3..2..1.. Aperol Spritz Break! Indoors or Outdoors, Summer Adventure is Go

Aperol Spritz Break // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Aperol. Ideas are my own.

Today’s post is a kind of choose your own adventure. Whether you prefer to stay in an air conditioned home bar, or off under a shady tree on a hot summer day, I’m here to help make sure that wherever you do go, you have a pretty sweet bar set up.

I’ve teamed up with Aperol this summer to help kick off your very own Aperol Spritz Break. What’s that you ask? Italy’s favorite spirit, Aperol, has it’s own signature cocktail that’s the perfect reason to stop and take a moment to relax. Where you relax is up to you, so let’s get you set up for your #SpritzBreak.Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.com

The Home Bar

Although you may have a serious case of missing out looking at everyone’s Instagram account that shows off their mid-century bar cart, let me tell you that a decent home bar does not require one. I don’t have one, and look, I have a whole website devoted to cocktails made out of a home bar. This set up just requires you have a small rectangle of space to devote to your seasonal drink.

A seasonal drink? Yes. Why? Because cluttering up your space with a bunch of bottles is messy and if you have everything picked out ready to go, you look so smart when guests drop in and you can offer them a drink within seconds. It also means you get to switch out the area every season and fill it up with a new recipe and accoutrements; man I love the accoutrements. For the summer I’m enjoying an Aperol Spritz.Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.com

What makes a great space? The details. Your bar set up should be a tiny party waiting to happen. It should look like fun, but it should also be neat and have everything you need.

Like the proper bottles: have all the bottles you need for your seasonal drink ready and full. And then some. I love the small bottles from Q-Club and Fevertree for when I’m having a cocktail or two at home, or if a friend or Christopher is there enjoying one with me. For the larger crowds I use a soda siphon. Special dibs to you if you have a vintage one that works!

Ice: invest in a good ice bucket that will keep your ice cool. I like to break out my bronze pineapple when I have guests, but if it’s couple night at the house, I have a rugged OXO insulated bucket that gets the job done.

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comTools & Glassware: for the Aperol Spritz, no shaker is necessary. Just a stir stick to give it a final swirl before serving. For this punchy-colored cocktail I prefer an equal punchy-colored stirrer. These birds came from South America, but you can just go as far as Amazon and find some colorful ones. For serving, I like to have a few different size glasses available since this recipe is so adaptable. A few stemless wine glasses and some larger goblets for when you’re in the mood. And don’t forget a small knife for your fruit.

And speaking of fruit: always have a full bowl of fruit. Always. It’s not like they need to be kept refrigerated, they pretty up the space, and you’ll need lots of orange slices on hand for that Aperol Spritz.

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comExtras: It may seem obvious, but have some napkins for you and your guests. I always have paper and cloth napkins at the ready. You know there are just some people you’ll have over that either need a lot of napkins or are going to destroy your nice hand-stamped linen ones: give them paper. Alternatively, there are going to be some folks who scoff at paper. Whether it’s because of the environment or they’re a whole bunch of haughty hoo-haw: give them the cloth. Chances are they know enough not to spit their gum out in it.  This same reasoning goes with straws too. Both napkins and straws are the quickest way to change up the whole theme of your bar area.

And lastly, flowers: I’m a glutton for fresh flowers around the house. If I had my way there would be a constant rotation of flowers and my house would always smell amazing. A little bouquet just perks up the bar area and you don’t have to get super fancy. BONUS: get edible flowers and use them in your drinks.

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comThe Outside Bar

Whether you’re moving the party outside to the stoop, out to the park, or over to the beach, sometimes you need to just take it out of the house. Everything you need to have your own Spritz Break party can easily fit into a small insulated bag like this; just stop and get some ice on the way!

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comMany of the same requirements for your home bar set up work out in the wild:

  1. Bring only what you need: a bottle of Aperol, a bottle of prosecco, and two small bottles of club soda is enough for you and a small group of friends to have a nice round of drinks.
  2. Have the right tools: napkins, straws, a bottle open, a selfie-stick. Only the essentials.
  3. Glassware: leave the real glass at home. Invest in some nice quality plastic for trips out.
  4. A place to sit: blankets are lovely.

