Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar Rims

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comToday I’m taking part in Stage’s virtual holiday party and sharing my Cranberry Sauce Margaritas to help celebrate and #SetYourHolidayStage! I’m making them extra festive with an easy DIY rosemary sugar rim you can whip up in minutes and use all holiday season long. As my older readers know, I have an entire front yard full of rosemary. So when the Fall and Winter seasons are upon us, I’m sticking it in everything. Food, of course, but also in lots of cocktails. If you’re finding us through the Stages Holiday Party, a quick search through the archives will introduce you to a whole new world of using rosemary in cocktails; take a look!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comWe still have two whole weeks until Christmas and who knows how many parties we’ll be going to or hosting up to then. If you’re in charge of drinks, Stages has all the accessories you need to make prepping and decorating easy! We did a quick shopping trip online to get all our gear for our virtual party including glasses, those cute gold foil holiday napkins, a caddy to hold the napkins and straws, a chalkboard sign to write out the name of our Signature Cocktail, the containers to store the rosemary sugar, a dipping tray for all the ingredients for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas, as well as some festive decorations like this teeny tiny lights and the nutcracker. Even my holiday sweater came from there! SO MANY GREAT ENTERTAINING OPTIONS.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comThe recipe for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas has just a touch of sweetness in it from the cranberry sauce and the Grand Marnier. You can adjust going up or down with either to your liking. I also think adding just a touch of the rosemary sugar into the drink doesn’t hurt either, just remember to shake it really well to combine it all! TIP: use the spent lime wedges from the cocktail recipe to help rim the glasses. Then you won’t need to waste additional lime wedges just for rimming. Also, when rimming your glass, use a shallow bowl or rimmed plate and push the sugar out towards the edges so that the sugar will evenly coat around the glass.

Let’s make some drinks!

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comCranberry Sauce Margaritas

1-1/2 ounces blanco tequila
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon cranberry sauce
rosemary sugar (see recipe below)
rosemary sprig

First, rim a rocks glass with the rosemary sugar. Set aside. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake well to combine, about 30 seconds. Strain over fresh ice into the prepared rocks glass. Add additional cranberry sauce if desired. Optionally garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.comRosemary Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary, about 3 to 5 inches long, divided

Take one sprig of rosemary and remove all the needles. Finely chop them. Combine the chopped needles and the sugar in an airtight container. Mix well to evenly distribute the rosemary. Add a few extra sprigs to the jar, shake, and let sit overnight or up to a few days. Sugar may look clumpy but it will dry out and break down. Remove the sprigs, seal the jar, and keep in a cool, dry place up to three months.

Cranberry Sauce Margaritas with Rosemary Sugar: A Holiday Party with Stages // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Do you have a holiday cookie tradition? I think I may have perfected my gingerbread cookie recipe this year. I mean, I’m using Thomas Keller’s Bouchon recipe as the base, so you really can’t go wrong with that. But, it is the first year that I made a cookie like this that didn’t just separate and spread all over the cookie sheet pan. I’ve yet to find my perfect sugar cookie recipe though. That I can never get right and that always spreads and won’t hold its shape. So, we all have to go without any holiday cookies that are gingerbread; thankfully no one complains. Sorry Santa.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comWhile making these cookies I thought about how great the baking spices would be in a cocktail. Sure, we see lots of dashes of cinnamon or nutmeg this time of year, but those in combination with an intense ginger flavor…well we’ve got a perfect pair for some whiskey and a hot cocktail. I refer to these heated cocktails during holiday time as winter warm ups. They’re a great companion to a fireplace and a pair of hands in need of warmth.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comThis month I’ve teamed up with Kerrygold Irish Cream to make my perfect fireside winter warm up with all the wonderful baking spices found in these gingerbread cookies. It packs a punch of ginger but also has lots of nice spice from the Irish whiskey, and that touch of chocolate and cream in the Kerrygold adds a superb richness to the drink that doesn’t get watered down. And that’s probably because they use real chocolate, and the cream used to make the liqueur comes from grass-fed cows and is a third creamier than what you usually find on the market. You can alter the hot water amount in here to your liking; I keep it around 3 ounces. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might think about making your own whipped cream and adding some gingerbread syrup to the mix for a super dose of yummy gingerbread-ness (I did. It’s so worth it! Just a tablespoon is all you need to add to your canister.).

