Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail What you drink when it finally feels like Fall!

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFor someone who lives in a climate that doesn’t stray too far in one direction or another, I realize I sure do focus on the weather a lot. But really, it wouldn’t take too much psychoanalysis to realize it’s because I grew up in New England and Fall time is… special. Yes, if you live in a place where there is amazing foliage you do make fun of the tourists coming in just to stare at trees. But when you’re away from it for over a decade, you miss it; you get why the people flock out to be in nature.

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMore than the trees though I miss the apple orchards. I didn’t realize just how many were squeezed into the tiny state of Rhode Island. I bet there are a few apple orchards somewhere in Southern California, but it’s not the same. My aunt has a small orchard on her property and I remember being a teenage, sulking about in my beat up black leather jacket trying to not look I was enjoying the annual cider press (but secretly I was so into it). The adult me is telling my younger self to stop being such a bitch and just enjoy myself already. God, how much time and effort went into teenage sulking!

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo anyways, it’s finally feeling like Fall in Los Angeles. I turned on the heated seats in my car and turned the heat on at home. The first day is always rough on my sinuses as months worth of dust that’s accumulated god-knows-where burns off and makes my entire house smell like something has caught on fire somewhere. But we have apples! And for this cocktail there’s sherry and apple brandy and orange liqueur!

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.comOver on the Serious Eats site I wrote an amusing tale about how this cocktail, originally named the “Quasi Apple Cocktail” got its name. Hint: there’s history, a war, Napoléon, the United States and a touch of Spain thrown in for good measure. OH! And pirates! We tossed the name, but there’s still some history there to learn if you’re into that.

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
1/4 apple, cored and diced
1 1/2 ounces apple brandy, such as Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 ounce Mandarine Napoléon liqueur
1/2 ounce oloroso sherry, such as Williams & Humbert
4 ounces prosecco sparkling wine
Orange twist, for garnish
Thinly sliced apple, for garnish

  1. Add diced apple to the bottom of a mixing glass and muddle until apples are broken down and have released their juice. Fill the mixing glass 2/3 full with ice and then pour in apple brandy, Mandarine Napoléon liqueur, and oloroso sherry. Stir to chill until mixing glass is very cold, about 20 seconds, then strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with prosecco.
  2. Twist orange peel over top of drink to release oils, then discard peels. Garnish with a thinly cut round of apple.

Sweet, fresh apples are balanced by the nutty Sherry with a kick of american apple brandy. For body and a touch of richness, Mandarine Napoléon liqueur gives us just a hint of citrus. To finish, the cocktail is topped with prosecco to tie all the ingredients together and give an effervescent pop.Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com


NOTES
: Super-thin apple slices make gorgeous garnishes. Right now, THIS mandoline from OXO is my favorite. To keep the slices looking crisp and white, remember to soak them in a bowl of water with a small spritz of lemon juice after slicing. Use your favorite kind of apple here; both sweeter, softer varieties and more tart, firm types work well. If you can’t find Mandarine Napoléon liqueur, you can substitute with Grand Marnier or a good dry orange curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand.Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry Especial Cocktail

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLast night I made a batch of cranberry sauce. Don’t worry, I realize Thanksgiving is still a week away and no, I’m not going crazy with early prep. It’s actually for a project that you guys will hear about next week. Anyway, it was delicious. It’s also a reminder of how food has changed in my life.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhen I was a young person, I had no idea what real cranberries looked like, apart from some illustrations on a bottle of cran-apple juice, and for me, cranberry sauce was cylindrical and had ridges. This was just an accepted fact until I actually ate real homemade cranberry sauce. I don’t remember liking it very much. It was too tart and soupy and where was all the sugar?! Now we make cranberry sauce at home every year and once in awhile I will eat out someplace that still uses canned. It’s more a novelty now; like eating Twinkies. Twinkies are pretty gross now to me, as are most of those grocery store goodies I used to crave.

This isn’t a rant by the way about processed foods and being a food snob. Mainly standing over the stove making the sauce last night just reminded me about how much I’ve come to appreciate and love home cooked food.

Cranberry Especial Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAlso, that I actually really like cranberries too. And so here is your token cranberry holiday cocktail because Thanksgiving is next week. And… cranberries!

1-1/2 ounces Oloroso Sherry, Williams & Humbert Dry Sack 15 year Oloroso used here
3/4 ounce unsweetened cranberry juice, Knudsen’s used here
1/2 ounce gold rum, Phraya used here
1/2 ounce simple syrup, see note above
2 dashes orange bitters such as Fee Brothers
orange peel for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine sherry, cranberry juice, rum, simple syrup and bitters. Shake well about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with an orange peel.

I created this drink for Serious Eats as a lighter, lower ABV cocktail that you can drink at your holiday party and not get tanked with. I chose the Dry Sack Oloroso style, with its dry, sweet and nutty profile, as my perfect match for cranberries. The sweetness of the sherry also balances the lip-puckering tartness of the cranberry juice. And using real unsweetened cranberry juice here instead of a syrup helps to lighten the dense and potentially sticky mouthfeel of sherry. (Using a heavy syrup alongside of an Oloroso might have been, well, too much of a good thing.) Because sherry has only 20% ABV, the drink makes for a nice, lighter alcohol aperitif to start your evening. An extra half ounce of gold rum added to the drink gives more spicy depth to the drink without adding much boozy punch or detracting from the sherry’s flavor.

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.