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!

Let’s Get Fresh! what to make and drink with all that winter citrus

Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.

When you have too many Meyer Lemons:

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.com

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup

Meyer Lemon Bitters

What about Tangellos:

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.com

Tangelocello

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:

Smoky Sage Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

And then there’s always the cocktail option:

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

What You Should Be Drinking on Thanksgiving

I’m not one to tell you guys what to do, but if you’re looking for something to make this week for your holiday table, here are a few suggestions! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktails

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoked-Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lemony Suze Sparkling Pitcher Cocktails

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spiced Bourbon

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Pomegranate Caipirinha

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails //stirandstrain.com

Maple Blueberry Sparkling Cocktails

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.com Sadly, peaches are quickly disappearing from the farmer’s market this month so I thought I’d give them one final nod before we go full into Fall this week.

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.comI don’t know about yours, but since it is the end of the season, my peaches are starting to look a little worse for wear. They’re RIPE, and maybe not so pretty looking anymore. When this happens, I fire up the grill and send them on their way Viking style (on fire).

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.comToday just happens to be yet another drink holiday, but one I tend to enjoy: Rum Punch. Yes, even Rum Punch gets its own day now. But you know, Tuesday is a good enough reason too to enjoy one of these cocktails.

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.comKeeping it simple, but full of flavor, this punch gets a double peach kick from grilled and caramelized peaches and a few good glugs of Bundaberg’s Sparkling Peach brew. We’re big fans of Bundaberg’s ginger beer so we thought we’d try their sparkling brewed drinks too.

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.comThe final rum punch comes together with an aged rum, fresh lime juice and the peaches. It tastes a bit tropical, with juicy peach flavors and a sour bite from the lime juice. The rum rounds it out with earthy notes and the sparkling peach gives it a pleasant, but not overpowering, bubbly lift. Nice and simple.

Sparkling Caramelized Peach Rum Punch // stirandstrain.comYields 2-3 drinks

1/2 peach, sliced
2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
4 ounces aged rum
Bundaberg Premium Peach Sparkling Brew*

  • Lightly oil a grill or grill pan over medium high heat. Grill peaches until soft and with noticeable grill lines. Flip sides once or twice to fully cook through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and let the peaches cool.
  • In a small pitcher, muddle 2/3 of the peach slices with the lime juice. Add in the rum and let sit, refrigerated, for at least an hour (mixture can sit up to 8 hours).
  • When ready to serve, top mixture with the Bundaberg Premium Peach Sparkling Brew and stir gently. Pour over ice and garnish drinks with remaining peach slices.

Pitchers of Cocktails for Your Labor Day Weekend

I seriously received no less than 6 emails from PR companies pitching me “Labor-less cocktail ideas” over the past two weeks. Eye rolling aside, I get it. No one wants to spend time outside at their Labor Day BBQ making single drink requests for every person that stops by. It’s time for PITCHERS OF COCKTAILS! And I have a few ideas for you guys. Check them out below.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Pitcher Cocktails

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

sage blackberry sangria // stirandstrain.com

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pisco, Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme Pitcher Cocktails

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

4th of July Drinking Guide

Fire up those grills and break out your blocks of ice.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.com

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch

 Fun In Jalisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Fun In Jalisco Cocktail

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.com

Aperol Spritz

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.com

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Blue Nectar Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Admittedly, I let a lot of the drink holidays pass me by. Especially when they’re not really something I feel like celebrating (vodka + red bull day I’m looking at you). But today is a very special day. Today is Margarita Day.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comI drink Margaritas every day of the year. I don’t wait for Taco Tuesday and happy hour at my local cantina. I break them out over brunch or on any given Sunday. But usually just a single serving or two. Today, because we’re celebrating, we’re going big and making a Margarita PUNCH.