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comAfter making this cocktail I need to rethink my gingerbread recipe and add a little chocolate and whiskey and there too now. Then it will be perfect.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.comLet’s get warmed up!

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up (makes two drinks)

3 ounces Irish whiskey
1-1/2 ounces Kerrygold Irish Cream
1-1/2 ounces gingerbread syrup, see recipe below
3 dashes Angostura bitters
6-8 ounces hot water (just under boiling)
whipped cream, optional

In a mixing glass, add the Irish whiskey, Kerrygold Irish Cream, gingerbread syrup and bitters. Stir to combine everything and divide between two glasses. Pour in 3-4 ounces of hot water into each glass and stir gently to combine. Optionally top with whipped cream and a dusting of cinnamon.

Gingerbread Winter Warm Up with Kerrygold Irish Cream // stirandstrain.com

Gingerbread Syrup

Adapted from Le Pain Quotidien
2 cups water
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger (or 3 slices, 1/4″ thick fresh ginger with skin on)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower temperature and keep at a simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain fresh ginger out if using, and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, place in an air-tight container. Refrigerate up to one month.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comAllspice liqueur. Allspice dram. Pimento dram. Christmas in a bottle. Whatever you call it, this fragrant, spicy liqueur is an essential item in lots of drinks, especially of the Tiki kind. In fact, I believe the first time I came across this ingredient was while I was trying to make all the drinks from Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s classic cocktail book, Grog Log. I rushed out to get a bottle and found that I was out of luck. 7 years ago not many liquor stores out there were carrying it, and this was in Los Angeles, a major city where you’re supposed to find everything.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comLuckily in my search to source hard to find ingredients two things happened:

  1. I found a handful of stores that actually stocked most of these unusual items
  2. I got my hands on recipes to make what I couldn’t find

So now I always had two choices when it came to hard to find bottles, make or buy. And that brings us to today and our first item in this new series on the site, allspice liqueur.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comLet’s start with what you can buy. While there are a few companies making the product, the first one I found on the market, and the brand that I’ve found the easiest to buy, is St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram. There are multiple online liquor stores that will ship it to you if your state allows that. The St. Elizabeth brand is dark amber in color and very heavy on the clove. It’s not too sweet or syrupy and has secondary spices in the nose and flavor such as cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. The price point hovers around $24-$30.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comOn the other hand you can make the liqueur. Allspice berries can be found in bulk online for relatively cheap meaning you can scale up or down depending on your needs. For example, local favorite bar The Tong Hut makes their own allspice liqueur for all their drinks so they can buy in large bags and make a giant batch. But, you also can make a much smaller amount if you’re only sparingly using it. Infusing takes some time, around 4 weeks. And you’ll need to invest in a base liquor. This method allows for much flexibility in flavors as you can use anything from a neutral spirit (like Everclear) to an aged rum (like Appleton 12 year). My version using the recipe below has a balanced flavor of baking spices. I chose not to go too heavy on the clove (personal preference) so this recipe is much more subtle than the St. Elizabeth in that respect. The color is also more golden and cloudy. The mouthfeel is more rich and syrupy. It’s definitely allspice, but a different version than the store-bought.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThere are definite pros and cons for each option. While St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram is easy to come by where I am, and I’m in a state that I can get liquor shipped to my house, YOU might not have either option available to you. And while anyone can get some allspice berries shipped to their house, YOU may or may not be into a project that will take up to a month to get a finished product.

And how do they compare in a cocktail? To test out the flavors in a drink, I chose the drink Jasper’s Jamaican from Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica. With the simple ingredients of rum, fresh lime juice, allspice liqueur and simple syrup, I figured I could gauge how each would play out in a cocktail.

Make or Buy: Allspice Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThe result? They both work great. While the flavors in the cocktails have some differences, mainly there is more spicy clove in the St. Elizabeth than in my home version, they are not drastically different to say one would work better than the other.

So now you have two choices when it comes to allspice liqueur. Want convenience and a proven brand? Gor for the St. Elizabeth! Want a DIY project that you can customize? Make your own! You’ll end up with a good one no matter which path you choose.

Allspice Liqueur

1-1/4 cups 151 rum
1/4 cup allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 2″ piece of cinnamon
3 whole cloves
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Appleton 12 year rum

First, combine 151 rum, allspice berries, cinnamon, and cloves in an airtight container (I like using ball jars for this). Seal and shake gently to combine. Let sit 2 weeks in a cool, dry place, shaking once every day or so.

