Negroni Cocktails: Past, Present & Future

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Campari. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Your Instagram feed might be turning from #millennialpink to a cheery garnet red next week as we embark on the FIFTH year of Negroni Week!

If you’re not familiar with this wonderful time of year, or have only heard of it in passing, let me loop you guys in. From June 5 through 11 this year, bars, restaurants and vendors from around the world celebrate the Negroni cocktail – an iconic mix of Campari, gin, and sweet red vermouth – to raise money and awareness for great causes. What started as just 100 bars in the US, has now grown into an International event and this year will be bigger than ever.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comWhile you’ll see me out to help the cause next week at a few of my favorite bars (remember to follow us along on Instagram as we’ve planned a few surprises!!) there are other ways you can help a charity out. A portion of proceeds from the sales of nationally-available items such as a Campari-branded red bicycle from PUBLIC, a Negroni-red Baggu tote, and fire red-tinted sunglasses from Sunski, among other items, will be donated to charity. National partner Lyft will also offer coupon codes to new users to help riders safely get around during Negroni Week.

Campari, the star of the cocktail itself, is committed to supporting the trade community’s fundraising efforts as well. This year, Campari is teaming up with both the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), as well as SHARE – a nationwide community that offers support to women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancers – via SHARE’s partnership with Speed Rack, the all-female speed bartending competition benefitting breast cancer research, education and prevention. Multi-city events will be held with both the USBG and SHARE/Speed Rack to raise money for each charitable cause.

I am a staunch believer in volunteer and charity work and grew up in a community that placed a strong emphasis on these values. That’s why I’m participating once again to help spread the word. While going for a drink out may seem almost like a lay up to support a charity, the point is, it supports a charity. Everyone, and every bit (or drink), counts.

Because Negroni Week is also a celebration of the cocktail, I’ve teamed up with Campari to create 3 of my own variations on the cocktail to represent its Past, Present and Future (and have named them such).

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Past (double vanilla Negroni float)

Representing the past, the Negroni: Past Cocktail harkens back to old timey soda fountain shops where ice cream floats were an indulgent treat for everyone. Here we’ve made this an “adult’s only” cocktail with double the vanilla. Vanilla infused gin, Campari, vanilla ice cream and sweet vermouth “sauce” is a refreshing, and super indulgent, treat for the summer. Optionally, if you can get your hands on some acid phosphate you can give your float extra tang just like the OG soda jerks did.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com1-1/2 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin, infused with vanilla (recipe follows)
1 ounce Campari
2-3 scoops vanilla ice cream
8 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
optional: 1/2 tsp acid phosphate

  1. Start by reducing the sweet vermouth. To do this, heat sweet vermouth in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it reduces to about 2 ounces. Set aside.
  2. In a pint glass, or soda fountain glass, add 2-3 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Then, in a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add in vanilla infused gin and Campari (and acid phosphate if using). Stir to chill about 20 seconds. Strain mixture over the ice cream.
  3. Garnish your adult float with the sweet vermouth “sauce”.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comVanilla Infused Gin

8 ounces gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin
3 to 4 vanilla beans

  1. Chop vanilla beans into 1″ pieces. Add vanilla pieces and gin into an airtight container and seal. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 days.
  2. Strain the mixture into a new container when desired taste has been reached.
  3. Vanilla infused gin will keep at optimal taste up to 6 months.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Present

Just because the original Negroni cocktail uses gin, does not mean that today’s has to. One of the biggest trends of the current cocktail era is to take a classic drink and swap out the main spirit. Mezcal has exploded onto the bar scene and you can find it popping up in most bar’s menus. And with good reason, it’s delicious. For this cocktail, we swap out the gin with mezcal, keep our friends Campari and sweet vermouth, and add a touch of green bell pepper syrup to highlight the vegetal nuances of the mezcal.

1 ounce mezcal
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce green bell pepper syrup (recipe follows)
large strip of orange zest for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add in mezcal, sweet vermouth, Campari and bell pepper syrup. Stir for 20 seconds to chill and then strain over a large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comGreen Bell Pepper Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 green bell pepper, chopped

  1. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add to the pan the sugar and water. Stir to dissolve and add in green bell pepper. Stir and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and cover.
  2. Let sit one hour, remove bell peppers, and let syrup finish cooling to room temperature.
  3. Store syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.comNegroni:Future

