Gift Guide: Falling for Apples

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but keep those apple cocktails coming.

Gift Guide: Falling for Apples // stirandstrain.com

 

We’re squeezing in apples every which way now that Fall is almost here. Apple shaped ice in an apple ice bucket? I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at that. A couple of big ol’ cinnamon sticks make perfectly fine cocktail stirrers when we’re talking apples. But you’ll need a giant one to stir that punch bowl of spiked apple cider. And you’re spiking it with Apple Jack, correct? And what will you top your apple cocktail off with… bitters and shrubs (made from apples of course).

1. Apple Ice Bucket 2. Apple Ice Cube Tray 3. Shrub & Co. Apple Shrub 4. Laird’s Apple Jack 5. Bar Keep Apple Bitters 6. Cinnamon Sticks 7. Large Copper Punch Bowl

Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail For when you wish you could drink the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving...

Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis space is too lighthearted to get very political or get in-depth about current news events, but with Thanksgiving coming next week, it’s a good reminder to be thankful for whatever you have in your life. And if it’s Thanksgiving, I’m shoving cranberry sauce in my face like no one is watching.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I’m of the camp that you need a little sweet with the savory. And while I enjoy pretty much all the flavors that grace the holiday table (except maybe you, green bean casserole), you bet that on every forkful of turkey or potatoes or creamed onions, there is a little bit of cranberry sauce. Ok, maybe a LOT of cranberry sauce.

And I’m not picky either. You want to feed me the jello version from the can? Sure, I’ll take it. Or you made a passed down recipe from your great-grandmother that is laced with a little booze? Sure, I’ll take that too. I’ll take them all.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So why am I not eating it more often so that when Turkey Day comes I’m not feeding myself like a ravenous zombie? Well, I kinda forget about it. I think the ensuing coma from eating resets my brain every year and I spend the rest of the time oblivious until a week or so before Thanksgiving when I see some ad in a magazine and my mouth starts salivating in a Pavlovian response.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This year it was decided that since I have such a short window of time to enjoy cranberries, I’ll make the most of it and enjoy them by not only eating those berries, but also drinking them! In fact, I figured if I made a shrub with them, I’d get to enjoy them a little bit longer (although, it’s so darn tasty I doubt it will stick around for very long).

This black pepper–spiced cranberry shrub is sweet, savory, and tart. It mixes up quick and with a fruity sparkling wine and citrusy bitters, the drink works wonderfully to lighten a meal packed with sweet potatoes, stuffing, turkey, and more. And if you don’t use up the whole shrub in one go, it will keep in the fridge for at least a month.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub

2 cups (approximately 10 ounces by weight) cranberries
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine cranberries, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and water. Stir to combine. Cover and place over medium-high heat. Cook, opening the lid and stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and some of the cranberries begin popping open, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, uncover, and allow to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Pour entire mixture into an airtight, nonreactive container. Refrigerate at least 8 and up to 12 hours. Strain mixture twice through a fine-mesh strainer, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to one month.Cranberry Black Pepper Shrub Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cocktails (yields 12 drinks)

36 ounces chilled sparkling wine (from 2 bottles)
20 dashes orange bitters, Regan’s used here
12 ounces chilled Cranberry-Black Pepper Shrub
Cranberries, for garnish

Slowly pour chilled sparkling wine into a pitcher. Add bitters and chilled cranberry-black pepper shrub. Stir very gently to mix. Serve immediately. Individual glasses can be garnished with cranberries.

Note: For a non-alcoholic alternative, combine 1 ounce of the cranberry-black pepper shrub, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, and 3 ounces club soda (I love Q-Club!) in a wine glass. (Add two dashes of orange bitters, if desired—they contain a tiny amount of alcohol.) Garnish with cranberries and serve.
This recipe originally appeared on Serious Eats

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Summer (Cocktail) Reading

Giveaway: Summer Cocktail Books! // stirandstrain.comIf you’ve been pondering what to read at the beach this summer, look no further! Today Stir and Strain in hosting a summer reading giveaway… of boozy books!

