Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails for a crowd or yourself

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // stirandstrain.comMaybe you guys can help me out here. If a neighbor has a fruit tree, let’s say a pomegranate tree, overburdened with fruit, like so much fruit. And it’s just sitting there out on the sidewalk for anyone to pluck a few as they walk by… Is it OK just to pluck a few? You’re not going in their yard. In fact, they are dropping from the branches looking for an excuse to go home with you.

My neighbors don’t know how lucky they are. My mother-in-law’s pomegranate tree gave us a whopping two fruit. TWO?! The tree is being downright lazy this year. So for this cocktail we’ll just turn to the bottled stuff.

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThank god for bottled pomegranate juice though. I will say that despite this desperation I have of ridding my neighbor’s tree of all their fruit, juicing all those pomegranates is a pain in the ass. And now that it’s officially Fall, and I believe also the start of pomegranate season, it’s time for some transitional cocktails. Because we are still going through our usual high temps in Southern California I just can’t bring myself to make something too Fall-like yet. So today I have a bit of a summery beverage with just a touch of Fall.

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThis recipe yields enough for about 4 cocktails, but you can also single batch this for yourself. I’ve been enjoying these splits of sparkling wine lately for when I want a sparkling cocktail but don’t want to crack open a big bottle.  Because what usually happens is that I make a cocktail and just drink all the rest of the sparkling wine by itself.

Do you like juicing pomegranates? Feel free to sub in fresh for the bottled if you’d like.

Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // stirandstrain.comFor the Pomegranate Reduction:

1 cup 100% pomegranate juice

  • In a small saucepan, bring pomegranate juice to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to 3 ounces (6 tablespoons), 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 month.

For the Cocktails:

3 ounces Pomegranate Reduction
4 ounces Cocchi Rosa
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 4 limes
16 ounces sparkling wine
4 orange twists, for garnish

  • In a pitcher, add the pomegranate reduction, Cocchi Rosa, and lime juice. Top with sparkling wine and gently stir to combine. To serve, divide between 4 glasses filled with ice. Express orange oil from twists over each drink, then add twists to each glass to garnish.

To temper the pomegranate syrup’s richness and bring in a bit of brightness, I use a sparkling wine for the base. And to offset the syrup’s sweetness, I mix in Cocchi Rosa, an aromatized wine whose subtle bitterness comes from gentian and cinchona bark. A splash of lime keeps it fresh. An orange twist adds a final layer of aroma and brings out the citrus qualities of the Rosa.

I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two and an excuse to turn off the internet

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.comI told myself I was going to relax tonight and watch tv. That was two and a half hours ago right before I jumped on Instagram. Now I feel like I’ve wasted so much time I should just go back to work. Have you ever looked at so many photos of food that you felt sick? Instagram makes that a reality for me now.

But photos of booze? Can’t get sick from looking at that. Or maybe it’s just all the screen time making my eyes go funny. Maybe that’s what is making me feel sick.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Lately I’ve been wanting to put a ban on having electronic devices on at certain times at home. But with both myself and Christopher working out of the house, attempts to do this have been eagerly thwarted. If your office is in the same structure that you sleep in, then you can pretty much count on a 7 day work week. Unless you have the amazing ability to do such a thing as limit screen time. You, then, are an enigma to me.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Regardless, there are always a few minutes in the day when neither one of us is holding on to a device. The best times are when we’re holding on to a cocktail glass and talking about not work things. Occasionally things get so busy around these parts that, to make things easy on ourselves, I batch up a cocktail and keep it in the fridge. It might be a Manhattan for later in the day (and yes, I might have made it at 9 that morning) or the base to something that can get perked up later on with something sparkling.

This drink is a little something like that.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

I had originally written this for Serious Eats as a more Valentine’s Day centered recipe, but I think the sentiment of taking a break from the internet to enjoy another real person’s company is even more fitting for the everyday.

