The Chocolate Rye

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFirst off, this month marks YEAR THREE  of the Stir & Strain website (I always forget). Woo-hoo! Let’s make a drink.

When coming up with ideas this month the one thing I was against was a chocolate cocktail a la the Chocotini. Why would you willingly drink that? I gag just thinking about it. It’s like poop…with alcohol.Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So instead I decided that I should somehow infuse cacao nibs into a cocktail and work with that. What I ended up making was a drink that was a riff on a box of chocolates: the smell of chocolate, toasted almonds and spices all infused within some rye whiskey. (You can read more on that over at the Serious Drinks site.)

The infusion is quick so if you start it today you can actually make this for Valentine’s Day if you wanted. This would more than likely earn you some brownie points since it means you thought ahead of time.

So let’s start cocktailing!Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Cacao Nib, Toasted Almond, and Spice Infused Rye

1/3 cup cacao nibs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 allspice berries
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 2” long cinnamon sticks
1/2 inch cube ginger, peeled and sliced
1-1/2 cups rye whiskey, such as Redemption Rye

In an airtight container, combine all ingredients and swirl to combine. Let sit for 2 days then fine strain into a clean airtight container (you may need to strain a second time). Let sit an additional day or two to mellow. Infusion is now ready to use and will last indefinitely (best flavor within one year though).

Now the cocktail:

1-3/4 ounce cacao nib infused rye
3/4 ounce Oloroso Sherry
1/2 freshly squeezed meyer lemon juice, from 1/2 lemon
bar spoon luxardo cherry syrup from jar of cherries

Fill a mixing glass 2/3 full with ice. Add infused rye, sherry, lemon juice, and syrup from the cherry jar. Stir until well chilled, about 25 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry and serve.

The aroma from the infusion is intoxicating. Warm spices combined with a rich chocolate aroma followed by the nutty toasted almonds. And it gets better in the cocktail which is both bright and decadent. Let the drink sit for a minute after you’ve poured it, as that lets all the smells really open up as it looses it’s chill.

The Sparkling Jungle Bird

Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIt’s currently awful weather-wise in most of the country, except here in Los Angeles. I’m getting snow reports from my family while we skip about in light sweater cover ups. But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get another major earthquake  soon to even things out.

Weather really shouldn’t be a factor in what you’re drinking though. Sure, a nice Hot Toddy is fine by the fire, but so is an ostentatious Tiki drink. I’d sip that by the fire too. Today’s recipe is just that: a Tiki drink to sip regardless of where you’re sitting this winter. It’s the last in my series I did for the Serious Drinks site on sparkling cocktails. It will also get you hammered if you drink it on an empty stomach, so don’t do that.

You’ll need a few days to prep the infusion, but after that, you end up with some deliciously boozy pineapple chunks and a lovely, bright tropical fruit infused rum. Can’t complain about that hanging out in your fridge.

Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFor the Pineapple and Lime Infused Rum:

One medium pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced in 1-inch thick wheels
1 cup aged rum, such as Mt. Gay Eclipse
1 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
Peeled zest of 3 limes, plus 1/2 cup juice from about 8 limes total

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sliced pineapple on a foil-lined pan and roast until tender and starting to brown, about 30 minutes total, flipping halfway through. Let cool and chop roughly. Measure out 1 cup roasted pineapple for infusion.

Combine rum, 1 cup roasted pineapple, and simple syrup in an airtight container. Let sit for 2 days, agitating once a day. After two days, add lime zest and juice. Let sit one day. Strain and reserve pineapple chunks for garnish.Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cocktail:

2 oz dark rum, such as Gosling’s Black Seal
2-1/2 oz Pineapple and Lime Infused Rum
1 oz Campari
4 oz chilled sparkling wine

For the Garnish:

Rum soaked pineapple chunk (reserved from infusion)
Pineapple leaf
Lime wedge
Luxardo cherry

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add dark rum, infused rum, and Campari. Top with sparkling wine and stir gently if desired. Garnish with a skewered pineapple chunk, lime wedge, pineapple leaf, and Luxardo cherry.

This drink is bright and bubbly with a touch of bitterness. And in true Tiki fashion, it’s super strong. There’s a lot of rum in there, but what’s a decent Tiki creation without a giant heaping helping of booze?