Whether you’d like to delve deeper into the mysteries of Vermouth, give yourself a weekend DIY project making shrubs, or chill out with a rum laden tropical treat on your own private island (a.k.a. your couch), these 3 titles will get the job done. Countryman press will be sending one lucky Stir and Strain reader copies of Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times, Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit that Created America’s Cocktail Culture, and Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar. Here’s a little more on each book:

Shrubs: An Old-Fashioned Drink for Modern Times – A definitive introduction to the world of shrubs, from Martha Washington’s secret formula, to recipes utilizing the best of the farmer’s market.

Vermouth: The Revival of the Spirit that Created America’s Cocktail Culture – Vermouth has been an overlooked, under appreciated bar staple for over half a century, but distiller Adam Ford has set out to reclaim it, by telling its unique and fascinating story, and sharing vermouth-centric recipes that showcase some of the nuanced craft vermouths now on the market.

Tiki Drinks: Tropical Cocktails for the Modern Bar – A fun, colorful book packed with recipes for drinks, syrups, creative garnishes and more, all using fresh juices and syrups for balanced flavors.

Giveaway: Summer Cocktail Books! // stirandstrain.comI have been nose deep enjoying these books this past month and I think you all would love them too! Check out the options below to enter and get up to 7 entries to win. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST July 14th, 2015. Please see terms and conditions below (sorry, only open to U.S. and Canada residents). Good Luck!

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The Pineapple Hop it starts with a pineapple shrub

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo how was your week?

I dropped my phone in a toilet. What’s worse was the speed with which I dove in to grab it without even thinking about “is the bowl clean or dirty” (it was clean by the way). And it works still so that’s a plus.

I learned how to vacation with an infant (very different ideas of “vacation” now exist for me). And that spending several days in the wonderful desert heat almost always means for me coming back to Los Angeles and experiencing gray, grey days. It also makes me appreciate the contrasts in climate for this part of the country.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAlso, May starts today. Which means it is practically summer and wasn’t everyone everywhere complaining about snowstorms and the like about 5 minutes ago? Maybe it’s the crippling realization that time really does speed up the older you get but man, do I need a cocktail right about now. So let’s think about summer drinks.

If we’re thinking about summer days to come, I’m sure pineapples fit in there somewhere. In my house, I fit them in all the time despite the time of year, but that’s me. For today’s recipe, I’m giving you guys some homework first (OK, ok, a DIY super fun, easy, hands off it practically makes itself project): pineapple shrub.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comI’m not kidding either. Making a shrub is so easy I’m not sure why more people aren’t batching this in their kitchen all time?! Oh, lack of counter space. And, well, better things to do I guess might prevent that from happening. For the sake of this post I’ll just assume you’re on board with me for this one project. Let’s continue.The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

If we’re thinking about summer, we’re also thinking about refreshing drinks, and for a lot of you guys out there, beer. Beer and BBQ and hotdogs and maybe a few illegal fireworks. So, surprise! I’m putting beer in this cocktail too. Pineapples and beer and RUM.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.comAre you already picturing yourself running through a sprinkler and drinking this cocktail? Me too. Except let’s hold on to that thought and wait two weeks while this shrub brews and then we can get to the galavanting. At least this week is done.

Pineapple Shrub

1 medium pineapple, peeled, and cubed into 1” pieces
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

Place the pineapple cubes in a clean, sterilized container. Cover with the sugar and lightly crush the pineapples (I used a potato masher). Let sit, covered with a tea towel, in the open for 8 hours or overnight. Strain fruit and add apple cider vinegar. Cover and let sit unrefrigerated in a cool, dark place for two weeks. Shake the mixture every other day. In two weeks, filter into an airtight container and refrigerate. Will last up to 6 months. Yields approximately 3 cups.