Next, strain the solids (I like to use nut bags for this to make sure all the particles get caught). Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar, bring to just under a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes and then let cool to room temp.

Finally, combine the allspice base, the simple syrup and add in the Appleton 12 year rum. Seal and let rest for an additional 2 to 3 weeks in a cool, dry place. Start tasting at 2 weeks and let rest an additional week if you’re not completely happy with the taste.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Loire Valley Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The day after Thanksgiving I’m usually at my all time laziest. My slippers might not come off all day, and forget about those holiday sales… I am not leaving the house. But what happens when there is a house full of people still…  at my house?! What will they eat?! The answer: leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m a good host though. I may have slippers on, but I am going to provide a few meal options that are fresh, light, or just the right size for people who just ate their weight the previous day in turkey and pies.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSo pop open a bottle of wine with me, a bottle of Rosé d’Anjou to be exact, and let’s whip up a few dishes to pair with this Loire Valley wine that use up some of our leftover T-Day food. While you might be thinking it’s hard enough to plan for the holiday meal without also having to plan for the day after (or a whole weekend full of family!!), these bites can be modified to what’s on hand for super flavorful dishes.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

First, and very importantly, here’s my wine tip for you holiday celebration. Buy your wine by the case! Lots of stores and wineries give you a case discount which means you don’t have to worry about running out during a meal, or even by Saturday. We’ve teamed up with Loire Valley Wines for our Thanksgiving meal as wines from this region are the most diverse, producing wines in every style to make sure you have the perfect one for your meal. If that makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Loire Valley Wines are ideal food wines with moderate alcohol levels, refreshing acidity and minerality so chances are most will work with your dinner. They’re also a great price point, so buying a case, mixing and matching styles, gives you even greater success at pairing for your holiday!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSince Loire Valley Wines are fresh and fun, we’re also going to be going that direction with our after Thanksgiving bites with these three options: Tart Turkey Lettuce Cups, Brie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes, and Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines. I’m going on the assumption that you’ll have some of the staple dishes at your meal like turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, a cheese plate, bread, green beans, pecans or walnuts, and various refrigerator condiments. If you’re feeling fancy, I’ve even got a few optional ingredients so you can win the day after Thanksgiving meal as well. But no pressure! Friday should be all about relaxing with family, not stressing over food preparation.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comOk, let’s pour ourselves a glass of wine and get cooking!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comTurkey Lettuce Cups

Dressing:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2/3 cup neutral oil, like avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cubed
2/3 cup chopped green beans
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped small

For serving:
one head of butter lettuce, washed, leaves separated
chopped herbs such as parsley, chives

First, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Or all combined in a jar and shaken 15 seconds (my preferred method!).

Next, combine the turkey, green beans, onion, bell pepper, cranberry sauce and nuts in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour desired amount of dressing over and let sit 15 minutes. Stir again and serve in lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of herbs on top.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comBrie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes

3 cups mashed potatoes
4 ounces brie
1-1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
high heat neutral oil for frying

First, cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Next, scoop potatoes into 1-1/2″ balls. Place a dime sized amount of brie in the center of the ball and seal potato around it. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. After chilling, pour about two inches of oil in a dutch oven. Heat to 350°F. Fry potato balls in the oil, gently turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per batch. Allow space between the balls when frying, do not crowd the oil. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before frying the next batch. Drain on paper towels.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines

2 cups leftover gravy (or make your own bechamel sauce, see note below)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
10 slices bread, toasted
dijon mustard
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated
cranberry sauce for dipping
quail eggs, optional

Turn on broiler. Place toasted bread on a foil covered baking sheet. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on bread slices (I used about a teaspoon per slice of bread). Sprinkle a handful of turkey next on the bread, followed by a dollop of gravy. Spread the gravy over the turkey and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce! If you’re feeling fancy, add a fried quail egg on top. They make these little bites even more adorable.

Note: to make a bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and mix for a few minutes until combine. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and whisk continually until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pinch of nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Use immediately.

For more information on all the Loire Valley Wines, please visit them at loirevalleywine.com


Fall Feelings Boozy Round Up 16 boozy ways to get in the fall spirit!

