Halloween 2015 Spooky Gift Guide

Creaking door noises. Ghoulish wails. Someone breaking your favorite antique champagne coupe! THE HORROR!!!

Halloween 2015 Cocktail Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

Halloween is a holiday that transitions nicely from childhood to your drinking years. But don’t think that means you need to be serious. Are you a mad scientist this year? Perfect, there’s some glassware for that. Going more the cannibal route? Then giant skull punch bowl it is! If you’re done with the silly stuff, then make sure your booze is wearing a little black dress, and then decide whether to risk the nice glasses for serving or just some fancy paper cups instead. Me, I’ll be serving up some blood… blood oranges that is. Happy Haunting folks!

1. Skull Punch Bowl 2. Black & Gold Ice Bucket 3. Luc Belaire Rare Brut Gold 4. Shrub & Co. Blood Orange Cardamom Cocktail Shrub Syrup 5. Orange Moroccan Glasses 6. Gold Star Party Cups 7. Stainless Steel Straws 8. Laboratory Cocktail Set

For more gift guides than you could possibly need, click here.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2015

…Because nothing says I love you more than beating a brightly colored donkey until booze falls out of it.

Valentines Day Gift Guide 2015 // stirandstrain.com

Are you having that oh crap moment where you just remembered you need to buy some meaningless gift for someone by Saturday? Well, if you miss the date, make up for it with something so amazing they’ll totally forget they might dump you come Tuesday. A sexy bottle of Absinthe perhaps? What about a slightly sexualized cocktail shaker? And if you get to smooching, coat your lips in some Old Fashioned-flavored lip balm. If all else fails, gather up your friends and spend your hard earned cash on a gilded mid-century ice bucket. You deserve it.

1. Plum Cocktail Shaker 2. Mod Ice Bucket 3. Nipyata Donkey 4. Absinthe 5. Whiskey After-Shave 6. Tiki and Old Fashioned Lip Balms 7. Antique Coupes

For more gift guides than you could possibly need, click here.

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Chocolate Love with SelvaRey Rum

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.comLast year I had the pleasure of working with SelvaRey Rum in conjunction with The Coconut Club. While their white rum is delicious, I thought that for this week, since Valentine’s Day IS right around the corner, that I’d introduce you guys to their other rum: SelvaRey Cacao. While our chef at The Coconut Club made this his special ingredient in the finale dessert of the night, obviously it’s good in drinks too. Cacao Old Fashioned? YESSSSSS!

So let’s drop that silly idea of surprising your loved one with a box of chocolates. Instead, offer up this award winning, 5 year dark aged rum (in bourbon casks!!) and infused with natural chocolate. You will win this holiday season—promise. You can find SelvaRey in select markets, but today you have the chance to win your very own bottle. In fact, TWO of you are going to win a bottle because it’s the season of giving.

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.com

No wait, that was Christmas.

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.com

Anyway, you guys have 12 ways to win a bottle of this delicious cacao-infused rum. Enter below, but remember: You MUST BE 21 and OLDER to WIN. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST February 11th, 2015. Please see terms and conditions below (some states unfortunately are excluded from shipping liquor to). For more information on SelvaRey Rum, please visit them at selvarey.com. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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.

Holiday Gift Guide: Hop to It (the beer lovers guide)

I may not be the biggest lover of beer, but boy do I have a lot of friends who absolutely obsess over it. You might too. So this list is for YOU!

Beer Lovers Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

The accoutrements are important: the right glass, the right koozie (or is it cozy? or coozy? or.. whatever), the right growler, that coaster that tells people to stay the hell away cause that is YOUR glass. If you’re looking for a gift that keeps on giving, a subscription is always nice. And for that person who is never happy with what you give them, well, then they can make their own damn beer.

1. Hangovers Beer Tap Coat Rack 2. Beer Chiller 3. Beer Growler 4. Beer Savers 5. I Like Fun Beer Koozie 6. Mine and Yours Coaster Set 7. Beer Advocate Magazine 8. 3 Sheets Tilted Glass 9. Summer Citrus Blonde Ale Beer Making Kit

 

Check out all the past gift guides here!

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comHoliday season is punch season. Ok, well, holiday season means more punch at every party. Everyone wants a punch, but let’s be honest, most of them are pretty meh.

Holiday season also means that hosts are pulling out the good booze because, hey, they’re in the spirit of sharing right now. I see a lot of Scotch brought out. Good scotch. Sometimes so good I’m hesitant to tell the host they should hang on to it and not start passing it about willy nilly. But then I’m selfish and want to drink said scotch so I’m shutting up about it.

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.comThis holiday season I decided to combine both. I also wanted to create a punch that people who turn their noses up at scotch would like… and I did it. In fact, I got to test this punch out on a pretty varied crowd before I posted it. Initially when I showed up with the punch, people would eagerly ask what was in it then inevitable scrunch their nose as I listed scotch as an ingredient. People who don’t usually drink scotch really tend to have strong opinions about what they assume it will taste like: gym socks, band aids, burnt…stuff… So they already have a negative opinion before they start.9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

But the thing about holiday parties is that you always end up staying longer than you thought, and by this point you’re drinking whatever is left. For these people, initially turning down the scotch punch, they begrudgingly took a glass after finding out someone had drank all the good champagne. And then they found themselves confounded: they really liked the punch made with scotch.

