktail blog. Or maybe you were here and were like, Why isn’t there a new recipe before Christmas?!?! I’m super sorry about that guys if that was you. I hope you decided instead to crack open that expensive bottle of whiskey and share it with everyone you hold dear.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

But now we’re going into the post-Christmas daze and we have to start thinking about NYE parties (because we just can’t rest until January 2nd) and we need something we can batch up and serve to people and just get through the night. I bring you all this punch.Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Don’t be scared! There’s a lot of steps but it’s worth it for the end result.

Yields 10 Servings
For the Sage Syrup:

1 cup (8 ounces) water
8 ounces (about 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) sugar
10 medium sage leaves

Combine sugar, water, and sage in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and let sit 1 hour. Strain and store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

For the Oleo-Saccharum:

2 lemons
1 orange
4 ounces (about 4 1/2 tablespoons) sugar

Peel zests from lemons and orange, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar, muddle, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight in a nonreactive bowl, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the Lapsang Souchong Tea:

2 cups (16 ounces) boiling water
1 tablespoon lapsang souchong tea leaves

Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool completely before using.

For the Punch:

3 cups (24 ounces) New American style gin, such as Jack Rabbit from Beehive Distilling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 4 lemons
3/4 cup (6 ounces) orange curacao, such as Pierre Ferrand
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sage syrup
2 cups (16 ounces) lapsang souchong tea
Orange rounds, lemon rounds, sage leaves for garnish

Combine gin, tea, oleo-saccarum, sage syrup, lemon juice, and orange curacao in a punch bowl or other serving piece. Stir to combine. Add orange wheels, lemon wheels and sage leaves for garnish. Serve with ladle into ice-filled punch or rocks glasses.

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

This punch is bright and flavorful, with earthy notes from the sage and unexpected smoky tea. The lapsang souchong doesn’t overwhelm with smoke, but instead adds that extra “something” that your guests will try and place all night as they gulp glass after glass. I opted to use a new American style gin for an added dose of botanicals. Jack Rabbit has lots of sage, coriander and rose flavors, but use whatever you have on hand if this isn’t available where you are.

*This post originally appeared on Serious Eats.

The Southall Tonic

The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.comFor some time now I’ve had a “warming cocktail with turmeric” sitting in my to-make queue. Summer clearly was not the time to bust that out. Now that it’s turned a tad cooler out, I figured I should quickly get my act together and make this, especially before I found winter had sped by and it was too late to make it again (story of my life).The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Inspiration came from an unlikely place this time in the form of online dating. Yes, if you’ve been a loyal (or even semi-loyal) reader on here you know I am attached, so I wasn’t out looking, but Match.com came looking for me! In collaboration with the site, they asked me to come up with a London-inspired cocktail. Something that you’d want to order on your first date. You know, the date where you’re trying to impress the other person with your knowledge of fine spirits and interesting ingredients…. that “showing off” I try to impress all of you readers with every week.

For me, when I think of what Londoners are drinking, my mind goes to sophistication. Classy, gin-based cocktails (I’m picturing the American Bar at the Savoy), and then, perhaps, closely followed by beer (I mean, there’s a lot of pubs around town). But all of that tends to start to seem mundane when you suddenly have to impress someone on a first date. And first impressions are everything. So, I’ve come up with a London-inspired cocktail that is still sophisticated, but much more interesting than your run of the mill gin and tonic. Looking for your ice breaker? Here you go…The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

What was my inspiration behind this cocktail? Tony Conigliaro, whose imaginative cocktails are inspiring to myself and many others way across the pond, and curry. No, seriously, curry too. When I think of the flavors of London, I immediately go to the fragrant and spicy dishes found everywhere in town. An amalgam of cultures, London lets you cherry pick the best flavors found all over the planet. But for today, my mind went to curry.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Or, more specifically, the turmeric found in curry. Turmeric’s bright yellow color not only provides a beautiful color for the cocktail, but its peppery flavor profile gives it a nice earthy, warm kick too. Oh, and if you’re looking for some banter, it also has numerous health benefits, lots of which you can wiki when you have a moment (just not during your date please).

And there I got my warming cocktail, with turmeric. A couple dashes of lapsang souchong tea tincture gave the drink not only some heft, but an unexpected smoky flavor coming from such a brightly colored cocktail. Rounding out the ingredients, orange flower was added as a finishing touch calling out some of the Middle Eastern influence also found around town. Orange was used instead of lime for the much needed citrus element for this take on a Gin and Tonic.

Southall Tonic

2 ounces London Dry Gin, Beefeater used here
3/4 ounce Turmeric syrup (recipe below)
3-4 drops Lapsang Souchong tea tincutre
4 ounces tonic water, Fever-Tree used here
2 sprays orange flower water (use an atomizer to disperse)

orange peel for garnish

Build the drink by adding a large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in syrup and then add drops of tincture. Pour in gin, top with tonic and then spray orange flower water over glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Turmeric Syrup

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh turmeric root, cleaned and roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Store for up to one month.The Southall Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Strong orange oil on the nose and the hint of quinine. The first sip is both sweet and immediately hits you with savory from the tea tincture; it’s an unexpected twist. Next layer of flavors you get are more earthy from the turmeric syrup which balances the sweetness of the syrup and tonic against the strong, smoky lapsang suchong. In the end there is still a crisp bite from the gin that reminds you, at its core, it’s just a tarted up Gin & Tonic.

