Your 2016 St. Patrick’s Day Drinking and Eating Guide (from the Stir and Strain archives)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Let me help you pick out what you should be drinking and eating today. I am a 1/4 Irish after all…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.com

Irish Coffee Jello Shots

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Bitter Irishman

Anise Cream Rye-Spiked Coffee // stirandstrain.com

Anise Cream Coffee

Irish Derby Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Irish Derby Cocktail

Jameson Whiskey Truffles // stirandstrain.com

Irish Whiskey Truffles with Baileys Crystals

And a few Green Drinks…

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

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

old tom's mistake cocktail

Old Tom’s Mistake

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Illustrations by Robin N. Watts

After what seems like years debating about the livelihood of this random tree that lives in front of our house, we finally went and had a professional diagnosis its current state. It’s confirmed: that tree is indeed diseased and dead. You’d think it would be easy to spot a dead tree, but it’s not. They look surprisingly lifelike well after they’ve ceased to be a living tree. So we had it removed along with the two lavender bushes you’ve seen star in a few drinks around here. They were also dead; we can all blame this California drought (and not my poor gardening skills).

So now we have the exciting decision to make regarding what to plant in the empty spaces. While I should be thinking cactus plants and other plants that require little water, what I really want are some fruit trees out front. And what I most want are some passion fruit trees.

Not only would I have fresh passion fruits five feet from my doorstep, but I would also have those amazing blooms that come with the trees. Have you guys ever seen one? They’re like a gaudy space alien in technicolor. I need these in my life.

Fresh Passion Fruit Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf I had these trees and their fruit readily available, THIS cocktail would be the go-to cocktail around my house. Highlighting the passion fruit but balancing it out with a little sweet Meyer lemon juice and, of course, an egg white. When I developed this recipe, I was using 10 Cane Rum for the base. And then it got discontinued and I’m lamenting the fact I used up my last bottle before I found this out. Another good option is Caña Brava by the 86 Co. Or, you know, use what you like.

If I’m going to plant some passion fruit trees, I guess I’d also need a Meyer lemon tree. And a lime tree. But I think I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s hope I can keep this one alive first.

1-1/2 ounces rum, such as Caña Brava
3/4 ounce fresh passion fruit pulp
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
1 egg white

  • In a shaker, add rum, passion fruit pulp, simple syrup, meyer lemon juice and egg white. Dry shake, hard, for 20 seconds to get a good froth. Add ice ⅔ up shaker. Shake an additional 20 second and double strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Tasting notes: bright, low acidity, silky mouthfeel, passion fruit forward.

Fans of our Wine Wine Wine posts will recognize Robin N. Watts as the man behind all of our wine picks. Besides a lover of wine, Robin also is a damn fine illustrator. Find more about his illustration works at robinnwatts.tumblr.com.

Make It: Meyer Lemon Bitters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*This recipe originally appeared on the Serious Drinks site.

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.

Make It: Passion Fruit Syrup // The Hurricane Cocktail

hurricane cocktail // stirandstrain.comDid you know that passion fruit had a season? Neither did I until earlier this week. Big thanks to Nathan from the Chocolate of Meats blog for hipping me to this fact.

If you are a lover of Tiki drinks you know that passion fruit is a major component in many of those elusive Grog Log drinks. If you’re not familiar, now you know. Pretty much though you’re stuck with commercial flavored syrups that taste more like sad kool-aid than anything resembling a fruit derived substance. Until now. My passion fruit did not come locally unfortunately, they were flown in. I thought that was the only way I would get them until I found out a local catering company, Heirloom LA, were growing them in their backyard. Note to self, plant that ASAP.passionfruit // stirandstrain.com

So before we get to the drinks, lets get to making the syrup. If you don’t raise your hand to the question Who’s going to use this syrup up in a month? Then you can either add a 1/2 oz of vodka to the mix to prolong it up to 3 months, or make a large batch and freeze up containers to use when passion fruit is not in season.

Although a basic recipe, credit goes to Tiare from the Mountain of Crushed Ice blog for some of the tips to making this syrup.