When you think of the future of cocktails, do you picture some mad scientists conducting experiments in a lab? I do. With the future in mind, I’m highlighting the sharp bitterness of the Negroni with gentian smoke for a take on the smoked cocktail. This cocktail requires a blow torch, so you know it’s fun.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com1 tablespoon dried gentian root
1 ounce gin, such as Bulldog London Dry Gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano 1757
3/4 ounce Campari
dehydrated orange slice for garnish

  1. Start by moving to a well ventilated room. Place gentian root in a shallow, heat proof dish (I also like mini disposable pie plates!). Get a kitchen torch or long fireplace lighter ready.
  2. Next, fill a mixing glass 2/3 with ice. Pour in gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. Stir to chill 20 seconds.
  3. Immediately begin smoking the gentian root by holding a flame to it until starts to smoke. As soon as it begins to smoke, place a glass upside down over the smoke to “catch” the smoke. When the glass is filled, slide a postcard or piece of cardstock over the hole to keep the smoke in.
  4. Turn the glass right side up, keeping the hole covered. When ready to serve, remove the card and strain the mixed cocktail into the smoke. Garnish with a dehydrated orange wheel.

Negroni Week Cocktails: Past, Present and Future // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Negroni Week, and for a list of bars participating, visit negroniweek.com and follow @CampariUS and @Imbibe on Facebook, @CampariUSA and @Imbibe on Instagram, @Campari and @Imbibe on Twitter, and engaging with the #NegroniWeek hashtag.

Desert Rosé Punch

I was compensated by Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for my time in developing this recipe and post. All opinions are my own.

This past week, Instagram was filled, filled, with weddings. It’s like half the internet decided this was the most auspicious week of their lives and if they were ever going to get married they might as well do it now. And I’m in no way hating on these people, in fact, I loved looking over how different they all were from each other; I’m a total sucker for weddings.

All of this celebrating tuned me in to the fact that we are about to hit summer party season. Already. One would say you can’t tell by the weather here in Southern California, but those of us in the know, know, that summer season starts about as gray and gloomy as they get before the awful heat kicks in.

So today we’ve got a fun punch you can throw together for a wedding or a graduation party or “hey look I’ve got a stoop we can sit on for a few hours let’s make a punch and call it a party” party. You’ll find a reason guys to make this punch. It’s also a lovely pink-hued punch for our SoCal June gloom, but it will work for sunny days too. Let’s just all agree not to call it a millennial pink punch. Ok? It was inspired by Turkish cuisine with pomegranates, pistachio and orange blossom water, otherwise known as “Essential Oil of Neroli”.

I’ll tell you upfront, it’s gin based, and I can already hear some of my pals whining about how they don’t drink gin. But trust me! It layers nicely in here and if you use a London dry, like I tell you to, then it won’t be an overpoweringly “gin” punch. Pairing it with a rich pomegranate reduction give a sharp sweetness with a nutty layer from some pistachio orgeat. The whole punch gets tied together with the amazing scent of Nielsen-Massey’s Orange Blossom Water.

There is a tiny amount of the orange blossom water in the pistachio orgeat, but adding in the aroma directly to the punch makes for a more prominent aroma. Also, if you opt not to make the orgeat then this guarantees that you’re still getting lots of orange blossom with every sip.

I’ve been using the Nielsen-Massey vanillas for over a decade now and have started using their extracts in cocktails these past few years. All Nielsen-Massey products are all-natural, certified gluten-free, certified Kosher, allergen-free and GMO-Free, and there is an expanding line of certified organic products (right up our alley!). Their orange blossom water is my go-to for my obsession with almond-alternative orgeats as well.

Are you ready to start your summer punch party? Let’s get mixing.

Desert Rosé Punch

Serves 5-7 guests

7-1/2 ounces London dry style gin, such as Beefeater
1-1/2 ounces pistachio orgeat (recipe here, or sub in orgeat of choice)
2-1/2 ounces pomegranate reduction (recipe follows)
2-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water, or to taste
1 bottle of sparkling rosé wine
orange slices and pomegranate seeds for ice block

  • The day before, freeze together the orange slices and pomegranate seeds with water in a container that will fit your punch bowl.
  • At least an hour before serving, combine the gin, pistachio orgeat, pomegranate reduction, lime juice and Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water into your punch bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • To serve, stir mixture and add ice block to the punch bowl. Top with sparkling rosé wine.

Pomegranate Reduction

1-1/2 cups all natural pomegranate juice

  • In a small saucepan over medium high heat, bring pomegranate juice to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let sit until juice reduces to a little over a quarter cup.
  • Remove from the heat, let cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

For more info on Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water and all their products, check them out at nielsenmassey.com or on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!

