Holiday Gift Guide: Stuff It Real Good (the stocking stuffer gift guide)

You’re going to need a bigger stocking this year.

Remember, bottles of booze fit nicely into stockings. As do magazines (about booze), gummy bears (filled with booze) and cocktail kits (for making booze). Up your cocktail party cachet with some boozy playing cards, and don’t forget the fancy glassware! Pineapples are still a thing, so throw a couple of shot glasses in that stocking. Infused ice cubes fit too! And maybe a key chain that yells I like fancy drinks!

1. Cocktail Hour Playing Cards 2. Fancy Drink Key Chain 3. Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch 4. Pineapple Shot Glasses 5. Imbibe Magazine (click for more details and a super subscription price!) 6. Stainless Steel Cocktail Picks 7. Homemade Gin Kit 8. Baby Champagne Gummy Bears 9. Saturn Rocks Glass 10. Veuve Clicquot Paris Arrow Bottle 11. Vincent Bartender’s Hand Salve 12. Hot Toddy Cocktail Kit 13. Herb & Lou’s Infused Ice Cubes

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Holiday Gift Guide: The Naughty List

Whether Santa’s giving you coal in your stocking, or Santa’s coming round the back door, you’re on his naughty list this year.

Are you making yellow snow and beating up on innocent reindeer piñatas (even if they are filled with tiny bottles of booze)? Don’t go crying some Bitter Tears, those are whiskey stones Santa left you, not lumps of coal. Now, on the other hand, if you’re looking for a little danger, and your scotch comes out of a bottle that was possibly forged in hell, then pour yourself some stripper highballs and put on some appropriate holiday music. Santa’s making a special stop at your chimney.

1. Highland Park Scotch Fire Edition 2. Reindeeryata! 3. Rogue Yellow Snow IPA 4. Rudy Ray Moore Christmas Album 5. Strip Tea Glasses 6. The Book of Dangerous Cocktails 7. Whiskey Stones 8. Bitter Tears Lucille Blood Orange Ginger Bitters

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

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

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

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Shaker & Spoon Summer Scotch Cocktail Kit

Giveaway: Summer Scotch Box Cocktail Kit // stirandstrain.comWhen you think Summer drinking, you think… Scotch, right?? Well I do, and so does Shaker & Spoon!

For this week’s giveaway, we’ve teamed up with Shaker & Spoon to offer one lucky reader their June cocktail kit: the Summer Scotch Box! So what’s in the box? Everything to make up to 12 cocktails from 3 recipes they provide (minus the booze). By letting you pick out your own booze, or to use what you have on hand, they’re able to send the box to EVERYONE in the U.S. (I know how bummed some of you guys get when we have a giveaway and can’t ship to your state! If you want some Scotch ideas, check out this International club!). Now anyone can enter!

Giveaway: Summer Scotch Box Cocktail Kit // stirandstrain.comCurious about what cocktails you’ll get to make with this box? Here’s Shaker & Spoon’s description of their Summer Scotch Box:

A Scotch cocktail in the summer?! That’s right! Scotch can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, and even year-round in cocktails—it’s great like that. In A Worn Path, by Steva Casey of Saturn, we’ve taken the flavors of juicy strawberries and IPA and fashioned them into one super-drinkable cocktail. In the Smoked Peach, by Kevin Diedrich of Pacific Cocktail Haven, we’ve paired delicious seasonal yellow peaches with the tasty stone fruit notes in Scotch. And in the Night Fighter, by Ryan Maybee of The Rieger, we’ve combined the light, smoky, vanilla notes of Scotch with grapefruit and lemon, and a house-made syrup of burnt orange peel and cardamom. The saline solution amplifies the flavors and aroma.

Whoa! Saline solution?! Readers, this should be right up your alley.

Giveaway: Summer Scotch Box Cocktail Kit // stirandstrain.comSo if you want to surprise Dad, or your college Grad, or your friends who are tying the knot this month, or, you know, keep this for yourself, then enter now! You’ll get up to 10 entries by selecting the options below. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST Monday June 13th, 2016. For more information on Shaker & Spoon, check out their website at shakerandspoon.com today! Good luck!

Giveaway: Summer Scotch Box Cocktail Kit // stirandstrain.com

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The Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail… is better than a regular Blood and Sand Cocktail

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.comLike many ideas we take for granted, I was wrong on this one. For the longest time I was under the impression that the Blood and Sand cocktail was, in fact, a tiki cocktail. My assumption was based on the fact that local tiki bar, Tiki Ti, served this bevy up on their regular menu. A drink that elicits shouts of Toro! Toro! Toro! by patrons when ordered had to be born of tiki blood.. right? Wrong.

The Blood and Sand cocktail is actually pre-tiki, although the idea of putting “sand” into your name almost always guarantees it’s of the tropical variety. And all that toreador fanfare at the bar smacks of Tiki’s theatrics. But this drink goes a bit further back in time than the Tiki era, as it takes its name from Valentino’s 1922 bullfighting movie and appears in the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (and not an original name by myself, which for some reason, people were really confused about when I originally offered this recipe up on Serious Eats). And really, what about the Scotch? Scotch seems like such an un-tiki spirit. But every liquor nowadays can star in a tropical libation.Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

And for me, whipping it up into a frozen version makes it even more so.

