Classic and Watermelon-Infused Frozen Negroni Cocktails

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.comIt’s summertime folks. Let’s all take a backseat to being serious and let our hair down and deep freeze our favorite cocktails.

That’s right. Snobbery be damned: I froze some Negorni cocktails. And they were TASTEEEEE!Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Now, please stay with me on this. First, shake off your assumptions that suddenly the lofty Negroni has gone the way of the 7/11 slurpee machine: believe me, this is nothing like that. Gone are the teeth-tinglingly sweet frozen drinks you’re used to downing in the summer. The wasted calories of footlong, electric blue “adult” slushies that have about a thimble of alcohol in them and more corn syrup than anything else. These frozen versions of the Negroni take the actual, delicious drink, and whiz it up with ice for all of the bittersweet flavor, only now you sip it through a straw.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Oh, and when I say versions, I mean you get TWO variations for this frozen cocktail: classic and a fruit-forward twist on a white negroni: watermelon. The watermelon version is inspired by a drink I just had at a friend’s wedding which was, essentially, a White Negroni whose vermouth had been infused with watermelon. The idea was playful and it was delicious and I knew I needed to make something like that for the site. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a bit more whimsy in my cocktails, I still enjoy the classics, but when you’re recipe developing all the time, your brain wants to go in warped places. At least mine does.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Anyways, the idea was great, but I wanted some flexibility with the recipe. And since I wanted something a bit more versatile that I could use in multiple drinks, I infused the gin instead. It’s a short infusion, just two days, and you could always start tasting after day 1 if you don’t want a super-watermelon-y flavor and strain when you think it’s ready. Hint: if you want something over ice, instead of something made of ice, try the watermelon gin with some tonic; the sweet and bitter work well together.Frozen Watermelon White Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

OK! So let’s stop taking ourselves SO seriously, at least for today, and enjoy some frozen cocktails.

Frozen Negroni

4-1/2 ounces gin, such as G’Vine or Fords
2-1/2 ounces Campari
2-1/2 ounces Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Orange slices, for garnish

  1. Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an airtight container. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. When ready to serve, add chilled alcohol and ice to blender. Blend on high speed until uniform and smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into rocks glasses or small wine glass. Garnish with an orange slice and serve immediately.

Frozen Watermelon White Negroni

1/2 cup cubed watermelon
1-1/2 cups gin, such as Broker’s or St. George Botanivore
4-1/2 ounces watermelon gin (see recipe below, line 1)
2-1/2 ounces Cocchi Americano
2-1/4 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Watermelon and orange slices, for garnish

  1. For the watermelon gin: In an airtight container, combine gin and watermelon. Keep in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. Strain into a clean, airtight container until ready to use. Will keep up to one year.
  2. For the Watermelon White Negroni Slushie: Combine watermelon gin, Cocchi Americano, and vermouth in an airtight container and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to serve, add frozen alcohol to a blender with ice. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Split between rocks glasses or small wine glasses. Garnish each glass with a watermelon.

First, drink these with an ounce of caution; they kinda go straight to your head if you sip them up quickly. Second, the chilling overnight is so your mixture does not dilute the ice too quickly while you blend (this step is optional). The classic Negroni tastes pretty much like what you’d get in its natural state. Even though the bitterness is still very present, with this icy state it’s lovely and the citrus notes are quite present. And not watered down tasting! The watermelon on the other hand is delicate with only a hint at the bitterness from the Cocchi Americano. While the fruity watermelon is present, it doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole – it’s a nice accent.

So choose one, or both, to make this weekend. I choose both.

I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.

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MxMo LXXXV Roundup of Aw, Nuts!

Mixology Monday LogoWell, it looks like this month’s theme may have drove some of you..errr… nuts. Sorry about that. All of your nutty puns were much appreciated by this here goofball.

First, a big thanks to everyone who took up this challenge. We had some newbies, some regulars, and some of you dusting off a few cobwebs on your return back here. I appreciate you all for keeping this monthly gathering going. We had quite an interesting bunch of entries, from DIY infusions and syrups to hesitant scoops of Nutella to a handful of tasty liqueurs. You guys really got creative and now I need to go buy more bottles for more infusions (and seriously need to consider where the hell to store it all). But enough chatter from me, let’s get on to the roundup (after the jump)!

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Not-so-classic Strawberry Rhubarb Fizz and making blogging a business

Not-So-Classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIt’s one thing to feel inspired and be compelled to create, and then there’s the “oh crap, this is a business too and I have to find out about federal tax numbers” side to running a website full time. If you asked me what the scariest thing I’ve done in the past 6 months was, almost instantly from my mouth I’d spit out that clicking send on creating my LLC was it. That was a terrifying moment in my life; it made all of this REAL.

