Gift Guide: Smells Like Booze Spirit

It smells like a cocktail, but you don’t want to drink this.

Holiday Gift Guide: Smells Like Booze Spirit // stirandstrain.com

You do want to smell it and lather your body with it! Put it on your lips and chew on it for a little bit after dinner. For your booziest enthusiast friends, those who really, really like spirits, here’s a few stocking stuffer and hostess gifts for all you last minute shoppers out there. And of course, these pair well with an actual bottle of booze too.

1. Pisco Sour Candle 2. Cocktail Lip Balms 3. Bourbon Vanilla Soap 4. Craft IPA Shampoo and Conditioner 5. Scotch-Infused Toothpicks 6. Dark Rum Candle

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Gift Guide: All the Good Stuff Boozy Gifts Over $50

These are the gifts when you get your holiday bonus, or when you receive your inheritance…

Holiday Gift Guide: Boozy Gifts $50 and Over // stirandstrain.com

Cha-ching! Here’s your high class boozy gifts this year. From sexy alcohol infusers to shimmery bar carts, we’ve got something for you no matter what your holiday bonus. Something practical? A juicer! Something NOT practical? A very, very expensive racing car shaker. You could have a suitcase full of booze shipped to you, or if you prefer to work for your booze, how about a Snowman you need to whack with a stick to rain down nips? If you’re going to make the correct ice ball, you should really upgrade to the professional maker. And if you just can’t be anywhere without your beer, have a keg attached to your bike.

1. Beer Trike 2. Gin Decanter 3. Alkemista Infusion Vessel 4. Professional Ice Ball Maker 5. World’s Largest Tasting Set 6. Copper Gnome Cocktail Set 7. Racing Car Cocktail Shaker 8. Cuisinart Juicer 9. Snowman Nipyata 10. Gold Bar Cart

And stay tuned here tomorrow because we’re giving away one of these rad gifts!!

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Booze Lovers

Bottles of booze and cocktail books will fit into a stocking if you try hard enough.

Holiday Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers for Booze Lovers // stirandstrain.com

Santa Baby, just slip a couple bottles of booze into my stocking. And a cocktail book for some ideas. Give me something to mix it all up with. Maybe shaped like a car? And if you have the time, let’s play some cards together. The only Rummy I know however, is the one I put in the cookies.

1. The One Bottle Cocktail Book 2. Race Car Cocktail Shaker 3. Wine Socks 4. Luxardo Bitter Bianco 5. Cocktail Hour Playing Cards 6. Colorful Barware Set 7. Atomizer 8. The Real McCoy Rum

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Holiday Entertaining: What Type of Appetizer Am I The 30 Minute or Less Wine & Appetizer Pairing

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sonoma-Cutrer Wine. Recipe and ideas are my own.

No one wants to show up at a party this holiday season to find their host has given up on life and left just one type of appetizer out for everyone. But it happens. Don’t be that person.

Instead, cater to the 4 types of appetizer people. Yes folks, there are 4 types: classic appetizer person, fun appetizer person, bold appetizer person, and casual appetizer person.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Please don’t give me the side-eye when I say you should make 4 separate appetizers! See that bounty of food? Looks good doesn’t it? Looks like someone slaved away in a kitchen all day planning the perfect party bites to serve with their wine. But what if I told you all these dishes could be made in 30 minutes or less for YOUR Holiday Wine Pairing Party? Maybe you’d say, Elana, giiiiirrrrlll that couldn’t possibly be true. Or maybe, Elana, SIGN ME UP LET’S DO THIS.

I like your style friend. Let’s talk about a 30 minute or less Holiday Wine Pairing Party.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Today we’re in the kitchen with Sonoma-Cutrer pairing their Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and Les Pierres Chardonnay with these four different kinds of appetizers. Before you begin to pair some food with the wine, it’s helpful to know your wine. Have a few sips. What do you taste here?

Russian River Valley Pinot Noir: blackberries, jam, vanilla and tobacco aromas with a silky, round flavor of spices and tart cherry fruit flavors.