For the Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 chamomile tea bags
Zest of 2 tangerines, white pith removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags, tangerine juice, and zests. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard tea bags. Cover and let stand an additional 30 minutes. Strain zest and keep syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

For the Base:

4 ounces Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup
3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
4 ounces London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray

Combine syrup, white balsamic, and gin in a swing-top bottle. Gently swirl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Base will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.

For Each Cocktail:

5 ounces chilled dry sparkling wine, such as Cava

Measure out 2 3/4 ounces of the base into a Champagne flute or cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.

 

So yes, I ventured out into the land of floral ingredients here with the chamomile, but it’s subtle and mild. For a sweet note, I used the in-season tangerines, and combining their tangy juice and zest with a good dose of chamomile flowers gives a fragrant sweetness without being too perfume-y. It’s a fresh, tangy base with very subtle floral flavors in the background. To make it more zippy in flavor, white balsamic adds some needed acidity while a London Dry style gin adds another herbal layer with just a touch of juniper in the finish. While this base is tasty on its own, it really comes together when you top it off with some sparkling wine. I tried a few varieties and a dry cava brut is best to offset the syrupy base.

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

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.comEarly Sunday evening is a great time to squeeze in one last cocktail for the weekend. For me, I never like to start my Mondays off in a foul, hungover mood, mainly because I’m already grumpy about it being Monday again. So Sundays I either cut myself off early, or I stick to lower alcohol cocktails, like this one.Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Amari are a great sub in for cocktails of the lighter ABV style (as you’ve seen in this first round here) although as I’ve mentioned before, not all are going to clock in under 40% so read your labels. This drink, written earlier this week for Serious Eats, is all about my love/hate relationship with berry season. Mainly, I can’t stand the damn seeds in berries. They pretty much ruin my enjoyment of one of my favorite types of fruit. However, being the crafty person that I am, getting around the issue of the seeds in cocktails was solved with a pretty simple berry syrup. All the flavor with none of the seeds. Smart.

Combined with Cocchi Americano, this syrup gives just enough sweetness so that it’s refreshing to drink while not being too overpowering in the fruit department. Mainly, it’s balanced quite nicely. Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So please enjoy this late Sunday sipper while we still have long, bright evenings here in the Northern Hemisphere (sorry Australia, you get yours in December). And learn to be OK with drinking cocktails that end in -spritz and are pink.

For the Raspberry-Mint Syrup:
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
10 mint leaves

In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, and water over medium-high heat. Mash raspberries with a wooden spoon to break up. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Add mint leaves and stir to combine. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain into an airtight container. Syrup keeps up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

For the cocktail:
3 ounces dry sparkling wine
1 ounce club soda
2 ounces Cocchi Americano
3/4 ounce Raspberry-Mint Syrup
Raspberries and mint, for garnish

Fill a rocks glass or goblet with ice. Add sparkling wine, club soda, Cocchi Americano, and Raspberry-Mint Syrup. Gently stir to combine. Garnish with raspberries and a sprig of mint.

I’ve got some more of these low alcohol summer cocktails coming at you over the next few weeks so I really hope you enjoy them! As always, let me know if you’re enjoying one through the internet! It’s online all the time!

The Sparkling Jungle Bird

Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIt’s currently awful weather-wise in most of the country, except here in Los Angeles. I’m getting snow reports from my family while we skip about in light sweater cover ups. But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll get another major earthquake  soon to even things out.

Weather really shouldn’t be a factor in what you’re drinking though. Sure, a nice Hot Toddy is fine by the fire, but so is an ostentatious Tiki drink. I’d sip that by the fire too. Today’s recipe is just that: a Tiki drink to sip regardless of where you’re sitting this winter. It’s the last in my series I did for the Serious Drinks site on sparkling cocktails. It will also get you hammered if you drink it on an empty stomach, so don’t do that.

You’ll need a few days to prep the infusion, but after that, you end up with some deliciously boozy pineapple chunks and a lovely, bright tropical fruit infused rum. Can’t complain about that hanging out in your fridge.

Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFor the Pineapple and Lime Infused Rum:

One medium pineapple, peeled, cored and sliced in 1-inch thick wheels
1 cup aged rum, such as Mt. Gay Eclipse
1 oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
Peeled zest of 3 limes, plus 1/2 cup juice from about 8 limes total

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sliced pineapple on a foil-lined pan and roast until tender and starting to brown, about 30 minutes total, flipping halfway through. Let cool and chop roughly. Measure out 1 cup roasted pineapple for infusion.

Combine rum, 1 cup roasted pineapple, and simple syrup in an airtight container. Let sit for 2 days, agitating once a day. After two days, add lime zest and juice. Let sit one day. Strain and reserve pineapple chunks for garnish.Sparkling Jungle Bird #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Cocktail:

2 oz dark rum, such as Gosling’s Black Seal
2-1/2 oz Pineapple and Lime Infused Rum
1 oz Campari
4 oz chilled sparkling wine

For the Garnish:

Rum soaked pineapple chunk (reserved from infusion)
Pineapple leaf
Lime wedge
Luxardo cherry

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add dark rum, infused rum, and Campari. Top with sparkling wine and stir gently if desired. Garnish with a skewered pineapple chunk, lime wedge, pineapple leaf, and Luxardo cherry.

This drink is bright and bubbly with a touch of bitterness. And in true Tiki fashion, it’s super strong. There’s a lot of rum in there, but what’s a decent Tiki creation without a giant heaping helping of booze?

Drink up folks, and let your mind wander to something warm and tropical.

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.

Ruby Fizz // Happy 2 Years to Me

rubyfizz-5I’ll start right off by apologizing for the misleading title. The drink didn’t turn out Ruby colored, or even a pale pink. You get a nice eggshell color when the foam subsides. Oh, but it’s delicious so let’s just put that name game past us.

Around New Year’s I started hearing about a drink called a Diamond Fizz. Ooh fancy pants, I thought. After digging into the recipe, the only marked feature is that you replace the soda water in a Ramos Gin Fizz with Champagne. I still had a couple bottles of Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs at home and didn’t feel the need to go buy more sparkling anything. In my head I imagined the rosiness of the wine to come through and create a two-toned drink to which I would name it the Ruby Fizz. Not so fancy as a diamond, but still pretty classy.rubyfizz-1rubyfizz-3

Alas the color didn’t turn out right, but still keeping the essence of the base (or topper in some Fizz cases), I decided on sticking with that name.

Before you read on let me just mention one thing. There is an egg white in here. NO! Don’t be scared! If you go out for cocktails you might see an egg white turn up on the occasional menu. This is a good thing, I’ll explain. Reading about egg whites in cocktails, I kept coming across the notion that they only add a silky texture to the drink- no egg taste. However, it wasn’t until I made this drink that I realized that yes, it really is silky. The cocktail transforms into something airy, like a cloud in your mouth if you will. Is there a chance you can contract Salmonella? There could always be a teenie tiny chance. You can avoid this by using dehydrated egg whites or getting very fresh eggs, super pasteurized eggs, or liquid egg whites. Your choice. I still lick the spoon after baking every time and I have yet in my life so far gotten sick from doing it.rubyfizz-2

Let’s continue with the drink making!

2 oz. Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
3/4oz. heavy cream
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 drops of Orange Flower Water
1 egg white (from a medium to large egg)
1-2 oz. of Blanc de Noirs (or another sparkling Pinot)

  • Combine all ingredients except the Blanc de Noirs in a Boston Shaker and dry shake (no ice yet!) until frothy. Add ice and shake vigorously for about TWO minutes. Yes, seriously, that long. You got someone around wanting to show off some muscles? Have them do it. You want to show off your muscles? Make this drink.
  • Add the Blanc de Noirs to the bottom of a chilled wine glass, or a Collins glass (some recipes call for adding it in last but that killed my foam when I tried it). Fine strain the rest of the drink on top.