For the cocktail

1 ounce white rum, SelvaRey used here
1 ounce pineapple shrub (see above)
1/4 ounce orgeat
4 ounces IPA beer, Stone IPA used here

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in rum, shrub and orgeat. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with beer.

The biting, tangy nature of the shrub is excellent paired with the beer as it provides a contrast to the bitterness that comes with an IPA. Just a touch of sweetness is needed and the sweet almond orgeat provides that along with the white rum. The shrub can be enjoyed all summer long here in this drink, or by itself with a splash of club soda.

*Looking for a larger batched version of this? I originally made that very version for Serious Eats a little while back.

The Backsaw

Do you ever take a bunch of photos to later.. lose them? We’re talking about digital cameras, not, oh hey, I lost a book of photos.

I sat down with the intention of writing and posting about another Shrub recipe. One I was pleased with and wanted to share. However, the photos weren’t in iPhoto. And, well, not on the camera. I know I shot them. I remember looking at them.. but alas, no photos. I hate to admit that all signs seem to be pointing at the fact that I probably deleted them.

So take two. The Backsaw.

This is another of the Shrub-based cocktails that I’ve been playing with. This one was a winner for me. The Lemon Shrub bites through the rich sweetness of the Rye with a nice balance of sweet and sour. The smell of the shrub might be shocking for some on the nose at first but it mellows out once the drink sits for a bit.

No garnish is necessary, however candied lemon peel might quite well here.1-1/2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt is used here)
1 oz Extra Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Lemon Shrub
2 dahses of Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients over ice. Stir and strain into either a cocktail glass or wide rocks glass. Served up.

Le Tiki-Vert/ What to do all that Basil Liquor

So this is my tarragon plant.
But I’m sure all the other herb plants think of it as a blood thirsty killer. That pot used to house a dill plant. But the Tarragon killed it dead. This plant is growing at a rate I’ve never seen any of my plants succeed at doing and now I’m stuck with a lot of an herb I only use a tiny bit of. My natural inclination was to see how I could fit it into a drink.

I’ve mentioned on here that I have a couple of bottles of Shrubs I’ve been experimenting with for work cocktails. This drink was born out of the remnants of a chicken salad. Sorta. I saw my husband mixing up tarragon and lemon juice into his classic sandwich mix and I thought, Hey- I should stick those herbs in the lemon shrub and see what happens. It ended up being a pretty nice combination and I’m glad I risked possible salmonella to try it (I may or may not have grabbed some leftover tarragon leaves for the first version of this that were mingling with leftover chicken on a cutting board. Don’t judge.).

One thing I learned about this is that you can go heavy with the tarragon. It works here and you want the taste. Too little leaves and the flavor is just not present enough and lacks that nice grassy-ness. The only problem I ran into with this drink was trying to name it. Is it really necessary to name your drink? I read some blogs where ‘names’ are just a modified list of ingredients. Other times people go in crazy directions and name their drink a long string of words that are really meaningless to the drink. I guess it doesn’t matter; I’m guilty of doing both. Except that this is on a short list for the work drink, so I did have to spend some time back and forth thinking of a name. Le Tiki-Vert just came out of the color and the Tiki-tasting quality of the drink. It could change, but for now I’m keeping it.

2 tbsp tarragon leaves
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1-1/2 oz white rum (Oronoco here)
1/2 oz lemon shrub (Tait Family Farms)
1 oz grapefruit juice

Muddle leaves and lime juice together in a mixing glass. Add ice and the rest of the ingredients. Cover with metal shaker and shake well to combine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Bits of tarragon will be floating about.

The drink has a mellow, bitter fruit flavor that borders on the tropical side. Herbaceous notes from the tarragon sit on the back of your tongue, becoming stronger as the drink sits.

I made 3 of these and had a pleasant afternoon.

***************

One other project that I didn’t feel warranted an entire blog post but worth mentioning was my discovery that you can make sorbet with liquor. Maybe all sorbet is made like this, who knows! I’ve only made this one recipe.

