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.

Stir and Strain X Club 83 And the Good Thang Cocktail

Stir and Strain X Club 83: Good Thang Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI partnered with the brand to write this article but every word is mine.

When I first started cocktail blogging, connecting with other like minded people was a slow process. I mean, it took several years just to meet all the bartenders just in Los Angeles. And there are new ones popping up every week. But now meeting and chatting with bartenders all over the world has just become as easy as clicking a button (and I like easy).

To fill the gap, The Club 83 social network has stepped in. Want to find out what bartenders in France are up to? Or just somewhere else in the U.S.? Want to share your bar’s creations with other bartenders who will appreciate your skill and effort? You don’t need a website, just an internet connection.

Stir and Strain X Club 83: Good Thang Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFor their launch, The Club 83 has created a cocktail contest and yours truly is going to compete alongside all of you. For all the details on the contest, create a profile on The Club 83 and sign up to participate on the site. And just what IS the contest? The Flavour Vibes contest pairs your favorite song with a new cocktail of your creation. The winner will win a sampler pack of tasting syrups from the famed flavoring creator Maison Routin and their 1883 brand of syrups. Not your run of the mill flavors with such cool syrups as red bell pepper and orchid. Orchid!!

This week, with the sad news of David Bowie’s passing, I’ve been running through his back catalog and the song I always turn to when I need some cheering up is Hang On to Yourself. It’s got pep, it’s got rock and roll, and a touch of glam, ingredients for a good song, and a good drink.

This cocktail uses gin as the base (we are referencing a British song!) with peppy ginger and zingy Yuzu lemon syrups. To give the cocktail some depth and intrigue, some roasted cumin is added alongside a touch of lemon ginger bitters. It’s a glamorous cocktail with a slightly hard edge.

Good Thang Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces London Dry style gin, such as Beefeater
1/2 ounce 1883 Yuzu syrup
1/4 ounce 1883 Ginger syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
3 dashes lemon ginger bitters

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add gin, yuzu syrup, ginger syrup, lemon juice and cumin. Stir for 30 seconds and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add dashes of bitters on top of cocktail and express oil from a strip of lemon zest. Garnish glass with spent zest.

So join me at The Club 83 and see what bartenders like yourself are up to, all around the world! And to participate in the Flavour Vibes Contest, go here, cheers!

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comA few years back I started a short series on Amaretto. See, I had acquired a bottle from somewhere (as one does), and really had no clue what to do with it. So I started scouring books and the internet in search of what to do with a bottle of Amaretto. The first drink I made was an Amaretto Sour, naturally.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comBut oh boy! A drink that I had mostly associated with decades past and little old ladies threw me for a loop–I loved it! It was sweet, but balanced by being also very tart so the two sorta canceled themselves out and made for a smooth, easy drinking cocktail. Alas, I forgot about making more as I kept up my search and eventually turned towards other liquors to play with. Until today, when I was craving something a little sweet and a little sour and not too boozy.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comI also was staring at the extra ginger laying out that I had not yet stuck in the freezer. Sweet and sour can also use a little spice, and ginger has that edge I love in drinks. Why not add some fresh ginger in there then? Almond flavors go particularly well with wintery baking spices, so it’s a nice match to that kick found in ginger, and in the Angostura you’ll dash in.

Adding in spicy ginger automatically makes this a holiday drink (says I) and so I’ve doubled up the recipe for you and someone to sip cozily by a fire. Maybe throw on some holiday music of your choosing and break out the Ferrero Rocher balls too.

Fresh Ginger Amaretto Sour Cocktails // stirandstrain.comYields 2 Cocktails
1 (1-inch) knob of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1-3/4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 1 lemon
2-1/4 ounces amaretto, such as Disaronno
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 egg white
Crystallized ginger, for garnish

  • In a cocktail shaker, muddle the rounds of ginger with lemon juice. Add the amaretto, bitters, and egg white. Shake hard to incorporate the egg white for 20 seconds, then fill shaker 2/3 of the way with ice and shake for an additional 20 seconds. Strain drink through a standard cocktail strainer and a fine-mesh strainer into two small aperitif glasses. Garnish each glass with a piece of crystallized ginger.

Note: amaretto is not especially high in the booze department with an ABV of around 25%. So feel free to follow this up with something stronger to get the party started, or serve this at the end of your holiday meal. Ginger does make a wonderful digestive aid! And that egg white in there is for silky, silky mouthfeel. If you JUST CAN’T with the raw egg whites, feel free to leave it out.

I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Eats site!

Sierra Madre Sunrise

Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere is this very clear memory I have of accompanying my mother to this one liquor store when I was a child. We were probably there to buy wine coolers for her (as was the hip thing for moms to drink in the late 80’s). In my memory the store was gigantic, like a well-lit supermarket, but instead of produce or cereal boxes, it was just aisle after aisle of colorful and exotic liquors that I felt the need to stop and read all the labels of.

