Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere’s a lot going on in that title. I know. Forgive me. I’m trying to shove all the fruits I’ve been eating lately into something I can drink. And when I say eat I really mean grill. 

Oh yeah. I’ve been grilling fruit again.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This time it was for the folks over at Serious Eats; they enjoy a good grilled fruit drink every once in awhile. One life altering aspect of this drink, besides telling people you own and have used a bottle of cachaça, is that you get to grill cherries. I’m sure you’re reading that sentence and going… and? No, but really, have you done this before? Have you experienced these awesome morsels that have somehow gotten transformed on the grill from just yum into the intoxicatingly rich, smoky, sweet bites? Do yourself a favor and grill a bunch of these, not just for the drink, and then while you’re sipping your cocktail, pop these in your mouth. By the handful. Also, I’m grilling lime wheels, which is sorta covering up the fact that I’m still finding sad, sad limes at the store.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Oh! So let’s talk about the cachaça for a second. Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil and is a very close cousin of rum. In fact, we could just call them siblings. The only major difference, if we’re generalizing here, is that cachaça does not have to be aged, unlike rum which needs to be aged to some degree. It’s distilled from fresh sugarcane, like rhum agricole and has that funky aspect in the flavor profile. For this recipe we’re actually using aged cachaça, so if you just can’t get your hands on that, substitute a golden rum like Flor de Caña 12 Year (I tried both versions and quite frankly, am a fan of both for this drink).

So have I piqued your interests in grilling up some fruit? Let’s have at it…

Makes two drinks!
1 nectarine, halved
1 lime, cut into 4 wheels
4 cherries
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 springs lemon thyme (or regular thyme with a pinch of fresh lemon zest)
2 cups crushed ice
3 ounces aged cachaça, such as Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged

  • Skewer halved nectarines, lime wheels, and cherries on three skewers (with one variety of fruit per skewer) and place on a hot, oiled grill. Cook until fruit begins to bubble and char lines are visible on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 4 minutes for cherries and 8 to 10 minutes total for nectarines and limes. Remove from grill and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut nectarines into quarters.
  • For each drink, muddle 2 cherries, 2 lime wheels, 2 nectarine quarters, one sprig thyme, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass until nectarine is broken up. Remove lime wheels from glass. Pack 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces cachaça and stir gently. Pack 1/2 cup more crushed ice into glass and garnish with second thyme sprig. Repeat for second drink. Serve immediately.

The nectarine flavor really sings in this drink, and the cherries add wonderful richness. One might think these fruits would be heading you toward the overly-sweet side. But the lime, once grilled, actually takes on a slightly savory essence that only gets more earthy with the addition of lemon thyme.

And one last mention here: the giveaway for the wine/ice bucket ends in just TWO DAYS! Enter now for a chance to win!

Smoky Beer Sangrita

Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMemorial Day weekend kicks off the official start of grilling season. It also kicks off cut off shorts season and burn until you look like a lobster season. It’s a season of magic.

In my efforts for making your drinking experiences more efficient this summer, I will have a bunch of upcoming recipes that are batched for your convenience. Take 10 minutes the night before, or first thing in the morning, to put together the bases, and then top off as needed day of. Easy.

First up is a drink I made for Serious Eats (guys, drinks is no longer its own site, it’s incorporated into just one big Eats site now, so don’t get confused) where I use BEER as the alcohol base. Yes, yet another beer cocktail on this site for the year. It is the topper for a spicy, smoky sangrita-like base that you can make ahead of time.Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sangrita-like might be stretching it; it’s really just sangrita made with a bunch of delicious citrus with a dollop of harissa. Not familiar with harissa? If you like spice and smoke you’ll like this peppery paste that has its roots in North African cuisine. It’s not normally used in drinks, but I love the extra level of spice it adds. Also, a little goes a long way, so you can keep it around to experiment with food later.

Usually, sangrita is just the sidekick to a shot of tequila, but I love the rich flavors of tomato and citrus so much I thought it deserved its own spot at the bar (or backyard BBQ) as a cocktail. Since it’s a low alcohol drink, you could easily sip on these all afternoon, playing horseshoes or whatever it is people do outside.