Since we’re still deep in citrus season, my family just got back from picking our own grapefruits, lemons and whatever else was hanging on those fruit-laden trees. The grapefruits were so juicy and tart and delicious, that I perhaps got a little overzealous with the picking. To make sure they go to a good home, they’ll be the base of the punch today. Not only will we use some of the juice, but the zest will go into the oleo saccharum, and the whole punch will get garnished with sugared brûléed wheels of the fruit. An honorable way for these grapefruits to go.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comEven though I love those grapefruit, to balance out the citrus flavors and make the base more complex, I’m creating a oleo saccharum with lemon and lime zest in addition to a few grapefruit zests thrown in. Creating the base this way gives the punch a strong citrus backbone that won’t get watered down and lost once the grapefruit juice, tequila and ice are added in.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comTo sweeten everything up and to highlight some of the more floral characteristics of the citrus, I’ve combined Tahitian vanilla (which is the most floral of the vanilla varieties) and piloncillo. Not sure what piloncillo is? That’s ok, I’ve only just started using it over the last few years myself. Piloncillo is evaporated sugar cane juice from Mexico. It’s not as sweet as regular cane sugar, but it has a wonderfully rich taste, similar to brown sugar. Again, to make this a more concentrated flavor bomb for the punch, the vanilla and piloncillo get made into a syrup and then reduced into a rich, syrupy sweetener.

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comThis wouldn’t be a Margarita without the tequila, right? For that I’m turning to Blue Nectar Silver Tequila for the perfect pairing to my grapefruit obsession. The clean vegetal flavor has just a touch of spiciness that balances out the sweetness of the citrus.

This is a versatile punch: serve it up with breakfast tacos or late in the afternoon all by itself; anytime really. But especially today, for the best drink holiday, Margarita Day.

For more information on Blue Nectar Tequila, please check out their website here!

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.comMakes approximately 12 servings

For the oleo saccharum:

4.5 ounces sugar
zests from 2 limes
zests from 2 lemons
zests from 1 grapefruit

  • To make the oleo saccharum, peel zests from limes, lemons and grapefruit, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Toss the peels with the sugar, muddle to express oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight in a nonreactive bowl (I use glass or a cambro container), covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the vanilla and piloncillo reduction:

1 cup piloncillo
1 cup water
2 Tahitian vanilla bean pods cut into 1” pieces

  • In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine piloncillo, water, and vanilla pieces. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until mixture is reduced by half. Strain vanilla pieces out and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Will keep refrigerated up to one month.

For the punch:

750 ml Blue Nectar Silver Tequila
12 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit, preferably oro blanco grapefruits
oleo saccharum
4 ounces vanilla and piloncillo reduction
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces orange curacao, preferably Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao
1 large ruby red grapefruit, sliced 1/4″ thick
1 tablespoon piloncillo

  • To make the punch, combine Blue Nectar Silver Tequila, grapefruit juice, reserved liquid from oleo saccharum, vanilla and piloncillo reduction, lemon juice and dry orange curacao. Stir gently to combine. Chill mixture.
  • To make the brûléed grapefruit wheels, place sliced of grapefruit on a wire tray over a cookie sheet. Sprinkle them with piloncillo sugar. Place them under a broiler, or use a culinary blow torch to caramelize the sugar and wheels. Let cool. Once the wheels are cooled, reserve 3 wheels for the punch bowl garnish and slice the rest for garnishing individual cups.
  • To serve, pour mixture into a punch bowl and add a large block of ice. Garnish with large brûléed grapefruit wheels. Ladle into individual cups with wedges of brûléed grapefruit. Optionally sprinkle with sea salt crystals.

Gunpowder Gin Punch

Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comHappy Friday everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s posts on the site. Have you entered to win some summer reading? You can do that here if you’d like.

Have the fireworks died down in your neck of the woods? Where I live in Los Angeles, fireworks started popping off around mid-June… and they’re still going off almost a week after the 4th. After moving out here over 13 years ago the surprise has worn off and I’ve just accepted this as a natural part of summer out here. At all times of day. Like 10am (why even bother?!). Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Since the weekend is just about here, I’d like to offer up a punch for you to bring to your next summer party. I’m sure you have a few on your calendar coming up, and maybe a few penciled in for tomorrow. While it may not produce multi-colored fireworks, it does have gunpowder! Well, gunpowder tea, which isn’t an actual explosive but sounds pretty darn close. (Apparently it gets its name from the way the tea is rolled… like the little pellets used in the old days)Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

At its base, there’s an oleo-saccharum (your fancy term for muddled citrus peels and sugar) and with the tea, it’s kinda like a boozy, refreshing Arnold Palmer. The kicker here is the addition of celery bitters (!!!). So the result is a sweet and savory punch that has unexpected flavors but it definitely a crowd pleaser.

