Cranberry Especial Cocktail

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLast night I made a batch of cranberry sauce. Don’t worry, I realize Thanksgiving is still a week away and no, I’m not going crazy with early prep. It’s actually for a project that you guys will hear about next week. Anyway, it was delicious. It’s also a reminder of how food has changed in my life.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhen I was a young person, I had no idea what real cranberries looked like, apart from some illustrations on a bottle of cran-apple juice, and for me, cranberry sauce was cylindrical and had ridges. This was just an accepted fact until I actually ate real homemade cranberry sauce. I don’t remember liking it very much. It was too tart and soupy and where was all the sugar?! Now we make cranberry sauce at home every year and once in awhile I will eat out someplace that still uses canned. It’s more a novelty now; like eating Twinkies. Twinkies are pretty gross now to me, as are most of those grocery store goodies I used to crave.

This isn’t a rant by the way about processed foods and being a food snob. Mainly standing over the stove making the sauce last night just reminded me about how much I’ve come to appreciate and love home cooked food.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAlso, that I actually really like cranberries too. And so here is your token cranberry holiday cocktail because Thanksgiving is next week. And… cranberries!

1-1/2 ounces Oloroso Sherry, Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15 year Oloroso used here
3/4 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice, Knudsen’s used here
1/2 ounce gold rum, Phraya used here
1/2 ounce simple syrup, see note above
2 dashes orange bitters such as Fee Brothers
orange peel for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine sherry, cranberry juice, rum, simple syrup and bitters. Shake well about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange peel.

I created this drink for Serious Eats as a lighter, lower ABV cocktail that you can drink at your holiday party and not get tanked with. I chose the Dry Sack Oloroso style, with its dry, sweet and nutty profile, as my perfect match for cranberries. The sweetness of the sherry also balances the lip-puckering tartness of the cranberry juice. And using real unsweetened cranberry juice here instead of a syrup helps to lighten the dense and potentially sticky mouthfeel of sherry. (Using a heavy syrup alongside of an Oloroso might have been, well, too much of a good thing.) Because sherry has only 20% ABV, the drink makes for a nice, lighter alcohol aperitif to start your evening. An extra half ounce of gold rum added to the drink gives more spicy depth to the drink without adding much boozy punch or detracting from the sherry’s flavor.

Holiday Gift Guide: Have Booze Will Travel

It’s that time of year! The time for gift guides! And this year we’re kicking off the holiday season with the best ways to transport your booze, your booze tools and whatever else you need to take your bar on the road.

Have Booze Will Travel Holiday Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

On a plane, or a train, or maybe even a lazy river, you never know where you’ll be when the need to make a cocktail strikes. Keep some nips on you at all times, and throw some extra in your bar case. On a plane? Well, don’t leave it to the crew to make you a drink, you know how you like your Old Fashioned.  Don’t chance breaking some bottles while riding the subway- just pour your booze into a bag. Or if you must be fancy, pour a bit into your keychain shot glass. And when you do find yourself on a lazy river, there’s a cooler for that.

1. Carry On Cocktail Kit 2. Vapur Incognito Flask 3. Bartender Bag 4. Keychain Shot Glass 5. Nips 6. Floating Cooler 7. Copper Cocktail Cups

Check out all the past gift guides here!

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

Monday Booze News Tiki articles on Punch you should read, China has a snake wine problem, and how to properly hide your booze

Labor Day Round Up Booze News // stirandstrain.com
Check out the Labor Day Round Up!

 

Happy Labor Day folks in the US! Hope you’re enjoying a day off or are at least sneaking a flask into work today. Here’s this week’s booze news:

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Drinking on Labor Day

Yes, I’m aware there’s been quite a number of round ups on the site this summer. But you know what? It’s SUMMER. Give me a break. To continue the trend of taking it easy as we head into Fall, I’m giving you yet another list of cocktails ideas. This time though I’m making sure they’re batched and sitting pretty in your fridge, waiting for you to break out a pitcher or blender to wizz them up at the touch of a button.

Pro tip: get someone else to make the bases for you.

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Negroni Cocktails. In regular flavor and watermelon.

saltedpeanutoldfashioned-cocktails

Salted Peanut Old Fashioneds. You should already have these made and in your fridge.

Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hibiscus Lime Cooler. Because you should.

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails. Cocktails you can eat are always a win.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria. I just love an excuse to make Sangria.

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

See? (Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria)

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

Lazy Cucumber Punch….

Happy long weekend everyone! Let me know what you’re drinking!

Patriotic Bar Cart Gift Guide

For all of my non-US readers, if you’ll allow me a moment to indulge in a little red, white, and blue bar cart accessorizing I’d super appreciate it. And while together it’s a Patriotic Bar Cart fiesta, taken piece by piece they could work in your home too.

Patriotic Bar Cart Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

 

In a little less than a week, my neighborhood will be filled with illegal fireworks, barking dogs and the inescapable wafting aromas of food being grilled. It will also be filled with drinking galore. For those of you outside the city of Los Angeles, I’m sure you picture every day here like this (sometimes I’d agree with you), but next Friday in particular the country bands together to show our love of hotdogs and beer (and maybe something to do with history but you can turn on C-Span for that). For those of you hosting a party, here’s a little guide to up your bar cart game for the 4th. Buckets of crushed ice, colorful drink accouterments, and some fine liquor selections. Now go get some sparklers and confetti poppers!

