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

A Pitcher of Pisco with Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWelcome back to brunch week on Stir and Strain. Today’s cocktail gets mixed up by the pitcher and also includes a long standing feud between two South American countries.

That’s right! We’re batching up some pisco!Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Why pisco today? Well, one reason is that it’s been awhile since I’ve made a cocktail on here with it. And two, well, I swallowed the pisco kool-aide (err.. punch?) so to speak.Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Back in January I attended the second annual Golden State of Cocktails here in Los Angeles. Three days filled with seminars, demonstrations, booze, tacos, science, more booze, some bar crawls, educational booths, and so much more booze. While there were some fantastic seminars attended, the talk on the history of pisco stood out the most for me. It made me… really excited about pisco. I can’t say for certain what it was exactly that made this particular talk so great: the enthusiastic speakers? The bottled punch? The sample after sample of pisco? Whatever it was, I knew I was hooked on the spirit and had to start using it more. Hey, the title of the seminar was “The World’s Most Mixable Spirit”. (And if you’d like a little more history on it, I touched on a couple points in my Serious Eats post you can read.)

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So obviously I needed to start mixing with it. Consider this your gateway cocktail into the world of pisco (that is if you are still on the fence about drinking a Pisco Sour due to the egg white. OH, hey. I made a vegan version of that you should try). Here I’ve paired the pisco with the very much in season grapefruits that I had accumulated over the last several weeks from the farmer’s market. Yes, sometimes my seasonal cocktails are just a reason to get rid of some fruit I’ve over-bought. Then I spiked it with a little thyme and a splash of lime.

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Grapefruit Syrup:

Zest from one medium grapefruit
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice from 2 to 3 grapefruits (see note above)
1 cup granulated sugar

  • Combine grapefruit zest, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into an air-tight container. Refrigerate until ready to use or up to 1 week.

For the Bottled Cocktails:

3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from 3 limes
9 ounces pisco, such as Encanto
4 1/2 ounces Grapefruit Syrup
6 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

  • In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together thyme and salt. Add lime juice and stir. Fine-strain into a 24-ounce carafe or swing-top bottle and then pour in grapefruit syrup and pisco. Cap and gently shake to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  • For each cocktail, add one large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in 2-3/4 ounces of the bottled cocktail. Gently stir and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

It’s a bright, delicious cocktail that you can easily have along whatever brunch-y dishes you might be cooking up. But still palatable for a pre-dinner drink too if that’s more your thing.

Your Super Bowl Drinking Round Up

Beer. For cocktails. I got you covered…

Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail

peach basil sorbet and saison beerfloat // stirandstrain.com

Peach Basil Sorbet and Saison Beerfloat

Texas Tea Beer Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Texas Tea

Vegan Pisco Sour // stirandstrain.com

Vegan Pisco Sour

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Steak Island Cocktail

Steak Island Cocktail

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIt’s Super Bowl weekend. I only know this because I was asked to come up with a cocktail you would want to drink at a party celebrating this fact. Well, it’s a drink that I would want to drink at this kind of party. And I guess the name is quite telling that I’d name it Steak Island, however, let’s talk about why I gave it this name.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

I go into this a little in the article I wrote on Serious Eats, but let me elaborate on this just a wee bit here. Since this is a safe place to ramble on and you readers are somewhat more forgiving of these overly long explanations (well, some of you aren’t and you know who you are).

