This post is brought to you by Specialty Retailers, Inc. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Did you know that Margaritas are the most popular cocktail in the U.S.? Probably not surprising when you think of the amount of frozen, neon colored drinks you encounter walking down the main strip in Las Vegas. I’m sure those are being counted in this statistic. And that bottled drink mix with the svelte lady on the front; that’s probably being counted too. But here in my home bar, a Margarita is a solid, easy to mix drink with endless variations. And today we’ll be making them holiday ready for a little online party!
Ok, so you set your holiday stage and are ready for guests. Let them feel in charge with a little DIY bar set up. This 3 cup dipping tray could hold snacks any other time of the year, but today it will hold all the components for the Cranberry Sauce Margaritas: cranberry sauce, lime wedges and the rosemary sugar. Put out some little spoons for the dishes and some shot glasses for the booze components. Holiday parties should be about coming together with friends and family, and having this little DIY bar lets guests mingle about with one another.
This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.
Hi, my name is Elana and I’m that weirdo at Target standing in the hand soap aisle smelling every bottle trying to determine which scent comes home with me. Scent is a powerful determining factor of what gets used in my home. If a dish soap, or hand lotion, or candle has a scent that doesn’t jive with what I consider olfactory perfection, out it goes. Aroma with cocktails is also a similar experience.
Certain scents may sound strange when referencing a drink, but think about how we throw around terroir with wine (and now, there’s lots of spirits doing that as well). You may like a drink because it reminds you of cut grass from your childhood, or bell peppers, or–and this is a favorite of mine–hot tar. Many times, the aroma of a drink will keep me going back again and again. So I thought I’d try capturing a smell from one of my favorite places, the Central Coast of California, and putting it into a drink.
Today we’ve teamed up with Everclear to recreate the aroma of the California coast in a tincture: fresh green rosemary, wafts of woodsmoke, and a spray of salt air. Everclear has a neutral base and with the higher ABV it also helps to preserve the infusion with no added flavors.
Tinctures are easy ways to get new layers of flavor and aroma into your cocktails without changing the amount of liquid already present. They also will not alter the ABV of your drink in any considerable way. You only need a few drops or a spray or two and your drink is transformed. All you really need is a few ingredients, a bottle of Everclear, and some time.
So, let’s make this tincture and then I’ll give you a few quick and simple ways to use it once it’s done! Who knows, maybe this will inspire you to create your own tincture from your favorite place, or, err, hand soap.
Note: I find having some refillable spray bottles and droppers around helpful to bottle my tinctures, but these are totally not necessary. As long as you have an airtight, non-reactive container you should be fine (that glass canning jar your bone broth came in? Give that guy a wash and use that for storage!).
California Coastal Tincture
2 ounces kosher salt
2 ounces water
10 ounce Everclear
2 tablespoons lapsang souchong tea
4 sprigs rosemary, cleaned
In a small saucepan over high heat, combine water and salt and whisk vigorously to dissolve (it’s fine if not all the salt dissolves). Remove from heat and set aside.
In an airtight container with well fitting lid, combine Everclear, lapsang souchong tea, rosemary sprigs and salt mixture. Seal container and shake well to combine. Set aside in a cool, dark place for 5 days, giving the container a shake every day or so.
After 5 days remove the rosemary sprigs and taste the mixture for smokiness. If you want your tincture to go even smokier, leave the tea in for another 3 days, tasting until you reach your desired level.
When desired aroma/flavor is reached, strain the contents through a coffee filter into a clean, airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
How do I use this tincture?
My absolute favorite way to enjoy this tincture is a few drops in a Martini using a 1:1 London dry gin to vermouth. The aroma pops and makes the drink much more complex.
You can mist this over a citrusy Old Fashioned. The rosemary pairs really well with citrus flavors.
Add a few drops to a Cachaça Sour for an earthy, tangy mix.
To learn more about Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, click here!
Remember when I said I’d never use Snapchat forever and ever? Yeah, about that… Guys, ugh, talk about going down a rabbit hole of watching people make coffee and take bad selfies. And yet, I’m so compelled to WATCH. Actually, right now, I love seeing how people decorate for the holidays, and Snapchat itself has compiled these little videos of people celebrating for the holidays all over Europe. What I think I’m trying to get across here is that I’M SO INTO CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR.
Yes, yes, it might seem like I am getting a bit overexcited about something that happens every year, but for the last few Christmases I just couldn’t be bothered. This Christmas I have forced myself to be in the holiday mood since about November 27th and I plan on keeping it up until at least New Year’s. While I have done my requisite decorating, I have now turned to holiday-izing my food and drinks. For all of you reading this right now, I will just focus on the drinks.
Holiday Punch. This is almost without a doubt my main cocktail situation for big parties, and especially those of the Christmas kind. You can batch it beforehand and let guests get as tipsy or not as they want and you still get lots of credit for making it (but we all know it’s WAAAAY easier than individually making drinks for 40 people at your party. F that.).
