Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by the US Highbush Blueberry Council.
Recipes and ideas are my own.

The time you spend making cocktails during holiday time should be greatly less than the time spent on enjoying them with friends and loved ones. During this season (roughly September through early January now), I am a huge fan of big batched cocktails. So this week, with just a few days left before Thanksgiving descends upon us, I’ve brought out a little help from my favorite berry to mix up something tasty for you all. No, not the cranberry, the blueberry.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comWe are a family that consumes blueberries in very large quantities. If you ask my kid what is her favorite food, or pretty much what her favorite anything is (she’s two and is still working out the intricacies of the English language), she will say blueberries. We are lucky here in Southern California that we can get them at the market for a selfishly long time, and then when those are gone, we hit up the frozen section. Going without them is just not an option. Blueberries have a lovely balance of sweetness and sour that is always key in a good cocktail. Pair them with your cheeseboard, drink this with the main meal, or just enjoy it after all your guests finally leave. It’s up to you, but, really, this works anytime.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comThis cocktail combines blueberries, maple syrup, lemons, and sparkling wine for a super easy to make and party pleasing cocktail. I love this recipe for two reasons. One, it’s easy to batch and the base will keep for some time. And two, that leftover syrup makes for some darn tasty pancake topping. Score!

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.comFor my cocktail recipe and lots more blueberry holiday inspiration, please visit the US Highbush Blueberry Council here.

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com



{Now Closed} Giveaway // Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box

Giveaway: Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box // stirandstrain.comIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! Gincember! Just what is that you ask? Well, it’s all about gin cocktails… in December, duh.

We’ve teamed up with Shaker & Spoon this week to celebrate all things gin and offer one lucky Stir and Strain reader a free cocktail kit box! So, what’s in the box? Everything to make up to 12 cocktails from 3 recipes they provide (minus the booze). By letting you pick out your own booze, or to use what you have on hand, they’re able to send the box to EVERYONE in the U.S.

Giveaway: Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box // stirandstrain.comHere’s what Shaker & Spoon has to say about their Gincember Box:

Just in time for the glorious holiday season, it’s our Gincember Box! Modern gin is bright with lovely astringent qualities and pairs uncommonly well with fruits and herbs, which has allowed us to pack some bold flavors into this month’s recipes. Whether you’re a gin fanatic or have never really delved into the spirit before, this box will have something exciting to offer. We ask you to set those martinis and gin & tonics aside for the moment and allow us to introduce you to some new possibilities that really let gin’s character shine through.

There’s the Take Flight, by Kyle Zimmerman of The Hutch in Oklahoma City. Made with gin, cold brew (which Kyle says is “one of the best products to get me through long shifts behind the bar”), and our cherry demerara syrup, we can’t think of a better pick-me-up!

Next is Above a Persimmon by Tyler Hudgens of The Dabney in DC. The combination of gin, fresh lemon juice, our spiced persimmon cordial, and Angostura bitters is only made more seasonally delicious when we top it all off with fresh grated nutmeg.

Last on the menu is the Flaming Rosemary Gimlet by Keith Waldbauer of Rumba in Seattle. The perfect gimlet becomes just a touch more perfect (if that’s possible) when we take a fresh sprig of rosemary, douse it in Underberg, and light it on fire!

Giveaway: Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box // stirandstrain.comCoffee, persimmons, nutmeg, LIGHTING THINGS ON FIRE! It’s like the perfect holiday all wrapped up in a little box and delivered to your doorstep.

Giveaway: Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box // stirandstrain.comIf that’s gotten you fired up, enter now! You’ll get up to 10 entries by selecting the options below. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST Monday November 21st, 2016. For more information on Shaker & Spoon, check out their website at shakerandspoon.com today! Good luck!

Giveaway: Shaker & Spoon Gincember Box // stirandstrain.com

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Holiday Entertaining Tips: What to Do With Leftover Wine

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Banfi Wine. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Of all the holidays over fall and winter, I’d say that Thanksgiving is the holiday where we drink the most wine. Maybe it’s because we’re matching all that food that is being shoveled down our gullets, or maybe it’s always a thoughtful gift to bring to the party. Inevitably, after the meal, and the dessert, and that second meal at 1am, there are always a few stray bottles that have just a little too much wine left in them to finish off standing over the sink. So what to do?

