This post is brought to you by White Claw Hard Seltzer. Recipes and ideas are my own.
I could drink green tea all the live long day. I’ve convinced myself it’s a cure all drink; tired: drink tea. Feeling like I’m about to catch a cold: drink more tea. Stressed: GREEN TEA. But it’s also my secret cocktail ingredient. Green tea adds an earthy layer of flavor that gives a touch of savory to whatever drink you add it to.
Well, summer’s here. And I’m not going to complain about all this over 100° weather we’re having in Southern California. Nope. Not going to complain…
Instead I’ll use it as an excuse to sit in the pool with my flamingo drink holder. My fruit wine for the morning and my Japanese whiskey for the night (your whiskey changes each season too, right?). With a summery cocktail book in one hand, and my favorite citrus tools in the other I really won’t need much else for the next few months. Ok, maybe some boozy hot fudge sauce. That’s a must.
All Dad wants to do is drink good booze, read about some booze, and he doesn’t want rose gold barware. And maybe a steak. Actually, yes, grill him a steak too.
Want to surprise Dad with something new? Well, how about the best American Brandy sampler you need in your liquor cabinet right now? And don’t try and slip in some chintzy jigger you scored at the airport on the way to see him. Cocktail Kingdom now has gunmetal black bar tools: the manliest of the manly. Oh but he’s that manly? Well, just get him an Opinel knife. You can zest, cut, and I don’t know what else with this knife…cut down a tree to make a barrel? Books? Yes, Dad wants books. About booze.
Give me a single good piece of chocolate and I am usually good for dessert. No need to make it into a fancy cake (although I’d eat it), or melt it into some ice cream (I’d eat that too), just by itself I’m usually satisfied. Now, pair it with a good cocktail and I’m golden…
Which brings us to today’s post. I was recently introduced to Taza’s organic dark Mexican style chocolate discs and a single piece was not enough this time. The rich, crunchy chocolate has started to become my dessert ritual and I figured it was time I made a cocktail to pair alongside it.
So what might become a semi-regular thing around these parts, I’ve decided to create some cocktail and food bite pairings that shouldn’t break the bank. But, at the same time, seem pretty decadent, well thought out, and most importantly DELICIOUS. First up is dessert (which is the way it should be).
It’s summer. It’s hot. You don’t want a cocktail or dessert to weigh you (and anyone you happen to be entertaining) down. This cocktail plays it light with an unexpected main ingredient, Bauchant. I first tasted Bauchant at the WSWA this year and was all goggle-eyed at how delicious this was just on its own. But what is it you ask? Bauchant is an orange liqueur with a cognac base that uses 3 different orange varieties: Andalusian, Mandarin, and Tangerine. It’s complex and lovely and on its own quite sippable, but on the heavier side. I combined it with a splash of gin, another splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a heavy glug of club soda to transform it into a refreshing long drink that’s not too sweet and super flavorful. The sweetness of the Bauchant gets a nice contrast of tart from the lemon, with a few juniper notes from the gin, and mellows out with the club soda. Delicious.
And the pairing for this sipper? Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs. Their Classic collection has a lot to choose from: Cinnamon, Vanilla, Guajillo Chili, Salted Almond, Cacao Puro, and Coffee. The coffee won me over for this pairing though. The dark, roasted coffee and chocolate flavors contrasted with the sharp effervescent cocktail are a perfect pair.
Are you hungry yet? Let’s get mixing!
1 ounce Bauchant liqueur
1/2 ounce Beefeater London Dry gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-3 ounces club soda, Q-Club used here
lemon peel for garnish
In a highball glass (or if you have it, Delmonico style chimney glass which is around 5-8 ounces), fill with crushed ice. Build the cocktail by adding in the Bauchant liqueur, Beefeater London Dry gin, and lemon juice. Give it a stir or two and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon peel and break off a big piece of Taza’s Coffee Chocolate Mexicano Discs, sit back, and savor summer.
*This cocktail pairing post was inspired by Taza Chocolate and Drizly, the on-demand liquor delivery company. I hope I’ve inspired you to make a drink and treat yourself. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
Maybe 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.
Thank 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.
This recipe yields enough for about 4 cocktails, but you can also single batch this for yourself. I’ve been enjoying these splits of sparkling winelately 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.
For 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.
You know guys, if we’re all thinking ahead. Maybe we should just freeze a bunch of peach slices, and then in a few months when we’re complaining about the cold, we can turn the heat up really high in the house and make a couple of these frozen peach cocktails? That sounds like a plan.
And while we’re on the subject of future endeavors, Stir and Strain will be taking a much, much needed vacation in October. A real one, unlike last year’s where I spent countless nights staying up scheduling out content and then still kept working through the break. I have to start convincing myself now that I don’t need to bring my laptop to go look at Fall foliage for two weeks.
But until then, we got a few more recipes and a couple extra special treats coming up! And now onto those cocktails…
6 ounces white rum, such as Caña Brava
4 ounces coconut cream, such as Coco Lopez
2 ounces simple syrup
2-3 ripe peaches, pitted and cubed
8 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce dark rum, such as Blackwell, divided (optional)
Ground cinnamon and 4 cinnamon sticks, for garnish
Combine rum, coconut cream, simple syrup, and Angostura in a zipper-lock bag or resealable container. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
To serve, transfer the rum mixture to a blender and add 3 cups ice. Blend at high speed until well mixed and thick, about 45 seconds. Pour into 4 highball glasses and top each with 1/4 ounce dark rum (if desired), a dash of cinnamon, and a cinnamon stick.