Which brings me to today’s drink. Let’s all be honest here; the Blood and Sand cocktail is not really good. All that orange juice, ugh. Orange juice as a mixer is like adding a lot of bland, marginally flavored water to your drink. And you usually need A LOT of it to even taste the essence of the orange. So what you usually get when you order a Blood and Sand cocktail is something very unbalanced.

This drink tries to mix that up, adding more flavor and using the original blood orange juice in place of just plain old OJ. And on top of that, a bit of Grand Mariner for extra orange sweetness. There’s some super peaty scotch in here, but if that’s not your bag, sure, I guess go for something a bit more subdued. Keep in mind though that this is a very cold drink, and you need that extra flavor to punch it up. I’ve also batched this for 4 because if you’re having frozen cocktails, you’re having a party. Even if that party is for one.Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Makes 4 drinks

6 ounces peated Scotch whisky, such as The Peat Monster
4 ounces fresh blood orange juice from about 4 blood oranges
3 ounces sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica
2 ounces Luxardo cherry syrup
1 ounce Grand Marnier
4 dashes Angostura bitters
4 blood orange slices and 4 Luxardo cherries, for garnish

  1. Pour Scotch, blood orange juice, sweet vermouth, cherry syrup, Grand Marnier, and Angostura bitters into a resealable freezer-safe container. Seal and freeze for at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
  2. When ready to serve, pour Scotch mixture into a blender with 4 cups ice. Blend until smooth. Divide between four coupe glasses and garnish each glass with an orange slice and Luxardo cherry.

Happy New Year Everyone! Sparkling, punches, and other ideas for tonight!

I’ve got a last minute round up of some drinks for all your parties tonight. Whether you require something sparkly, something overflowing, or maybe something not-too-boozy to start your night off, I’ve got some good picks for you. See you all in the New Year, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all of you!

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Amaro Highballs // stirandstrain.com

Amaro Highballs

Holiday Gift Guide: It’s a Jungle Out There

When nature calls…be sure you have a drink in hand.

It's a Jungle Out There Holiday Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

Life is hard. Especially when you have a monkey on your back (er…shoulder). But with a solid recipe book, a glass to drink from and a zebra striped shaker, you can face the wild world with confidence, albeit 3 sheets to the wind.

1. Flamingo Glass 2. Sippin’ Safari 3. Fish Napkins 4. Snake Coasters 5. Zebra Cocktail Shaker 6. Elephant Bottle Opener 7. Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch

Zucca Sprezzatura

Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIt might seem a little quiet around here. I’m always making apologies when the posts start to appear less frequently; it’s all that stored up Catholic guilt from my youth. But mainly 1. I’m recovering from our first real stint doing The Coconut Club and 2. it’s hot and I can barely muster the strength to stir a cocktail. So that’s why I’m all about building drinks in the glass right now. Less equipment means less time standing around washing stuff later.Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

In addition to me just generally being lazy, my family is coming to visit this week and already I’ve been hearing over the phone how they can’t wait to try my “fancy drinks”. Now, I now my mom’s inability to metabolize alcohol: one drink and she’s asleep. If I made her one of my regular “fancy drinks”, she might just sleep for a day. Which… well, as tempting as that sounds, she did fly across the country to see us, not sleep the day away. So that’s where some more low alcohol drinks come in. One whole highball and only a 1/2 ounce of liquor over 40 proof. Instead of making scotch here the star, I’ve turned to Zucca, an Italian amaro that only clocks in at around 16%.Zucca Sprezzatura #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Zucca leans more towards the sweeter end of the bitter amaro spectrum, without quite evoking the flavor of its namesake rhubarb (although I’ve been schooled on the fact that it’s Chinese rhubarb used in the making of this, which gives the amaro a bitter flavor). What makes this amaro particularly special is the slightly smoky flavor profile that complements its syrupy bittersweetness. For me, it’s a perfect companion to scotch, so I’ve put them together in this cocktail*.

With these two great ingredients, I’m still considering this fancy. Looking for something a little lighter for the summer? Try this!

1 ounce Zucca
3/4 ounce Scotch, such as Great King St. Artist’s Blend
3 ounces Bitter Lemon soda, I prefer Fever-tree’s
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
lemon peel garnish

In a highball glass filled with ice, add Zucca, scotch and grapefruit bitters. Top with soda and garnish with lemon peel.

Slightly sweet, with a lingering bitterness on the tongue. The bitter lemon soda lightens everything up while adding a different layer of bitterness. The bitters add a floral note both on the nose and the palate. The cocktail is seriously refreshing and an easy to drink summer libation.

 

*I originally posted this recipe on Serious Eats!

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2014

My dad will probably get a phone call with an uncertain promise of “it’s in the mail” next week. But you don’t have to be that person! Here’s a roundup of some rugged cocktail accessories Dad might like.

Father's Day Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

 

Dad’s can always use some updated bar tools. And if your Dad is into wine, then a leather pouch to discretely put that wine opener might be much appreciated. Let him get DIY with making his beer, and then he might even want to cook with it! And if all else fails, buy him some scotch and immortalize him as his favorite drink.

1. Traveling bar kit 2. The Craft Beer Cookbook 3. Brass bottle opener 4. Homebrew beer making kit 5. Jumbo Cocktail Shaker 6. Ardbeg Islay Single Malt Scotch 7. Drinkify Me! 8. Leather wine opener pouch