Les Pierres Chardonnay: bright lemon aroma and subtle spicy aromas bursting with citrus flavors, spice and mineral notes.

Both of these wines are super food friendly, but for the perfect bites, I’m going to help you pair the right foods with them. However, let’s start with YOU first. What type of appetizer person are you?

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Classic (pairs with the Chardonnay): you’re wearing a sport coat or a LBD to this holiday party. And you like your appetizers to sound like an appetizer, but elevated. Smoked trout? Herbed cheese? It’s familiar yet different, and you’ll take 6.

Casual (pairs with the Pinot Noir): you’re not wearing a tie and 7pm start time is just a suggestion. A spoonful of marinated mushrooms to walk around and nibble on that only took 5 minutes to make? Sure, that’s cool.

Bold (pairs with the Chardonnay): so you went skydiving this morning and wore white after Labor Day. You need a savory twist with the world’s hottest pepper cheese to snack on and then tell your friends about.

Fun (pairs with the Pinot Noir): sparkly yoga pants are totally party pants and ugly holiday sweaters are the only appropriate sweater to wear this time of year. Just don’t double dip your Pigs in a Blanket in the cranberry mustard sauce or it’s a party foul for you.

Now you can help your guests choose which appetizer they are AND you’ll have a wine ready for them to drink it with. Ready to get cooking? Crack open some wine first and let’s go!

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Smoked Trout with Dill and Chive Cream Cheese on Crackers

Yields about 25 crackers
1 8 ounce packet cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp minced dill
1 8 ounce package smoked trout, shredded
crackers to serve, I prefer some with a little heft for this like oat crackers
Chives and Black Salt for garnish

Mix together softened cream cheese, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives and dill. Set aside. Build your appetizer by spreading about 1-1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese mixture onto the cracker. Top with shredded trout. Garnish with chopped chives and a big flake of black salt.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Pigs in a Blanket with Cranberry Mustard Sauce

1 pack little sausages
1 container crescent rolls
1 tsp dried thyme
1 10 ounce package cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp water
Pinch salt
½ cup dijon mustard

To make the Pigs in a Blanket: Preheat oven to 375°. Lay out crescent rolls and sprinkle thyme over dough, lightly pressing thyme into the dough. Cut crescent rolls in thirds. Wrap around sausages, gently pinching the dough ends together. Lay Pigs in a Blanket seam side down on a sheet pan covered in parchment. Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. While Pigs are cooking, make the cranberry mustard.

To make the Cranberry Mustard Sauce: Combine cranberries, brown sugar, water and salt in a medium-high saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Lower heat to medium and continue to stir until cranberries release water and pop open, about 6-8 minutes, continue to stir until sauce has thickened slightly, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in dijon mustard. Transfer to an airtight container and keep refrigerated up to one month.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Cheese Twists

Adapted from The Kitchn

2 sheets store-bought puff pastry, thawed
1-1/2 cups spicy cheese like ghost pepper, finely grated

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Dust your counter or cutting board with 1/4 cup of cheese. Unfold 1 sheet of puff pastry over top of cheese. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese.
  • Roll out to 1/8-inch thick. Fold the pastry in half. Top with another 1/4 cup of cheese. Roll out again to 1/8-inch thick. I roll mine out about the size of a sheet pan.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into long strips roughly 1-inch wide. Twist strips and gently stick ends onto parchment to prevent un-twisting. Repeat with next sheet.
  • Chill for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour (if you have time!).
  • Bake 15 to 25 minutes. Begin checking shorter straws after about 15 minutes, and longer straws after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven once they are puffed and crispy, feel dry to the touch, and are deep golden.
  • Cool briefly on the baking sheet and transfer them to a cooling rack or serving plate.
  • Serve warm or room temperature. Puff pastry straws are best served the same day they are made.