Passion Fruit Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Just under 1/2 cup of Passion Fruit seeds/juice (about 7 smallish fruit)
2 passion fruit

Combine first 3 ingredients in a sauce pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture reaches a boil, cut the heat and remove from the stove. Add the juice and seeds from the last two passion fruit to the mixture, stir to combine and cover. Let this sit for two hours, then strain and bottle.passionfruit-2 // stirandstrain.com

Let’s ease into the Tiki now with the Hurricane cocktail. With just 3 simple ingredients this is where quality really counts. And perhaps your garnishes too.

I always associated the Hurricane with a red/pink color, in fact, I assumed that passion fruit were this color too (I seriously had no idea). So to my surprise, this Hurricane really is the color of a passion fruit, yellow-orange. Dealing with the fresh passion fruit also has taught me what I smell in a lot of Tiki drinks I’ve had out of the house. The point I’m trying to make is that if you want to be serious with drinks, or food even, get to know the fresh stuff, not just what comes in a can at a grocery store, you’ll very quickly start to favor the fresh ingredients. I’ll probably be heading back to the market to buy a couple pounds of passion fruit this week just so I can make enough syrup to freeze a sizable stash. God, I just hope they’re not out of season by Tuesday.

Hurricane Cocktail (adapted from the Grog Log)
4 oz dark rum (I chose Goslings Black Seal Rum)
2 oz freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
2 oz passion fruit syrup

large sprig of mint and pineapple cubes for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add first 3 ingredients and shake well. Fill a hurricane glass or large tiki mug with about 20 ounces of crushed ice. Strain drink over the ice and add more crushed ice if desired. Garnish with mint (give it a good slap between your hands to release some of the oils from the herb) and 3 pineapple cubes on a cocktail spear.

Don’t forget that mint! The mint adds an aromatic nose that is a perfect compliment for this sweet-tart drink. The Goslings was chosen because it gives a nice deep spice layer, while the Meyer lemon balances out the passion fruit tartness. Overall this was not what I remember a Hurricane tasting like, and that’s probably a good thing. Enjoy!

Mixology Monday: Old Tom’s Mistake

old tom's mistake cocktailmxmologo

I really shot myself in the foot this month for Mixology Monday. Kidding around thinking Midori would be a fantastic ingredient for this month’s theme: From Crass to Craft – hosted by Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain & Sip, I soon discovered I was having quite the time trying to actually make a ‘craft’ drink I could proudly show off.

In my mind there is a strong memory of Midori being one of the first liqueurs I ‘made cocktails’ with. Sophomore year of high-school there was one memorable night where a friend’s parents had gone away and several of my girlfriends and I showed up and raided the liquor cabinet. I don’t recall how I knew of the recipe, but I do remember there being a drink of orange juice and Midori. Perhaps its pretty colors, perhaps there not being much on hand, I remember drinking those until I was quite possibly intoxicated. No, wait. I’m also remembering a bottle of Rumple Minze too. Regardless, I don’t think I’ve touched a bottle since then and there was a small part of me that wanted to try it again for the first time as an adult. And really, it’s quite a crass one with it’s ‘melon’ bubblegum smell and OH-SO-SWEETNESS hiding there under a lovely shade of emerald. But dang, OJ and Midori was not going to cut it for “Craft”.

Let’s talk about procrastination shall we? As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve become fascinated/kinda obsessed with dehydrating liquors and finding ways of using them. So before I even came up with an inkling of a recipe, I shoved a tray of Midori in the oven and let her go. I had much better success this time around than with the Baileys. After 24 hours the Midori formed these neon crystals that looked like crumbled rock candy. But alas, I still couldn’t think of a recipe to go with them.dehydrated-midori-1

Until now. Part of the fun of thinking up new cocktail recipes is just going through lists in your head of flavor combinations (well, it’s fun for me). Sometimes when I have an ingredient I want to use, but not sure how to, I turn to flavors in cooking (or baking) I would use with it. This usually helps me through a roadblock. In this case I also had a black pepper syrup that I had been dying to try out in something and thought “melon and black pepper”- hey, they could work!

Altering the recipe for a Tom Collins, I was able to work in both the Midori and the black pepper syrup into something I really *gasp* liked.