My first whiff of the drink is a lot of the berry from the Blanc de Noirs, then subtle floral notes from the orange flower water. Those floral notes open up into a fuller flavor after you pass the smooth layer of aromatic foam. For a drink with cream in it, it’s not heavy at all. There is a tiny bite from the citrus and the fruity gin in the finish.

This cocktail is so light and refreshing you could drink it at breakfast, but I could also see it in place of fruitier white wines to have with fish or light appetizers. One note on the orange flower water: be careful with the drops. I found that two were plenty for adding that floral note to the drink, but more and it tastes like perfume. Gross. I cobbled this together from several sources to get a solid base for the drink, but I disagree with those wanting to add more than 3 drops of the orange flower water. Also, don’t skip the dry shaking as it really helps start the foam. If you find that you can’t shake the shaker for the required time, I’ve read of a couple places that use a blender or an immersion blender to help blend the egg white and cream. I just unearthed a frothing device (it looks like this) and I imagine this could also help in place of an immersion blender. I will have to try on the next recipe.rubyfizz-6

 

TWO YEARS!

Last Wednesday was officially my two year anniversary here on this blog. I would have written something had I not been preoccupied with doctors and the like for the past week. But here I am now! Scanning my latest booze purchases as I unpack and place them with my current stock, I can’t help but notice how my liquors have changed. I’m still buying the same bases: gin, whiskey, rum, etc… but when I look over the brands, it’s what I don’t see anymore that amuses me. I remember when the only whiskey I had on hand was Jack Daniels. And there was a bottle of Jose Cuervo too, and not much else. Now we’ve had to expand where the liquor goes, taking up a large section of a credenza (until that bar gets built!).  I see a lot of small batch products, a lot of products that you couldn’t get in the U.S. five years ago (thank you cocktail movement), and around 12 bottles of bitters I’m still trying to get around to opening. It’s been a lot of fun writing and explaining to my husband about my need to budget in alcohol into every month. Many of the first resurgence of cocktail blogs seem to be cutting back, falling off, writing elsewhere, but I’m discovering a whole new group of cocktail enthusiasts to which this is all a new love. And I’m exciting to be adding a few new drinks in there too.rubyfizz-4

Cocktail Quickie: Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Recently a friend of mine was up in Napa visiting family and was gracious enough to bring back a case of Gloria Ferrer sparkling wine with her. After downing a couple of the bottles, I decided that maybe I could use them in other (cocktail) ways.

This week I picked up a small container of hibiscus flowers in syrup. I’ve seen some really gorgeous drinks with these and hoped they actually tasted as good as they looked. I am a believer that your drink garnish should 1. make sense with your drink 2. taste good. And these did both. On it’s own, the hibiscus flowers are a bit chewy like a fruit leather, and taste somewhat like rhubarb.

I wanted this drink to be an easy cocktail that could be whipped up quick as necessary, but also look lovely. Need a Mother’s Day cocktail, something for a brunch for people who *gasp* don’t like Bloody Marys, or are bored by Mimosas? Here  you go.

Be careful with the mint. More than half a bar spoon will overpower the drink. I learned that the first time around on this. Together, the mint and hibiscus provided a sweet backdrop to the sharpness of the sparkling wine. And that flower is a nice little treat at the end.

1/2 bar spoon of mint simple syrup
1 hibiscus flower in syrup
4 oz sparkling wine (I used Gloria Ferrer’s Blanc de Blancs, or use a good dry sparkling wine or prosecco)

Pour the mint syrup in the bottom of a champagne flute. Pick out a hibiscus flower, shake off a bit of the syrup, but having some of the liquid still on the flower is fine and will add some extra hibiscus flavor. Place the flower gently in the bottom of the flute and pour the sparkling wine down into the center of the flower. The flower should stay at the bottom of the glass and open up slightly as it sits.