Spiced Gunpowder Guava Cocktail a sweet and savory libation with Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum

This post is brought to you by Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Recipes and ideas are my own.

I’ve decided I hate the term “binge watching” television. The term makes it sound like it’s a bad thing to watch a few hours of House Hunters International. And that, folks, is not a bad way to spend a few hours of relaxation time (i.e. kids are asleep).

The couples on that show are fantastic to watch. Either they are attempting to look into the camera and say something positive about this bungalow in the jungle with giant flying bugs because they are fulfilling some dumb dream when they spent two weeks there in college and now are realizing how difficult it will be dragging their whole family there… OR their significant other is making them get a second house and they are just seething on the inside while obviously trying not to look angry for a national audience. But we can tell!

At the end of the island episodes, the couple is always cheers-ing with some fantastic looking cocktails and they somehow look content with their decision to be the crazy Americans on that island. If they were in Puerto Rico, by the way, they probably were sipping on a cocktail made with Don Q rum.

Today’s recipe is in partnership with Don Q Rums and we’re featuring their newest rum offering the Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum. Don Q Rum has only been in the States a little over a decade, but has been a popular choice in Puerto Rico for 150 years, making it their #1 rum. This spiced rum packs a punch of flavor with vanilla and pepper and just enough sweetness for my palate. While you can definitely sip this rum, it’s also a great mixing rum to make unquestionably delicious cocktails. So that’s what we’re doing with it now!

With such strong flavors to start with in the rum, I decided to use some equally strong flavors to compliment that spiciness. When you think powerful, do you think about gunpowder? In cocktails?! I do, but this version of gunpowder comes in the form of tea. Gunpowder green tea to be exact. Teas are great options for giving subtle (and sometimes not so subtle. Hello lapsang souchong tea!) flavor to cocktails. I steeped this savory, smoky tea in a simple syrup to lend a savory note to the drink and to balance the sweetness of the other components. Thinking of Puerto Rico, I opted to add some guava nectar for tropical sweetness and a big squeeze of lime finished with a touch of orange curaçao. The drink starts sweet, but ends with a lingering earthiness. To give it a finishing kick, the glass is rimmed in a mixture of salt and cayenne.

Ok, so now that we have our tropical inspired drinks, we can get back to the tv watching. While these house hunters might make very questionable choices, make sure your cocktail is unquestionably delicious.

Spiced Gunpowder Guava Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum
3/4 ounce guava nectar
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from about 1 lime (reserve lime shell)
1/2 ounce gunpowder green tea syrup (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce orange curaçao
1 teaspoon kosher salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper for garnish

  • First, combine salt and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Using your spent lime, moisten the outside of your cocktail glass by rubbing the rim with the lime. Rim the side of the cocktail glass in the salt and cayenne mixture.
  • Next, in a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, pour in Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum, guava nectar, lime juice, gunpowder green tea syrup, and orange curaçao. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into pre-rimmed cocktail glass.

Gunpowder Green Tea Syrup

Yields approximately 5 ounces
3 bags of gunpowder green tea (or two heaping tablespoons if you have loose tea)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in teabags (or loose tea if using). Steep for 10 minutes. Strain and use immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month.

For more information about Don Q Oak Barrel Spiced Rum and all their exceptional rums, their commitment to sustainability and quality, and for additional drink & garnish ideas and proper glassware tips please visit their website at donq.com.

Green & Gold Bar Cart Styling

It’s March. It’s almost spring. Let’s refresh that bar cart with a little smattering of green and gold. Lucky Charms cocktail garnish optional.

Thank your lucky (edible) stars we’ve been scouring the internet for some new bar cart items this month. First, skip the green beer and get yourself some green liqueur instead. Now that you’re adulting, a gilded bar cart is much prettier than a cardboard box. Next, grab yourself some equally pretty gold jiggers and a functional pitcher (for like, water or holding straws). And OK, yes, you can have ONE novelty glass. And a stir stick or two. And if you insist, some mint bitters for that adult Shamrock Shake you secretly want.