2 oz Old Tom Gin
1 oz freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
1/2 oz black pepper syrup (see recipe below)
1/4 oz Midori liqueur
1-1/2 to 2 oz tonic water

dehydrated Midori (see recipe below) lemon slice

In a Collins glass 2/3 filled with ice, build your drink by adding the gin, Meyer lemon juice, black pepper syrup and Midori. Stir gently and top with tonic water. Garnish with a lemon slice rolled in dehydrated Midori.old-tom-midori-2

Admittedly I did find this refreshing. It leans on the side of sweet with a sharp tart tang while the black pepper syrup grounds it with a subtle earthy layer. The melon is mellowed out by the sweet acidity of the Meyer lemon juice while the tonic helps the ingredients move throughout the drink. I probably wouldn’t have two right after another, but just the one drink worked out in the end for me!

Done. I haven’t sweated over an assignment this bad since college. Thanks to Scott for hosting this month!
old-tom-midori-1

Black Pepper Syrup

(based loosely on this recipe found at the bottom of that page)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup black peppercorns, about half lightly cracked

Heat all the ingredients until boiling. Remove from heat and let steep 15-20 minutes. Strain peppercorns out and allow to cool. Once cool, fine strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated for up to a month*.

*Since I didn’t see myself using this daily, I also added a 1/4 oz of vodka to the mixture and refrigerated it. This will probably keep it safe in there for at least 3 months.

Dehydrated Midori Crystals

1/4  cup Midori

Set oven to 170°. In a silicone container (I only had on hand a silicone Madeleine pan), evenly spread out the Midori. A baking sheet underneath will help keep it steady going in and out of the oven. Place in oven. At the 17 hour mark, take Midori out and break up chunks in the container by squeezing the container around to expose any wet spots. Place back in oven and continue to heat until a full 24 hours has been reached. After 24 hours, take the sheet out of the oven and break up pieces again and allow to cool to room temperature. Remove crystals and either place in an airtight container in the fridge, or grind with a mortar and pestle if using immediately.old-tom-midori-3

And here’s the roundup post!

Being Seasonal // Meyer Lemon Rosemary Sparkler

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.comOne of goals of this site was to integrate seasonally appropriate ingredients into cocktails. Sometimes I remember to do that… sometimes not so much. Right now, everyone is inundated with citrus, and has been for a couple months now. I just came back from visiting my in-laws who have Meyer lemons, Bears limes, key limes and tangerines at their house. Magically, anything planted there thrives beyond expectations and around January/February every year it seems I have BAGS of citrus laying about. Even at my own house this year my tangelo tree exploded with fruit. I wish my lime trees would do that though (they’re still recovering from those nasty wind we had in Los Angeles in December 2011).

So I thought I’d come up with a few seasonally appropriate posts that will hopefully help you use up what citrus fruits you have laying around. The first of which is a pretty simple Meyer Lemon simple syrup to which I’m adding rosemary (another plant that no matter how much I cut it back, my entire front yard is crawling with it). And then I’ll make a drink with it for you. Because I’m a nice host.

Let’s get to it.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-2

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 oz. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice
zest from 2 Meyer lemons
1 sprig of rosemary (about 6″ in length)

Combine sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved. Take off from the heat, add juice, zest and rosemary. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain out solids and let sit in a container (I used a bowl) until cool. Bottle. This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Add 1 oz. of vodka and it will keep for months in the fridge.

meyer-lemon-rosemary-syrup-3This syrup is so fragrant and I attribute the combination of zest and juice. The rosemary is subtle but noticeable. Together it’s a sweet and woodsy potion. Don’t want to use it in cocktails? Sweeten your tea with this and you’ll get a similar magic in your cup.

Now let’s make you a drink.

I’m keeping this simple so that the flavor of the syrup will shine through, but not so simple you can say I’m phoning it in. Ginger is a great pair for the flavors of the Meyer lemon, which is  sweeter and a less acidic lemony lemon, and the earthiness of the rosemary.

1-1/2 oz. Broker’s Gin
3/4 oz. Meyer lemon rosemary syrup
4-6 oz. Ginger Beer
sprig of rosemary for garnish

Build the drink in a Highball glass by adding ice, gin, syrup and topping with the ginger beer. Add a clean piece of rosemary for garnish.mlrs-bottleopener

The result is light and refreshing, which I find I want more lately than my usual heavy whiskey. The cocktail is not too sweet, but the syrup does cut through the sharp bite of the ginger beer.

I have a couple more of these citrus posts ready to roll out this week, so please check back!