Fresh Lemongrass Sour a DIY project for your weekend

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhat a week folks! In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been nominated again this year for Saveur Magazine’s Best Blog Awards in the cocktail category. A HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in the nomination. Now the voting begins for the winners. You have until April 30th to get that vote in. I super appreciate all of you.

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMoving on… to cocktails. In an effort to make cocktails taste more like the foods I love, i.e. Thai Food, I’ve been concocting various infusions lately and experimenting with some bizarre flavor combinations (more to come here soon). One of the simplest though was fresh lemongrass. I compare lemongrass as the pastel cousin to winter citrus. While the oranges and grapefruits have this intense zestiness that I feel counteracts the depressing reality that is winter, lemongrass is a good match for the budding warmth of springtime. It’s floral, with some light citrus notes (but basically it’s the same smell as a citronella candle).Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For this cocktail I’ve also added back in a little bit of zest in the form of limes and lemons (I guess I needed some zestiness to get me through the soul crushing time known as tax season. Why haven’t I scanned any of my 2014 receipts yet?!?!) to make this a take on a sour. Juice + bitters + zest = just the right amount of punchy citrus.

I’m using vodka as a neutral base for the lemongrass flavor to shine in the infusion. There are two ways you can go about infusing a lemongrass vodka this weekend depending on how much time you want to spend. The longer, more traditional way, requires nothing but time. You chop and bruise the lemongrass, cover with vodka, and wait about 1 to 2 weeks to extract the full flavor. The second way is quite quick, seriously quick, but requires some equipment. An instantaneous infusion can be made with a whip cream canister and two N2O chargers. Extra equipment, sure, but a very immediate infusion.

Instantaneous infusions are a blessing… and a curse. There is only so much room in my home for all these infusions and I don’t think I can drink them fast enough. A sampling party may be in order soon…

OK! Let’s welcome in spring with some booze.Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the lemongrass infusion:

4 lemongrass stalks
2 cups vodka

  • Clean and remove the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks. Chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces and bruise them by crushing them with the side of your knife. Add the pieces to an airtight container and cover with the vodka. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 week up to 2 weeks. Shake daily. Taste after 1 week and continue to steep up to two weeks to desired flavor. Strain into an airtight container. Will last up to 6 months.
  • Alternatively, to instantaneous infuse, take chopped lemongrass and add to a whip cream canister. Pour in vodka and seal. Charge with one N2O charger. Shake well. Charge a second time with a new N2O charger. Shake well and then discharge contents into a clean, airtight container over a strainer. Infusion will last up to 6 months.

For the cocktail:

2 ounces lemongrass infused vodka (recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
3 dashes lemon bitters
lime zest strips for garnish

  • In a shaker, add the lemongrass infused vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Dry shake (no ice yet) for about 30 seconds to incorporate the egg white. Add ice and then shake hard for another 30 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with 3 drops of the lemon bitters topped with the lime zest.

The lemongrass is a more subdued flavor that doesn’t take over the drink or muddle the flavors but provides a subtle floral backdrop to the cocktail. There’s a nice bite from the lime juice and an egg white is added for some extra silky mouthfeel and to add a lightness to the drink. The foamy head created by dry shaking with an egg white suspends the lemon bitters above the cocktail, heightening the heavenly layers of citrus aroma.

I created this recipe originally for Serious Eats this week

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comIt’s Tuesday, so I bet you’re already thinking about the weekend by this point in the day. So how about a fun DIY project to start planning? That involves doing something with all that winter citrus you have hanging out in your fruit basket? Making bitters might seem like a daunting task, but a lot of it is just sitting around waiting for it to be done already. Kinda like Limoncello (or Tangelocello). And, this recipe yields enough that you can bottle up and give away some as gifts. Those people will think it took you forever, but you don’t have to tell them how easy this is.