This holiday season I’m going to give you guys a few quick and dirty tips to make entertaining easy for you. First up: leftover wine, because it happens.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThere’s a pretty easy solution that probably has never crossed your mind: freeze it into ice cubes. Because wine has a low alcohol proof and is made of a higher percentage of water, it will freeze. Now, it will never get a solid as an ice cube, but it will freeze and hold a shape. I would suggest freezing the wine for a full 48 hours before use, and to store in the ice cube trays (I like these big guys). You might want to cover with plastic wrap as well so the wine will not brush off onto other items in your freezer.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comI used Banfi Wine’s Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce for my ice cubes. This Lambrusco is a sweet red wine that is a perfect match for your holiday table. The sweetness of the wine is a nice addition in ice cube form when mixing up drinks so you won’t need much (or any) added sugar.

And just how should you use up those wine ice cubes? Here’s a few ideas for you all:

  • Instant Sangria: slice up some oranges and apples, add a wine ice cube and give the whole thing a generous splash of sparkling water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Wine spiked cocktails: wine ice cube + liquor (gin, whiskey, rum) + a slice of lemon or orange = tasty.
  • Wine granitas: instead of freezing in an ice cube tray, add the wine to small ramekins (like these), give a good spritz of lemon juice, a scant teaspoon of sugar, mix and freeze. After a few hours give it a stir, then do the same again a few hours later. When frozen to the consistency you desire, take them out and eat right from the ramekin. YUM!

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comDo you have a trick for using leftover wine? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

For more information on Banfi wine and the Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce Lambrusco, please visit their site at banfiwines.com!

Florals generously donated by BloomsyBox.com

Harissa Explains It All a sweet and spicy #PerfectMargarita with Patrón Tequila

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Patrón Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

If one tv show summed up my preadolescent life, it would be Clarissa Explains It All. God I loved that show. I could probably attribute it to making me even more of a quirky kid; the clothes, the chili pepper lights around the window, a boy for a best friend, the “I don’t care about fitting in” messages. Clarissa was a strong willed, independent female that, myself being the eldest sister in the family, I could look up to for inspiration.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comOk Elana but what does this story have to do with Margaritas?

Well, everything. Ok, well not everything but that quirky spirit instilled in me at that young age still abounds and often finds its way into my life in all sorts of ways. Maybe you’ve noticed on this site that I get a little quirky from time to time? Today we’re getting a little quirky with some margaritas and a tube of harissa paste.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThere is nothing wrong with the classic margarita. I love them. I love that there is a day devoted to them, even if it falls in February (?!). But I get bored of the same old same old and I never can leave good enough alone. I am always on the lookout for my #PerfectMargarita.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comI’ve always been a big fan of having a little savory along with my sweet, and Patrón’s Silver tequila is a lovely base for doing just that. Patrón Silver has a slightly citrus and peppery flavor profile that is smooth enough to mix into a great tasting margarita.  My sweet element comes from ripe Champagne mangoes. Their juicy nectar cuts down on added sweetener but also gives a subtle tart bite that some freshly squeezed lime juice highlights. I’ve finished this off today with a touch of chili salt to remind the palate that they’re in for some SPICE before they even taste the first sip.Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.com

Ready to get quirky? Let’s get mixing.

2 ounces Patrón Silver tequila*
4 1/2″ cubes mango, Champagne variety used here
1/4 barspoon harissa paste (more or less to taste)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
chili salt for rim (like Tajín or similar)
lime peel for garnish

  • In the bottom of a shaker tin, muddle the mangoes with the harissa and lime juice until broken down. Add in the tequila and simple syrup and fill the shaker 2/3 with ice. Shake until chilled about 20 seconds. Rim a rocks glass with the chili salt by dipping the edge in lime juice then the salt. Add in a single large ice cube. Strain into the rocks glass and garnish with the lime peel.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comRight now THIS is my #PerfectMargarita. Tell me all about yours!


And if you’d love to have a few options for Cinco de Mayo this year, check out the winning cocktail from Patrón’s Margarita of the Year contest. This contest began on National Margarita Day (of course), and featured margaritas made in 7 categories: herbal, spicy, smoky, savory, modern, tropical and classic.

Over 50,000 votes were cast (including a vote from the one and only cocktail historian David Wondrich) and the Rosa Picante Margarita was IT; so you know it’s going to be good. Bartender Jordan Corney from San Antonio, TX was inspired by the classic margarita and the El Diablo, two of his favorite cocktails, and adding the modern component of jalapeño oil to impart texture and complexity to the drink. And check out this pretty sexy cocktail video of Jordan making the drink and talking about what inspired him to create it (it makes me want one RIGHT NOW).