Make It: Pistachio Orgeat

I need to apologize upfront to the reader who had asked about making this recipe two… three (??) years ago. At this point they’ve probably moved on, but I, however, kept this on my “to make” list and am finally, FINALLY, getting around to posting this. Sorry reader.

This will mark the third variation on orgeat I’ve done on the site (OK, one wasn’t technically mine) and I think this shows how adaptable some of these tried and true cocktail ingredients are. Sometimes plain old orgeat isn’t going to cut it and we need to sub in another kind of nut. Today we’re subbing in pistachios.

Pistachios give a savory, earthiness to the orgeat that you might be familiar with if you eat pistachio ice cream. It’s sweet, but hey, there’s a lot of savoriness in there too. Use this pistachio orgeat to pair with sweet tart flavors like passion fruit or berries.

A few notes on this recipe before you venture forward:

  • If you can find pre-shelled pistachios you will save a lot of time. You might even save yourself some broken fingernails (ugh).
  • Use WHITE sugar if you want to keep your orgeat a pretty avocado green. Yes, I constantly advocate for the use of unprocessed cane sugar, but if you use the unprocessed stuff with this pistachio orgeat, your color is going to turn a murky brown. It will taste fine, but won’t look pretty. Trust me, I know this for a fact.
  • Get yourself a nut bag for straining. Cheesecloth is fine but if you like these kinds of projects then a reusable nut bag will not only catch more of the fine bits while straining, but you get to reuse the bag over and over again. I like this bag, but any bag you prefer will probably be fine.
  • To orange flower water or not to orange flower water? That is the question with orgeats! Most recipes say optional but I say put it in. However, as always, it’s up to you.

Ok, let’s make this!

Yields approximately 2-1/2 cups

2 cups shelled roasted pistachios
2 cups water
2 cups granulated white sugar (see note above)
1 ounce vodka
1 teaspoon orange flower water, such as Nielsen-Massey (see note above)

  1. Place nuts in a bowl and fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer or mallet.
  2. Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 2 cups of water to it. Let stand for four hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
  3. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I still recommend making chocolate bark with the nuts). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air-tight container.

Spiced Gunpowder Guava Cocktail a sweet and savory libation with Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum

This post is brought to you by Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Recipes and ideas are my own.

I’ve decided I hate the term “binge watching” television. The term makes it sound like it’s a bad thing to watch a few hours of House Hunters International. And that, folks, is not a bad way to spend a few hours of relaxation time (i.e. kids are asleep).

The couples on that show are fantastic to watch. Either they are attempting to look into the camera and say something positive about this bungalow in the jungle with giant flying bugs because they are fulfilling some dumb dream when they spent two weeks there in college and now are realizing how difficult it will be dragging their whole family there… OR their significant other is making them get a second house and they are just seething on the inside while obviously trying not to look angry for a national audience. But we can tell!

At the end of the island episodes, the couple is always cheers-ing with some fantastic looking cocktails and they somehow look content with their decision to be the crazy Americans on that island. If they were in Puerto Rico, by the way, they probably were sipping on a cocktail made with Don Q rum.

Today’s recipe is in partnership with Don Q Rums and we’re featuring their newest rum offering the Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Don Q Rum has only been in the States a little over a decade, but has been a popular choice in Puerto Rico for 150 years, making it their #1 rum. This spiced rum packs a punch of flavor with vanilla and pepper and just enough sweetness for my palate. While you can definitely sip this rum, it’s also a great mixing rum to make unquestionably delicious cocktails. So that’s what we’re doing with it now!

With such strong flavors to start with in the rum, I decided to use some equally strong flavors to compliment that spiciness. When you think powerful, do you think about gunpowder? In cocktails?! I do, but this version of gunpowder comes in the form of tea. Gunpowder green tea to be exact. Teas are great options for giving subtle (and sometimes not so subtle. Hello lapsang souchong tea!) flavor to cocktails. I steeped this savory, smoky tea in a simple syrup to lend a savory note to the drink and to balance the sweetness of the other components. Thinking of Puerto Rico, I opted to add some guava nectar for tropical sweetness and a big squeeze of lime finished with a touch of orange curaçao. The drink starts sweet, but ends with a lingering earthiness. To give it a finishing kick, the glass is rimmed in a mixture of salt and cayenne.

Ok, so now that we have our tropical inspired drinks, we can get back to the tv watching. While these house hunters might make very questionable choices, make sure your cocktail is unquestionably delicious.