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comPlan ahead though too:

  1. Chill your bottles beforehand. That way your ice doesn’t immediately melt as soon as it hits the liquid.
  2. Cut your garnishes at home. Then you don’t have to bring a cutting board, a knife, and attract bees (trust me on the bees).
  3. Bring along some lazy games like playing cards or dominoes. Or Cards Against Humanity. Something that you only need to give a quarter of your attention to so you really do feel like you’re taking a break.

Regardless of where you head this summer, use these tips to make sure you have the best bar set up, and you’re sure to have a relaxing Spritz Break.

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.comNever had an Aperol Spritz before, or need a recipe refresher? It’s as easy as 3, 2, 1:

3 parts prosecco, Cinzano Prosecco used here
2 parts Aperol
1 part club soda, Q-Club used here

  • Add prosecco, Aperol and club soda to a glass filled with ice. There’s really no cap on the size of each part; I’ve been known to fill a goblet or two. Top your glass off with a slice of orange, maybe a straw or two, and you’re ready for your #SpritzBreak!

For more Aperol Spritz Break ideas, please head on over to Aperol.com!

Grilled Rambutan Cocktail

Grilled Rambutan Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThings I use my grill for:

  1. grilling meat, duh
  2. cooking vegetables
  3. making pizza
  4. grilling up cocktails

Cocktails? Whaaaaa?!

Well, you’re outside on the grill anyways during the summer, might as well put it to some good use in the drink department. And if you’ve been on here before, every summer now I sort through the seasonal (and maybe not so seasonal) fruits and see what happens when you char them up. Like mangoes. And nectarines, limes and cherries. But especially cherries (so much so I made some for Kristin at DineXDesign too). Sometimes though, you run out of fruit to grill, and you unearth something from the depths of your pantry. And then the science experiments start and that’s where you can really have some fun.

Grilled Rambutan Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo, admittedly, I bought this can before I left my day job which was over a year and a half ago. How long I bought it before I left that job is a total mystery. But every so often I would open my pantry, stick my head in, notice this can of rambutans, squint at it like it’s going to tell me what to do with it, and then leave it there for another day. That is, until a few days ago.Grilled Rambutan Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

I had promised to make a pitcher of cocktails for some friends coming over but in my usual fashion of late, left it to the night before. And because the fruit from the farmer’s market has been so good lately, I had eaten all of it. With a sad, empty fruit bowl staring at me, wagging its imaginary banana finger, I suddenly realized now might be a good time to crack open those rambutans (which, for the record, I can’t help but sing as “bam-a-lam” from that Black Betty song).

I tasted one, a little crunchy with a sweet-tart taste similar to a grape; it could only get better with some grill time. And it did. The richer flavors that developed turned out to be a just the ingredient to pair with some tequila, grapefruit and lime juice. And smoked salt. Always with the smoked salt.

Grilled Rambutan Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you’re not in possession of a grill, no worries! You can make this on a grill pan or under the broiler too.

Makes 4 cocktails
12 rambutans, peeled and seed removed if fresh (canned rambutans come ready to eat and are available online here)
6 ounces blanco tequila
2 ounces fresh juice from 1 white grapefruit
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 limes
1 ounce simple syrup
Smoked sea salt and lime juice for rimming

  1. If using the grill: Soak 3 wooden skewers in water for at least 1 hour. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place 4 rambutans on each skewer, and grill over high heat until char lines appear and fruit has softened slightly but still holds its shape, about 1 minute per side. Let cool and remove from skewers until ready to use.
  2. If using the broiler: Adjust rack to 4 inches below broiler element and preheat broiler to high. Place rambutans on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Broil until softened and lightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes total. Let cool and remove from skewers.
  3. In the bottom of a small pitcher, muddle the rambutans to release juices and break up the fruit. Add tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and simple syrup. Cover and chill for at least an hour up to overnight.
  4. To serve, add lime juice to a saucer and smoked salt to another. Dip the side of 4 rocks glasses in lime juice and then gently roll the outside edge in smoked salt. Add ice to each glass and strain the cocktail, dividing equally among the glasses.