My recipe is based off of B.T. Parsons’ recipe found in his essential book on bitters, aptly titled “Bitters“. I made his version last year to the letter and enjoyed the results, however, I found that this year I wanted a version less sweet and delicate, and more bitter with richer citrus notes. So that’s what you’re getting here.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.comA couple of tips to help you along the way: First, use a vegetable peeler to zest the citrus. Using a light hand while peeling will help keep the pith on the fruit and not on the zest (YOU want to control your bitterness in the recipe, not the fruit). Second, invest in some cheesecloth. A small amount of cheesecloth will go a long way in keeping unwanted particles from entering your final product, and you’ll find plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. And lastly, if any of these ingredients have you scratching your head, they’re all available online.Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters // stirandstrain.com

Adapted from the book “Bitters”
Yields approximately 18 ounces
zest from 4 meyer lemons
zest from 1/2 bitter orange (such as Seville)
zest from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons dried lemon zest (see note below)
1/2 tablespoon dried orange zest
4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon dried ginger (do not use powder, see note on dried citrus)
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander
1/4 teaspoon whole white pepper
4 – 5 dried Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
3/4 teaspoon gentian root
1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
2 cups high proof vodka (I have access to 150 proof everclear in California, however, 100 proof vodka would also work)
1 cup water

  1. To make dried citrus, zest 4-6 large lemons (2 oranges or peel a 1″ nub of ginger and slice). Chop peel and lay on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250°F for 1 hour. Peel should be completely dry but not brittle. Dried lemon zest is also available commercially.
  2. In an airtight container, combine all of the zest, cardamom, ginger, coriander, white pepper, lime leaves, gentian root, and fennel seed. Pour vodka over the ingredients and seal container. Swirl to combine. Keep the container in a cool, dark place for two weeks, swirling mixture once daily. (I find it helps to set a calendar reminder also at this point.)
  3. After two weeks, strain out solids and set aside. Strain liquid through a cheesecloth to remove any particles left and transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. In a small sauce pan, combine solids with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boil is reached, turn heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, pour contents of the pan into a separate airtight container and let sit one week.
  4. After a week, strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer. Add to the original liquid that has been set aside. Let sit at room temperature for 3 days and skim off any residue that accumulates at the top. Strain again if there is any leftover sediment and bottle into dropper bottles for storage.

Meyer lemons have a more pronounced floral aroma, as opposed to just a regular lemon, which tends to be more astringent. To pierce the perfumy nature of the meyer lemons, the kaffir lime leaves give a nice punch and aroma, while the bitter orange, fennel and spices create earthy undertones for balance.

I add a few drops to a Gin & Tonic, and they can be used as a sub for recipes using regular lemon bitters. Experiment and see what cocktails work for you!

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

The Portland 75 Cocktail

The Portland 75 Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOk guys. I might have been panicking last week but today I’ve made peace with the fact that 1. I only got Christmas cards out of my immediate family this year (sorry friends, maybe I’ll get ambitious and send out New Years ones. Maybe.) 2. I just am not going to get all those to-dos on my list done. This is ok. Save a life was not one of them so I can take a deep breath and just add them to next years holiday list. So let’s just talk about some cocktails.

Like I mentioned in the Sangria post, I have some drink recipes going up on the Serious Drinks site. This one you may have seen earlier in the week and I figured it was time to post over here just so we can all be kept up to date in the Stir and Strain universe. It’s a nice addition to your holiday table, and super easy to make. Also: it tastes like a Christmas tree. Seriously Clear Creek Distillery, you guys wowed the pants off me with this eau de vie. Yes, it’s getting some notice on this blog; remember that Pear cocktail? Here I’ve taken the French 75 and Portlandified it. No, I didn’t put a bird on it; I stuck a fir tree in it. Totally better in my opinion.

1 1/2 ounces Heritage Distilling Crisp Gin*, or another herbaceous New World style gin
1/4 ounce Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
1/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
4 dashes Lemon Cocktail Bitters
5 ounces sparkling rosé wine such as Bugey Cerdon, chilled
Lemon peel for garnish

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add gin, Douglas Fir Eau de Vie, lemon juice, simple syrup, and lemon bitters. Stir until chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a Champagne flute and top with chilled sparkling rosé. Express lemon peel over the drink and add peel to the top 1/3 of the glass as a garnish.

Tart and Christmas Tree-like. The rose should have a lot of residual sugar to balance out the earthy gin and eau de vie. You can batch these in groups of 4 and top with the rosé for a Holiday brunch drink. Or just be fancy and have it a night too with some oysters (I will be doing just that on Christmas Eve).The Portland 75 Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

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.