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.
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”.
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).
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.
Why 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.
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.