Now, before I get the onslaught of questioning smirks, let me clarify that just posting blog posts on here is not the whole of my business. If it was, there would be posts every day and my liver would need to get replaced every other year. I freelance outside of this space, write for other publications, create custom cocktails for parties and private events and sometimes even for people I never meet over the internet. Also, soon, like in less than a month, the first monthly Tiki of yesteryear inspired Supper Club starts up (if you’re in Los Angeles, sign up here for details). In just 5 months my life went from a steady 9 to 5 to a hodgepodge of randomly occurring activities that on most days feels out of control.Not-So-Classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

When you go from having a boss to being your boss you need to try not to crack up… daily.

You also need to get an editorial calendar, consider your brand, and try and put pants on by 11am. This past week, again, I took in a wealth of information in the form of a conference. This time my focus is on being a business lady. Can I mention how much I love the hashtag #bizlady? No? Move on? Ok.

Creating an LLC, was a big, big, big step. And then you move on and the next step is getting serious about having and maintaining a business. Did I know about incorporating and pass-through sole proprietorships last month? No. But now I do. Did I give a second to consider creating a media kit to send out to potential advertisers and sponsors? No. But now I’m on top of that. If you want to get serious about business, the worst thing you can do is be in the dark on these things. Then you’re just sitting around in yoga pants at 2 in the afternoon hating on people and that’s not a good look for you.

Attending an online conference is almost as exhausting as attending a face to face conference, especially if the information being presented to you is relevant and makes your brain work overtime. It also means you’re sitting in a chair trolling the internet between classes catching up on missed tweets and the fact that everyone else has access to rhubarb except you. Seriously, what the hell?Not-So-Classic Strawberry-Rhubarb Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This recipe bordered on being an Instagram photo and just another “Cocktail Quickie”, except I was muddling the strawberries and thought to myself: it deserved its own post. Also, this was the only way it seemed I would get rhubarbs up onto this site.

1-1/2 ouces G’Vine Gin*
3 medium strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2″ ginger, peeled and sliced
4-6 ounces Dry Rhubarb Soda

  • In the bottom of a shaker, muddle strawberries and ginger. Add gin and ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with soda.

Slight bite from the ginger and a pop of berry flavor to start with a whole lot of effervescent rhubarb. This gin is unique in that it is grape-based and has the most wonderful floral aroma and flavor. It all combines into a refreshing, spring-y cocktail.

Keeping some good quality sodas on hand means instant boozy refresher, FYI. Keep cool everyone!

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

The Auld Draper and starting out small with a home bar

Auld Draper Cocktail // stirandstrain.comNote: this post has nothing to do with Don Draper, but there are some real life drapers involved in the creation of the below cocktail. Ok, let’s continue.

One question I get asked pretty often is: How do you stock a home bar if you’re getting serious about making craft cocktails at home? If you have unlimited funds, then no problem, buy the liquor store. However, for most of us, this isn’t an option. I got started small. Every time I went to pick up a staple ingredient, like a bourbon or some more gin, I’d also pick up a bottle (or two if the paycheck was stretchy that week) of something unfamiliar to me, a liquor I hadn’t used or heard of. Before long, I had started to amass a decent amount of liquors that I could call upon when the time deemed it necessary. Now, I had also made a list after combing through some cocktail books first, and also checked on what brands to avoid, so if I picked up a bottle that cost me $40, I wasn’t going to be sad at the quality or taste (well, there were a few that took a bit to get used to. Canton, I’m looking at you!).

That’s how I ended up with a bottle of Byrrh. It was on the list of “to buy” although, long forgotten as to “for what”. Recently the folks at Serious Eats had me come up with a simple to make cocktail recipe, and I thought that perhaps I should try the Byrrh out in it. You can read more of the article, over here. Did you know the Byrrh is really old? And was created by a couple of brothers who were also drapers? History! It’s fascinating!Auld Draper Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Ready for a drink now? This one is pretty easy, and more crafty than some of my recent drinks.

2 ounces dry gin, such as Caorunn Scottish Gin*
3/4 ounce Byrrh
3 dashes orange bitters

Flamed orange peel for garnish

  • Add gin, Byrrh, and bitters to a mixing glass. Fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with flamed orange peel.