I’m sure that it wasn’t that big, but I do remember that this was the first place I ever saw tequila at. You know, the kind with the scorpions at the bottom. I don’t remember how or when I learned that not all tequila requires there to be a scorpion, but there’s a good chance it is much later in life than I am willing to admit to.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I wish I could remember the first time I tried mezcal, or even heard of it. Although I’ve tried to rack my brain for that one time, it exists as if I somehow always knew about it. I wish I was that cool. Probably it was sometime over the past 5, maybe 7, years when we collectively started giving other liquors a chance to star in our drinks.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now I like to put mezcal in everything. And today’s drink is one from my ongoing “to make” list. Here my notes were: meaty, but refreshing. I’m guessing this was a late night scribbling where I had something particular in mind but what exactly is no longer clear. But I like these challenges. To make things even more interesting, bitters will play a unique supporting role in transforming the drink into two different sips. For a slightly savory cocktail, Angostura will be dashed in. And for a sweeter alternative, chocolate bitters will be used. All versions have Aperol there, an assertive liquor that stands up next to the flavors of mezcal without getting lost.

It’s kind of a choose your own adventure cocktail.Sierra Madre Sunrise Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now that I’m remembering that liquor store, I’m realizing that the other reason I liked going over there was that next door there was a Christian store that sold Bible action figures like Samson and Delilah. What a way to get kids thrilled about the Old Testament. When I was Catholic I was all in, until I wasn’t anymore.

Ok, enough about Bible Liquor stores. Let’s get to cocktail making!

1 ounce mezcal, Del Maguey Vida Organic used here
3/4 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
3 ounces club soda
2-3 dashes of either Angostura or Chocolate bitters, like Scrappy’s Chocolate Cocktail Bitters

lemon peel for garnish

  • In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add mezcal, Aperol, lemon juice and bitters of your choice. Shake to combine and then strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Top with club soda and garnish with lemon peel.

I’m using the Vida mezcal here because it’s both a wonderful sipping liquor and it mixes well with others. It’s assertive without being aggressive. Aperol is not too bitter and not too sweet. (But it’s just the right amount of both that you don’t need to add another sweetener.) Freshly squeezed lemon juice adds in a touch of tartness, and the whole thing is topped off with a glug of club soda to mellow it out and give some effervescent pep. Angostura adds spice that compliments some of the cinnamon and earthy flavors found in the mezcal. Or you can change that up with a few dashes of chocolate bitters. The sweet, roasted chocolate flavors in the bitters play up the sweet and bitter orange in the Aperol and also some of the vanilla found in the mezcal. This makes the drink excellent for a slightly sweet digestif or a surprisingly refreshing nightcap.

*I originally created this recipe for Serious Eats.

The Bitter Irishman

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

You’ve heard it said, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Well, I’m either one quarter or one eighth Irish, depending on which relative I consult, and I can tell you that, sadly, I don’t qualify as truly Irish on St. Patrick’s or any other day of the year. I’m not proud to say so, but it’s true. It’s not for lack of trying.

I went to an Irish Catholic school where several of the nuns were direct from Ireland, replete with charming accents– though the nuns themselves were rather sour. One of the nuns walked into my third grade classroom, declared that it was filthy, gave two boys a toothbrush, spat on the floor, and told the boys to start scrubbing. I sometimes think I might have known more Irish nuns than Irish families. The Irish families I did know lived in houses filled with crucifixes. I’m sure they must have had other decorative knick-knacks, but I only remember crucifixes. For me, everything Irish was a bit severe and austere– from the dour nuns to the simple cabbage and beef we ate on St. Patrick’s Day.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThen one Halloween, the Irish Catholic school burned down under suspicious circumstances, and I was relocated to the Italian Catholic school. The Italian school was completely different. Holidays were more cheerful. The clergy enjoyed themselves (and their wine) a good deal more than the nuns ever had. The food at church events tasted better. Cannoli, ravioli, stromboli. And suddenly, St. Patrick was eclipsed by St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s Day is two days after St. Patrick’s Day, and the Italians loved it. Everyone ate zeppole (a little like cannoli, but better, so, so good), and wore red and white, and went to the Knights of Columbus parade. There were flowers and candles, an explosion of color.

Mind you, I’m not trying to pick favorites. I’m just telling you what I experienced.

For this St. Patrick’s Day, I plan to forgo the green beer– in fact, I’ll probably pass up the beer altogether. Instead, I’m mixing up a cocktail with a bit of a mixed heritage: half Irish whiskey, and half Italian amaro.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

1 ounce Irish Whiskey, Bushmills 10 used here
1 ounce amaro, Averna used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 ounce demerara syrup
luxardo cherry garnish

Combine whiskey, amaro, lemon juice and syrup together in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

There’s a nice contrast between the light, floral whiskey and the spicy, rich amaro. It starts with a punch of sour flavor that immediately moves into sweetness, and the bite of the whiskey and the lasting bitterness of the amaro stay with you until the next sip. It’s a cocktail with a lot of character. Like those Irish nuns. And those Italian priests.

***This recipe was originally created for Serious Eats and appeared on the site this past week.