Holiday Entertaining: What Appetizer Am I Quiz? 30 Minute or less wine and appetizer pairing // stirandstrain.com

Simple Marinated Mushrooms

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
12 ounces small button mushrooms (if you want to make it fancier, use mixed wild mushrooms)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp kosher salt

  • Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add in mushrooms when oil is warm and sauté 5-8 minutes. Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside.
  • In an airtight, nonreactive container (I like Pyrex bowls for this), whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, dill and kosher salt. Add warm mushrooms into the bowl and toss with the marinade, covering the mushrooms. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. Mushrooms will develop more flavor the longer they sit and are even better the next day if you have the time!

For more information on Sonoma-Cutrer Wines, please visit them at: www.sonomacutrer.com


Gift Guide: More Boozy Gifts $50 and Under

Time to replace all those thrifted mismatched glasses that aren’t ironic enough.

Gift Guide: More Boozy Gifts $50 and Under // stirandstrain.com

A little extra cash to spend means you can give the gift of some spiffy new barware this year. Whether it’s drinks for a crowd, drinks for 4, or a discreet single serving you wear on your arm, you can also…put a bird on it (or in it??). And while you’re improving their bar, you might as well get them some better bar tools. And some new booze. And then invite yourself over.

1. Braulio Amaro 2. Pineapple Corkscrew 3. Punch Bowl 4. Copper Decanter Set 5. Piña Colada Ring 6. Lark Bird Glass 7. Boston Shaker Set 8. Shag Tiki Glass Set 9. Gin Baubles 10. Flask Bracelet

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Make It: Homemade Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Peppermint liqueur and I have a bit of a… sordid past if you will. It was definitely a favorite of mine when I first discovered it among the contents of a family friend’s liquor cabinet. But now with time in-between us, a lot of time, I can revisit this old favorite of mine and class it up a bit for my current tastes. And that means making my own.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, I definitely am a little obsessed with holiday DIY projects. In my mind, friends and family look forward to this time of year as I bestow copious amount of boozy concoctions on them. This year is no exception.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFriends, if you really want to impress someone with a DIY gift, make it sparkle. Seriously. “Hey, I made you some Peppermint Liqueur.” “Thanks.” “Oh, but look, it also sparkles and kinda looks like a lava lamp!” “OMGEEEEEE THANKS!!!”

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSee, they’re going to love it because it looks like you spent a great deal of time researching and making this spectacular liqueur. You win the holidays. And no one will need to know it took you less than 15 minutes to make a big batch and divvy it up among bottles for gifts. It will probably take you longer to drive to Target, park, pick out some cute holiday cards, stand in line, drive home, and write a special note to attach to the bottles. And don’t forget some ribbon!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comIf you’re short on time, but want to give something special for the holidays, this is IT. Today I partnered with Everclear to help you folks win holiday gift giving with this super easy, Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur. You all know that I love using Everclear for my infusions, tinctures and bitters, and today it’s the base for this liqueur. Starting with a higher proof means I can adjust the ABV as I see fit. Maybe I want to go a little higher on one batch, a little lower on the next; I get to decide. Everclear also has a neutral taste so just the delicious, invigorating peppermint taste comes through, not notes of grass or potatoes, or, I dunno, tree bark.

Once you make this, you’ll definitely want to store it in some clear, air-tight bottles because NO ONE can resist holding it up to some light and swirling it around. NO ONE. Maybe stick some fresh greens and some ribbon on the outside and your gift is done.

Note: make sure you buy NON-TOXIC, EDIBLE luster dust. There are some luster dust products that are for decorative use only and not intended for consumption. Don’t buy those. Read the label. Also, do not put your head directly over the warm syrup when adding the peppermint extract. Any steam will send the extract right into your eyes! And it might sting!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comNow, let’s make some liqueur!

Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
1 cup Everclear
1/2 teaspoon luster dust, pearl color (see note above)

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add in peppermint extract and Everclear. Stir everything to combine.
  • To create shimmery effect, sprinkle luster dust in the bottom of the container you’ll store the liqueur in. Pour in the peppermint liqueur. Seal, and shake well to combine. Luster dust will settle to the bottom after awhile so shake well before serving.