Color me amused when the same folks who seemed genuinely annoyed/disgusted/sad when told the giant bowl of punch was made with scotch later came up to me with giant grins asking again what was in that punch? Had I just made converts of this bunch?9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

It’s holiday time, the season of giving, so I hope you all will allow me this one time to toot my own horn and smirk just a little as person after person drank up a scotch punch they earlier swore they’d never touch. Curious about the name? If you know your holiday songs, then you’ve recognized this from the 12 Days of Christmas. My punch, with 9 integral ingredients, was for a party with this theme. The Table Set guys sure love a theme party.

Now it’s your turn to try it. Please, be honest, and let me know if I’ve made you a convert too.

For the Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup:

4 (3- or 4-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

In a medium saucepan, combine cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean seeds and pod, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Strain. The syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For the Chai Tea:

2 cups boiling water
3 chai tea bags

Combine boiling water and tea in a heatproof container. Let steep for 4 minutes. Discard tea bags and let tea cool to room temperature before adding to punch.

For the Punch:

1 (750 ml) bottle blended Scotch, such as Monkey Shoulder
2 1/4 cups Lustau East India Solera Sherry
3/4 cup fresh juice from about 6 lemons
1 1/2 cups Vanilla Cinnamon Syrup
2 cups Chai Tea
1/8 cup Angostura bitters
6 orange wheels, star anise, ice block*, for garnish

In a punch bowl or large container, combine Scotch, sherry, lemon juice, syrup, tea, and bitters. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for 5 hours or up to overnight. When ready to serve, add an ice block and garnish as desired.

*If you want to get really festive, you can add some decorative elements to your ice block. I added extra cranberries to mine. As the night progresses and the ice melts, they’ll start popping out and floating about. So make sure whatever you use is washed and makes sense with the rest of the ingredients!

So yes, scotch is definitely present. I chose Monkey Shoulder blended scotch, which offers a strong punch of malt, smoke, and baking spice flavors, perfect for a winter punch. Next I added in some chai tea just below full strength. The tea adds a wonderful assortment of appropriate flavors: cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cardamom and black pepper all work beautifully with the whisky. Then I followed that up with Sherry for a little sweet nuttiness; Angostura for bitterness but also extra spice; and vanilla-laced cinnamon sugar syrup for a slightly floral and woodsy sweetness.

 

This recipe was originally posted on Serious Eats.

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots

Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots // stirandstrain.comAt Christmas, my favorite part of opening presents was tackling the stocking. Buried deep within was surprise after surprise of …well, mostly trinkets, but hey, I love lots of things in miniature.

This week’s holiday giveaway has the perfect miniature gifts to fit inside a stocking or to sneak inside your pockets when you go see whatever holiday blockbuster is showing in theaters (unless you planned on seeing the Interview). Ludlow’s Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots are generously giving one of you a stocking full of every flavor of jelly shots they make PLUS a pair of Ludlows sunglasses, a shaker, tattoos and a tote bag! EVERYTHING FITS IN A STOCKING!Giveaway // Ludlows Craft Cocktail Jelly Shots // stirandstrain.com

If you’re looking for a different take on craft cocktails, look no further than Ludlows; these little guys are amazing! Enter below and get up to 12 entries to win. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST December 25th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. For more information on Ludlows, please visit them at ludlowscocktails.comGood Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Homemade Boozy Gift Round Up

Everyone loves receiving a homemade gift of the food variety. Even more so when it tastes good! Here’s a quick round up of some of my favorite items to make and give.

Make It: Mocha Pecan Rum Balls // stirandstrain.com

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

 Kiss of Fire Aperol Jellies // stirandstrain.comKiss of Fire Aperol Jellies

Fernet Branca Jelly // stirandstrain.com

Fernet Branca Jelly

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Meyer Lemon Bitters

holidayspicesyrups1

Holiday Spice Syrups

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Luxardo Cherry and Angostura Brownies

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Jameson Whiskey Truffles

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies // stirandstrain.com

Molasses, Cocoa Nib & Black Strap Rum Cookies

Holiday Gift Guide: What I Want, Too

While I seem to be spending all my time lately helping you figure out what YOU should be getting this holiday season, I only see it as fair that I share what I want too.

What I Want for Christmas // stirandstrain.com

Give me a little pop of color for when I’m by the pool; I don’t mind acrylic if it means all day cocktailing and never leaving my giant lime wheel float. But when I want to get fancy, I’ll need that stack of champagne coupes and, albeit it predictably so, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Also, a place to perch myself please, with some shiny bar tools nearby and some personalized drink stirrers so I know which drink is mine. And if Santa’s feeling extra generous, that Cartier Punch Bowl set looks might fine.

1. Lime Wheel Float 2. Personalized Drink Stirrers 3. Coupe Stack Glasses 4. Veuve Clicquot 5. Acrylic Goblets 6. Flamingo Cocktail Napkins 7. Rattan Chair 8. Copper Shaker 9. Antique Cartier Punch Bowl Set

 

Check out all the past gift guides here!