Spiced Gunpowder Guava Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum
3/4 ounce guava nectar
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from about 1 lime (reserve lime shell)
1/2 ounce gunpowder green tea syrup (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce orange curaçao
1 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper for garnish

  • First, combine salt and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Using your spent lime, moisten the outside of your cocktail glass by rubbing the rim with the lime. Rim the side of the cocktail glass in the salt and cayenne mixture.
  • Next, in a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, pour in Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum, guava nectar, lime juice, gunpowder green tea syrup, and orange curaçao. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into pre-rimmed cocktail glass.

Gunpowder Green Tea Syrup

Yields approximately 5 ounces
3 bags of gunpowder green tea (or two heaping tablespoons if you have loose tea)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in teabags (or loose tea if using). Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

For more information about Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum and all their exceptional rums, their commitment to sustainability and quality, and for additional drink & garnish ideas and proper glassware tips please visit their website at donq.com.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Boozy, Edible Christmas Gift Roundup

Go the extra mile this year and make them something delicious for the holidays. Just make sure there’s booze in it.

Eggnog Jello Shots

Fernet Branca Jelly

Angostura and Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Meyer Lemon Bitters

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Mocha Pecan Rum Balls

Kiss of Fire (Aperol and Cayenne Jellies)

 
Holiday Spice Syrups

Peppermint Mocha S’Mores Cocktails with brown-butter bourbon and marshmallow creme

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Don’t ever let someone tell you s’mores are only for summer. Can you get your hands on a kitchen blow torch? Yes? Then you’ve got a reason to have s’mores all year round.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comToday though we’re going to be drinking our s’mores! Holiday style!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comWe’re back at the bar mixing it up with Jackson Morgan and their delicious, and very holiday appropriate, Peppermint Mocha Cream. I always associate peppermint and chocolate with Christmas time. It’s about the only time of year I bake something with that flavor profile because there is always a party I can bring them to. See, you are either a lover or a hater of that flavor combo. I, obviously, am a lover. My husband on the other hand…. Let’s just say if I make some Grasshopper Brownies and don’t have a reason to bring them out of the house, I am probably consuming that whole pan by myself. I’d tell you I would regret it, but I’d be lying.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comThis is also perfect for holiday time because it’s pretty decadent. When are you infusing browned butter into whiskey and topping your cocktails with marshmallow creme? During the holidays, when all bets are off. So let’s talk about what is going into this s’mores cocktail. First, Peppermint Mocha Cream, of course. Next takes a little prepping but it’s worth it for the final result and you also get extra to just chug straight if you choose: brown-butter infused bourbon. This gives the cocktail a subtle nutty, buttery component that you’d get from the graham cracker. And a s’mores cocktail wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows! I’m giving you an easy way and a homemade way to do this in the recipe below. Both will work but honestly, making your own version of marshmallow Fluff is dang easy!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comYou might think that the consistency would be very thick and rich tasting, but the brown-butter bourbon cuts through the peppermint mocha cream for a nice balance. Served over ice the cocktail goes down very smooth and the peppermint is not quite as strong as it is on its own. Torching the marshmallow creme binds it together a bit so you can pop off pieces from the top while sipping on your drink. It’s like you have your own bar snack you don’t have to share.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comSome notes on the cocktail:

  • I’ve made the recipe for one but this easily doubles and batches well.
  • The brown-butter bourbon yields 16 ounces (2 cups) so there is plenty left over if you are going to batch multiple drinks.
  • The topping is marshmallow creme, not marshmallows. The marshmallow creme has a soft consistency and therefore easily piped.
  • If you are torching the marshmallow creme, use heat proof glassware. Even kitchen torches get quite hot and I don’t want to be held responsible if you explode your favorite vintage glass.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comFor the cocktail:

3 ounces Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme
2 ounces brown-butter infused bourbon
marshmallow creme (I made this recipe from The Kitchn, but store bought Fluff will work as well)
graham cracker for garnish

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add in the Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme and brown-butter infused bourbon. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a heat-proof glass or mug filled with fresh ice. Pipe marshmallow creme on top. Using a kitchen torch,brûlée the marshmallow creme to desired “doneness’ (I like mine lightly toasted but I know some of you probably like your s’more’s marshmallows burnt to a crisp). Garnish with a graham cracker square.