1. Ice Crusher 2. Tumbler 3. Campari 4. Clase Azul Reposado Tequila 5. Bombay Sapphire East 6. Blue Straws 7. Hayworth Bar Cart 8. Red Foil Picks

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2014

My dad will probably get a phone call with an uncertain promise of “it’s in the mail” next week. But you don’t have to be that person! Here’s a roundup of some rugged cocktail accessories Dad might like.

Father's Day Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

 

Dad’s can always use some updated bar tools. And if your Dad is into wine, then a leather pouch to discretely put that wine opener might be much appreciated. Let him get DIY with making his beer, and then he might even want to cook with it! And if all else fails, buy him some scotch and immortalize him as his favorite drink.

1. Traveling bar kit 2. The Craft Beer Cookbook 3. Brass bottle opener 4. Homebrew beer making kit 5. Jumbo Cocktail Shaker 6. Ardbeg Islay Single Malt Scotch 7. Drinkify Me! 8. Leather wine opener pouch

Mother’s Day Cocktail Roundup

Both my mother and mother-in-law are not big drinkers. So imagine this roundup more for those of you who have a booze lovin’ mamma. Or spend an afternoon at the club making the boys fetch you drinks while you never get around to playing tennis. Or better, perhaps, these are for the sons and daughters having to endure hours on Sunday being told you’re not coming around or calling enough. Yes, these drinks are for you.

Burnt Sage & Blackberry Sangria. One for you, one for mom. Or two for you.

sage blackberry sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Pitcher drinks mean all day drinking. Try this  Apple and Rosé Sangria with Sunday brunch.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Need something quick but fancy? Try this Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail, takes but a second but super pretty to look at.

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

Sparkling Wine. Watermelon. Limoncello? What’s more impressive sounding than that? Whip up some Salty Melon Cocktails. They’ll be perfect with your edible fruit basket.

Salty Melon #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

 

Need more pink on Sunday? Electric Pink Fields is ALWAYS a winner.

Electric Pink Fields #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

And if you just need a stiff drink. Have a Smoky Manhattan.

Smoky Manhattan #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Gift Guide: What I Want

I’m taking a break from reading emails where everyone is telling me to get “what I really want”. I figured I would just make up my own mind and make the last gift guide on here this season “what I really want”.

My Holiday Cocktail Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

What I really want, is to be able to buy Stranahan’s in California again since it’s been at least over two years since I could. I’d also like to picture myself as a cocktail, something with a giant straw umbrella hat would be fitting. An ice maker that makes crystal clear ice? In my bathroom?! Or wherever the hell I want?! And seriously, I could totally use a saber to cut open bottles of champagne. Now, if only I could get a year of Uber rides for free (while eating Gin & Tonic chocolate bars and a full punch set up in the back).

1. Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey 2. Punch Bowl Set 3. Veuve Clicquot Brut 4. Drinkify Me! 5. Gin and Tonic Chocolate Bar 6. Champagne Saber 7. Portable Clear Ice Maker 8. Uber Rides

Mixology Monday: Anise Cream Coffee

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoWeekend mornings always start with several cups of coffee. Years ago I had a French Press but it was kind of chintzy and broke on me; I only just replaced it a month ago. Since I am the only one drinking coffee in my house, I still make a full pot and will pour cup after cup, not thinking about how much caffeine I am ingesting until hours later my heart is pounding as if Animal is playing the drums in there. I’ve started to cut down on the coffee by replacing the giant coffee pot with a French press. It’s very unlikely I will clean the whole thing out just to make another round too.

So why the coffee talk? Well, because it’s the base for this month’s Mixology Monday cocktail! No, it’s not a coffee theme, Nick from the Straight Up blog has given us ANISE as the special ingredient this month.

Since it’s all kinds of cold lately, I decided a nice hot, boozy drink was in order. But where to put the anise? In a cream! Seriously though, I saw this challenge as an excuse to go buy myself a whip cream dispenser. It will have other purposes later (none of which will include whippets FYI) so I figured now was the time to splurge on one. Tis the season to give (to oneself).Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

First thing you need to do is make the cream infusion:
1 cup organic whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
3-4 whole star anise

In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat. Bring to just under a boil and reduce heat to low. Keep at a simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand until room temperature. Strain the mixture, cover and refrigerate over night. The next day, whip by hand (stand mixer, hand mixer, etc…) or funnel contents into a whipped cream dispenser. Keep refrigerated if not using right away.

For the Drink:
1 oz. Rittenhouse 100 Rye
4 oz. Hot Brewed Coffee (Groundworks Black Magic Organic Espresso used here)
1/4 oz. simple syrup (or more/less to taste)
infused anise & vanilla whipped cream

1 whole star anise for garnish

In a glass mug (or regular mug if you want), add simple syrup, rye and coffee. Stir gently to combine. Top with anise vanilla whipped cream and garnish with the whole star anise.

By itself, the coffee and rye are quite strong, and too…’alcohol forward’ if you catch my drift. The cream drastically cuts that back and evens out the whole drink. Rye and anise are a wonderful combination together. Although usually strong flavors on their own, here they work as accents to the other players in the drink. The espresso has an earthiness that pairs well with the vanilla, and as a whole, the drink is only slightly sweet with a nice kick of spice.

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.comWhy not put sugar in the cream mixture? Personally, I’m not a big sweet drink drinker. Here it’s important to balance the sweetness of each drink with the person’s preference. Did I mention this is a great brunch drink? Whipping cream has a slight sweet edge to it and I find that adding a touch of simple syrup to the coffee itself disperses enough sugar throughout. Could you flavor the whipped cream to just be sweetened? Yes, Add about a 1/2 ounce of simple syrup to the mixture before beating/funneling into a whipped cream dispenser.