Put out some decorative gourds and make some cocktails! It finally feels like fall!The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple-groni Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

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

Pairing Rosé with Apples

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

The Negroni Nero Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Negroni Nero

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Private Club Cocktail

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.com

Whiskey Round the World

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.com

The Toasty Russian

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Old Fashioned

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.com

Crustafied Whiskey Sour

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise Cocktails

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to create a Pumpkin Spiced syrup to use in the base of our coffee cocktail. It’s made with less sugar than what you’d get at your local coffee shop AND it’s made with real pumpkin too. So you end up with way fewer calories than a traditional sugar syrup. The Truvia Natural Sweetener comes in a spoonable jar for ease of use in the kitchen, and ½ teaspoon of Truvia Natural Sweetener is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. So you don’t need to drown your cocktail in syrup to get just the right amount of sweetness in there.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comNow, when I say I love coffee, I mean I love it. My last thoughts before going to sleep usually involve me thinking about how good that first cup of coffee will be in the morning. And I cannot start my day until I’ve at least had one sip of that invigorating elixir. Naturally, then, I also will put coffee in my cocktails whenever possible.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comAn Old Fashioned cocktail is a satisfyingly simple drink, and if you’ve been on this site before, you’d know it’s also one of my favorite drinks to use as a base for a new creation. At its most basic, an Old Fashioned is just spirit, sugar and bitters, and even those elements can change into whatever you’re in the mood for. And I’m in the mood for pumpkins and coffee.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comThere’s a myriad of ways you can infuse coffee into cocktails but today we’re going the quick and easy way with coffee liqueur. We’ll spend our time instead on making a rich, spicy pumpkin syrup that will make your house smell AMAZING when you’re warming it on the stove. The syrup doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to make, so don’t worry, you’ll have your cocktail in no time! And what a flavor bomb! Bourbon forward but with deep coffee aroma and sweet pumpkin and spices in the finish. And don’t forget those bitters—they balance out the whole drink and prevent it from becoming too sweet.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
1/4 ounce Truvia pumpkin spice syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange zest and cinnamon stick

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Apple-groni With apple chips!

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFirst, we can all acknowledge that I could have come up with a better name for this cocktail, but really, it’s almost Fall and we’re all about the apples around here. So I’m not even going to try and be fancy.

Second, the cocktail itself. If you’ve been on my Instagram at Happy Hour, or skimmed through the recipe archives on this site, you know that I love a Negroni, and I have no qualms whatsoever about perpetually riffing on this drink. Now, I’m not a one-trick pony here and I can make some pretty darn tasty original cocktails (again, check the archives), but when I have to quickly throw together a drink for Happy Hour, there’s a good chance I’m reaching for gin, sweet vermouth and some Campari right now.

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis week I’m looking at the first sightings of apples in my produce box and I remembered how much I enjoy apple chips. They are so very easy to make as long as you have time. And if you don’t have time to watch an oven, then you might want to invest in a dehydrator. I, unfortunately, have hit max capacity for the amount of stuff that can sit on my counter or be tucked away in a closet, and also I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, so I really do take objects in my hand, thank them, and then decide whether or not to chuck them out. And that’s a lot of work so I’d rather just not buy crap.

Anyways, apple chips! Thinly slice an apple up and then dry it out in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Do you folks really need a recipe or can we just leave this here? They make a tasty Happy Hour snack and you can eat a whole bunch and not feel gross. Also, they make beautiful garnishes. They’re wonderfully “Fall” on your glass and when you’re done with your drink you can eat that too. Can’t do that with an orange peel.

This Apple-groni is pretty basic. There’s more of the suggestion of apples with baking spice and bittersweetness in the finish. The riff is so minor I wavered back and forth about whether to publish this or not. I still like content to live on this site though and not just on Instagram where it gets lost almost instantly when I do do a quick ‘gram. So here you go…

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1 ounce Caorunn gin (it’s infused with apples!)
1 ounce sweet vermouth, Vermouth di Torino used here
3/4 ounce Campari
2 dashes apple bitters
apple chip for garnish

Combine gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with apple chip. Think Fall.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita

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

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

Spiced Apple Chutney

(adapted from Cooking Light)

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

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

 