Plus, people will be intrigued just by you saying ‘gunpowder’ in the title.  But maybe sneak in a few sparklers one last time this weekend for good measure as well.

For the Oleo-Saccharum:

2 lemons
1 lime
4 ounces granulated sugar

Peel zest from lemons and lime, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Muddle gently until peels begin to express their oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the Gunpowder Tea:

3 teabags gunpowder green tea
16 ounces boiling water

Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool to room temperature before using.

For the Punch:

8 ounces gin, such as Aviation
16 ounces Gunpowder Tea at room temperature
8 dashes celery bitters, such as Scrappy’s
Lemon wheels and celery stalks for garnish

In a pitcher or punch bowl, combine gin, tea, bitters, and oleo-saccharum. Stir to combine and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, add ice to rocks glasses, pour in the punch and add a lemon wheel and celery stalk for garnish.
This recipe originally written for Serious eats. 

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria with Ginger, Cranberries, Black Pepper and Citrus

Sparkling and Spiced WInter Sangria // stirandstrain.comI don’t know about you guys, but I’m so ready for Christmas. After having to by-pass the two other major Fall holidays this year, all I want is to unpack my 200+ nutcrackers and put up a dang tree. Christmas shopping is already underway (it still counts if it’s for me and I say it’s ‘for christmas’) and I already broke out my Christmas DVDs. Now all I need is a drink.

It’s funny how with the invention of Pinterest that I realize that many other like-minded people are also dreaming of winter cocktails, and even further into that niche, they are thinking about winter sangria. Yep, I totally want to throw cranberries into all kinds of things lately, including this drink, but not quite the way you’d think to include them. If you’ve looked at my previous sangria recipes this year (which you can find here and here) you might notice that they tend to become quite layered. The reason is, if it’s not, I find it boring.Sparkling and Spiced WInter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

A few weeks ago I was invited to be part of the “media” who judged a sangria contest sponsored by Pavan liqueur. I won’t point out who, but some of the drinks I found to be just one-note beverages. They were flat; they were boring. That’s so sad. When I did like the drink, it was because the bartender had put a lot of thought into the layers that were making up the recipe. Flavor after flavor that both was interesting, worked as a whole, and was not boring. And that’s what I want when I am drinking sangria and when others might possibly be ingesting the drink too.

Fast forward to last week where I put the finishing touches on this sangria recipe I had been dreaming about and up it went on the Serious Drinks site. I will be posting some recipes this month on their site, so please jump on over there from time to time and check them out. Outtakes and the usual nonsense will be found here still.

For the cranberry-black pepper syrup:

3/4 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup fresh whole cranberries
½ cup whole black peppercorns

For the base:

1/4 cup of sliced kumquats, about 5-6 kumquats
1 satsuma tangerine, sliced
1 ounce of Shrub & Co. Spicy Ginger Shrub
2 ounces of cranberry-black pepper syrup
4 ounces of Pavan

For each drink:

4-5 ounces of Brut Cava, such as German Gilabert

  1. For the syrup, combine water, sugar, cranberries and peppercorns in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Cool and fine-strain mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into an air-tight container. Will keep refrigerated for one week, or add half an ounce of vodka to the mixture to prolong freshness up to 3 months.
  2. For the base, combine sliced kumquats and tangerines in the base of an airtight container with ginger shrub, syrup and pavan. Refrigerate for at least two days and up to four days.
  3. For individual servings, pour 1 and a half ounces of base into the bottom of a white wine or rocks glass along with any desired fruit from the base. Add ice cubes and top with 4 ounces of the Cava. Gently stir to combine and serve.
  4. For a full pitcher, add the entire bottle of Cava to a pitcher containing the base. Stir gently to combine, and pour into individual serving glasses.

Lots of flavor with sharp, spiciness from the ginger and pepper. The dry cava balances out the sweet, syrupy base.

Sparkling and Spiced WInter Sangria // stirandstrain.comGentlemen, this is a sangria drink for you too; it bites back. I served this drink at a private party this weekend and one guy had 6 servings. Granted, the alcohol content is not too high, but seriously: SIX. He dragged people over to try it and they were also converted. I’m convinced all of your guests will love this.