1. Shamrock Glass 2. Gold Cheers Stir Stick 3. Green Glass Pitcher 4. Gold Jigger 5. Edible Gold Stars 6. Mint Bitters 7. Ashley Bar Cart 8. Green Chartreuse

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Cucumber Seas Cocktail

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Spirits. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Several years ago, when I was still working at a 9 to 5 job, I flew into Chicago for a boring conference. This was one of those conferences that not only had a floor devoted to awkward introductions and sweaty handshakes, but hours and hours of mandatory workshops. After 4 days I was exhausted in every way, but, thankfully I lopped on an extra day for sightseeing—I had never been to Chicago before.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comRight before I had left for the trip a coworker, who was born and raised in the Chicago area, told me I should check out the miniatures over at the Art Institute. I didn’t have time to do any research about what I’d find there prior to leaving, so it was going to be a surprise. I ended up booking a hotel about two blocks from the AI and since I am always keen to check out some art (I got that BA in art history you know…) I decided that I’d take some “me” time and stroll on over there. And it was AMAZING.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comGuys, I have a secret to tell you all: I LOVE manufactured environments. Disneyland, Vegas, countless restored houses in New England I frequented as a child, and these tiny miniature rooms…  This might be why I chose to make dioramas for all my book reports when that was an option (see list here). I’m sure someone out there could psychoanalyze why but who cares?

Today I’m taking that idea of the small, magical environment and turning it towards cocktails. Recently I stumbled upon these really unique cocktail glasses made by Czech designer Martin Jakobsen and it was love at first sight. The shapes and stylings had the gears in my brain turning at high speed: what to make first?

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comI loved how these looked like terrariums and my mind wandered towards air plants and sea grasses. And cucumbers. Not sea cucumbers mind you, but just the regular guys you see at the market. I had recently received a bottle of Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur and had developed a recipe using shiso and coconut milk. The dreamy liquid seemed to me the perfect base to display inside the globular glass and using the green elements from the drink, I could create my own little world in a cocktail.

The cucumber liqueur has a perfectly light and sweet taste that married well with the coconut milk. Together they create a slightly creamy cocktail with a tart, floral and subtle cucumber flavor. I chose a pinch of hibiscus salt for balance in the finish. The hibiscus gives another layer of floral to the nose and just a touch of bitterness. To make the sea grass garnish in the globe, I dehydrated cucumber peels at 200°F for 15 minutes in the oven. The effect is purely aesthetic but I do love the smell of dried cucumber too.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comAnd guys, you don’t need these little globe cocktail glasses to make the drink. A double rocks glass will do just fine too.

Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Spirits are right up my alley. They use all natural, sustainably farmed, organic ingredients all made in small batches by people—not machines. I invite you to check out their Cucumber Liqueur and their entire product line at thatchersorganic.com.

Now let’s get shaking!

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur
2 shiso leaves
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
3/4 ounce coconut milk
Hibiscus salt and cucumber slices for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the shiso leaves with lime juice. Add in ice 2/3 up the shaker and then pour in the vodka, Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur, simple syrup and coconut leaves. Shake hard for 20 seconds and double strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber slices and hibiscus salt.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Harissa Explains It All a sweet and spicy #PerfectMargarita with Patrón Tequila

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Patrón Tequila. Recipes and ideas are my own.

If one tv show summed up my preadolescent life, it would be Clarissa Explains It All. God I loved that show. I could probably attribute it to making me even more of a quirky kid; the clothes, the chili pepper lights around the window, a boy for a best friend, the “I don’t care about fitting in” messages. Clarissa was a strong willed, independent female that, myself being the eldest sister in the family, I could look up to for inspiration.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comOk Elana but what does this story have to do with Margaritas?