The slightly nutty flavors pair wonderfully with tequila, while fresh lime and grapefruit juice highlight the floral and tart elements of the rambutan. A touch of simple syrup is not enough to make the whole concoction sweet; instead, it helps round out the flavor and brighten the mix.

***This recipe originally was written for Serious Eats.

Gunpowder Gin Punch

Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comHappy Friday everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying this week’s posts on the site. Have you entered to win some summer reading? You can do that here if you’d like.

Have the fireworks died down in your neck of the woods? Where I live in Los Angeles, fireworks started popping off around mid-June… and they’re still going off almost a week after the 4th. After moving out here over 13 years ago the surprise has worn off and I’ve just accepted this as a natural part of summer out here. At all times of day. Like 10am (why even bother?!). Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Since the weekend is just about here, I’d like to offer up a punch for you to bring to your next summer party. I’m sure you have a few on your calendar coming up, and maybe a few penciled in for tomorrow. While it may not produce multi-colored fireworks, it does have gunpowder! Well, gunpowder tea, which isn’t an actual explosive but sounds pretty darn close. (Apparently it gets its name from the way the tea is rolled… like the little pellets used in the old days)Gunpowder Gin Punch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

At its base, there’s an oleo-saccharum (your fancy term for muddled citrus peels and sugar) and with the tea, it’s kinda like a boozy, refreshing Arnold Palmer. The kicker here is the addition of celery bitters (!!!). So the result is a sweet and savory punch that has unexpected flavors but it definitely a crowd pleaser.

Plus, people will be intrigued just by you saying ‘gunpowder’ in the title.  But maybe sneak in a few sparklers one last time this weekend for good measure as well.

For the Oleo-Saccharum:

2 lemons
1 lime
4 ounces granulated sugar

Peel zest from lemons and lime, trying to remove as little white pith as possible. Reserve peeled fruit for another use. Toss the peels with the sugar in a nonreactive bowl. Muddle gently until peels begin to express their oils, and let sit 6 hours or up to overnight, covered. Strain peels from the mixture, set liquid aside.

For the Gunpowder Tea:

3 teabags gunpowder green tea
16 ounces boiling water

Pour boiling water over tea in a heat-proof container. Let steep 4 minutes. Strain and set brewed tea aside. Let cool to room temperature before using.

For the Punch:

8 ounces gin, such as Aviation
16 ounces Gunpowder Tea at room temperature
8 dashes celery bitters, such as Scrappy’s
Lemon wheels and celery stalks for garnish

In a pitcher or punch bowl, combine gin, tea, bitters, and oleo-saccharum. Stir to combine and let sit for at least an hour at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator. To serve, add ice to rocks glasses, pour in the punch and add a lemon wheel and celery stalk for garnish.
This recipe originally written for 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 Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts!

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comSummer wiiiiines… make me feel fiiiiiinnne!

Well folks, we are fully into summer now and the outdoor parties/concerts/star gazing/stoop sitting events are going strong. With all these gatherings I’ve started to realize that, while cocktails are fine and dandy, many of my friends (and their friends) also want a glass of wine when they’re out and about. And sometimes I do too. This week I’m introducing a new quarterly column on here with my pal and wine lover Robin.

Robin loves wine. And he thinks you’ll love these wines. Why? Because these wines are made for cocktail lovers. They’re unique and flavorful and best of all… cheap. Time to stock up! But first, here’s Robin with a little intro about himself and the Summer Wine Report!

