Also, I wanted to send a big thank you and shout out to Bar and Garden in Culver City, CA who have been helping steer me in the right direction of choosing sparkling wines for drinks. The ladies there are awesome, knowledgeable and have yet to pick out something I wouldn’t want to crack open and slug down on the spot. Please give them a visit if you’re in West Los Angeles.
And stay tuned here for a few more holiday posts and irreverent boozy Gift Guides this week.
*This bottle from Heritage Distilling was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
Growing up, stockings were always an important part of the holiday tradition in my household. On Christmas morning they were the first things that my sister and I could touch. And what a bounty! Looking back, it was a lot of little crap, but my mom knew exactly the kind of crap we would go nuts over. Since I’ve been with my husband celebrating Christmas, I’ve reinstating stockings. From socks to swanky sunglasses, anything goes. However, if I was going to choose some items to put in there for all of you readers, here’s the loot you’d get!
Let’s light a champagne scented candle (when it’s done you get a new cup!) and juice a couple limes. Break open your copy of Home Bar Basics and contemplate how you’re going to personalize that barrel you’ll be aging a Negroni in later. It’s the holidays, so let’s mix up that all natural cranberry syrup with some gin. Shoot it back, or get out the coasters?
During the winter months, those palm trees outside tend to look rather sad and dreary. But with the Grog Log in hand, and a couple of Hurricanes, suddenly it seems a bit more balmy out. For those cocktail lovers on your list that tend to dip towards the over-saturated wonderland that is Tiki, here’s a couple of choice gifts.
Tropical fruits delivered to your door? Yes please. And while you’re at it, let’s crush some ice and make a cone mold. Then stick it on a puffer fish.
What? You’re familiar with Repeal Day, right? Are you holding a drink/about to make a drink/going to go and have a drink? If you are, then you must remember that without this special day in history, you might be drinking grape juice right about now. Or maybe not even have been born! On December 5th, 1933, the U.S. repealed Prohibition making liquor once again a legal and delicious pastime for all citizens.
Today I’m making the Pre-Prohibition drink, the Gin Rickey, with a little spin on the ingredients. Not much mind you, switching the gin to a barrel-aged and adding a little freshly ground coriander because it is awesome. You can make this the good old fashioned way too if you don’t have these around; just cut back the lime juice by 1/2 an ounce.
2 oz. Rusty Blade Gin
3/4 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
4 oz. Q Club Soda
pinch of freshly ground coriander
In a highball glass filled with ice, build the drink by pouring in the gin and lime juice. Top with club soda. Add a pinch of the coriander on top and swirl with a straw gently to combine.
Cinnamon, spices and lime on the nose and the palate. Light effervescence from the club soda with a mild earthy finish.
If you’d like some additional reading on Repeal Day, please visit Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s site (who has multiple postings on the subject and pretty much is the reason we were all made aware of this holiday).
Living under the shadow of the Roman Catholic Church growing up, December 1st meant putting up the advent calendar. If you’re not familiar with this tradition, it’s pretty much a calendar for kids to use themselves in lieu of bugging their parents about “how many days until Christmas?”. At this point in life, I’ve forgotten any other symbolic meaning it may have. Anyways, one school year the teacher brought out what I thought was the best thing to happen since the invention of Christmas, a chocolate filled advent calendar. We all picked days and when our day came up in class, we got to open the door and eat the chocolate. And I remember it as pretty decent chocolate. That moment in time has stuck with me as the best advent calendar ever, until last year, when I spotted these two beauties from the Master of Malt site. You can pick either whisky or gin for 24 days of boozy surprises. This year they have premium editions of both making your only decision whether you go brown or clear. If you can’t decided, just get both.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of “nature”, I think bear attacks and canned beans. If you find yourself stuck in one of those situations, only a good cocktail will help. And also running like hell.
Wilderness doesn’t seem so daunting when a bear’s roaring mouth is helping you crack open a bottle of tonic water (thanks pal!). Or that fox just chilled your drink real nice. Just watch out for the wild turkeys; they might bite.
Prior to this, I had been considering infusing coffee into a rum to try out for drinks, and low and behold, the opportunity presented itself here. This is a quick infusion folks, so don’t go fretting about having to wait. I mean, it’s not going to be ready in an hour, but at least you’re not waiting a whole week!
The garnish you’re looking at is a nod to the dessert it accompanies, and no, it’s not the dessert you think it is. Since this was at a Thanksgivukkah dinner, originally I had thought of including a gold coin garnish (admittedly I know very little about the holiday, being raised Catholic and all, even we got these coins in our stockings at Christmas), but decided that a gilded pecan would look prettier (it does). Paired with a Luxardo cherry it’s also mighty tasty too.
