Cocktail Quickie: Suze and Soda

Cocktail Quickie: Suze and Soda // stirandstrain.com

Here in Los Angeles I’ve been downing frozen cocktails with abandon, but there are even those days when I just can’t drag out the blender. So, in steps the two ingredient cocktail.

These “cocktail quickie” recipes migrated over to Instagram a few years back, but now with the influx of users, and that oh-so-annoying algorithm there, recipes get lost in the crowd. Now I’m back to keeping them on both sites. So, if you happen to miss a recipe on Instagram, you can always catch up here on the site.

Today we’re pouring some liquid sunshine with one of my favorite bitter liqueurs, Suze. Suze is a French apéritif flavored with fresh gentian and aromatic herbs. The taste is slightly bitter, very herbaceous (for me, bordering on vegetal), that ends on a sweeter, citrus note. It’s WONDERFUL.

Cocktail Quickie: Suze and Soda // stirandstrain.comWhile you could make this a one ingredient drink and have it poured over ice, I like to make this a highball (or lowball depending on the glass type I’m using) by mixing it with soda water over ice. It’s really an any time kinda drink: before going out, after a meal, during your kid’s nap…

Stretching the Suze out with the soda water does mellow out the flavor a lot, which, if you’re not looking to be hit in the face with all the gentian, could be the drink for you. Optionally, if you’d like a little extra sweetness with this, you can add in a 1/4 ounce to 1/2 ounce honey syrup (honey/water 1:1) as I love the way honey works with this liqueur. Enjoy!

Suze and Soda

2 ounces Suze
soda water to top
1/4 – 1/2 ounce honey syrup, optional

Pack a highball (or rocks glass) glass with ice. Build the drink by pouring in Suze, optional honey syrup, and topping with desired amount of soda water.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails with Wine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Vinho Verde Wines. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Labor Day will soon be here. The end of summer is in sight…sigh. But I’m going to stretch these last few weeks of warm days and cool nights the best way I know how! With a picnic!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comPicnics sure have changed a lot since I was little, obviously. There’s definitely wine now. However, the bugs are still there in droves. But I get to stay out a lot later so…win!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comToday I’ve partnered with Vinho Verde Wines from Portugal to help you find an easy, breezy way to celebrate summer’s last hoorah. The Vinho Verde wine region has been producing these young wines for over 2,000 years and is home to Portugal’s largest wine region. While 86% of their wines are white, they also produce some red, rosé and sparkling wine as well as brandy. These wines are also super affordable, and pair well with food. In other words, a great picnic wine! Don’t think of these Vinho Verde wines as a summer sipper only though; they transition from Summer right into Fall and are the versatile wine to keep around all year long.

For our Labor Day picnic I’m bringing along this Avesso wine from the Vinho Verde region. This refreshing wine has aromas of citrus, peach, and almond with a slight acidity and touch of minerality. You can enjoy it on its own, but it’s also wonderful in a spritz cocktail, which we’ll make and take along.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comYou can’t have a picnic without some great picnic food too. And if we’re drinking Portuguese wine, we are definitely eating Pastéis de Nata (Portuguese egg tarts). These light, slightly sweetened tarts hold up well outdoors. I have a few bakeries here in Los Angeles that I like to buy mine from, although I’m linking to a solid recipe below if you’d like to bake yours. I do like to dress mine up a bit for the picnic with some wine-candied lemon peels which I DO have a recipe for below using the same wine we’ll make spritzes with.

I’m feeling so ready to spread out a blanket, have a few spritz cocktails, and snack on some yummy tarts. I can feel that warm, late summer breeze now. So let’s open that wine and start putting this picnic together!

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comA picnic should not be a stressful affair. Here’s some tips to help make your day go off without a hitch!

  • Pre-batch the spritz mix! The night before, measure out all the ingredients minus the soda water. Refrigerate the mix, and the next day bring along some ice, portion out the drinks, and top with the soda water!
  • No time to bake egg tarts, but want this transportable, delicious picnic snack? Buy them! Both Portuguese and Chinese bakeries are home to wonderful egg tarts.
  • You don’t need a picnic basket! Sure, they’re cute, but if you don’t have the space, or the desire to buy one, some reusable bags, a cooler, or even an old Amazon box will do. If it holds stuff, use it!
  • A combination wine opener/pocket knife. I’m a big fan of Opinel knives and they have a beautiful combo one. Get that wine open, zest a lemon, and cut up some tarts. Maybe whittle some sticks for marshmallow roasting later. It’s a like a picnic swiss army knife, but with only the most important tools.
  • And speaking of gadgets to have outdoors, I really love a double insulated wine chiller. If I’m going to be hanging out in the sun for a few hours at a picnic, I want to keep my wine cool.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comVinho Verde Spritz (makes one Spritz)

2 oz Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine
1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur
1 oz Bitter Bianco
1/4 oz Lemon syrup from candied lemon peels
3 oz Soda water
Lemon wheels

In a shaker filled with ice, pour in Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine, elderflower liqueur, Bitter Bianco, and lemon syrup. Shake 20 second and strain into a wine glass. Add fresh ice and pour in soda water. Stir gently to combine and garnish with lemon wheel.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.comWine Candied Lemon Peels for Pastéis de Nata (Egg Tarts)

2 medium sized lemons
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2-1/3 cups water, divided
1/3 cup Avesso Vinho Verde DOC Wine

Using a wide vegetable peeler, zest the two lemons into wide strips making sure not to include of the white pith. Cut strips into quarter inch wide strips. Place strips in a small sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes uncovered. Drain. Rinse in cold water.

Return the lemon strips to the pan. Add in 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water, and wine. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until a syrup forms. About 8-10 minutes. Turn to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes until peels are translucent. Remove from heat. Pour remaining sugar onto a sheet pan and spread evenly around. Using a slotted spoon or fork, remove peels and place on sugar. Toss to coat peels in the sugar. Separate peels so none are sticking together. Move to a drying rack and let sit about one hour. Store in an airtight container. Will keep several months refrigerated.

Save syrup from pan into an airtight container. Refrigerate. Will keep up to one month.

Garnish tops of Pastéis de Nata with a few strands of the wine candied lemon peel and a few drops of their syrup.

**Feel like making your own tarts? Check out this recipe from Tasting Table for Pastéis de Nata.

Vinho Verde Spritz Cocktails and Egg Tarts // stirandstrain.com

For more information on the Vinho Verde wine region, please visit them at winesofvinhoverde.com



Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.