-Elana


Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comI am a freelance illustrator and wine hoarder living and working out of Los Angeles. I fell in love with wine right around the time I turned 21. The restaurant I worked in had a separate wine bar and I was able to start attending tastings and winemaker events. Having access to great wine at such an early age spoiled me. Having a small budget at that same age made me get resourceful. Since that time, I have been fortunate enough to befriend some really fantastic wine makers, shop owners, and sommeliers that have helped me further my wine education. Cooking and gardening have always played an integral role in my life and I have found that few things can enhance a good meal/afternoon/evening/morning/camping trip/barn raising/what have you like a nice bottle of wine. I love sharing my latest wine finds over a good meal and love even more finding a way to remove the pretense and intimidation from the experience for the people in my life. With some many great (and affordable!) wines out there there is no excuse for drinking bad wine and I am looking forward to sharing some of my favorite picks with the Stir & Strain audience each season.

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comLa Boutanche Gamay
France
Retails apx. $17

This gamay is funky but that funkiness lends itself to some real versatility. It has a blackberry shrub meets cauliflower meets smoked meat thing happening on the nose that gives way to a surprisingly light and tart taste that could easily be enjoyed with tacos, Asian foods, seafood, or really anything grilled. Its not too heavy for seafood but the cherry/chorizo notes and soft, subtle tannic element on the finish would make it appropriate for meatier fare. I would say this affordably priced liter with a twist off cap would be welcome at any table, picnic, or cookout this summer. On a side note, I recommend throwing a little chill on it.

tocai-bottleFolk Machine Tocai Friulano
California
Retails apx. $13

Summertime is perfect for drinking light crisp wines and I’d be hard pressed to find another bottle that epitomizes that more this season than Folk Machine’s Tocai Friulano. Subtle citrus elements like lemon and grapefruit play a harmonious second fiddle to the striking minerality this wine presents. You can almost taste the crisp salt air of Mendocino where these 40 year old Friulano vines grow. Super lean and only 11% alc this is a wine you can, and will want to, drink all day.

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comRed Car Rosé
California
Retails apx. $28

I am a sucker for a dry rosé. This rosé of 100% pinot noir is more than that. The first time I had this wine I was shocked it wasn’t from Provence. Incredibly dry and elegant this true vin gris is what I imagine wine made from the palest pink grapefruits might taste like. Steely and just the tiniest hint of cherry make this rosé the perfect start to a summer afternoon with friends or companion for a sunset. Or brunch. Or a beach day. Any time, really. Share a bottle with someone important and they’ll know it. Or just keep it as a treat for yourself.

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comUnderwood Rosé
Oregon
Retails apx. $6/can

I cannot think of a more seasonally appropriate wine than this for multiple reasons. Who doesn’t want a light, crisp refreshing wine with notes of watermelon, strawberry, and just a bit of peach on a hot summer day? Who doesn’t want that at the beach, a picnic, or by the pool? This wine is perfect for all those things and IT COMES IN A CAN. No broken glass by the pool, no heavy bottles to lug out of your campsite, and small enough to fit in your pocket at the movies. Yeah. Some of the aromatics are lost drinking from the can but you can always transfer it to a glass. This little Oregon treat is delicious and travels well and is exactly half a bottle. What more could you ask for from a summertime wine?

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com

Summer Wine Report with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts

Follow Stir and Strain now on Delectable!

Stir and Strain X Grog Log

tongahuts-photosWe take a break today from the regularly scheduled recipes and Booze News to update you all on what is about to be a few crazy weeks in the real life world of Stir and Strain. Some of you Instagram viewers may occasionally have seen some dimly lit Tiki drink photos over the past year tagged with #groglog on them and may have been scratching your head wondering what that all was about.

Well, my favorite Tiki bar in all the land, the Tonga Hut, has a not-so-secret club called the Loyal Order of the Drooling Bastard (which you can read about on the Tonga Hut website). In order to gain membership, one must drink every drink in the Grog Log over the course of one year (not all at once). Once you’ve completed the task, you get a plaque on the wall, and a fez, and a special coin that gets you a discount on drinks, and the undying admiration of all your peers.