Rosa Picante Margarita

Created by Jordan Corney, Bohanan’s (San Antonio, TX)

2 oz Patrón Silver
.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Lime
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
Bar spoon jalapeño oil
Dash rosewater
Rose petal sea salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe that has been half-rimmed with rose sea salt, and top with a dash of rose water. Garnish with a rose petal, if available.

For more information about Patrón Tequilas and liqueurs, please visit patrontequila.com.

*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day 2016

This year for Mother’s Day, give her what she really wants: a couple bottles of Prosecco and for you to leave her alone.

 

Mothers Day Gift Guide 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Why have Mom choose just one little black number when she can have a black, grey and white choice (of Prosecco, that is). A dash or two of bitters into a flowery tumbler will make for a delicious road soda on the way to brunch. Give her a few cocktail pins to hold her scarf in place and away you go! And after all the kids have gone, all she wants to do is soak in a giant daiquiri bathtub and slather wine on from head to toe. Don’t we all?

1. Rosemary Lavender Bitters 2. Cocktail Pins 3. Bottle Stock Wine Opener 4. Melon Daiquiri Shower Gel 5. Zonin Prosecco Black Edition 6. Kate Spade Flower Tumbler 7. Zonin Prosecco Grey Edition 8. Wine Therapy mask 9. Zonin Prosecco White Edition

Mother’s Day Cocktail Roundup 2016

Well guys, it’s been two years since I’ve done one of these, so here’s your 2016 cocktail roundup for all your Moms. Drink up!

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Lemony-Suze Cocktails

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails

 Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

A Pitcher of Pisco with Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Pineapple Hop, a beer & pineapple shrub cocktail

Your 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Drinking and Eating Guide (from the Stir and Strain archives)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Let me help you pick out what you should be drinking and eating today. I am a 1/4 Irish after all…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.com

Irish Coffee Jello Shots

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Bitter Irishman

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

Anise Cream Coffee

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Irish Derby Cocktail

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

And a few Green Drinks…

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

old tom's mistake cocktail

Old Tom’s Mistake

Make It: Irish Coffee Jello Shots Two Ways

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comProcrastination has gotten the better of me this week as we speed, much too fast for my liking, into the 3rd month of the year. March is looking to be the most jam packed month yet this year as I’ve said “yes” to maybe one too many events, my mother is in town, and we celebrate multiple birthdays, St. Patrick’s Day (I am a 1/4 Irish), and Easter. So of course, instead of working on projects, I’ve been covering my ears and eyes going NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH and making batches of brownies and spending copious amounts of time photographing my purse contents.

I did take the time to make you guys a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day though this year. I hope it makes up for those purse photos.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIt’s like a cocktail, but you eat it: Irish Coffee Jello Shots.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comSo here’s the thing. I enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time; like, a few sips and then I’m usually done. It’s a lot of hot coffee and I’m usually drinking it late in the evening when a giant hot coffee is not really what I want right then. I’m also usually drinking them at a party or an event and bless their hearts for trying, but the coffee is usually not very good either. To control this situation for myself, and hopefully for you all, let’s get a delicious coffee and miniaturize it with the right amount of booze and not force people to drink giant hot coffees at 8pm.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comI went ahead and created a straight up Irish Coffee version, garnished with the tiniest of lemon peel, and then bastardized it and went crazy adding in chocolate and Fernet Branca because I love chocolate mint anything including my coffee and for this one occasion, with my whiskey. Ooooh, I’m so crazy…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comThe original version of these has a strong, rich coffee flavor with a hint of whiskey at the finish. The cream is mixed in so you’re not trying to eat a delicate jello shot while whipped cream melts all over your fingers – gross. For the mocha-mint version, you get a lot of Fernet (a little goes a long way!) with a strong mocha finish and a more subtle whiskey punch at the end.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIrish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
lemon zest for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (I like these hemisphere molds from World Cuisine) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with lemon zests and serve!

Mocha-Mint Irish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. After the gelatine has bloomed, sprinkle cocoa powder over the mixture. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream, Fernet Branca and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (like these!) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve!

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comAre you guys into these? I have a few more ideas up my sleeve I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

The Not-Your-Ordinary Valentine’s Day Wine (Report) with Robin Watts!

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comYou’ve got options for Valentine’s Day folks. Sexy, sexy wine options.