For the brown-butter bourbon:

*Adapted slightly from Gabriella Mlynarczyk for NYT Cooking

16 ounces bourbon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Pour bourbon into a wide mouth jar or heat-proof container. Cut butter into cubes and add to a heavy-bottom small saucepan over medium-low heat. You’ll need to watch the pan as the butter will go from being nutty and golden to burnt pretty fast. Watch for the butter to start to foam and stir until you see some brown flecks on the bottom of the pan. At this point you’ll smell a nutty aroma, like hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute and then pour into the bourbon. Whisk together until well incorporated and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • The fat will separate from the bourbon while it cools. Use a butter knife to loosen the edge of the fat and it should pop right out of the container. Then strain bourbon through a coffee filter to remove any additional fat solids and debris from the butter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Caramel Apple Jellies the cocktail you eat!

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Ok everyone! Are you ready to start talking holiday entertaining? No? Wasn’t it just August?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI’d say it feels that way except for this mountain of apples on my counter and the JUG of apple cider I decided was an economic buy this week. Why don’t they ever sell cider in small containers? However, I’m actually happy to have it around because it really is time to start thinking about holiday parties and batching drinks and well, making things with apple cider.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comAre you the person tasked every year with bringing the drinks to the party? I am. Regardless of whether I am going to a friend’s house or a relatives house, if I don’t show up with some sort of boozy concoction it’s as if I killed Rudolph and used him for the Thanksgiving Turkey. I mean, I get a lot of shade thrown at me and very raised eyebrows.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis year for the earlier Fall parties I have a new trick up my sleeve. Instead of the vast caldrons of spiked apple cider I usually inflict upon people, I’ve downsized the drink. Actually, I made the drink edible and it fits in the palm of your hand. Neat, huh?

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comEdible cocktails have appeared a few times on this site and I stand by them as completely appropriate party “drinks”. To get in the festive Fall spirit we’re using up some of those apples you all probably have piled on your counter and, of course, that jug of apple cider. The booze portion is courtesy of Everclear. As part of their Make It Your Own campaign we’re elevating the edible cocktail into a fantastic fusion of apples, cinnamon, and rich caramel sauce. OH yeah. Caramel sauce.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comI made a small batch of my own caramel sauce but store bought is completely acceptable. I’ve linked to a favorite recipe of mine below if you feel up to making it from scratch (plus, if you do, it takes less than 20 minutes and tastes SO DANG GOOD).

The recipe for making these jellies easily doubles or triples depending on the size of your crowd. You can make it your own by customizing how you serve these. I hollowed out apple halves and sliced those after the jellies set (cute, right?), but you also have the option of using a mold and then popping them out to serve on their own.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo at your next pumpkin carving/Fall party/barn raising this season, show up with a tray of these Caramel Apple Jellies instead of the usual spiked cider and you will be cheered. Believe me, no one is going to miss it when they’re scarfing down these goodies.

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies (approximately 35-38 proof)

4 ounces apple cider
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
2 ounces Everclear
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 ounce (or 2 tablespoons) salted caramel sauce (Dessert for Two has my go-to recipe)

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in apple cider. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add Everclear, cinnamon and salted caramel sauce and stir. Pour into cored apple halves or molds and let sit refrigerated for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jellies from semi-spherical molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot.
  3. To serve from apple halves, slowly slice apple into desired thickness. Caramel Apple Jellies can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAbout a year ago I saw an article about a new (very old) elixir riding on the coattails of the cocktail world’s shrub renaissance. This drink’s name: Switchel. I think switchel sounds a bit more fun than shrub. Shrub sounds like the friend you have who won’t go out on a Thursday night because they have to turn in a term paper the following Monday and need the time to study. Switchel sounds more like that friend calling you at 4am asking if you want to get doughnuts.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comAnyway, Switchel quietly died down and I completely forgot about the saved article. I continued on with shrubs despite the name. (see here here and here) Recently though I remembered I had saved this article and revisited it again. More likely out of my desperation for it to be Fall already, I was looking for recipe ideas using apples. Instead it uses apple cider vinegar, a starting point I’d use to adapt to my own Autumnal tipple.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comSwitchel recipes are all basically the same plus or minus an ingredient or two. It also batches really well. So you can mix up at gallon of it Sunday night and drink it all week.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comGuys! Maybe I should back up here a second and remind you that switchel is NON ALCOHOLIC. Just like a shrub it contains no alcohol, but you can use it as a base for your cocktail creations. I even have a recipe for you I’ll link to. The flavor of this switchel on its own is sharp and tangy and almost like drinking a cocktail, or at least that’s what you tell yourself if you’re -cough- well into your second trimester and desperately miss cocktails. So, pregnant ladies out there, you’re welcome.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel // stirandstrain.comFor my variation on a switchel, I added in some of my favorite Fall flavors: cinnamon, green cardamom, cloves and steeped that in a base of apple cider vinegar, ginger and maple syrup. The spices are subtle when compared to the strong, zingy ginger, but I like that those flavors are not too overpowering. The apple cider vinegar provides a sharp sour contrast that you can adjust by adding or subtracting the water from the mix. Personally I like that sour flavor and I find the drink quite refreshing. If you’ve found shrubs to be a bit too strong for you, you definitely might want to scale back on the vinegar and up the water a bit; taste and see.