Like many things in life, I’ve left a chunk of this until the last minute, and I have until August 13th to finish up the list. Follow along on this Tiki smorgasbord over at Instagram and, new to the dauntingly long list of social media applications I need to post on, Periscope (look for the links on Twitter, I have no idea how to link this up yet)!

So please, pull up a virtual barstool and join me for a few rounds of Tiki cocktails this summer.

Five-Spice Bourbon Punch

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comCurrently I am sitting in a nicely air-conditioned room while outside is reaching temperatures of 117°F today. My birthday was this past week and I’ve decided that I’d like to spend all of my 30-year birthdays drifting around in a pool, drink in hand (or in an inflatable cup holder,what’s wrong with that?) while spending a few days in Palm Springs. For most of my 20-year birthdays, I somehow coordinated almost all of them to happen at bowling alleys and I’m a person who likes traditions so if I could somehow work it out that all of my 40’s are spent in castles in Europe I’d very much like that.

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comBut I’m not in the pool today. It’s too hot. While it might seem that the best way to counteract the scorching heat would be to live in the pool, I find that when temps creep almost to 120°F, the water ceases to be refreshing. The water, too, is hot.

5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.comSo the backup plan is to escape to the air-conditioned comfort of the house, draw the shades, and make myself a beverage to cool off with. Sweet, icy drinks are no good when it’s this hot out. Anything with a high sugar content right now makes me cranky and gives me a headache, and that’s the last thing you want when you have guests that are around trying to celebrate you. (Cake, by the way, does not count in this category.) So instead I batched up a savory, spicy syrup (because spicy is actually good for you when it’s hot out. Look at Indian food.) and mixed it up with some bourbon for a refreshing punch. Spicy bourbon punch is refreshing? Read about that argument here on Serious Eats when I just recently batched this drink up.

For now, I’ll park myself next to a large window, occasionally glance outside and remind myself it’s too hot to breathe and enjoy my cocktails in air-conditioned comfort. Happy weekend folks (and Happy Father’s Day to all you Dad’s out there)!5 Spice Bourbon Punch cocktails // stirandstrain.com

For the Five-Spice Syrup:

1 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
1 whole star anise pod
1 (6-inch) cinnamon stick or 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar

  • Toast Sichuan peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and fennel in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, tossing and stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cinnamon stick, sugar, and water and place over medium high heat. Cook, stirring, until just starting to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Five-spice syrup will last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

For 4 Cocktails:

6 ounces bourbon, such as 4 Roses Yellow Label
3 ounces Five-Spice Syrup (see above)
2 ounces fresh juice from 2 to 3 limes
8 ounces club soda
Lime wedges for garnish

  • In a pitcher, combine bourbon, 3 ounces Five-spice syrup, and lime juice. Stir well. Add club soda and stir gently. To serve, fill rocks glasses with ice, pour in 4-3/4 ounces of the cocktail and top with lime wedges.

The sweet, savory, and pungent flavors of the Five Spice Syrup are an excellent pair to the rich, slightly sweet bourbon. And when you add in the lime juice and club soda, the whole cocktail gets loosened up a bit and really is quite refreshing.

Memorial Day Roundup!

You know what’s kinda sad? Listening to the radio this morning NPR was doing some snippets talking to various people who serve (or have served) here in the US and I was suddenly struck at how “Memorial Day” had no real meaning to me other than “it’s a 3 day weekend”. I can’t blame the wash of ridiculous food holidays that now exist and fill every single day, I can’t blame commercials where hot dogs march on a grill waiving flags (this might not exist but just be a dream I had), I can only blame my own self-absorption into my own affairs. Which shouldn’t be the case. My Dad served. Even though he doesn’t talk about it I know he did. My Dad also likes a stiff drink, or half a dozen beers (depends on the day), so this weekend I am being mindful of what the holiday means. I’m also offering up some suggestions for all the dads, the moms, the relatives, friends and those we don’t know, and for all of us taking the time to sit back and enjoy a drink with one another as we take some time off.