Caorunn Scottish Gin provides a clean, dry, and slightly spicy framework for Byrrh’s bitter nature. The citrus notes from the gin accent those found in the Byrrh, and the drink gets an added touch of bitter citrus from orange bitters and a flamed orange peel. The complete cocktail is a perfect balance of sweet and bitter with a rich texture that lets you linger.

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Blueberry Basil Smash or, how I stopped worrying and just made a damn cocktail

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.comDo you ever look over a cocktail recipe and think to yourself, this is too intimidating? Or maybe, I have no idea what any of these ingredients are! Sorry, I’m sure looking through this site some of you may have had those exact reactions. Although I like to challenge myself, because challenges build character or whatever, sometimes I just want something I can throw together and still think it looks delicious but wasn’t a hassle to make.

Sometimes I need to stop over-thinking these recipes.

This past weekend I challenged myself waaaaaay out of my comfort zone and went away for a few days to a food blogger conference (Big Traveling Potluck). Just so all of you cocktail bloggers know, we are under the vast umbrella that is food blogging (so if you get the chance, GO). Also, when you attend these things, chances are there isn’t another one of you around; you get to feel special in this weird, incestuous, high school-like cliquish group. I may be overstating that sentiment, but it’s close.

After getting over the initial I-don’t-know-anyone-here anxiety, people will just inherently feel pity on you and strike up a conversation. But the following day you can get over yourself and start having real conversations with people who all share the same passion and business questions you do. You can talk about blogging without wondering if the other person thinks you’re a hack or ask questions about CPCs and other acronyms that you’ve already forgotten what they stand for. What struck me as funny, was that there was this underlying anxiety everyone wanted to share: to slow down, give yourself some air to not feel in competition with the THOUSANDS of other people vying for the same internet space; but no one had any kind of answer. Regardless of what you were blogging about, there is always someone else you think you need to beat. Thinking about this sucks the fun out of creating for your site (at least for me…maybe you dig it).

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.comAfter 3 days there I abruptly felt like I had been given my own answer: get out of your headspace and just make a damn drink. If your content speaks to people, they will read it regardless of whether it’s complicated or not. And if you’re not happy with what you did, don’t publish it. Move on to something else.

This conference may have been a tad more personal than some of the larger ones out there. There was probably way more crying (in public) and more opportunities to talk one-on-one with everyone, but for me, it helped clear out some mental blocks that I had been dealing with lately. I’m not seeking out challenges with any regularity, but I find that conquering one at least every once in awhile gets me motivated again.

Also, I appreciate you guys for visiting this site.

So, onto the drink. Basil and blueberries are not an uncommon flavor duo, and frankly, you could probably do an internet search and find some similar recipes. However, today this is what I felt like sharing with you all and what I wanted to make with ingredients not uncommon, and definitely readily available. I also wanted to make a good-looking garnish; I can never leave well-enough alone.

4-6 basil leaves
small handful of blueberries (like, 10 or so)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (more or less to taste)
3 ounces gin, Citadelle Reserve used here*

Garnish: 3 blueberries, 2 basil leaves, lemon zest

  • In the bottom of a double rocks glass, muddle basil, blueberries, lemon juice and simple syrup. Add about an inch of ice, stir, and add gin. Fill glass with more crushed ice. Zest lemon on top of ice and garnish with blueberries and basil leaves on a cocktail pick. Straw is optional.

Basil and lemons florals for the initial aroma. There’s a nice sourness to this that is picked up from the lemon and blueberries. The basil is subtle, but present, adding earthy, vegetal qualities while the gin adds a kick of flavor from the barrel aging. The rich, spicy gin brings the “lightness” of the other ingredients down a bit making the cocktail more robust.

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Trinidad Spell (with a whole lot of bitters)

Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOne day trolling the internet I came across a drink called the Stormy Mai-Tai. This tropical sounding cocktail totally threw me for a loop–there was a whole lot of bitters in there. Like, a WHOLE lot. An ounce and a half.

Somewhere along the way through my cocktail education, I mistakenly thought bitters contained lethal amounts of alcohol that when taken in large doses would kill me. Clearly I was mistaken. Here was a drink that showed you could use bitters as a base and not just an accent. Also, I had overlooked the fact that Angostura only clocked in at 44.7% ABV, not lethal.Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I had thought of recreating the Stormy Mai-Tai here for this site, but when I was asked to come up with a bitters-heavy drink for Serious Drinks, I thought I’d see where else I could get bitters to work in large doses; so I turned to Tiki drinks.

I adapted the Polynesian Spell (which you can find in the Grog Log) by replacing the grape juice (there’s a head scratcher), triple sec, and peach brandy with Angostura, apricot brandy, passion fruit and citrus; I kept the gin. I was going out on a limb trying to shove Angostura in there, but after a couple of tweaks…wow. It was a success.

