Pairing Rosé with Apples, 3 Ways With 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with 90+ Cellars. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Here is Southern California, September is a tricky month. While much of the country is starting to get cooler temps and fall into sweater weather, here we get scorching temperatures. Weirdly, if you journey into the mountains, barely an hour away, the apple farms are heavy with fruit ready to be picked; there’s a bit of a disconnect. But that means we can continue to savor summer just a little bit longer and make some cocktail and wine choices that transition between these two seasons nicely.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve partnered with 90+ Cellars to show you how you can meld a summery, sparkling rosé wine with fresh Autumn apples. It’s what to make when you’ve over-picked at the orchard and bought way too much cider.

The 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé is made from Pinot Noir grapes planted in vineyards throughout the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige in Northern Italy. It is vinified as a dry rosé prior to second fermentation using the Charmat method. What does that mean you ask? The second fermentation happens in a tank as opposed to the wine bottle. This method preserves the flavor and aroma and allows for quicker production, without sacrificing taste. (Throw that fact out at a dinner party!)

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

With a light bubbliness, aromas of berries and rose, and a slight acidity, pairing with sweet, tart apples is a perfect pair. These three dishes we’ve picked out work as part of an appetizer spread, on their own, or even as part of a larger meal, and they all pair very well with this rosé.

“Holiday entertaining” might still be a few months away, but we think there’s always a reason to celebrate with a party and this transitional time between months, with a few extra hours of sunlight left in the day, is definitely reason enough for us! Now on to the pairings!

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comTo start: Apple Jelly with cured ham and Manchego

  • An easy and quick appetizer to assemble! On water crackers or bread, layer a piece of cured ham, Manchego cheese, and a dollop of apple jelly. The fattiness of the meat and cheese with the smooth, sweetness of the apple jelly pair are lovely with the small bubbles of the wine.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comPalate cleanser: Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita (full recipe below)

  • Enjoy this cool treat on its own, or between meals as a palate cleanser. Just don’t forget your wine! That acidity in the rosé pairs with the slight acidity found in the apple cider and lemon juice in the granita.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comWith the main meal: Spiced Apple Chutney (full recipe below)

  • While a rich, spiced chutney might seem like a heavy match for rosé, the 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé lightens the dish up and the spices work really well together. The chutney can be enjoyed on a slice of toasted bread, or alongside a main dish like pork.
Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita

3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all the ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Pour into a 9×12 baking pan and place in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, whisk mixture to break up any ice chunks. Wait one hour and with a fork, scrape through the mixture so that it is chunky. Wait an additional hour and scrape the fork through again, fluffing up the mixture. Freeze until ready to serve.

Spiced Apple Chutney

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 diced and peeled apples (I used Gala)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add apple; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins, mustard seeds, sugar, pepper, cloves, ginger and salt. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or let cool and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to one week.

 

If you’d like to find out more about 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Rosé and all their wines, please visit them at: ninetypluscellars.com/

Orange Marmalade Whiskey Sour

Orange Marmalade Whiskey Sour // stirandstrain.comThe Whiskey Sour cocktail is an easy drinking, very delicious cocktail; it is a cocktail that is also very riffable. For awhile my favorite was the Yuzu Whiskey Sour recipe, but since I used a hard to find ingredient, Sqirl’s yuzu marmalade, making it whenever I wanted proved to be a challenge. So I raided the fridge in search of a more “everyday” ingredient: orange marmalade.

Orange Marmalade Whiskey Sour // stirandstrain.comLately I’ve been trying to get more quick recipes up on the site to balance out the more “complicated” or multi-step drinks. Both have their place, but these cocktails are ready to be whipped up in a flash. And bonus, this recipe qualifies as a brunch cocktail too!

If you’re making this at brunch and already have the eggs out, add in an egg white for that silky mouthfeel. Did you know that adding an egg white into a Whiskey Sour recipes actually makes it a “Boston Sour”? See? Very adaptable to what you’re wanting to drink on a given day.

Orange Marmalade Whiskey Sour // stirandstrain.comWhy add in the marmalade? Orange marmalade gives the drink a bitter punch and a more floral aroma. It also adds another flavor of sweetness to just the straight sugar. My preference here is to not double strain, as I like a peel or two in the final drink, but you can double strain if you don’t want them floating around. If you’re really into peels you can always add in an extra 1/2 teaspoon of jam. Keep in mind it will alter the final sweetness of the drink.