Autumn Apple Cider Switchel

Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 5″-piece fresh ginger (about 6 ounces)
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4 cups water
2 4-6″ pieces of cinnamon
6 green cardamon pods, lightly crushed
4 cloves, whole

Pass ginger through a juicer (you should have about ⅓ cup). Strain the juice through a fine sieve to remove any larger pieces. Combine ginger juice, vinegar, maple syrup, and water in a large container and stir until maple syrup is dissolved. Add in cinnamon sticks. And then put the cloves and cardamom pods into a tea filter bag (Bags are not necessary but help in collecting all the bits later on. I prefer the bags with the drawstring for easy collection later on.) and add to the mix. Refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours.

When ready to drink, remove the cinnamon sticks and the bagged spices. Switchel can be drunk as is, over ice with a splash of lemon juice or in a cocktail.

And speaking of cocktails, we’ll have an end of Summer cocktail using the Autumn Apple Cider Switchel here tomorrow! Enjoy!

The Fig and Tonic Cocktail

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Figs were never eaten around my house growing up. Unless you count that ubiquitous yellow box of cookies that I feel every 80’s parent was forcing on their kid because it might be seen as healthy. Fig Newtons were so weird. They had those crunchy bits and they weren’t that sweet, and yet they were called cookies. I probably couldn’t recognize a fig until I reached my twenties when I started working for a company that imported gourmet food. And then came the chocolate covered figs at holiday time. OH man–SO many people calling asking for those. The figs were not just covered in chocolate, they were enrobed. Which somehow just that word made them the most sexiest thing on the shelf. Enrobed in chocolate… I’d like to be enrobed in chocolate.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, one word of marketing and suddenly figs were a delicacy, not an unidentifiable fruit. Now they’re a common farmer’s market item. They’ve lost a little of their sultry shine but I still find them a touch exotic. And this past week I received a whole basket of them in our CSA box and decided they were ripe for a cocktail.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comToday I’m mixing up this cocktail with Everclear as part of their Make It Your Own campaign. We’ve been using Everclear on the site for years to make everything from infusions to liqueurs to tinctures. And now we’re using it to make cocktails too! Let’s be clear, Everclear on its own is 190 proof, but when you mix it with non-proof ingredients like syrup and water, then the final proof will significantly reduce. Here we’re only looking at a total of 27 to 32 proof depending on how much tonic water you desire–the less tonic the higher the proof.

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comWhy mix with Everclear? Because I wanted to taste the ingredients and not so much another liquor flavor in the cocktail this time. It also makes for a stronger cocktail that doesn’t get watered down from the tonic. And what a complex tasting cocktail this is!

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comLetting the muddled figs steep in the Everclear for a bit makes the honeyed juice more prominent. Then to complement the figgy flavor, I created a vanilla syrup that gets some extra warming spice from black pepper, green cardamom, star anise and cloves. The vanilla really comes through but is much more complex in flavor from this spice blend. To offset some of the sweetness, a good dose of tonic water incorporates some bitterness into the cocktail while its effervescent bubbles distribute the flavors and bring out some aroma to your nose. The resulting cocktail is complex and yet clean tasting, refreshing and packs a punch. Ready to try one out?

Fig and Tonic Cocktail with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFig and Tonic Cocktail (27-32 proof)

1 ounce Everclear
2 figs, roughly chopped
3/4 ounce Spiced Vanilla Syrup (recipe below)
4-5 ounces tonic water

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle Everclear and figs. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add syrup and ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with tonic water. Garnish with fig slice.

Spiced Vanilla Syrup

2 vanilla beans cut into 2″ pieces
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 star anise
4 whole cloves
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Scrape seeds from the vanilla pieces and add to a small sauce pan. Then add in the vanilla pieces, peppercorns, cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, sugar and water. Stir to combine and turn heat to high. Bring to just a boil and lower heat to a simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain syrup into an airtight container. Syrup will keep up to one month in the refrigerator.