Robin Watts is back this month and he’s gone and picked an impressive line up of wines for your weekend. Pop open a few of these for a loved one, or do what I did: get thirsty reading these descriptions and finish them yourself. It’s going to be hard to pick just one…

-Elana



When I set out to pick a few wines for the impending Valentine’s Day weekend I thought I would end up going a possibly cliche route and selecting only French or Italian wines. So “romantic” and European! Truth be told, I was seduced by some domestic stuff as well and I think you, and maybe someone else in your life, might be too.

 

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Broc Cellars Love White
California
Retails apx. $20

This is a California white that I would recommend to any white drinker who doesn’t usually, or won’t, drink California white wine. This blend of Marsanne (85%), Roussanne (12%), and Viogner (3%) has some very distinctly European sensibilities about it. Aromatic and floral with overtones of pear and bit of honey I think that this wine works well as a starter or even accompanying an entree of lighter fair. And lets be honest, this holiday places a lot on aesthetics and this is nice looking bottle with a couple hearts on it. It’s called Love White!!! This wine will help you fit in with the cliche and trite parts of the holiday while its corked but surprise you and spoil you once it’s uncorked.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Gragnano from Poggio delle Bacanti
Italy
Retails apx. $15

There is not a lot of information to be found on this wine but for around $15, and sometimes less, you’ll be drinking this so fast you probably won’t care. Mildly effervescent, it pours and froths like a lambrusco but drinks relatively still (and dry!). I prefer it with a decent chill on it and think its versatility lend it to any day part but, if pairing it with food, go heartier. Being from Napoli, and for some reason very mysterious, I have to assume this is Aglianico and Piedirosso which explains the earthy, leathery quality. There is something satisfyingly vegetal about this, almost as if an olive and a cranberry had a baby but it was raised by a beet and an eggplant. I recommend finishing this savory dry surprise the day you open it but I doubt that should be a difficult task.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comL’Unique Gaz de Schiste
France
Retails apx. $24

Just go buy this. I should just say that and tell you to trust me. Pink? Check. Bubbly? Check. Delicious? Check. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. I think its perfect for any time, any place, and probably any person. 50% Grenache/50% Mourvedre and six month of bottle maturation make for one elegant bottle of bubbly. A little bit sweet, this sparkler is a tart, minerally, grapefruit-y, creamy treat. At first, it smells like you’ve opened the most exquisite bag of gummy worms (I mean that in the best, most respectful way) and the first sip conjures up images of the most impressive fruit trifle and leaves you with a macadamia kiss. Yeah. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed to say any of that. This stuff is that good and functions perfectly as an aperitif or dessert. Get a bottle for someone you love, especially if that person is yourself.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Bow & Arrow Gamay
Oregon
Retails apx. $24

Bow & Arrow knows what they’re doing. This Willamette Valley Gamay is soft, luscious, velvety, and just the slightest bit dirty, but in a good way. A very good way. Valentine’s Day appropriate for multiple reasons, the label, covered in tiny arrows, will help you play up holiday Cupid motifs while impressing your sweetheart with a wine that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate bar filled with cherries and almonds. Perfect for someone who thinks they’re afraid of tannins, though be warned, they are there, this wine just gets better as it opens up. Halfway through your first bottle I’d suggest opening a second if for no other reason than to smell that luscious mulberry aroma one more time. Great acidity makes this a lovely food wine but its just as satisfying by itself. This is a wine you can proudly pour with confidence in hopes to impress a special someone new or remind a longtime partner that you can still enjoy the good stuff without breaking the bank.

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts and find all his wine picks here at Wine Wine Wine

Follow Stir and Strain on Delectable too!

Valentine’s Day 2016 Gift Guide

What’s more sexy than your booze dripping in hot red wax? This year we’re skipping the bubbles and getting down to business.

Gift Guide: His & Her Valentine's Day 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Box of chocolates? Lame. Dozen roses? Done that! How about a dozen jelly shots? YASSSS! And nothing says I care like his & her flasks filled with something boozy and delicious. Except maybe having a bedside hangover remedy ready first thing the next morning. Staying in this weekend? Break out your finest pineapples and don’t forget the stirrer pizazz. But first, let’s scrub that pucker up with a good ol’ Mint Julep. There’s more than one way to enjoy a drink!

1. Ludlows Jelly Shots 2. Gold Fringe Firecracker Drink Stirrers 3. Copper Pineapple Tumbler 4. Silver Pineapple Tumbler 5. Gold Flask Bracelet 6. Maker’s Mark Whisky 7. Stanley Adventure Flask 8. Mint Julep Lip Scrub 9. Motive Pure Electrolyte Hydration Pack

Catch up on all the gift guides here.