Drink up folks, and let your mind wander to something warm and tropical.

The El-El After-Dinner Cocktail

El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLet’s jump into this post with a story.

A few weeks ago I received an email from a friend of mine asking if I was available to make some drinks for a Thanksgiving-Hanukkah related dinner party. Not just any dinner party, one hosted by the guys behind The Table Set Podcast. I would be responsible for providing a dessert cocktail to accompany dessert. Naturally I jumped at the chance. And in the end, they let me do TWO drinks. The first one you guys have seen before, the Averna Highball, which proved itself a lovely companion to some Turkey Broth with Thanksgiving “Stuffing” Matzo Ball soup.

Dessert was going to be a new to everyone cocktail. Besides working as an ‘after dinner’ type drink, it also had to pair with the actual dessert (which you can find out more about by listening to the podcast. It’s a doozy! Look for it later this week.). In my mind, after dinner drinks fall into 3 categories: coffee, port and, well, more cocktails. For this drink I decided to dump them all into one cup. One tasty, caffeinated cup.El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Prior to this, I had been considering infusing coffee into a rum to try out for drinks, and low and behold, the opportunity presented itself here. This is a quick infusion folks, so don’t go fretting about having to wait. I mean, it’s not going to be ready in an hour, but at least you’re not waiting a whole week!

The garnish you’re looking at is a nod to the dessert it accompanies, and no, it’s not the dessert you think it is. Since this was at a Thanksgivukkah dinner, originally I had thought of including a gold coin garnish (admittedly I know very little about the holiday, being raised Catholic and all, even we got these coins in our stockings at Christmas), but decided that a gilded pecan would look prettier (it does). Paired with a Luxardo cherry it’s also mighty tasty too.

The dinner itself was great, and I’m still dreaming about the dishes. Also, I learned how to actually play the Dradle game for real; and I won. And if you’re curious, the El-El is not a phonetically Jewish spelling of some sort. I just combined the names of the rum and coffee because I was drawing a blank on what to call it… real imagination here.El-El Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1-1/2 oz. Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum (see recipe below)
1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Yalumba Antique Tawny Port
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth

Garnish:
Maple Glazed Pecan (see recipe below) dusted with edible gold glitter
Luxardo Cherry

Combine rum, allspice dram, port and sweet vermouth in a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled miniature snifter glass. Garnish with a cocktail pick speared with the pecan and cherry.

Rich and decadent are the two words that first popped out of my mouth. Full coffee wafts up on the nose and stays on the palate. A spicy, bittersweet finish pops with each layer of flavor. This is definitely an after-dinner sipper with a lot of complex allspice, ginger and chocolate notes to it. It pairs wonderfully with a vanilla ice cream. So, if you’re looking for something to pair with dessert this holiday season, here you go.

Make It: Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast infused 15 year El Dorado Rum

14 oz. 15 Year El Dorado Rum
1/2 cup Intelligentsia El Diablo Dark Roast

Combine ingredients in an airtight container (I reused my rum bottle). Swirl to cover the beans. Let sit for 2 days. Fine strain to catch any broken coffee beans. Bottle. Use within two years.

Golden Maple Glazed Pecans

Adapted from Food Network
1 cup pecans
3 tablespoons organic maple syrup
pinch of salt

Dry heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add pecans, maple syrup and salt. Stir to combine and keep stirring until pecans are covered and syrup has evaporated from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Pour out pecans onto a silpat or parchment paper to cool. While still warm, dust edible gold glitter over the pecans. Shake off excess. (This is easier if you spear onto toothpick first.). Tastes best up to a week in an airtight container.

Action shot from dinner.
Action shot from dinner.

Big thanks again to Andy, Greg and Nathan from The Table Set for inviting me over to talk cocktails and for allowing me to serve strangers alcohol.

Also, in case you haven’t see all the tweets, Stir & Strain now has a Facebook page! You can find it over here.

Mixology Monday: Pelée Sunset Cocktail

Pelee Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
mxmologo

I hate to admit it, but this month’s Mixology Monday almost had me stumped. Wrongly I assumed I had a great flipped recipe; until I tried it and was horribly mistaken. This month’s theme, Flip Flop!, hosted by Frederic from the Cocktail Virgin Slut blog, seemed straight forward enough. Take a recipe, exchange two or more ingredients while keeping the proportions the same. And there you go, new recipe.