Well, everything. Ok, well not everything but that quirky spirit instilled in me at that young age still abounds and often finds its way into my life in all sorts of ways. Maybe you’ve noticed on this site that I get a little quirky from time to time? Today we’re getting a little quirky with some margaritas and a tube of harissa paste.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comThere is nothing wrong with the classic margarita. I love them. I love that there is a day devoted to them, even if it falls in February (?!). But I get bored of the same old same old and I never can leave good enough alone. I am always on the lookout for my #PerfectMargarita.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comI’ve always been a big fan of having a little savory along with my sweet, and Patrón’s Silver tequila is a lovely base for doing just that. Patrón Silver has a slightly citrus and peppery flavor profile that is smooth enough to mix into a great tasting margarita.  My sweet element comes from ripe Champagne mangoes. Their juicy nectar cuts down on added sweetener but also gives a subtle tart bite that some freshly squeezed lime juice highlights. I’ve finished this off today with a touch of chili salt to remind the palate that they’re in for some SPICE before they even taste the first sip.Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.com

Ready to get quirky? Let’s get mixing.

2 ounces Patrón Silver tequila*
4 1/2″ cubes mango, Champagne variety used here
1/4 barspoon harissa paste (more or less to taste)
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
chili salt for rim (like Tajín or similar)
lime peel for garnish

  • In the bottom of a shaker tin, muddle the mangoes with the harissa and lime juice until broken down. Add in the tequila and simple syrup and fill the shaker 2/3 with ice. Shake until chilled about 20 seconds. Rim a rocks glass with the chili salt by dipping the edge in lime juice then the salt. Add in a single large ice cube. Strain into the rocks glass and garnish with the lime peel.

Harissa Explains It All: a sweet and spicy Margarita with Patrón Tequila // stirandstrain.comRight now THIS is my #PerfectMargarita. Tell me all about yours!


And if you’d love to have a few options for Cinco de Mayo this year, check out the winning cocktail from Patrón’s Margarita of the Year contest. This contest began on National Margarita Day (of course), and featured margaritas made in 7 categories: herbal, spicy, smoky, savory, modern, tropical and classic.

Over 50,000 votes were cast (including a vote from the one and only cocktail historian David Wondrich) and the Rosa Picante Margarita was IT; so you know it’s going to be good. Bartender Jordan Corney from San Antonio, TX was inspired by the classic margarita and the El Diablo, two of his favorite cocktails, and adding the modern component of jalapeño oil to impart texture and complexity to the drink. And check out this pretty sexy cocktail video of Jordan making the drink and talking about what inspired him to create it (it makes me want one RIGHT NOW).

Rosa Picante Margarita

Created by Jordan Corney, Bohanan’s (San Antonio, TX)

2 oz Patrón Silver
.5 oz Patrón Citrónge Lime
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.5 oz ginger syrup
Bar spoon jalapeño oil
Dash rosewater
Rose petal sea salt

  • Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe that has been half-rimmed with rose sea salt, and top with a dash of rose water. Garnish with a rose petal, if available.

For more information about Patrón Tequilas and liqueurs, please visit patrontequila.com.

*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day 2016

This year for Mother’s Day, give her what she really wants: a couple bottles of Prosecco and for you to leave her alone.

 

Mothers Day Gift Guide 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Why have Mom choose just one little black number when she can have a black, grey and white choice (of Prosecco, that is). A dash or two of bitters into a flowery tumbler will make for a delicious road soda on the way to brunch. Give her a few cocktail pins to hold her scarf in place and away you go! And after all the kids have gone, all she wants to do is soak in a giant daiquiri bathtub and slather wine on from head to toe. Don’t we all?

1. Rosemary Lavender Bitters 2. Cocktail Pins 3. Bottle Stock Wine Opener 4. Melon Daiquiri Shower Gel 5. Zonin Prosecco Black Edition 6. Kate Spade Flower Tumbler 7. Zonin Prosecco Grey Edition 8. Wine Therapy mask 9. Zonin Prosecco White Edition

Gift Guide: Giddy Up! (Kentucky Derby Time!)