For the most part, I like to live an uncluttered life.. actually, let me stop you here if you’re just searching for “super bowl cocktails” and you’re still reading at this point. Might I suggest you just scroll down to the recipe? Anyways, I’m the type of person who loves, with a capital L, to throw stuff away and have lots of clean surfaces. I’m a believer that an uncluttered space means an uncluttered mind and yes, I might just use the excuse that the studio space is too cluttered to photograph in right now so I’m just going to be over here watching tv and procrastinating. But mainly I’m not a person who holds on to stuff. However, I do have a few exceptions for collectibles. The major collections I have are my Tiki mugs, which need a new cabinet (see, I still need to sequester the collections) and, since I used to DJ out here with much, much more frequency than I do now, my 1960’s girl group and girl garage band 45s. That was mainly it for stuff I held on to that took up space. You know what doesn’t take up a lot of space that is fun to hang on to if you’re into cocktails: vintage drink stirrers. These are highly curated because I can’t justify keeping more on hand than what will fit in a Highball glass.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Knowing that I liked some of these kitschy treasures from restaurants and bars that once were, a friend of mine found herself at a flea market somewhere in Arizona a few years ago and happened upon someone’s stockpile of stirrers for sale. Sifting through the amazing variety of brightly-colored sticks, she selected what she thought I’d most like to have (and seriously did an amazing job). One of my favorites though was this black stick with gold lettering that just said “steak island” on it with this little grass hut. Either it was the bizarre combination of this little tropical hut imagined to house giant steak laden plates, or that it was coming out of Texas and I was to believe there was something tropical-like there, but either way, I immediately knew someday I’d need to make a drink in honor of this establishment’s namesake. Super Bowl Sunday seemed like the most appropriate “holiday” to make such a drink.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

So what better to wash down plates of rich, meaty foods than some light and refreshing effervescent cocktails…made with beer! And… steak sauce!

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIf I was going to make a cocktail that included the word steak, then I figured some steak sauce as an extra special ingredient was in order. So what you get is a drink close to a Michelada with a heaping amount of tangy, umami-filled A1 Steak Sauce (or whatever sauce you’d like). Personally, growing up I was not a fan of steak, but I did like dipping the steak in A1 and then sucking all the sauce off the meat and tossing the meat away (I wasn’t a picky eater but the texture of steak I found to be most offensive to my young self). Now I skip the formalities and just drink the sauce here.

Intrigued? You should be, so let’s make some cocktails!

Yields 6-8 drinks for a party
8 ounces red and yellow bell pepper slices
14 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from about 14 limes
4 ounces steak sauce, such as A1
1/4 ounce freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
48 ounces lager, such as Pacifico
Lime wheels and additional bell pepper slices for garnish

  • In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle together the bell peppers and lime juice. Add the steak sauce and pepper. If your sauce is not on the salty side, add some additional salt to your liking. Cover and refrigerate the base at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  • To serve, add beer straight to the pitcher and stir gently to combine, serving into ice-filled glasses. Alternately, you can pour about 2 1/2 ounces of the cocktail base into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with about 5 ounces of the beer and stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish glasses with lime wheels and bell pepper slices, serve.

Like I said, it’s super refreshing and easy drinking, a great pair to richer foods. The steak sauce has a touch of sweetness and adds some underlying umami to the cocktail. Mixed with fresh citrus juice, it adds both a base note and a tangy brightness to your fizzy beer mixer. Muddled bell peppers offer a subtle vegetal flavor and complexity that’ll keep you sipping. I chose to top it all off with a lager so that the beer doesn’t overpower the drink with too much hops or bitterness or whatever special flavor it might have been brewed with. I enjoyed with Pacifico, Christopher liked some Foster’s with his.

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo you’re not into frozen fruit daiquiris. Although the peachy one looked tempting, it’s not for you. That’s cool; I’m not going to judge you. You want something more on the savory side? I can help with that too.

Cucumbers!

Cucumbers are that gateway vegetable where fruit isn’t going to cut it in your cocktail, but you sure as hell are not going to put kale in there. Please don’t put kale in here.

A daiquiri base is a simple yet beautiful combination of rum, lime juice and sugar. If you have great ingredients to begin with, you’re outcome will be fantastic. Although, one bad lime will completely ruin a drink (I speak from experience on that one). The base though is also super versatile and a little savoriness will do it no harm.Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now, we’re not just going to add in cucumbers and call it a day. I’m not that lazy. Instead I tweak it just a little more with the introduction of Green Chartreuse. A little bit added here gives the whole cocktail a spicy punch: hints of licorice, some bitter citrus in there, and lots of other mysterious herbal flavors that make up the ridiculous amount of ingredients found in one bottle. Green Chartreuse balances everything out, taking a somewhat demure drink into very bold territory.