The great thing behind these monthly challenges is that sometimes they really take you out of your comfort zone in the bar area. I am sitting here at the very end of the day, finally getting something down because I have spent a solid week of try and try agains. I feel like I’m in school.

Alas, something clicked. Lately I’ve been trying to familiarize myself more with the world of Rum and picked up a bottle of Rhum J.M Gold. I’m not 100% if I am including all of the correct information when stating its name. I DO know it is Rhum Agricole, which is made from sugarcane, as opposed to regular Rum which is mostly molasses produced. And that’s where my knowledge stops. The Ministry of Rum is a good place to go for more info. Anyway, so I have this bottle of golden rum with a nice spicy nose and paired it up with Pimms for a Manhattan variation. And it worked.

2 oz. Rhum J.M. Gold
1 oz.  Pimm’s No. 1
3 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Luxardo Cherry for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add the Rhum, Pimm’s and bitters. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Drop a cherry in for garnish.

pelee sunset cherries

This drink is STRONG. And it’s not afraid to let you know. You can taste the strength of the Rhum, at 50% ABV. But, you will also taste some mild fruity spice as well. All 3 (well, even 4 if you count the cherry’s syrup) ingredients have varying degrees of spiciness to them contributing to an overall warmth. Maybe not so much a summer drink here, but I wouldn’t turn it down today.

Oh, and the name. The name is the volcano where this particular Rhum is produced. Don’t you feel smart now today?

Thanks again to Frederic for hosting this month, I’ve definitely upped my knowledge of spirits that work well together this week.

Bake It: Angostura Bitters & Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Sometimes we do this thing at my house where we’ve decided we want to be healthier and get rid of all the ‘unhealthy’ snacks in the house. So suddenly there is no more processed goodies about. We’re left with a container of unsweetened cocoa powder and a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips shoved in the back of the fridge. All you bakers out there are rolling your eyes and saying ‘yeah, and?‘ right about now. What I’m left with is two main ingredients to make a whole bunch of desserts and unhealthy foods. The challenge though, is to actually make something from scratch.

I love to bake, but I don’t get to do it as much as I used to. Now I’m mainly focused on cocktails. Then I decided to marry the two.

When I realized there was nothing to snack on at the house I went in search for a quick and easy recipe I could throw together with not much effort but be satisfied with the end result. I remembered I’d seen on Shutterbean a pretty straightforward brownie recipe that would accomplish both goals. But I wanted to put my own spin on it. Also, I wanted something my husband would want to eat and that meant throwing some kind of fruit into it and getting the walnuts out (otherwise I’d be staring the pan down with no regrets). Lately he’d been on a cherry kick and as an afterthought, I figured I would stick a couple cherries on top. Then I spotted the bottle of Angostura bitters and I had an idea. My first batch had a 1/2 ounce, but I found I wanted the bitters to be stronger throughout the brownies. Then I threw in a whole ounce and it was magic.

(recipe adapted from Shutterbean.com)

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1-¼ cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 oz. Angostura bitters
1 cup luxardo cherries (syrup drained off as much as possible)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 8″ square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom and sides of the pan with parchment.

Mix flour, salt, cocoa powder & baking powder together in a bowl. Set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water; stir frequently, until almost melted. Remove from heat; stir until completely melted.

Whisk in sugar until smooth. Add bitters and stir to combine. Whisk in eggs. Fold in cherries. Gently whisk in flour mixture until smooth (do not overmix).

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached (they should form a ball when rolled between your fingers), 50 – 55 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Use parchment paper to lift from pan; peel off and discard. Cut into squares (this is much easier to do with these brownies if you stick them in the freezer after they have cooled slightly for about 20 minutes).

I found that adding the bitters and the cherries made the batter a bit thicker and took more time to bake thoroughly. I would start checking on them at about the 50 minute mark and test every 5 minutes after. The end result is a fudgy brownie that has some super spicy notes from the bitters, and with the cherries, are reminiscent of chocolate covered cherry cordials. I decided to split the chocolate between semisweet and bittersweet to cut a bit back on the richness and try to highlight more of the spice. They really make a great holiday brownie too (I’ve now made this enough times over the past two weeks that I have the recipe memorized and could make them in my sleep).

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