Anyways, last week my husband and I trekked out to a local farmer’s market (we recently, sadly, discontinued our CSA baskets for the main reason that we wanted to go and be active in our community and support local farms and have a bit more say in what we’re getting from where. So far we’re doing it every week. Or I am going during the week on my lunch.) and we picked up 3 pints of strawberries with me proclaiming all kinds of recipe ideas I was going to make with them. With only one drink under my belt and 2-3/4 pints left, I decided to look up a recipe where I could use a lot of them in one go. Browsing a favorite food blog, Sassy Radish (who, if I can wax poetic for a sec, is really a great, unpretentious, awesome food blog that anything I make from there always comes out perfect. And on the subject of food, I really should add a food blog section under the blogs I am reading. I’ll just make a mental note to do that), I came across this recipe for her Strawberry Basil Sorbet. Ah, also I forgot to mention I had harvested the last of my basil plant and needed to use that up STAT too. So I noticed that she had added a bit of vodka to her recipe in order to keep it smooth. Fireworks went off in my head when I remembered I didn’t have vodka, but I sure had some Basil Liquor made with Everclear in the freezer. I could totally sub that out and make this a super basil sorbet.

Anyways, so tweaking her recipe I used 2 tablespoons of the basil liquor and using the ice cream bowl attachment for a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, whipped that up and had some sorbet. The basil is definitely there, but not as strong as I was expecting. Since I haven’t tested it against a recipe NOT made with the basil liquor, I have no idea how pronounced it really should be. But there you go. Basil liquor for ice cream treats. You’re welcome.

One last note. Cumin in savory cocktails. I was out two weeks ago at a bar in downtown L.A. and had one and my mind has been blown. I need to get on this bandwagon. So, hopefully I can make something drinkable with cumin. If not, you’ll hear about it either way.

A Biting Strawberry

Warning. You’re going to see several, if not plenty, of drinks containing Shrubs in them coming up in the next few weeks. What’s a Shrub? A Shrub is a vinegar based fruit concentrate that dates back to Colonial Times. Sounds kind of gnarly huh? Vinegar? Gross. Well, actually, if combined with other appealing mixers and liquors it is quite pleasant. Really.

Why the onslaught of Shrub recipes? I recently became a slashie at work. Actually, I have no idea if I’m even using that correctly, but the long and short of it is that I was christened with the title of in-house Mixologist /slash/ creative director (slash a bunch of other titles. It’s a small company). I may have (completely) had something to do with this. But, we re-brought back in a line of Shrubs due to some popularity of them in cocktails and local bars and needed desperately to come up with some recipes so customers knew what to do with them. (That’s right, we had them for sale 4 years ago when no one gave a shit. Although, people are apparently still confused.)

So now I’m doing research, and taking notes, and really using this blog as a scratch pad for ideas. I think I’ve had some hits, and some misses. Here’s a hit. Mainly for people who either want a lighter cocktail, or just don’t want their cocktail tasting so much like alcohol (I need to hit a range of tastes here…).

3 strawberries quartered
1 lime wheel cut in half
1-1/2 oz white rum (I used Oronoco, a favorite for someone who is as confused about rum as someone reading smoke signals who doesn’t, understand.. smoke signals. You get my  analogy.)
3/4 oz Strawberry Shrub (Tait Farms)
1/2 oz Falernum

1 strawberry for garnish

Muddle the strawberries and lime wheels together in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add 4-5 ice cubes.  Pour in the rest of the ingredients and shake well. Pour un-strained into a rocks glass. Garnish with strawberry.

It’s a very summery drink. A bit on the sweet side, but not fake sugary sweetness. No sugar is needed as long as you are using strawberries that are in season and very ripe . There is a sharp note of ginger in the back, and the subtle touch of lime cuts the sweet strawberry taste back a notch. The rum takes a back seat here flavor-wise, which was why I noted that you can make and give this to someone who wants a cocktail but doesn’t like it to taste too strong.

Side note; this tastes amazing with milk chocolate FYI.