The dinner itself was great, and I’m still dreaming about the dishes. Also, I learned how to actually play the Dradle game for real; and I won. And if you’re curious, the El-El is not a phonetically Jewish spelling of some sort. I just combined the names of the rum and coffee because I was drawing a blank on what to call it… real imagination here.
1-1/2 oz. Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum (see recipe below)
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Yalumba Antique Tawny Port
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
Maple Glazed Pecan (see recipe below) dusted with edible gold glitter
Combine rum, allspice dram, port and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled miniature snifter glass. Garnish with a cocktail pick speared with the pecan and cherry.
Rich and decadent are the two words that first popped out of my mouth. Full coffee wafts up on the nose and stays on the palate. A spicy, bittersweet finish pops with each layer of flavor. This is definitely an after-dinner sipper with a lot of complex allspice, ginger and chocolate notes to it. It pairs wonderfully with a vanilla ice cream. So, if you’re looking for something to pair with dessert this holiday season, here you go.
Make It: Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum
14 oz. 15 Year El Dorado Rum
1/2 cup Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast
Combine ingredients in an airtight container (I reused my rum bottle). Swirl to cover the beans. Let sit for 2 days. Fine strain to catch any broken coffee beans. Bottle. Use within two years.
Dry heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add pecans, maple syrup and salt. Stir to combine and keep stirring until pecans are covered and syrup has evaporated from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Pour out pecans onto a silpat or parchment paper to cool. While still warm, dust edible gold glitter over the pecans. Shake off excess. (This is easier if you spear onto toothpick first.). Tastes best up to a week in an airtight container.
Big thanks again to Andy, Greg and Nathan from The Table Set for inviting me over to talk cocktails and for allowing me to serve strangers alcohol.
Also, in case you haven’t see all the tweets, Stir & Strain now has a Facebook page! You can find it over here.
When something is covered in gold it makes it special, right? Unless you’re Jill Masterson; then you’re an unfortunate casulty of a James Bond love affair. But let’s not get bogged down with my obsession with the James Bond franchise. Let’s talk gifts! Of Gold! For cocktails!
I’m sorry if you were expecting a certain gold-flecked liquor, instead I’m opting for some gold-wrapped champagne to top your cocktail. Make sure you mix it up nice with some blindingly beautiful accessories. And when you’re done, that bar cart is sure a nice way to store everything.
Probably every year about this time I start feeling uneasy and mumble to myself, “I’m not ready yet”. Purity jokes aside, it usually means I’m all a fuss about the upcoming holiday season. I mean, it’s 80 outside. It sure doesn’t feel like Santa is hiding in my chimney, ready to come down and scold me for not baking enough cookies this year.
But just because I’m a bumbling mess doesn’t mean YOU have to be. This year I’m trying to be more proactive and bring you, readers, timely gift guides. Not like those I threw out in March, even though, well, St. Patrick’s Day is also a relative holiday in my field.
Today we’re going to ease into just thinking about fun gifts for those cocktail lovers/enthusiasts/entertainers in your life. Or you can make a list for yourself! Who cares?! I don’t; you should see my “to buy” list, many items of which will actually be appearing here in the next few weeks.
Since it is still pretty balmy out here in Southern California, I’m taking you on a boat trip – with boozy gifts.
You’ll need a good Navy Strength Rum on this boat, and a couple of shatter-resistant glasses (for when it gets rough). Who wants to carry a bunch of full size products when you can have mini bitters on board? Adult ice pops? Yes. Just don’t forget the ice bucket!
So for this year, on the festival of lights, I decided to tweak a recipe I encountered in the Washington Post on Indian beverages. The ingredients might seem a bit out there, but if you’re interested in new flavors, this would be a great place to start. The flavors of India are perfect for many cocktail creations, as they encompass sweet, salty and savory all at once and taste a lot more complex than cocktails you might be familiar with.
Here’s a warning for this drink, not to scare you off, but one ingredient in here, the black salt, might be a bit too much for some of you out there. When you open your container, you will get hit with a great amount of sulphur. That is a flavor component that this adds. Smelly, smelly sulphur. However, if you eat Indian food, you will find this subtly in the background in many dishes, so you might have already tried it before. Here though, if you are terrified of ruining a decent cocktail, or just simply cannot get your hands on it, leave it out. I won’t tell.
Also, the article suggests adding herbs and whole black peppercorns to your ice cubes the day before. This is optional and mainly a decorative element. When the ice cube starts to melt in the drink, be mindful that the peppercorns may be now floating in your beverage and you might unknowingly almost swallow one. I might have just done that. Twice.