Sangrita Base

1/2 teaspoon harissa, or more to taste
8 ounces tomato juice
6 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 grapefruits
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 oranges
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 lemons
2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 to 3 limes

For Your Cocktail

Grapefruit wedge
Coarse smoked sea salt
4 ounces Sangrita Base
4 ounces Sculpin IPA, or any hoppy IPA

  • To make the base, in a pitcher, whisk together harissa, black pepper and tomato juice. Add grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon and lime juice. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours maximum.
  • To make the cocktail, wet the rim of a highball glass with grapefruit wedge, dip moistened edge in smoked sea salt. Add ice and 4 ounces of the sangrita base. Top with 4 ounces of IPA. Garnish with grapefruit wedge and serve.

Citrus is an ideal match for a hoppy IPA. The Sculpin IPA from Ballast imparts a lot of grapefruit and lemon in the flavor, as well as in the aroma, which not only compliments the tomato-citrus base, but also adds some needed bitterness to round out the drink. With beer cocktails, the effervescent quality will significantly lift a heavier based drink which can sometimes seem like a challenge to drink. It can also provide a smoother, creamy texture, making the drink feel more like a “cocktail” and less like juice (or in this case Gazpacho). If the Sculpin is not available in your area, look for a beer with this kind of citrus profile. And at the end of the day, if you run out of the base, this beer pairs excellently with barbecue too.

Your Cinco de Mayo Roundup

Time to whip out those tiny velvet sombreros!

Am I really going to introduce a brand new and innovative Margarita recipe today? Nope. Right now you can search any number of food sites and see 60 different ways you can customize your Cinco de Mayo drink. Sometimes it’s hard to feel innovative. However, what I can do for you is make it easy to find all the drinks on THIS site that you might like to have this weekend, since you’re already here.

Let’s just start with last week’s Hibiscus-Tequila Cooler. It’s in a pitcher and no one can tell how many you’ve had until that pitcher is empty.
And then, really, who’s going to say anything?

Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 Mangoes and mezcal and chile peppers. Come on. You need this today.

Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.com

If you want to be lazy, just throw a bunch of stuff into a blender. This will work for you.

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

If you have a lot of time on your hands, get creative with this hibiscus, vanilla-salt, inside-out take on a Margarita.

longmargarita-4

And if you just have to have a regular Margarita, here’s my favorite take on one with smoked salt and mezcal.

barkeepermargarita2

Hibiscus-Tequila Cooler

Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAs much as I love throwing together some cocktails when a friend or two stops by, when a small crowd starts to gather I freeze up, spill liquor all over the place and add salt when it should have been sugar. That’s why I love pitcher cocktails for crowds at my house. Besides turning to all thumbs, I’d rather be mingling, drink already made in my hand, then trying to mix and half listen to a story being told to me. Anyone else like this?

Spring and Summer tends to pack the weekends with parties, and this bright, floral pitcher cocktail is just SO refreshing and delicious you could serve it at least a couple of times before changing it up. Now, I know this is calling for limes. Don’t let that ingredient mean you’re passing this up! You can easily switch out the lime for other citrus combinations; grapefruit and lemon, kumquats, tangerines… as long as you get a fragrant, slightly sweet and not too sour flavor.Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Another nice fact about pitcher drinks: they can mostly be assembled beforehand and topped off before the party starts. Less stress this summer; you are welcome.

Note: my pitcher is on the small side, serving about 6. If yours is much larger this can easily be doubled (or hell, tripled). And be careful with the hibiscus! This little flower goes from tangy to bitter super fast so don’t walk away and forget about it when you’re steeping.Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hibiscus-Lime Syrup:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/3 dried hibiscus flowers
zest from one lime
2 ounces lime juice from 2-3 limes

Over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to just under a boil. Remove from heat and add hibiscus and lime zest. Stir, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain, let cool and add lime juice.

For the drinks:

1 lime, sliced thin
1 cup hibiscus-lime syrup (recipe above)
1 cup tequila, Herradura Tequila Silver used here
2 cups tonic water, chilled

For the drink: In a pitcher, add lime slices, syrup and tequila. If not using right away, store in refrigerator. Otherwise, add tonic water and stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime wedges.

Tart and tangy, the hibiscus-lime mixture provides a lift to the vegetal nature of the tequila. The tonic gives a hint of bitter and sweetness to the final drink, along with a nice effervescence. If tonic is too overpowering for you, club soda can be substituted.

I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Drinks site.