1 ounce Angostura
1 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Rothman & Winter Apricot Brandy
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice from 1/4 orange
1/2 ounce passion fruit syrup (see note)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake hard for 30 seconds to incorporate and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish according to your own inner-Tiki style.

Yes, the flavor is strongly bittered, but there’s also a cascade of cherry and clove, fruit and sweetness. The aroma is fiery from the Angostura with strong hints of passionfruit and orange. The slight numbing of your tongue may serve to remind you: you’re drinking a heck of a lot of bitters.

For this recipe, I used a Cobalt shaker*. I was sent this shaker to try out and I’ve used for several of my tiki drinks for a few reasons. One, the shaker gets things cold, really cold. And two, for the boozier drinks, I like the small ice chips that slowly melt as I drink the cocktail. It’s also roomy for large volume recipes like these too.

cobalt shaker // Trinidad Spell Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. All opinions are my own and no monetary compensation was given. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

And the winner of the barrel aged cocktail choice goes to…

Barrel Aged Hanky Panky (without a real barrel) // stirandstrain.comTwo weeks flew by around these parts and in that time a new cocktail was born. Well, the base you all will be familiar with, but the flavor profile? Totally new.

In the first post, I proposed the question to you all, What cocktail should get barrel aged (without a real barrel)? In this post I found that most of you would rather respond on every other form of social media except the post’s page. So I rounded up all of your responses, gave it a thought, and decided the cocktail would be…

A Hanky Panky!

First, thanks to you guys who gave up a lot more info on this process than I had in the instruction manual. All of your comments were super helpful in this process and tuned me in to the fact that I needed to taste daily. And you know what? After four days this baby was done aging with the stave. It did, however, require several more days of chilling out in the bottle before the taste was to my liking.

The jar holds 375ml, so count on about 3 full cocktails, or several small sipping shots.

6 oz. gin, Ford’s works well here
3 oz. sweet vermouth, Martini & Rossi used here
1 oz. Fernet Branca
6 dashes of orange bitters,Regan’s used here

  • Add the stave to the jar. Using a funnel, pour all ingredients into the barrel and seal.
  • Taste starting a day or two into aging. After 4 days I found that I was happy with the taste.
  • Strain mixture through cheesecloth, remove the stave from the jar, rinse the jar, and pour strained mixture back into the bottle. Cap and let sit for about 5 days in a cool, dark place.
  • After 5 days your Hanky Panky is ready to drink. Pour with ice into a strainer to chill, or sip straight out of the bottle too! Both work.

The flavor definitely has that “barrel aged” quality to it with a sweet, smokiness. On the nose there are hints of molasses, vanilla, raisins, pepper, honey, and smoke; not your typical Hanky Panky. The sweet vermouth is more pronounced while the Fernet Branca has softened considerably. In the barrel it’s been transformed into a richer, moodier version of a Hanky Panky.

Now on to thinking about what goes in there next…

Roses in the Snow

Roses in the Snow Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAt some point over the last few years I scribbled down the name ‘roses in the snow’ in my notebook. I had a name but only a rough idea for a drink; this happens a lot. Then when I had to come up with some drinks for February over on the Serious Drinks site, I figured this was a good time to dust off the name and develop that idea into a real cocktail.

I love the smell of roses. They remind me of summers in New England and they’re also my birth flower, so I feel like I have an even bigger connection to them, even if it’s made up (who came up with the idea of birth flowers anyway…).Roses in the Snow Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Roses in the Snow is a take on a gin fizz and you can read more about that and hydrosols over on the Serious Drinks post.

1-1/2 ounces new world style gin, Uncle Val’s used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce Rose Water
1 egg white
2 ounces club soda
3-4 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters

Add gin, lemon, simple syrup, rosewater, and eggwhite to a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (without ice) to incorporate eggwhite, about 30 seconds. Fill shaker with ice and shake until frothy, about 30 seconds longer. Double strain by pouring through a bar strainer into a fine-mesh or conical strainer set in a highball glass filled with ice. Top drink with club soda and bitters. Gently stir and serve.

There’s a lovely hint of roses without being becoming too perfume-y, and the usual sweet-tartness found in a gin fizz. It’s also pretty to look at too.