Ok, let’s jam on it!

Orange Marmalade Whiskey Sour // stirandstrain.comOrange Marmalade Whiskey Sour

2 ounces whiskey
1 ounce freshly squeeze lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 heaping bar spoon orange marmalade, Bonne Maman used here
1/2 ounce egg white, optional

If using the egg white, add all ingredients into a shaker and dry shake 20 seconds. Add ice and shake again 20 seconds. Strain into a small rocks glass or coupe.

If not using the egg white, add ice into a shaker, pour in all ingredients, and shake 20 seconds. Strain into a small rocks glass or coupe.

Other options:

  • Strain over a large ice cube
  • Garnish with 1/2 teaspoon orange marmalade
  • Make it vegan: use Aquafaba, or Instafoam to replace egg whites in the cocktail

Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail amaro - earl gray - lemon - tonic

Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail: Earl Gray Tea and Angostura Amaro for Mother's Day and World Cocktail Day // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

May is teeming with twofer drinking holidays and this weekend is another. Is Mother’s Day a drinking holiday? (This lady says YES!)

It’s also World Cocktail Day on Sunday, so I thought we would offer up this cocktail that could work for both holidays. It’s called Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail, a tea cocktail made with Angostura’s Amaro.

You might be asking yourself, “Mmm. I love amaro, but who is a Siegert and what does he have to do with this cocktail?” Well! In 1824, Dr. Johann Siegert produced his first aromatic bitters as a medicinal tincture designed to alleviate stomach ailments of soldiers while serving as the Surgeon General in Angostura, Venezuela. By 1850, Siegert was exporting This magical potion to England, the Caribbean, and United States. From there the manufacturing became a family business with his sons in Trinadad, and Angostura Bitters went on to win awards and become an integral part of cocktail culture to this day.

A fitting little tidbit as we celebrate World Cocktail Day with an ingredient that is as big a star in the cocktail world as the cocktails themselves. Now on to the drink!

Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail: Earl Gray Tea and Angostura Amaro for Mother's Day and World Cocktail Day // stirandstrain.comTea! Tea service! Mother’s Day! It’s also Mother’s Day on Sunday so we’re serving up a sparkling cocktail made with aromatic Earl Gray tea syrup. Combined with a little acidity from the lemon juice and the richly complex Amaro di Angostura, it’s layered with spices, subtle citrus and just a pop of effervescence from the tonic water. This cocktail would go great with brunch or listening to Mom tell you about how much better your other sibling is doing with their life. (OK, so maybe in that case you should have this drink.) Either way, it’s delicious. Enjoy!

Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail

Earl Gray tea syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 bags earl gray tea

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring sugar to a boil and then remove from heat. Immediately add tea bags to the simple syrup and let stand 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Let syrup cool and store in an airtight container for up to one month.

Cocktail:
2 oz Angostura Amaro
3/4 oz Earl Gray Tea Syrup
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 oz tonic water
Garnish: lemon peel

In a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, add in Angostura Amaro, Earl Gray Tea Syrup, and lemon juice. Shake 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Pour in tonic water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon peel.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail tequila - maraschino - citrus - currants - walnut - cider

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).

I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.

It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

King Cake Cocktail

This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

The older I get, the more the traditions and holidays leading up to Easter get blurry. When I was a kid at parochial school, there was Lent, there was a day where we all got palms and some day where we all walked around with ash on our foreheads (this could have been the same day, I can’t remember now), and for what seemed like an eternity we were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays. I vaguely remember having a carton the size of an individual milk serving where we collected change to give to… someone during this time too but mainly went barren until my mom made us empty out our piggy banks to fill it. But then after all this we were rewarded with waking up one morning able to stuff our faces with chocolate before we even had our daily OJ. Score.

I don’t remember the exact time in my life when I learned about Mardi Gras, and I use the term “learned” loosely as I still don’t know all the intricacies surrounding this event, but I was intrigued by this parallel party during this season. Again, the ideas and customs are still a bit fuzzy, there’s a parade, beads, lots of drunk college kids, general overindulgence, and King Cake, where you bake a baby into dessert. Out of all these ideas I’ve tended to gravitate towards the cake because… cake; I just don’t focus too much on the baked baby part of it.