This post is in collaboration with Match.com. For more information on their city guides, please visit them here!

Bottled Corpse Reviver #2’s with a scientific study on bottled juice

Bottled Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail // stirandstrain.comYou guys must really have some patience. I alluded to this post probably over a month ago and nary a peep from anyone about why I hadn’t posted it yet. Oh…you forgot about it too?

Never mind the formalities then, let’s just jump to the point. While doing some research during the Salted Peanut Old Fashioned Bottled Cocktails post, one of the points stressed by many was that you couldn’t do two things: bottle cocktails that contained dairy and those that contained fresh juice. Since I too can fall victim to the echo chamber here on the internet, I initially took those as solid facts that could not be defied. That is until I decided I didn’t quite believe the one about the juice.Bottled Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I was fairly certain that you could bottle juice in a cocktail, what would change over time would be the quality. So, I decided I should find out what that shelf life would be.

The cocktail I chose to test was the Corpse Reviver #2. Why? Because lately this had become Christopher’s drink of choice at home and he could give a fair assessment of the changes the bottled drinks would take on over time.Bottled Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

A couple notes here before we start:

  • I am not a scientist, although I like to pretend to be in my head.
  • The experiments were not done in a controlled lab situation but in a home kitchen, like the one you have, so that’s probably a better place to test these out if YOU are making them.
  • Bottles were stored in a refrigerator to help keep them climate controlled. If you leave these in your pantry your results could be different.
bottled-corpsereviver2-pouringIf you went ahead and bought some of those nifty home bottling accessories for that Old Fashioned post, you’re ready to start. If not, check the bottom of this post for links!

Bottled Corpse Reviver #2
yields 5 cocktails (or 5 bottles)

3.75 ounces gin, here I used Broker’s
3.75 ounces Cocchi Americano
3.75 ounces Cointreau
3.75 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained of pulp/seeds
5 dashes Absinthe, here I used St. George Spirits
5 ounces filtered water

Sanitize five 187 ml bottles (dishwasher works fine for this, or you can place bottles in boiling water for 10 minutes). Combine all ingredients into a large measuring glass with a pour spout. Stir to combine. Mix should total 20 ounces. Using a funnel, pour 4 ounces into each bottle. Cap the bottles and store in the refrigerator. To serve, gently shake bottle, uncap and either serve from the bottle or pour into a chilled cocktail glass.Bottled Corpse Reviver #2 Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

And the results?

  • Bottle #1: 24 hours later from start date. Sharp lemon flavor with strong anise notes. No compromise in quality.
  • Bottle #2: 48 hours later from start date. Lemon less sharp. Mellower flavor. No noticeable compromise in quality.
  • Bottle #3: 96 hours later from start date. Still no noticeable compromise in quality. Flavors still distinguishable but overall less sharp.
  • Bottle #4: 10 days from start date. Drinkable but flavor is one note and muddied. Too mellow. Bland.
  • Bottle #5: 15 days from start date. Not passable. Too bland. Still drank it in the name of science though.

If you’re having company or expecting people to drop by at any time, a small batch of these kept in the fridge for a week will be fine! But after that, the quality starts to drop and guests will think you mucked up the recipe. So…drink ’em up.

Product resources for bottling cocktails:  Caps / Bottles / Capper

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Drinking on Labor Day

Yes, I’m aware there’s been quite a number of round ups on the site this summer. But you know what? It’s SUMMER. Give me a break. To continue the trend of taking it easy as we head into Fall, I’m giving you yet another list of cocktails ideas. This time though I’m making sure they’re batched and sitting pretty in your fridge, waiting for you to break out a pitcher or blender to wizz them up at the touch of a button.

Pro tip: get someone else to make the bases for you.

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Negroni Cocktails. In regular flavor and watermelon.

saltedpeanutoldfashioned-cocktails

Salted Peanut Old Fashioneds. You should already have these made and in your fridge.

Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hibiscus Lime Cooler. Because you should.

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails. Cocktails you can eat are always a win.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria. I just love an excuse to make Sangria.

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

See? (Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria)

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

Lazy Cucumber Punch….

Happy long weekend everyone! Let me know what you’re drinking!

Spicy Melon Cocktail

Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.comToday is one of those days where I’m really not sure what story I want to tell you guys. I originally posted this on Serious Eats last week and if you want, you could read what I wrote about street food vendors over there. I did edit it so that my roadside vendor food poisoning stories did not make an appearance in the article (didn’t seem fitting for the general public). But I still don’t see that as a fitting topic on here either. I guess I could just put up a bunch of photos and give you the recipe. You’d all be OK with that right? Or maybe we can talk about impulse grocery shopping?

Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The base of this cocktail is the summer melon pictured above. I actually bought this little guy based solely on a photo I saw online. One great thing about living in a major city like Los Angeles is the sheer number of delivery services available to us. Did you guys see the Booze News where I mentioned you can get booze delivered by underwear models? Yeah, that’s a thing here. But not everything is pointless like that. We have so many farmer’s markets in all corners of the city that one would just assume that on every given day you could drive or bike or walk over to one of them, get your produce for the week and carry on. Somehow that just wasn’t working out for me. Work, unfortunately, was becoming a 7 day a week affair and breaking to get fresh, local produce was suddenly becoming a far away dream. Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

In the past, we’ve used a few of the CSA delivery services. Which, for the most part are awesome and ensures we get fresh, local produce thrown at us every week. The problem was: it wasn’t always what we wanted to work with, or quantities were just wrong. For example, how the hell does one lemon suffice for a whole week? Answer: it doesn’t.

About a month ago we tried out a new service that combined both CSA boxes, single produce items and dairy and pantry staples. Pretty much like a virtual farmer’s market. With free delivery. That melon sat on the page, looking delicious and so more appealing than a regular cantaloupe (even if it was just, well, a cantaloupe). So I impulse bought it. In fact, I impulsively added a whole bunch of stuff into my cart. And then I saw the price. And then I slowly decided what to put back. I mean, part of being able to pick exactly what you want is also so that you’re not wasting food; I absolutely hate throwing anything uneaten in the trash. Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This post is in no way sponsored by this delivery service, which if you’re interested you can check out Good Eggs yourself. They have no idea how much time and effort they are saving me. I’m just admitting to you all how sometimes in life I like to throw money at my problems to try and make them go away. Eating local and seasonal seems like a reasonable cause to throw money at. That cilantro up there also came from them.Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

OK, so let’s get to the cocktail.

There are a few components to this that are make ahead. You know how I love my projects! It’s probably why I can’t make it out to the farmer’s market. The first is that the melon gets steeped in gin for a few days; it’s so worth it. Next, cilantro gets chopped up and mixed into a simple syrup. Then everything is combined with some Dolin Blanc, lime juice and cayenne pepper. This whole concoction was really based on the fruit cart vendors I see all over Los Angeles. Another food item I used to impulsively buy until I learned just how simple it was to make at home.

For the Melon-Infused Gin:

1 cup London Dry gin, such as Ford’s
1 cup chopped skinned and seeded cantaloupe (about 1/2 melon)

Combine gin and cantaloupe in an airtight container; cantaloupe should be completely covered with gin. Let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Strain into a clean bottle. Refrigerate up to 6 months.

For the Cilantro Simple Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro leaves and stems

Combine water with sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add cilantro and let stand for 1 hour. Strain out cilantro. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Cocktail:

2 ounces Melon-Infused Gin
3/4 ounce Cilantro Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish
Melon slice, for garnish

Combine melon-infused gin, cilantro simple syrup, lime, vermouth, and pinch cayenne pepper in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a melon slice sprinkled with additional cayenne and serve immediately.

A strong juniper palate, along with the herbal and citrus hints found in a London Dry gin style work really well to balance the sweetness of a melon like cantaloupe. Adding the element of grassy cilantro into the mix here gives the whole drink a touch more savoriness. A generous squeeze of lime juice and a big pinch of cayenne transforms the base into a juicy, fruity, spicy cocktail.

{now closed} Cucumber Basil Caesar and a Caesars Cocktail Book Giveaway!

Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.comHappy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers out there! I know you exist (my stats tell me so). Today I honor all of you with your national drink, the Caesar.

However, I’m not excluding all of the rest of the world with this post, because I’m also opening up a contest for all my Canadian and US readers with a cocktail book giveaway on this very drink. For the next week, enter win your own copy of Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail by Clint Pattemore.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

And for everyone across the globe, I’m also giving you a cocktail to try out. Because you’ve read this far.

I have to admit it, I didn’t realize that a Caesar was specifically a Canadian invention. Like many drinks with a history, I had a vague idea of its origins. Wasn’t it a cousin to the Bloody Mary, just with clam juice? Well, I consider myself schooled now. The Caesar I still work into the realm of day drinks, or even Sunday morning drinks (or Monday morning if Sunday was rough). And today I’m gussying up the classic with some fresh Persian cucumbers and basil from my garden. It’s seasonal and refreshing and only has a touch of savory flavor to contrast against the bright vegetable flavor.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

Try this, or one of the many (like, over 50) ways to create a Caesar from your own copy of the book. But! You have to enter to win a copy first!

Actually, let’s make a drink first…

Slightly Adapted from the Caesars cocktail book
4 cucumber slices (preferably Persian cucumbers that you don’t have to peel)
4-6 basil leaves
3 dashes hot sauce (I use Tapatio)
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1-1/2 ounces gin
4 ounces Clamato

1 tbsp smoked salt, 1 tsp pepper, cucumber spears for garnish

Garnish your highball glass (or small goblet) first by rimming the outside of the glass with a cucumber slice then dip in salt and pepper mixture poured into a small bowl. In a mixing glass, muddle together cucumber slices, basil, hot sauce and pepper. Add gin and Clamato. Stir and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Finish garnishing with a cucumber spear. Straws are always optional!

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