MxMo: La Marina

La Marina #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMixology Monday Logo

This month’s Mixology Monday cocktail challenge is an interesting one because, well, there is NO alcohol in the drinks. Scott of Shake, Strain, & Sip has themed this month “Temperance”, and you guessed it, it’s a Teetotaler’s delight around these parts.

With the warmer months approaching, I’ve been craving light, fruit-based drinks lately. And maybe the occasional spritz or two. With the baskets of berries pouring into the farmer’s markets (pretty much my favorite time of year), I decided to make the base of this drink with juicy, local strawberries.La Marina #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Farmers markets here are pretty diverse. I’ve been introduced to multiple varieties of strawberries, and one of my favorites is the Seascape kind. Sweet, but not too much so; it’s my ideal strawberry flavor. That said, here you’ll need to taste for sweetness. There is some from the strawberries and tonic, and a sweet and savory note from the orgeat, but if you like your drinks even sweeter, then feel free to add a drop of simple syrup.

La Marina #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com3 medium sized strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (or white grapefruit juice)
1/4 ounce orgeat
4 ounces Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water

strawberry slice for garnish

In the bottom of a highball glass, muddle strawberries, juice and orgeat. Add ice 2/3 up the glass and top with tonic. Stir gently to combine and garnish glass with strawberry slice.

Uniquely both sweet and savory with lots of fruit forward bubbles. A straw in this case is optional as you might find the chunks of strawberries get caught up in it. The almond from the orgeat has a slight bitter edge that contrasts nicely with the sweet fruit flavors. It’s a needed element here to round out the drink.

Thanks to Scott for hosting this month and Fred for keeping this party going.

Jewel of Oaxaca

Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhoa. What a week it’s been. Towards Wednesday I started to feel like an NPR telethon with all the requests for Saveur mag votes. Except, the only fun swag I can offer you guys is more recipes, and you all know those are coming anyways. Like this one..

This recipe was originally going to have grilled pineapple, but that’s DONE (I’ll probably be eating those words in two months). So, instead, grilled mango was tested out to see if that would pair nicely with some mezcal in a cocktail. Results all pointed to yes. It may only be April, but that’s no reason not to think about grilling. Indoor grilling is doable as long as you have the right equipment, i.e. a Grill Pan. It’s a lot more efficient to oil up a pan and get it hot than turn on the propane (or light some charcoal). The sad fact is that we have a nice grill outside that ran out of propane I’d say… 2…3 years ago? I’ve lost track of how long at this point. And we’ve lazily resorted to just using a grill pan for the two of us. Now that I type this out I’m realizing that the amount of entertaining we’ve done at home has drastically decreased since the demise of the propane. Hrm.Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Ah, but the cocktail. A grill pan in this case is best if you are just going to grill up a single mango. Seem like a lot of work for one cocktail? Grill up two and save the rest for later; you’ll want a second one of these.

The savory component here gets some earthy smokiness from ancho chile peppers. Ancho chile peppers are the dried form of a poblano pepper if you weren’t aware (it’s ok, I was schooled on this point too). I put ancho chiles and mangoes in my salsas so I thought I’d try them out as a cocktail.Jewel of Oaxaca #cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pro tip: use a Hawthorne strainer for this. Oh what a mess this made the first time around with first the shaker strainer, then the julep strainer; the holes were not big enough and there was a mango backup that resulted in half a drink lost. I took one for you guys so you won’t have this problem. The Hawthorne excels at separating the mango pulp from the juice. You will still get pieces of pulp, but you will also get all your booze out of the mixing glass too.

For the ancho chile pepper syrup:

2 ancho chile peppers (or 1 tsp ancho chile powder)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water

  • Combine chile peppers (or powder), sugar and water in a medium sized sauce pan over high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce the temperature to low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for one hour. Strain into an airtight container.