This month I partnered with Everclear again to develop a cocktail to celebrate with during Mardi Gras, and that made you think of the flavors of New Orleans and that special infant-hidden-in-a-cake cake. This cocktail is more on the sweeter side, it’s indulgent and a good fit for getting in all that excess before you need to cool off for 40 days (or if you don’t do that, hell, you can still party it up all the way through April drink in hand). The passion fruit and lemon juice started as a riff on a Hurricane and then I added in some almond and berry flavors to represent the cake. The Everclear is my neutral backbone for all the flavors and to give it that boozy kick.

And if you’re wondering why the green sanding sugar garnish, that and the purplish drink color also represent the green and purple colors of the King Cake. The sugar is optional, but for this party drink I’m pulling out the flourishes. Except for the baby. I’m leave that addition up to you.

Now let’s get mixing!

1 ounce Everclear
1 ounce Passion Fruit Juice
3/4 ounces Amaretto
3/4 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 ounces Cassis Liqueur

green sanding sugar for garnish

First, rim a chilled cocktail coupe with green sanding sugar. Then, in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, shake for 20 seconds. Strain into the chilled and garnished cocktail coupe. Enjoy!

If this recipe looks familiar to you, you may have seen it next to a bottle of Everclear at your local liquor store (or package store! Who calls it that outside of New England?). 

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

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



Cocktail Pairings: a Bauchant highball with Taza chocolate or what I'll be having all summer

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comGive me a single good piece of chocolate and I am usually good for dessert. No need to make it into a fancy cake (although I’d eat it), or melt it into some ice cream (I’d eat that too), just by itself I’m usually satisfied. Now, pair it with a good cocktail and I’m golden…

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comWhich brings us to today’s post. I was recently introduced to Taza’s organic dark Mexican style chocolate discs and a single piece was not enough this time. The rich, crunchy chocolate has started to become my dessert ritual and I figured it was time I made a cocktail to pair alongside it.

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comSo what might become a semi-regular thing around these parts, I’ve decided to create some cocktail and food bite pairings that shouldn’t break the bank. But, at the same time, seem pretty decadent, well thought out, and most importantly DELICIOUS. First up is dessert (which is the way it should be).

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comIt’s summer. It’s hot. You don’t want a cocktail or dessert to weigh you (and anyone you happen to be entertaining) down. This cocktail plays it light with an unexpected main ingredient, Bauchant. I first tasted Bauchant at the WSWA this year and was all goggle-eyed at how delicious this was just on its own. But what is it you ask? Bauchant is an orange liqueur with a cognac base that uses 3 different orange varieties: Andalusian, Mandarin, and Tangerine. It’s complex and lovely and on its own quite sippable, but on the heavier side. I combined it with a splash of gin, another splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a heavy glug of club soda to transform it into a refreshing long drink that’s not too sweet and super flavorful. The sweetness of the Bauchant gets a nice contrast of tart from the lemon, with a few juniper notes from the gin, and mellows out with the club soda. Delicious.

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comAnd the pairing for this sipper? Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs. Their Classic collection has a lot to choose from: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Guajillo Chili, Salted Almond, Cacao Puro, and Coffee. The coffee won me over for this pairing though. The dark, roasted coffee and chocolate flavors contrasted with the sharp effervescent cocktail are a perfect pair.

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.comAre you hungry yet? Let’s get mixing!

1 ounce Bauchant liqueur
1/2 ounce Beefeater London Dry gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 ounces club soda, Q-Club used here
lemon peel for garnish

In a highball glass (or if you have it, Delmonico style chimney glass which is around 5-8 ounces), fill with crushed ice. Build the cocktail by adding in the Bauchant liqueur, Beefeater London Dry gin, and lemon juice. Give it a stir or two and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel and break off a big piece of Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs, sit back, and savor summer.

Chocolate Orange Dessert Cocktail for Summer // stirandstrain.com*This cocktail pairing post was inspired by Taza Chocolate and Drizly, the on-demand liquor delivery company. I hope I’ve inspired you to make a drink and treat yourself. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz with the magic of Aquafaba

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comHey guys! I wrote a long, “science” laden post all about aquafaba over here and this post is where I’m sticking the recipe for properly making the cocktail. But for the short version, aquafaba is the cooking liquid from beans like chickpeas (or any neutral tasting legume) that is used in place of egg whites. Hence, a vegan cocktail (unless your bourbon is fat washed or you cooked your beans in chicken stock)!

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comNote: if you want to make this with an egg white, you can do a 1:1 substitution for the aquafaba. It just won’t be vegan anymore. 