The fresh, ripe fruit adds a ton of intense flavor in this creamy cocktail. The spice from the Angostura, the slightly sweet coconut and all that rum make for a fresh, tropical cocktail. For an extra boozy punch, float dark rum on top with a dash of cinnamon to enhance the aroma.
It’s September. Target was filled with Halloween decorations about two weeks ago, and I have a fruit basket filled with peaches. They’re not the prettiest peaches mind you, but they’re still sooooo tasty.
I do this every year. I overbuy summer produce like I’ll never see it again and when it starts getting close to Fall, I scramble to use it up. As you all know, it kills me to throw food away. This year it’s a little easier with a little one who gobbles up peaches but I’m still staring at this fruit basket scratching my head.
And then I go, DUH, and drag out the blender.
Where once you only bought a frozen cocktail while on vacation where you both did not care what you were drinking, and you were more than likely not going to remember it anyway, now I insist you make them for yourself and loved ones. I convinced you to make a Frozen Blood and Sand cocktail last month, and let’s not forget that Cucumber and Green Chartreuse number from last year.
This post is part one of emptying that fruit basket of all those peaches.
Peaches, meet tequila.
6 ounces blanco tequila, such as Herradura
2 ripe peaches, pitted and cubed
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks
2 ounces fresh pineapple juice
1-1/2 ounces Suze
8 mint leaves
Mint leaves and extra pineapple chunks, for garnish
Combine tequila, peaches, pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, Suze, and mint leaves in a zipper-lock bag or resealable jar. Chill at least 8 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
To serve, transfer chilled tequila mixture to a blender and add 3 cups ice. Blend at high speed until well mixed and thick, about 45 seconds. Divide between coupe glasses and garnish with a pineapple chunk and mint leaves.
A little on the savory side with earthy notes from the tequila and the herbal, floral, bitter Suze. Your sweet peaches balance out that earthy side, mixed with sweet-tart pineapple and mint for a concoction that’s both refreshing and complex.
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.
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
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.
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.
This post is brought to you by Nielsen-Massey. Ideas are my own.
Is it too early to start thinking about Fall weather and cozy sweaters? Is it wrong that I may have turned my air conditioning down real low the other day and pretended it was cold outside? Please don’t judge. When Southern California gets its end-of-summer heat waves (that start around mid-August and go through October. Blech.), I start daydreaming pretty hard about being able to turn on my fireplace and snuggle up to it with something equally cozy.
Amaretto might not scream Autumn to you, in fact, it just might make you scream, but I’m a firm believer that a little amaretto now and then is good for you. Ever since I made myself an Amaretto Sour a few years back (on a quest to find things to do with this giant bottle I had acquired), I realized that I had been missing out on a flavor I really loved, and wouldn’t mind more of: almond. But then I went and had too much of a good thing and realized my go-to sour just wasn’t cutting it. What I needed was a little more warm, Fall flavors, and maybe a heaping helping of the unexpected. So in stepped Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon (my “all purpose”) vanilla beans and pure lemon extract. And a couple of N2O cartridges for good measure.
I’ve had Nielsen-Massey vanilla beans, pastes, extracts, you name it, in my pantry for over a decade now (thanks in part to my old job where I had access to the best ingredients Los Angeles chefs could get. Read why they’re a great pick here!). Today I’m excited to team up with them to bring you a cocktail using their amazing, hand picked vanilla beans.
Vanilla and almond are a great pair. I stick them in plenty of baked goods, and now I’m sticking them together in a cocktail. I’m also including an egg white, typically found in a sour, but not in your typical way.
I make no apologies on here about my love of foams in drinks. Besides looking nice, foams provide a way to suspend aromas above the drink, and also are a lovely layer to taste as well. That silky texture is your first sip before you get to the meat of the cocktail. Here, an extra boost of lemon first greets your nose before you get to the rich vanilla flecked amaretto. The foam mixes with the cocktail to cut through that richness to make the usual heavier cocktail a much lighter version.
So now you have a fun weekend DIY and a whole week to look forward to this delicious cocktail. But… if you can’t wait a week, you can always cheat with a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste mixed into your amaretto. The flavor is not as deep as the infusion but works in a pinch!
1 cup amaretto
2 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, cut into 1” segments
Combine the amaretto and vanilla segments in an airtight container. Shake hard for 10 seconds to release some of the seeds from the pods. Let sit in a cool, dark place for 5 days. Taste test and leave for another day or two if you want an even stronger flavor. When ready, strain pods from the amaretto leaving seeds behind in the liquid. Infusion will keep for 1 year stored in a cool, dark place.
In a whip cream canister, add water, egg whites, simple syrup and lemon extract. Seal and charge with one N2O charger. Shake hard and charge with a second charger. Shake again and chill for at least an hour before using.
2 ounces vanilla-infused amaretto
1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon peel for garnish
In a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, add the vanilla-infused amaretto and lemon juice. Shake for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Top with about ½” of the lemon foam. Garnish with the lemon peel.