For the cocktail:

1/2 mango
1 ounce Ancho Chile Pepper Syrup (see recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
1-1/2 ounce of mezcal, Del Maguey Vida used here

  • Take your mango half, with skin still on, and score the flesh lengthwise and widthwise, careful not to cut through the skin. Next, using a grill pan, or outdoor grill, oil the grates with a neutral oil (like vegetable oil). Over medium-high heat, place mangoes flesh side down for 5 minutes. If you would like criss-cross grill marks, use a spatula to turn the mangoes 45 degrees halfway through cook time. Remove from grill and let cool. Once cool, turn flesh inside out and using a paring knife, cut cubes away from the skin.
  • Next, in the bottom of a shaker, combine mangoes and syrup. Muddle until puree-like consistency. Add ice, lime, and mezcal. Shake for 20 seconds and using a Hawthorne strainer, strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Mezcal is a very assertive liquor that can sometimes overpower the other ingredients in a drink. But, here, mangoes, chile peppers and lime all work well in combination because they also have strong flavors. The mango’s rich sweetness, enhanced by the smoky undertone of the ancho syrup, makes for a great partner to the Mezcal, accentuating its vegetal aspects and softening its domineering palate.

I originally posted this recipe on the Serious Drinks site

Mixology Monday: Classic Blackberry Shrub

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoOk, first off guys, I am well aware it’s not Monday despite the name of the post. However, I wanted to get this up before the Monday deadline. What deadline? What are you talking about? Mixology Monday for you newbies here is the once a month “cocktail party” where internet people like to show off with a drink they made based on a theme by whoever “hosts” this month. Please read up on it here and see past entries on the MxMo site. This month, Craig from “A World of Drinks” gave us the theme of “Preserves” (and yes, there’s a lot of quotation marks happening in this paragraph). It took me a second to realize that I was already planning on making a shrub this month, and since making shrubs was an old school way of preserving fruit, I was ready to publish a double duty post this month.

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

Blackberries. I love the taste of them, but, truth be told, I hate eating them. Those little seeds! They always get stuck in my teeth and half the time they seem like too much of a bother to eat. Anyone with me on this or am I crazy? Last week my husband was out getting some food and I had asked him to pick up some blueberries. Apparently the store was out and he figured I just wanted a berry that was close enough to blue to eat. So he picked up blackberries instead. After scrunching up my face at them and letting them sit there for a few days, the overwhelming urge not to waste food made me cave in. What to do with them?

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.comA shrub! If I made them into a shrub I was just going to extract their juices and all those annoying little seeds would stay in the strainer. I might have patted myself on the back there for thoughtfulness.

Shrubs are a bit well known now, more so than say, a year ago. I see them a lot more on cocktail menus and on the shelves of my local liquor suppliers. Shrubs are also pretty simple to make yourself; let me show you how.

Mixology Monday Blackberry Shrub // stirandstrain.com

Classic Blackberry Shrub

1 cup whole blackberries, rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar

  1. Combine blackberries and sugar in a bowl. Lightly crush the blackberries to release their juices (I used a potato masher, but a fork would suffice). Cover and let sit 8 hours or overnight. Shake the bowl every once in awhile to make sure the sugar is incorporating into the juice. Half way through, stir the mixture and re-cover.
  2. Next, strain the mixture through a fine strainer into an airtight container. Add the vinegar and shake well (if any sugar has remained, shake hard to dissolve here). Store the container in the refrigerator for 6 days.
  3. After 6 days give it a taste. Usually, by day 6 the sharpness of the vinegar has started to pull back and let the sweetness from the sugar and fruit stand out more. Keep in mind, this is a vinegar base: it will ALWAYS taste like vinegar. The vinegar will mellow more as it sits but its zing is what is wanted in a shrub.

For this shrub, there is a nice sweet and sour balance from the ingredients. The blackberries produce a tartness that is heightened from the vinegar while the sugar cuts through to keep your mouth from puckering. Strong nose of vinegar with subtle berry.

Sparkling Blackberry Shrub (no booze)

1/2 ounce blackberry shrub (recipe above)
6 ounces sparkling water
1 lime wedge

Fill a rocks glass with the water and pour the shrub down the center. Stir to combine. Squeeze a wedge of lime and add spent lime to the glass.

And here’s Christopher’s cocktail recipe with the shrub he’s been making:

2 ounces 4 Roses Bourbon Yellow Label
1 ounce Blackberry Shrub (recipe above)
1/4 ounce maple syrup

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Add all ingredients and stir to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Thanks to Craig for hosting this month and Fred for keeping MxMo up and alive!

The Irish Derby Cocktail

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m sure that this week every aspect of your social media accounts are being filled to the brim with green drinks and Irish whiskey recipes. Well, this cocktail isn’t green but it does use Irish whiskey.