This year I turn, again (and again and again), to rosemary. I don’t need to go into my rosemary situation, but for those of you just joining us here on the site, it’s OUT OF CONTROL. So into another drink it goes. And this time we’re adding a little fire to the mix and giving the rosemary a little smoke to send your guests over-the-edge with excitement as you tell them you hand smoked all that rosemary they’re drinking. You just won the holiday party this year also, FYI.
That smoky rosemary is pairing up with some winter citrus because we want to make this as holiday as possible. Then throw everyone a curveball as you sneak in a few Tiki elements with gold rum, orgeat and grated cinnamon. Oh, and also some high proof rum because WHY NOT?! Our base rum is Parce 8-Year, a small-batch Colombian rum that’s aged in whiskey barrels so it has a similar flavor to single malt scotch, and is DELICIOUS.
Now, please don’t be intimidated by the fact we are smoking the rosemary. It’s as simple as turning on a gas burner and throwing the rosemary over it for a minute. Or, seriously, you could use a candle if you just have electric burners. Either way, your house is going to smell amazing come time for that party. And hey, let’s snapchat it to each other while we’re at it.
Yields 16 servings
For the Smoked-Rosemary Citrus Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Zest from 2 medium lemons
3 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 medium lemons
Zest from 2 small limes
1 ounce freshly squeezed juice from 2 small limes
3 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, water, and lemon and lime zest and juices. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to just under a boil, then remove from heat and cover. Meanwhile, hold rosemary over an open flame using heatproof tongs, turning continually, until it begins to smoke. As soon as it starts to smoke, uncover syrup and place rosemary in saucepan. Cover again and let steep 30 minutes. Strain solids out and reserve syrup for the punch in an airtight container. The syrup will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator, but flavors will be best if used within 2 days.
For the Punch:
24 ounces gold rum, such as Parce 8-Year*
4 ounces orgeat, such as Small Hand Foods orgeat
12 ounces smoked-rosemary citrus syrup
4 ounces overproof rum, such as Smith & Cross
4 ounces water Cinnamon sticks, for garnish
In a punch bowl, combine gold rum, orgeat, smoked-rosemary citrus syrup, overproof rum, and water. Stir to combine and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight. To serve, add a large ice cube to the punch bowl. Ladle about 3 ounces into a punch glass and grate fresh cinnamon on top. Serve.
I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats.
*This bottle of Parce 8-Year was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
For those few of you who have a job that gives you a 3 day weekend starting today, lucky you. I’m pretty sure that last time I had that Monday off I was in college… a long time ago in college. But let’s not focus on that for now. Even if your weekend is only two days long, or even one, I’ll also give you guys an excuse to drink a good cocktail. Here’s a roundup of my Fall favorites.
6 sprigs 5” long rosemary
1 cup sugar
1 cup freshly squeezed tangelo juice from approximately 3 and a half medium sized tangelos
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Combine rosemary sprigs and sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit 8 hours or overnight.
Add juice to the bowl and stir to help start to dissolve sugar. Let sit, covered, overnight, occasionally stirring sugar every few hours. Fine strain mixture into a bottle or airtight container. Add apple cider vinegar and shake well to combine. Seal and store in fridge. After 3 days, start tasting for desired flavor. After 6 days, shrub should be ready to use.
Use within 1 year for optimal flavor.
The rosemary-tangelo shrub works well on its own with some sparkling water, or with an ounce of gin too over some ice. The strong flavors do more favorably with less ingredients added to them.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s make the tincture first.
1/2 cup grain alcohol (151 proof)
1/2 cup rosemary leaves, cleaned and de-stemmed
Combine alcohol and rosemary in an airtight container. Let sit for 7 days in a cool, dark place, gently agitating once a day. Filter leaves out of the liquid through a fine strainer. Bottle into dropper bottles, or in an airtight container.
*Note: although the color of the tincture will start out bright green, it will naturally settle into a brownish color. Albeit, not as nice, but the aroma will still be present.
2-1/2 oz. gin, Fords Gin used here
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1-2 drops rosemary tincture (recipe above)
In a chilled cocktail glass, add rosemary tincture and rise glass, pouring off excess. In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir gin and vermouth for about 20 seconds. Strain into prepared cocktail glass.
Here the subtle rosemary is a great companion for the juniper and citrus notes in the gin. It’s a pretty bright martini and that woodsy accent helps round out the drink.
1/4 asian pear, cubed
3 whole green cardamom pods, pods discarded and seeds lightly crushed
1/2 oz lemon juice
1-1/2 oz Chopin Rye Vodka*
3/4 oz J Vineyards Pear Liqueur
1/4 oz Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie
Combine pear cubes and cardamom seeds in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add lemon juice and muddle well to full combine and break down the pear. Next add in ice about 2/3 up the way of the mixing glass. Pour in vodka, pear and fir eau de vie. Shake to fully combine about 20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a pear wheel skewered with the rosemary sprig.
Strong rosemary and cardamom nose with sweet, lemony notes. Flavor is juicy pear with a nice balance of tartness from the lemon. The presence of the fir is not subtle, as it stands out next to the pear, but it also compliments the sweetness by offering an unexpected earthiness and woodsy layer to the drink.
Thanks to the Booze Nerds for this month’s MxMo challenge and for making me break into this bottle, it was a delicious experiment and kinda like drinking a Christmas Tree.