Yes, it might seem like suddenly frozen drinks are popping up on my Instagram feed like mushrooms in a forest, but trust me, this is all in the name of science (not really). I’m just here to make blended alcoholic drinks not suck. Again, as with the frozen peach daiquiri, chilling beforehand will give you a freezing cold base to start with, offering very little dilution when you add the ice. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to skip this step.

8 ounces white rum, such as Caña Brava
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes
1 1/2 ounces Green Chartreuse
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cups ice cubes
4 cucumber spears and lime zest for garnish

At least 1 day before you’d like to serve the cocktail, combine rum, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, and simple syrup in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for at least 8 hours. Pour pre-chilled base into blender with cucumber rounds and ice. Blend until even in texture. Pour into serving glasses, garnish each drink with a cucumber spear and lime zest, and serve.

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

And if you’re on board the frozen daiquiri train now, you can always go back and check out that peach one.

 

*This post was originally part of a longer article I wrote over on Serious Eats.

Frozen Peach, White Pepper and Green Tea Daiquiri

Frozen Peach Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOh OK, I know you want to roll your eyes because someone is trying to sell you on a frozen fruit daiquiri. Get it out of your system. Please. So that we can continue on and I can tell you all about how delicious it is and completely NOT your typical frozen daiquiri.

September is a crazy transitional month. Here in Los Angeles it gets crazy hot and for all intents and purposes it’s still summer even after the calendar tells you it’s Fall. But then suddenly temps will drop and we’re all scratching our heads wondering where we put that sweater.

We’re also at the end of the stone fruit season. (Already?! I’m putting on a sad face typing this.) It seems that every week we are losing all my favorite fruits as quickly as they came on to the scene. I can’t eat another cobbler, so this week I blended some peaches into a daiquiri. A not-too-sweet frozen cocktail with a dose of delicate, earthy flavors from white pepper and green tea infused syrup. So summery, so delicious, so not filled with high fructose corn syrup.Frozen Peach Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The best part about this cocktail is that you can batch the base days ahead of time if you want. Or not. Making the base and sticking it in the freezer the night before gives you a super chilled mix (it won’t freeze) that when you blend with ice cubes the next day, it prevents it from getting too watery and diluted. If you’re pressed for time, you can just blend it all up without freezing too. I’m not going to stand in the way of you and this drink.

White Pepper-Green Tea Syrup:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 green tea bags
2 tablespoons white peppercorns, whole

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep 5 minutes, then remove tea bags. Stir in peppercorns. Cover and let sit for 1 1/2 hours. Strain and bottle into an airtight container. Keep refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Frozen Peach Daiquiri:
serves 3-4 cocktails

8 ounces white rum, such as Selvarey
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes
2 ripe peaches, roughly cubed (about 3 cups)
2 1/2 ounces White Pepper-Green Tea Syrup
4 cups ice
4 peach slices and lime zest for garnish

At least 1 day before you want to serve the drink, combine rum, lime juice, and White Pepper Green Tea Syrup in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for at least 8 hours. When ready to serve, pour pre-chilled base into blender with peaches and ice. Blend until mixture is uniform in texture. Pour into serving glasses. Garnish with a peach slice and lime zest, and serve.

Juicy peach flavor that  is not too sweet. Lovely earthiness from the white pepper and green tea while the lime and rum give it just enough zest.

*I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats!

Spicy Melon Cocktail

Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.comToday is one of those days where I’m really not sure what story I want to tell you guys. I originally posted this on Serious Eats last week and if you want, you could read what I wrote about street food vendors over there. I did edit it so that my roadside vendor food poisoning stories did not make an appearance in the article (didn’t seem fitting for the general public). But I still don’t see that as a fitting topic on here either. I guess I could just put up a bunch of photos and give you the recipe. You’d all be OK with that right? Or maybe we can talk about impulse grocery shopping?

Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The base of this cocktail is the summer melon pictured above. I actually bought this little guy based solely on a photo I saw online. One great thing about living in a major city like Los Angeles is the sheer number of delivery services available to us. Did you guys see the Booze News where I mentioned you can get booze delivered by underwear models? Yeah, that’s a thing here. But not everything is pointless like that. We have so many farmer’s markets in all corners of the city that one would just assume that on every given day you could drive or bike or walk over to one of them, get your produce for the week and carry on. Somehow that just wasn’t working out for me. Work, unfortunately, was becoming a 7 day a week affair and breaking to get fresh, local produce was suddenly becoming a far away dream. Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

In the past, we’ve used a few of the CSA delivery services. Which, for the most part are awesome and ensures we get fresh, local produce thrown at us every week. The problem was: it wasn’t always what we wanted to work with, or quantities were just wrong. For example, how the hell does one lemon suffice for a whole week? Answer: it doesn’t.

About a month ago we tried out a new service that combined both CSA boxes, single produce items and dairy and pantry staples. Pretty much like a virtual farmer’s market. With free delivery. That melon sat on the page, looking delicious and so more appealing than a regular cantaloupe (even if it was just, well, a cantaloupe). So I impulse bought it. In fact, I impulsively added a whole bunch of stuff into my cart. And then I saw the price. And then I slowly decided what to put back. I mean, part of being able to pick exactly what you want is also so that you’re not wasting food; I absolutely hate throwing anything uneaten in the trash. Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This post is in no way sponsored by this delivery service, which if you’re interested you can check out Good Eggs yourself. They have no idea how much time and effort they are saving me. I’m just admitting to you all how sometimes in life I like to throw money at my problems to try and make them go away. Eating local and seasonal seems like a reasonable cause to throw money at. That cilantro up there also came from them.Spicy Melon Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

OK, so let’s get to the cocktail.

There are a few components to this that are make ahead. You know how I love my projects! It’s probably why I can’t make it out to the farmer’s market. The first is that the melon gets steeped in gin for a few days; it’s so worth it. Next, cilantro gets chopped up and mixed into a simple syrup. Then everything is combined with some Dolin Blanc, lime juice and cayenne pepper. This whole concoction was really based on the fruit cart vendors I see all over Los Angeles. Another food item I used to impulsively buy until I learned just how simple it was to make at home.

For the Melon-Infused Gin:

1 cup London Dry gin, such as Ford’s
1 cup chopped skinned and seeded cantaloupe (about 1/2 melon)

Combine gin and cantaloupe in an airtight container; cantaloupe should be completely covered with gin. Let stand at room temperature for 3 days. Strain into a clean bottle. Refrigerate up to 6 months.

For the Cilantro Simple Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro leaves and stems

Combine water with sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Add cilantro and let stand for 1 hour. Strain out cilantro. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

For the Cocktail:

2 ounces Melon-Infused Gin
3/4 ounce Cilantro Simple Syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus more for garnish
Melon slice, for garnish

Combine melon-infused gin, cilantro simple syrup, lime, vermouth, and pinch cayenne pepper in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a melon slice sprinkled with additional cayenne and serve immediately.

A strong juniper palate, along with the herbal and citrus hints found in a London Dry gin style work really well to balance the sweetness of a melon like cantaloupe. Adding the element of grassy cilantro into the mix here gives the whole drink a touch more savoriness. A generous squeeze of lime juice and a big pinch of cayenne transforms the base into a juicy, fruity, spicy cocktail.

MxMo: An Isle Away coconut cardamom foam cocktail

An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoI bet you were wondering what the heck to do with that bottle of cardamom tincture we all made last week. Well, wonder no more!

For awhile I’ve been wanting to pair up coconut and cardamom, and this month fate stepped in and gave me Mixology Monday’s challenge of COCONUT! Want to know more about what exactly MxMo is? Read on here.

This month, Rated R Cocktails challenged us to work with the versatile coconut. A cocktail ingredient that not only gives us several liquid choices, but also offers itself up as a drinking vessel as well! It’s also in the name of the Tiki-inspired supper club I am part of. (We even have a coconut cocktail served in the shell.)An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

This recipe came about in my search to find a light, refreshing cocktail that wasn’t weighed down by the usual culprit of coconut cream. However, I still found myself wanting to mimic the cream and I remembered awhile back that Todd over at Honestly Yum, did a pear foam last year that had similar structure for what I was looking for: light as air foam that still had a dense appearance. So here coconut water becomes a coconut foam. Adding the cardamom to the foam also meant getting the lovely aroma in there, but not effecting the taste profile I wanted for the cocktail under the foam. This is one of those times where I was looking to transform the drink from first sniff to last sip.An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

Again, as for many posts, you will need a piece of special equipment. An ISI whipped cream canister makes this fast and gives you a stable foam. I suppose you could whip this up in a stand mixer and then spoon it on your cocktail, but, well, I like an excuse to bring out the toys. All of this is available online and I’ll provide links below.