This is great on its own, but if you’re looking to use it in a drink, here are a few suggestions:

  • Spike your Hot Chocolate
  • Stinger Cocktail
  • Peppermint White Russian (you’ll need to experiment on this one but I think it could be a winner)

 

For more information on Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, please visit them at makeityourown.com

Gift Guide: Boozy Gifts $25 and Under

It’s not cheap, it’s frugal. Here’s our first of the “practical” gift guides this year.

Boozy Gift Guide: $25 and Under // stirandstrain.com

They might have a small price tag, but no one is going to regift these guys. Except maybe the reusable wine bag, because that’s the point. Whether you need some stocking stuffers they’ve never seen before (hello cocktail pins and firewater tincture!), some solid basics (muddlers! crushed ice trays!), or if you need a gift for your officemate who just got into cocktails (Meehan!), these are a sure bet. And of course, there’s always rum! And don’t forget yourself! I’ll be stirring up some drinks this holiday season with a couple Palm Springs stirrers.

1. Cocktail Pins 2. Meehan’s Bartender Manual 3. Extra Long Cocktail Muddler 4. Hot Toddy Carry On Cocktail Kit 5. Palm Springs Cocktail Stirrers 6. Firewater Tincture 7. Reusable Wine Bag 8. Crushed Ice Tray 9. Appleton Estate Rum

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Wine Scavenger Hunt with Sheep Thrills Wine

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.comSheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Sheep Thrills Wine.

This year I’m trying to bring simple, spontaneous pleasures into a year that’s been… draining, to say the least. While I am thankful to spend this week with family, I wanted to switch things up a bit after the meal. So, what can you do to entertain a house full of guests this thanksgiving? Send them on a wine scavenger hunt!

If you’re looking to have some adventures with out-of-town guests while being told to stay out of the kitchen, or if you need an activity to do the day after the big meal instead of sitting around arguing politics with your curmudgeonly uncle, or you’re having a few (or 20) pals over for Friendsgiving and it’s going to be in the high 80’s and you don’t have air conditioning (hello, Los Angeles!), this is a fun one!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

We’ve teamed up with Sheep Thrills Wine this week to get you out of the house and on this wine adventure! I was always a huge fan of scavenger hunts as a kid and the other day, thinking of what to do with a house full of guests, I thought—adults like this game too! I mean, it’s going to be even better with wine involved.

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills wine, made in the Abruzzo region of Italy, is available in both a red blend and a Pinot Grigio so you’ve got your guests covered. And, with a price point that won’t break the bank (under $15 a bottle!!), you can afford to stock up and even give out a few bottles as prizes for winning the scavenger hunt. (Free wine is a big motivator to win a game. Trust me on this.)

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

Check out the printable below to play your own Sheep Thrills scavenger hunt. Or use it as a starting point to make your own game—just get outdoors and have fun!

Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com
Sheep Thrills Wine Scavenger Hunt // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Sheep Thrills Wine, please visit their website at www.sheepthrills.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail tequila - maraschino - citrus - currants - walnut - cider

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).

I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.

It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

Halloween & Autumn Bar Cart Styling with a few of our favorite spooky cocktails from around the web!

Oh my gourd! It’s time to get that bar cart styled – for Halloween!

Halloween and Autumn Gift Guide 2017 // stirandstrain.com

If you don’t want to drop some dollars on a fancy punch bowl but still want to impress your friends, hollow out a pumpkin! Plop it on your bar cart! Pour in whiskey (or check below for some recommended recipes)! Stir it up with a skull spoon! And serve up your punch in some gothic goblets. Or some very Fall coppery glasses. With glow-in-the-dark eyeball ice cubes of course. Come November 1st you’ll need only add some decorative wheat stalks, and remove the eyeballs, and your Autumnal bar cart is DONE.

1. Black Glass Goblets 2. Copper Low Ball Glasses 3. Glow-In-The-Dark Eyeball Ice Cubes 4. Koval Millet Whiskey 5. Pumpkin 6. Copper Skull Bar Spoon 7. Infinity Bar Cart 8. Copper Drink Stirrers


Looking for some SPOOKY//Fall cocktail inspiration? Take a look at some of our favorites from our cocktail friends!

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!