Usually, Jameson or Redbreast is drunk by itself in this household. Very rarely does it make its way into a cocktail, although there have been a few off nights when I’ve desperately wanted a Manhattan and used it as the base when there was not a drop of Rye to be found. So this week’s challenge to me over on the Serious Drinks site was to make a cocktail that uses Irish whiskey as the base and go from there. Initially I was at a blank until I started sifting through my new copy of Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh. Although at times I find myself pouring over the vintage Ads more than the words, the recipes collected here are a good history lesson for those of us interested in the world of cocktails; you need to know your beginnings.

Looking through here one realizes that many recipes are ready made for substitutions. I just had to find one for Irish whiskey, and in particular, Redbreast. The Derby cocktail stood out as one that might work, and after adjusting for tastes (woo there was a bit too much lime juice in here), it did. The original cocktail was bourbon based but utilized sweet vermouth, dry orange curaçao and lime juice. I upped the whiskey, downed the lime and added Angostura to balance it all out. What resulted was a light, slightly zingy cocktail where the whiskey played more of a supporting actor role.

1-1/2 ounces Irish Whiskey, such as Redbreast
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce dry orange curaçao (can sub with Cointreau)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 lime
2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 long lime zest for garnish

First, peel the zest from the lime using a channel knife, or use a sharp paring knife to curl a long continuous piece of peel from the lime. Set aside. Next, fill a shaker 2/3 with ice and add all ingredients. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime peel.

Strong essence of orange oil and sweet florals from the lime on the nose. The Redbreast is mellowed out by the sweetness from the angostura and curaçao, while the Angostura adds just a touch of bitterness that completes the drinks. Not your usual Irish drink.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

Mixology Monday: 5 Spice Ti’ Punch

5 Spice Ti' Punch // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoApologies for the hasty nature of this post. I’m heading out the door on my way to Palm Springs Modernism Week to bask in even hotter temps than Los Angeles and to have my eyes filled to the brim with mid-century architecture. I almost didn’t make this month’s Mixology Monday, “Sours” hosted by the Ginhound blog, but remembered that I have a cocktail for a supperclub dinner coming up next week that would fit the bill.

Ti’ Punch is in that sour category alongside daiquiris, margaritas, etc… A liquor at the base with a sour component and a sweet. To fit the theme of the dinner, I created a 5 Spice Ti’ Punch, infusing the whole spices usually found in that blend into a demerara syrup. The result was a honey rich syrup that almost had a “chai” like aroma to it. Not too overbearing on the palate but enough of a kick to give the drink an unexpected new flavor profile.5 Spice Ti' Punch // stirandstrain.com

In keeping with tradition of the Ti’ Punch being an aperitif (served before a meal), this strong tipple will be served to guests arriving. Hopefully it will loosen the tongue just enough to make this a lively dinner. This will be served punch style, however for this recipe, I’ve scaled it down to a punch for one.

First, let’s make the syrup!

5 Spice Syrup

1 cup demerara sugar
1 cup water
1 star anise
1 4″ cinnamon stick, broken in two
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
5 whole cloves

Combine sugar and water over medium high heat in a small sauce pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and then add spices to the pan. Bring to just a boil and then remove from heat. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes. Uncover and let come to room temperature. Strain into an airtight container.

For the cocktail

2 oz. Rhum J.M. Gold Agricole
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 oz. 5 spice syrup

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add rhum, lime juice and syrup. Stir 30 seconds to chill and then strain into an iced filled rocks glass.

This is one boozy sour. That grassy cinnamon agricole rhum comes in at 100 proof, so you’ll probably only need just the one punch. But by all means have two if you want. The 5 spice compliments the rhum more than overpowers it in that hey-look-at-me way that 5 spice sometimes can. Infusing the spices in a demerara sugar created a viscous, honey like syrup that had a deeper color and flavor than regular cane syrup. Also, I thought it would have a better mouthfeel in a drink served over ice. The syrup really does taste more like a chai than what I associate with this Chinese spice blend too. Overall a satisfying cocktail with some bite.

Note, I did use black peppercorns rather than Sichuan ones, but only because the black were readily available and I was short on time. Had I been able to use the Sichuan, the flavor profile could have turned out a different way. If you get your hands on some and make this, I’d love to hear about how yours turned out.

Thanks to Andrea for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday! Please visit her site and check out everyone’s entries.