There was a possibility that this drink was going to make it on to the supper club menu, but we decided to go another direction. Also, I’d hate to ruin the surprise at the dinner when you get one!

The foam makes enough for quite a number of drinks, so if you’re having some guests by, table side foam art is highly encouraged.An Isle Away #Cocktail with cardamom coconut foam // stirandstrain.com

Part 1: Make the Coconut Cardamom Foam
adapted from Honestly Yum

7 ounces coconut water
2-1/2 ounces egg whites
2 ounces simple syrup
3-4 drops cardamom tincture (recipe here)

Add all ingredients to a whipped cream canister. Close the canister, shake hard, charge it with a whipped cream charger and refrigerate at least one hour until ready to use. Will keep fresh for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Part 2: Make the Cocktail

2 ounces white rum, such as Selvarey*
2 ounces coconut water
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce passion fruit syrup
cardamom pod for garnish

In a cocktail shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine rum, coconut water, lime juice and passion fruit. Shake to combine about 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Using the whipped cream canister pointed straight down over the drink, add foam in a circular motion until the top of the drink is covered, about a 1/2″. Add a cardamom on top for a garnish.

Strong cardamom aroma with a hint of coconut. The cocktail itself is very light and dry. Coconut flavor sits in the back while more of the fruit notes move forward from the passionfruit and this particular rum’s flavor profile. Quite delightful.

Where do I get the equipment from?

 

Thanks to Rated R Cocktails for hosting this month, and to Fred for keeping the party going!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

MxMo: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash

Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday Logo

For this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the Stacy Markow blog, we get to play with the theme “Smashes” (read the whole post here).

You guys might have noticed I’ve had a couple Smashes on here lately, reason being that summer is one of the best times for making these drinks because they highlight so many of the awesome seasonal ingredients that are around. I always love berries in these, but for this month’s challenge, I wanted to mix it up a bit. And right now sweet corn is in season.Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Oh yeah, corn. In a cocktail. I only just heard of a few cocktails that use corn as an ingredient, but after poking around the internet for a little bit, I noticed that using corn isn’t SO new, it’s just not done that much. Here’s the trick though for getting this to work: please buy your corn from the farmers market where it’s in season and is super flavorful. Otherwise, it’s not going to pop in flavor and will just be a waste of time. You’ve been warned.

Strawberries are also in season and I just can’t help myself. So I’ve mixed them in this cocktail with the corn for a little sweet-tart flavor. Hey, it works in the salads I make, and it works here too.Mixology Monday: Sweet Corn and Strawberry Smash #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So let’s embrace summer produce before it all goes away and we’re cursing the early setting sun and I try to tell you how awesome winter squash cocktails are. Get shuckin’!

2 ounces white rum, Caña Brava used here
1/2 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
1 small strawberry, sliced
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2-3 drops Bitter Tears “Scarlet” strawberry chili bitters*
1 whole strawberry for garnish

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together strawberry slices, lime juice and simple syrup. Add corn kernels and muddle until broken up (some kernels will remain whole). Add rum and bitters. Fill glass with ice and shake hard for about 30 seconds. Double strain into a rocks glass, fill glass with crushed ice, and add strawberry garnish.

The corn is sweet and subtle and pairs exceptionally well with the strawberry. Be careful not to use too large a strawberry so that there’s a balance of flavor. The strawberry can be overpowering if you use too much. Overall a light, refreshing cocktail that can be savored without feeling too watered down with all that ice. The bitters add some extra juicy strawberry sweetness with a kick of heat from the chili.