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com1-3/4 ounce sloe gin, I used Spirit Works Distillery*
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 ounce aquafaba, see note above
2 ounces chilled club soda, Q-Club used here

In a shaker, combine sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and squafaba. Dry shake with 1 ice cube until very frothy (I find this takes anywhere from 15 -30 seconds). Then add ice until shaker is 2/3 full. Shake again to combine and chill for about 20 seconds. Strain into a highball glass and add club soda.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Blue Nectar Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Admittedly, I let a lot of the drink holidays pass me by. Especially when they’re not really something I feel like celebrating (vodka + red bull day I’m looking at you). But today is a very special day. Today is Margarita Day.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comI drink Margaritas every day of the year. I don’t wait for Taco Tuesday and happy hour at my local cantina. I break them out over brunch or on any given Sunday. But usually just a single serving or two. Today, because we’re celebrating, we’re going big and making a Margarita PUNCH.

Since we’re still deep in citrus season, my family just got back from picking our own grapefruits, lemons and whatever else was hanging on those fruit-laden trees. The grapefruits were so juicy and tart and delicious, that I perhaps got a little overzealous with the picking. To make sure they go to a good home, they’ll be the base of the punch today. Not only will we use some of the juice, but the zest will go into the oleo saccharum, and the whole punch will get garnished with sugared brûléed wheels of the fruit. An honorable way for these grapefruits to go.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comEven though I love those grapefruit, to balance out the citrus flavors and make the base more complex, I’m creating a oleo saccharum with lemon and lime zest in addition to a few grapefruit zests thrown in. Creating the base this way gives the punch a strong citrus backbone that won’t get watered down and lost once the grapefruit juice, tequila and ice are added in.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comTo sweeten everything up and to highlight some of the more floral characteristics of the citrus, I’ve combined Tahitian vanilla (which is the most floral of the vanilla varieties) and piloncillo. Not sure what piloncillo is? That’s ok, I’ve only just started using it over the last few years myself. Piloncillo is evaporated sugar cane juice from Mexico. It’s not as sweet as regular cane sugar, but it has a wonderfully rich taste, similar to brown sugar. Again, to make this a more concentrated flavor bomb for the punch, the vanilla and piloncillo get made into a syrup and then reduced into a rich, syrupy sweetener.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comThis wouldn’t be a Margarita without the tequila, right? For that I’m turning to Blue Nectar Silver Tequila for the perfect pairing to my grapefruit obsession. The clean vegetal flavor has just a touch of spiciness that balances out the sweetness of the citrus.

This is a versatile punch: serve it up with breakfast tacos or late in the afternoon all by itself; anytime really. But especially today, for the best drink holiday, Margarita Day.

For more information on Blue Nectar Tequila, please check out their website here!

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comMakes approximately 12 servings

For the oleo saccharum:

4.5 ounces sugar
zests from 2 limes
zests from 2 lemons
zests from 1 grapefruit

  • To make the oleo saccharum, peel zests from limes, lemons and grapefruit, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Toss the peels with the sugar, muddle to express oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight in a nonreactive bowl (I use glass or a cambro container), covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the vanilla and piloncillo reduction:

1 cup piloncillo
1 cup water
2 Tahitian vanilla bean pods cut into 1” pieces

  • In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine piloncillo, water, and vanilla pieces. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture is reduced by half. Strain vanilla pieces out and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Will keep refrigerated up to one month.

For the punch:

750 ml Blue Nectar Silver Tequila
12 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit, preferably oro blanco grapefruits
oleo saccharum
4 ounces vanilla and piloncillo reduction
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces orange curacao, preferably Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
1 large ruby red grapefruit, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 tablespoon piloncillo

  • To make the punch, combine Blue Nectar Silver Tequila, grapefruit juice, reserved liquid from oleo saccharum, vanilla and piloncillo reduction, lemon juice and dry orange curacao. Stir gently to combine. Chill mixture.
  • To make the brûléed grapefruit wheels, place sliced of grapefruit on a wire tray over a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with piloncillo sugar. Place them under a broiler, or use a culinary blow torch to caramelize the sugar and wheels. Let cool. Once the wheels are cooled, reserve 3 wheels for the punch bowl garnish and slice the rest for garnishing individual cups.
  • To serve, pour mixture into a punch bowl and add a large block of ice. Garnish with large brûléed grapefruit wheels. Ladle into individual cups with wedges of brûléed grapefruit. Optionally sprinkle with sea salt crystals.