One week from tomorrow it’s OK to carry around a riding crop and wear a helmut in public. Be prepared. Get bourbon.

Gift Guide: Kentucky Derby 2016 // stirandstrain.com

Leave those tiny silver cups at home, we’re feeding a crowd. And by feeding I mean drinking a giant silver punch bowl filled with Mint Juleps. So get your Maker’s Mark, and a commercial ice crusher, and if you have the time, grow some mint! Or, you could just fake it and add in some mint simple instead. Stir it all up with some wild horses, and please, gentlemen, use a napkin.

1. Feeling giddy napkin 2. Grow your own mint plants 3. Triple Crown Napkins 4. Gold Horse Drink Stirrers 5. Maker’s Mark Bourbon American Pharoah Commemorative Bottle (available May 1st!) 6. Mint Julep Simple Syrup 7. Commerical Ice Crusher 8. Silver Vintage Punch Bowl

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz with the magic of Aquafaba

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comHey guys! I wrote a long, “science” laden post all about aquafaba over here and this post is where I’m sticking the recipe for properly making the cocktail. But for the short version, aquafaba is the cooking liquid from beans like chickpeas (or any neutral tasting legume) that is used in place of egg whites. Hence, a vegan cocktail (unless your bourbon is fat washed or you cooked your beans in chicken stock)!

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.comNote: if you want to make this with an egg white, you can do a 1:1 substitution for the aquafaba. It just won’t be vegan anymore. 

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com1-3/4 ounce sloe gin, I used Spirit Works Distillery*
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 ounce aquafaba, see note above
2 ounces chilled club soda, Q-Club used here

In a shaker, combine sloe gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and squafaba. Dry shake with 1 ice cube until very frothy (I find this takes anywhere from 15 -30 seconds). Then add ice until shaker is 2/3 full. Shake again to combine and chill for about 20 seconds. Strain into a highball glass and add club soda.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with Melon, Pimm’s and Crystalized Ginger One SPICY cocktail!

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comFor about the last month or so you guys may have noticed I’ve been promoting a contest by Tarantas Wines where I’ll be judging all of the wine-based cocktails. I feel that sometimes saying “wine-based” for cocktails confuses people, like, they only imagine taking the wine and mixing it with club soda and maybe adding a mint leaf to it. Or, in one kinda sad case online I recently saw some wine cocktails that were just a bottle of wine blended with a basket of strawberries and ice. It looked pretty in the picture, but I wouldn’t warrant it an innovative cocktail.

I’l take a step back here though and not get on the soapbox about what IS and ISN’T a cocktail, because quite frankly that’s not a debate I want to get into. (Although, side-note, according to David Wondrich the first usage of the term cocktail has to do with horses and ginger placed in their, um, well, butts to make their tails perk up.)

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comSo let’s talk about how I like to make wine cocktails, or rather, since the weather is getting HOT again in my neighborhood, wine slushie cocktails. I don’t bat an eyelash over frozen cocktails as evidenced here here and here. In fact, book publishers- if you want a cocktail book on this subject, go ahead and contact me; I’m taking meetings.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comThe wine I’ve chosen as my base is Tarantas Monastrell, an inky, tart and not-too-sweet red from the Jumilla region of Spain. Because it’s so dry, I added in some sweetness with honeydew melon and Pimm’s No. 1. The Pimm’s also adds in some spices and subtle earthy flavors. I wanted to finish this on a spicy note so in went crystalized ginger. (You can get crystalized ginger in a speciality grocer, online, or can make your own too.) I wanted to add a touch more sweetness and have some of the ginger chunks actually present in the drink- think of them as your chewy spice bombs. Otherwise I could have gone with fresh ginger infused in some capacity.

Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.comTo minimize watering the drink down with ice, I pre-freeze the mixture the night before. Because there is a low alcohol content, the mixture actually becomes solid overnight but not completely frozen. This way I can add the pre-frozen mixture directly into the blender and only add ice to it as needed. Yes, it’s an additional step that requires some thought beforehand, but it makes for a better frozen drink. If you don’t have the time to freeze overnight, you should at least chill the mixture a few hours beforehand, and if you need this IMMEDIATELY, then go ahead and throw it into the blender with crushed ice, just taste and adjust as you go.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

The overnight mixture makes for a refreshing and light cocktail. You get honeyed ginger flavors with subtle spice and some grassiness; overall it’s quite balanced. If you like your drinks even spicer, I’d up the ginger by another tablespoon, it gets quite zingy.Tarantas Wine Slushie with honeydew, Pimm's No. 1 and crystalized ginger // stirandstrain.com

15 ounces honey dew melon (about half a melon), chopped into 1/2″ pieces
36 g or 1.2 ounces (about a quarter cup) chopped Crystalized ginger
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ration)
4 ounces of Pimm’s No. 1
8 ounces Tarantas Monastrell wine*
crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals for garnish

  • The night before, combine the honeydew melon, crystalized ginger, simple syrup, Pimm’s No. 1 and the Tarantas Monastrell wine into a gallon size ziplock bag. Freeze overnight.
  • When ready to make the cocktails, add pre-frozen mixture to a blender and blend to desired consistency (should be smooth, not too chunky). Add ice as needed.
  • To serve, pour into double rocks glasses and garnish with crystalized ginger pieces and edible flower petals.

Remember, you have until THIS FRIDAY to enter your own wine-based cocktail on the Tarantas website! Happy Wine Wednesday everyone!

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker and a Stir and Strain Grab Bag!

Giveaway: Zen and Tonic Cocktail book and grab bag // stirandstrain.comIt’s Spring! And I think it’s time for a little cocktail refresh don’t you? I LOVE a cocktail made from fresh ingredients, and even better when they come from my garden. This week we’ve got a giveaway that’s sure to bring on the cocktail inspiration (from your garden, or, you know, the supermarket). Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker has over 80 recipes that are not only delicious, but can also provide a health boost too!

Giveaway: Zen and Tonic Cocktail book and grab bag // stirandstrain.comBlending superfoods right into your drinks, Aron’s recipes use unexpected ingredients, like ginger, kiwis, coconut water, kale, and kombucha, for powerful health benefits and surprisingly delicious flavors. A boozy boost is optional, but highly recommended, in recipes like:

* Papaya Passion Fresca
* The Drunken Avocado
* Yellow Mary
* Retox Detox
* Mexican Chocolate Buzz

Giveaway: Zen and Tonic Cocktail book and grab bag // stirandstrain.comBesides cocktail recipes, it also includes some fun ideas for making boozy popsicles, flavored ice cubes, infused spirits, and lots of techniques to up your cocktail game!

And we’ve been doing some Spring cleaning around Stir and Strain headquarters (like updating our bar shelves) and have put together a fun grab bag of goodies (no booze though this time, but we promise it’s fun stuff!).

Giveaway: Zen and Tonic Cocktail book and grab bag // stirandstrain.com
So are you ready to stuff some Spring into your drinks?! Me too! Oh wait, I can’t enter. But you can! Check out the options below to enter and get up to 11 entries to win. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST Sunday April 10th, 2016. For more information on Zen and Tonic and the Healthy Bartender, check out the Jules Aron website!

On the Town: Spring Previews in Los Angeles

This month I’ve been trying all the cocktails and eating all the foods so you only have to try the best.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles this year and want a few recommendations as to where to drink (or eat), leave us a comment below or send an email (or social media, or WHATEVER way works for you).

Here’s our highlights from March.

THE SPARE ROOM

TERRINE

PALM DESERT FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL PREVIEW

And here’s a few behind the scenes snaps!