Adding Aroma to Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture

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

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

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

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

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

Rosemary Tincture

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

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

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

Aroma in Cocktails: Rosemary Tincture // stirandstrain.com

Rosemary Martini

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

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

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

Mixology Monday: Southeast Asian Style Tonic Syrup for a Gin and Tonic

Gin and Southeast Asian Tonic // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday Logo

Update: it has come to light that some precautions must be taken with making your own tonic at home using cinchona bark. Remember to TRIPLE filter until no solids are left. Please read this article if you are new to making tonics at home.

It feels so good to check something off my “To Make” list. And thanks to Mixology Monday, I got to do that today. Some time ago I happened upon an article about making your own tonic syrup. I forget where now, but I immediately added it to my ever fluctuating list of projects I assign myself. Making the syrup seemed the obvious choice this month as HIGHBALLS! was the assigned theme by Joel over at the Southern Ash blog. What is Mixology Monday you might be asking yourself (if you are new around this site)? Well, every month a group of cocktail (and food bloggers…we’re not picky) get together and face a challenge presented by whoever is “hosting” this online cocktail party that month. To check out what we did last year, please check out the archives over on the MxMo site, there were quite a few epic drinks. Everyone submits by the deadline and we eagerly await the roundup to see what everyone came up with, and secretly friend-hate on those that did a better job than you. It’s all about community.

One of my favorite Highball drinks is a Gin & Tonic (also Amaro Highballs but we’ve already covered that on here), and what better way to feature this drink than with an amazing homemade tonic syrup? What is your go-to Tonic Water? Do you like some of the more exotic ones like Fever-Tree or Q-Tonic? Or do you go with plain ol’ Canada Dry? No judgement here; I’ve had them all. Before I became aware that you can actually MAKE your own, I was a big fan (still am) of Fever-Tree’s Indian Tonic Water. It had more character than I had experienced in other tonic waters and added a nice, spicy flavor profile to a G&T. In making my own, I wanted to capture some of that spiciness, but also introduce more bolder flavors into the mix. The tonic ingredients moved away from what I thought of mostly as “Indian” spices (cardamom, coriander) and moved more into the broader category of “Southeast Asian” (kaffir lime leaves, ginger).Gin and Southeast Asian Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Since this was my first time venturing down the path of this DIY project I sought out someone who I trust implicitly with these homemade concoctions: Morgenthaler. (You can read his original recipe with the link below.) Ingredients were tweaked from his original to include other’s favorites and whatever I had in my spice cabinet that I thought would be interesting. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty interesting. Also, tasty.Gin and Southeast Asian Tonic // stirandstrain.com

Southeast Asian Style Tonic

adapted from Jeffrey Morgenthaler

4 cups water
2-3 dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
4 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp. whole allspice berries
1/2 whole star anise
1/4 tsp. whole white peppercorns, lightly crushed
1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1″ knob of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup cinchona bark powder (update: cut this back to 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup citric acid
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
zest and juice from one lime
zest and juice from one lemon
zest and juice from one orange

7 oz. sugar
1 oz. vodka, optional

Combine all ingredients except sugar in a medium sauce pan. Stir to combine (a slight skin may form over the top, don’t worry, that will dissipate once the boil starts). Heat over high heat until a rolling boil is reached. Reduce to low and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine strainer and cheesecloth. Strain a second time through a coffee filter to remove any remaining sediment and a third time if solids are still left. You DO NOT want any remaining solids in your final product. Pour strained mixture back into a clean sauce pan over medium heat, after mixture warms, about 3-5 minutes, add sugar and stir to combine. Once sugar has fully melted, about 7-9 mintues, remove from heat. Let cool and then transfer to an airtight container. If not using right away, add one ounce vodka to syrup.

Gin and Southeast Asian Tonic

2 oz. tonic syrup (recipe above)
2-1/2 oz. carbonated water
2 oz. Gin, Hendrick’s used here

Build the cocktail by adding all three ingredients to a highball (or double rocks if you’d like one large ice cube) glass filled with ice. Stir gently to combine. Garnish with a small lime wedge.

Holy flavor bomb Batman! This syrup has a lot of spice and tartness going on, but one ingredients does not overpower the other. The citrus element here is very strong in the tonic and I found that adding lime wedges, which I usually squeeze in, were not needed. If you close your eyes and slowly taste, you can definitely point out the pepper, the coriander, etc. But it’s so refreshing and delicious you’re just going to want to gulp it down.

**If you have a hard time sourcing herbs in your neighborhood, Dandelion Botanical Company is a great online resource (and where I get the majority of mine).

Thanks to the Southern Ash blog for hosting this month and to Fred for keeping the dream alive. Check back here next week for the round up of everyone’s submissions.