*This bottle of Chopin was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
Here’s the thing about smoking herbs: use organic, and if possible, from your own garden (that’s where mine came from). Not sure if your grocery store has organic you can trust? Go to a farmer’s market and ask the person selling the herbs if they use pesticides or chemicals on their herbs. Why go through all the trouble? Because crap in crap out. The smoke from this drink will be IN your drink and you are going to ingest it. Do you want weird unknown substances being brought to high temperatures and those fumes entering your mouth? You don’t care? You like huffing sharpies? Fine, you’ve been warned.
The blackberries here in Southern California are starting to go tart, so for this cocktail, I wanted to use them up in a syrup, as they would not give enough sweetness just muddling them into the drink. FYI, this syrup is super thick. If you’re not sure what to do with the leftover syrup, there is only one way to go: PANCAKES.
Rich Blackberry Syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
heaping 1/2 cup of blackberries
Bring all the ingredients to a boil then simmer for a half hour; gently mash blackberries down while the mixture cooks. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain and bottle syrup. If not using all right away, add 1/2 ounce of vodka to mixture and keep refrigerated up to 3 months. (I refer to this as ‘rich’ due to the viscous nature of the final syrup. This is not a true ‘rich’ simple syrup, since I am still using a 1:1 sugar water ratio.)
And now the drink:
2 oz The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
3/4 oz Blackberry Syrup (recipe above)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
3 dashes Scrappy’s Celery Bitters
2 cleaned sprigs of rosemary, approximately 5″-6″ long
tea candle and holder (I found a jam jar worked great for keeping distance between the flame and the rosemary. You want at least 3 inches of clearance between the two.)
piece of card stock larger than the diameter of your glass
IMPORTANT: get everything ready before you begin, this will move fast. Light the tea candle and place the rosemary across the top on the jam jar/candle holder. This will take a minute to warm up and start smoking. It’s best if your rosemary has not dried completely from cleaning (not wet, but not bone dry). In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add the first four ingredients and shake well until chilled. Set aside. Once the rosemary starts to smoke, place a snifter glass over the top so that the smoke fills the glass completely. Using the card stock, slide it over the top of the glass to “hold” the smoke inside until you pour your drink in. Remove the rosemary from the candle. When you are ready, quickly remove the card stock and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass.
Woodsy, rosemary tinged smoke fills the glass. Those notes infuse through the lightly sweetened berry flavor with tart background highlights. The Black Grouse is mellowed out and given an almost honey quality, while also heightening the smoky flavor. Even when you no longer can see the smoke, it stays with the drink from first to last sip.
On the celery bitters: these you CANNOT leave out. You will not taste celery, but what they do is provide an amazing amount of balance. Without them, the drink is both too sharply tart and too sweet. A few drops and it balances everything out. Kinda amazing how bitters do that.
Every month I feel like the deadline for Mixology Monday creeps up on me faster and faster. And just like that, it’s time once again for a post. This month, Mark at Cardiff Cocktails has given us the theme of “Witches’ Garden”. For the full announcement post, please click here.
Here’s the back story for my submission this month…
I’ve had this bottle of Sake taking up room in my fridge for months. Possibly more than five. Looking for an excuse for using it up, I thought I would try something a little lighter in the ABV, as this bottle clocks in at around 15-16%. Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai is a dry-ish sake that has a light melon/pear taste, but not much body. I figured it could use some bulking up via a cocktail.
My herb of choice for this drink was Rosemary. I have so much growing around my house that I filled up two green bins when just ‘trimming’ it last month. If you ask me for some, I will gladly hand over a shopping bag filled to the brim to you, which you will silently curse me for, wondering how in the hell you will use all of it. So, any time I can stick it in a drink, I will. Rosemary gets closeted into winter-time drinks much too much. It’s woodsy profile though pairs really well with citrus, and, as I have discovered this week, passion fruit.
So I married those two with a hint of grapefruit and came up with this low-alcohol cocktail. The final ingredient is tonic. The drink had the right flavors when I first tried it, but fell flat in my mouth. The tonic perked the whole thing up, giving it a much needed lightness and fizz.
3 oz Shirakabe Gura Tokubetsu Junmai Sake
1/2 oz Passion Fruit syrup (recipe here)
1 sprig of rosemary, about 5″ long
3 dashes Fee Brothers Grapefruit Bitters
2 oz Fever-Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
sprig of rosemary and grapefruit slice for garnish
In a mixing glass, place the sprig of rosemary in the bottom, add syrup and muddle gently, just enough to release the oils. Do not crush or tear the herb (5-7 presses with a muddler should do). Add ice 2/3 of the way up the glass, then pour in sake and bitters. Stir to combine. Fill a highball glass with ice and strain liquids over the ice. Top with Tonic water. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with rosemary sprig and grapefruit slice. A straw is also a welcome addition.
As I stated earlier, the rosemary and passion fruit are a great combo, earthy and tart. The grapefruit bitters offer a citrus nose and a sweet and bitter layer to the drink. The sake itself is pretty mild tasting, and I found it a nice canvas to play off of here. Overall clean and refreshing.