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

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails with Wine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Vinho Verde Wines. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Labor Day will soon be here. The end of summer is in sight…sigh. But I’m going to stretch these last few weeks of warm days and cool nights the best way I know how! With a picnic!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comPicnics sure have changed a lot since I was little, obviously. There’s definitely wine now. However, the bugs are still there in droves. But I get to stay out a lot later so…win!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comToday I’ve partnered with Vinho Verde Wines from Portugal to help you find an easy, breezy way to celebrate summer’s last hoorah. The Vinho Verde wine region has been producing these young wines for over 2,000 years and is home to Portugal’s largest wine region. While 86% of their wines are white, they also produce some red, rosé and sparkling wine as well as brandy. These wines are also super affordable, and pair well with food. In other words, a great picnic wine! Don’t think of these Vinho Verde wines as a summer sipper only though; they transition from Summer right into Fall and are the versatile wine to keep around all year long.

For our Labor Day picnic I’m bringing along this Avesso wine from the Vinho Verde region. This refreshing wine has aromas of citrus, peach, and almond with a slight acidity and touch of minerality. You can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also wonderful in a spritz cocktail, which we’ll make and take along.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comYou can’t have a picnic without some great picnic food too. And if we’re drinking Portuguese wine, we are definitely eating Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts). These light, slightly sweetened tarts hold up well outdoors. I have a few bakeries here in Los Angeles that I like to buy mine from, although I’m linking to a solid recipe below if you’d like to bake yours. I do like to dress mine up a bit for the picnic with some wine-candied lemon peels which I DO have a recipe for below using the same wine we’ll make spritzes with.

I’m feeling so ready to spread out a blanket, have a few spritz cocktails, and snack on some yummy tarts. I can feel that warm, late summer breeze now. So let’s open that wine and start putting this picnic together!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comA picnic should not be a stressful affair. Here’s some tips to help make your day go off without a hitch!

  • Pre-batch the spritz mix! The night before, measure out all the ingredients minus the soda water. Refrigerate the mix, and the next day bring along some ice, portion out the drinks, and top with the soda water!
  • No time to bake egg tarts, but want this transportable, delicious picnic snack? Buy them! Both Portuguese and Chinese bakeries are home to wonderful egg tarts.
  • You don’t need a picnic basket! Sure, they’re cute, but if you don’t have the space, or the desire to buy one, some reusable bags, a cooler, or even an old Amazon box will do. If it holds stuff, use it!
  • A combination wine opener/pocket knife. I’m a big fan of Opinel knives and they have a beautiful combo one. Get that wine open, zest a lemon, and cut up some tarts. Maybe whittle some sticks for marshmallow roasting later. It’s a like a picnic swiss army knife, but with only the most important tools.
  • And speaking of gadgets to have outdoors, I really love a double insulated wine chiller. If I’m going to be hanging out in the sun for a few hours at a picnic, I want to keep my wine cool.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comVinho Verde Spritz (makes one Spritz)

2 oz Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine
1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur
1 oz Bitter Bianco
1/4 oz Lemon syrup from candied lemon peels
3 oz Soda water
Lemon wheels

In a shaker filled with ice, pour in Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine, elderflower liqueur, Bitter Bianco, and lemon syrup. Shake 20 second and strain into a wine glass. Add fresh ice and pour in soda water. Stir gently to combine and garnish with lemon wheel.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comWine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata (Egg Tarts)

2 medium sized lemons
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2-1/3 cups water, divided
1/3 cup Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine

Using a wide vegetable peeler, zest the two lemons into wide strips making sure not to include of the white pith. Cut strips into quarter inch wide strips. Place strips in a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes uncovered. Drain. Rinse in cold water.

Return the lemon strips to the pan. Add in 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and wine. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until a syrup forms. About 8-10 minutes. Turn to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes until peels are translucent. Remove from heat. Pour remaining sugar onto a sheet pan and spread evenly around. Using a slotted spoon or fork, remove peels and place on sugar. Toss to coat peels in the sugar. Separate peels so none are sticking together. Move to a drying rack and let sit about one hour. Store in an airtight container. Will keep several months refrigerated.

Save syrup from pan into an airtight container. Refrigerate. Will keep up to one month.

Garnish tops of Pastéis de Nata with a few strands of the wine candied lemon peel and a few drops of their syrup.

**Feel like making your own tarts? Check out this recipe from Tasting Table for Pastéis de Nata.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.com

For more information on the Vinho Verde wine region, please visit them at winesofvinhoverde.com