Thanks to Stacy for hosting this month and Fred for keeping this cocktail party going. Can’t wait to see what everyone came up with this month!

 

*Items generously given gratis and appear here because I like them. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Make It: Smoked Ice (and a cocktail to enjoy it with)

Smoked Ice Hazy Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you like tinkering in your home bar with projects, then this post is for you.

Today I give you a magic trick for your guests (and drinks): the transforming cocktail. Now, for most of you who go out and enjoy a cocktail or three, the idea of a cocktail changing flavor as you drink it shouldn’t be too strange to you. But I’ve found it’s the usual roster of changing flavors, Campari ice, fruity ice, familiar flavors that transform your drink from this to that. But earlier this year when I was hosting the SMOKE MxMo, Raul from Death to Sour Mix sent me a link to this guy (strangely enough from a site that Christopher has looked at for BBQ) that had tested and given detailed instructions for making your own smoked ice. His ice cubes were going into a Bloody Mary, which seems like a perfect vehicle for smoky flavors, but I wanted to take that idea and put it into an unexpected cocktail.

I had pitched this idea over on the Serious Eats site, and they also thought it was a cool idea. And now I’m making sure all of you get a chance to play around with it too. OK, granted you will need some special equipment, although if you want to MacGyver a roasting pan with a grate and tinfoil, that works surprisingly well too. Now, if you’re wondering how complicated it is to create smoked ice, allow me to reassure you: it is simple.Smoked Ice // stirandstrain.com

Since I tinkered awhile with this technique, here are some tips to consider:

  • A smoker makes this easy. Whether it’s a stovetop smoker, or an electric smoker (which is what we have already), it means just dumping wood in and starting a fire. Easy.
  • The type of wood you use is important! Apple wood is very mild. Mesquite is quite strong. It really just depends on your tastes, but I would consider playing with a few if you’re already gone this far considering it.
  • The size of your ice matters! Do you want your drink to quickly taste of smoke? Use small ice that melt fast. Want your cocktail to take its time changing flavors? Use big ice.
  • And speaking of ice, yes, it totally makes sense scientifically that starting with ice cubes, letting them melt, and then refreezing them will give you smokier ice cubes per the principle of thermophoresis.
  • Lastly, consider your cocktail. If you have doubts that smoke will improve, or at least make interesting, your drink, then perhaps you should pick another to work with.

Smoked Ice // stirandstrain.comOk, so let’s start with that ice!

1 tray ice cubes
Wood chips for smoking
stovetop or electric smoker

  • Place ice cubes in baking dish or pie plate. Following instructions of your smoker, heat wood chips until smoking. Set dish of ice in smoker, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, line bottom of roasting pan with aluminum foil and arrange 1/2 cup wood chips on one side of pan. Using a butane torch or long-reach lighter, carefully burn wood chips until smoking but not in flames. Carefully set rack in roasting pan, set dish of ice on rack opposite the wood chips, cover, and smoke until ice has melted, 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Pour smoked water into ice-cube tray and freeze.

For the cocktail, I wanted something a bit surprising that would really showcase how the smoked ice slowly changed the flavors of the drink. I’ve created this recipe specifically to highlight that transformation; you can, however, think of it as a suggestion or a first-timer’s guide… and then feel free to try the same technique on another drink. This cocktail, the Hazy Sunset, is at first sip a tropical, Tiki-inspired pineapple-rum drink. However, as the ice cubes melt, it starts to add just a subtle hint of smoke until the entire drink is transformed into a rich, almost savory sipper. A long way from its beginnings.

Ready to try those smoked ice cubes in a drink now?

Hazy Sunset

1-1/2 ounces light rum, such as 10 Cane
1/2 ounce overproof rum, such as Lemon Hart Demerara
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
non-smoked ice cubes for mixing
Smoked ice cubes
Fresh cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig, for garnish

Add both rums, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and bitters to a cocktail shaker and fill 2/3 full with non-smoked ice. Shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Add smoked ice cubes to a double rocks glass, and strain cocktail into glass. Garnish with a cherry, pineapple chunk, and mint sprig. Serve immediately.

If you try this experiment out, I’d love to hear what you’re using them in!