The Pineapple Hop Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Pineapple Hop

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Steak Island Cocktail

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail

peach basil sorbet and saison beerfloat // stirandstrain.com

Peach Basil Sorbet and Saison Beerfloat

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fireball Cider // stirandstrain.com

And… Fireball Cider (because Dad likes it)

Spicy Tomato Water Martini

Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis is a sponsored post. 

Today I just realized that soon, tomato season will be over. This is a hard pill to swallow because somehow this summer sped by so fast that I don’t feel I indulged on enough tomatoes. To compensate, I went to the farmer’s market this weekend and I, perhaps, overbought by a pallet or two.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lately, if you’ve been reading on here with any regularity, you might have noticed that I’ve been lamenting the summer produce as it starts to slowly leave the aisles of the local farmer’s markets. Using seasonal products has always been a priority on here, and really, for many people now, it’s not a very new concept anymore. However, after years of living with the same produce available all year round, I find that I’m still getting used to this idea. You mean I can’t have fresh tomato pasta in a few weeks? No more bruschetta? No more PEACH DAIQUIRIS?!?!

OK, I’m calm now but I still have this giant bag of tomatoes that have to get preserved somehow. Well, I can eat only so many of these guys, so then I turned to preserving the flavor of tomatoes. Yup, the flavor.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For this recipe, in partnership with Absolut Vodka, I get to hang on to that summer tomato flavor for as long as I have this bottle handy (which actually could get used up pretty quick in my house). Absolut is a good match because they also care about making things seasonal and local; in making Absolut Original they use local ingredients and keep farming and production in the surrounding community of Åhus, Sweden. They have a craft approach to details, like using crop rotation to naturally restore the area’s wheat fields, and making all the famous bottles at a 300 year old glassworks nearby. Their name for keeping everything in Åhus is One Source. They even feed the local farm animals the spent grains from production; talk about a happy cow!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the base, I chose cherry tomatoes over larger ones so that I could get a nice mix of tart, sweet and sour flavors to make the “water” more layered and not just a single note. I also decided to add a touch of salt to each individual cocktail instead of the larger infused batch. This was done so that serving this, guests who liked things a little salty could add more salt, and those who might even want to forego salt altogether could (although I wouldn’t suggest it).  The base itself then would remain a consistent flavor. Using the Absolut Original vodka also means that I have a consistent flavor and quality in all the cocktails.

The black pepper and thai bird chili give the base its earthy, spicy flavor and the heat factor is completely up to you (as it should be). I like enough heat so that the cocktail has some zip to it, but I don’t let it overpower the other star ingredients. Otherwise I would have made you a chili pepper cocktail.

Let’s make a drink!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka
750 ml bottle Absolut Original Vodka (a little over 3 cups)*
3 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 thai bird chili peppers, roughly chopped with seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Strain ingredients through a cheesecloth lined fine strainer into a clean, airtight container. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months. This recipe can easily be scaled down or up.

Spicy Tomato Water Martini
3 parts Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka (recipe above)
1/4 part Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
pinch of good sea salt
cherry tomato and cocktail onions for garnish

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add vodka, dry vermouth and salt. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with cherry tomato and cocktail onions.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*This post is sponsored by Absolut Vodka. If you’d like to find out more on their consistent commitment to exceptional quality vodka, please visit them here!

Make It: Macadamia Nut Orgeat

Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.comEvery word I just tried typing in the title I misspelled. It’s late and it’s been one of those weeks. This recipe was a lot like that. Every turn was a mistake until I finally threw up my hands and swore at the second batch I’M GIVING UP ON YOU.

But I couldn’t really give up. So I shelved this orgeat recipe until I felt like I could confidently proceed with it again. Third try was indeed a charm.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Initially I tried a few different recipes but in the end I turned to the Beach Bum for help on this one. Who else would know more about this essential Tiki drink ingredient?Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

I’ve had this recipe out there for so long on my “to make” list that I can’t even remember how I decided to come to develop a macadamia nut version of this almond-based syrup. All I can say is that regular orgeat is lighter in flavor, while the roasted macadamia nuts give a more hefty, robust nuttiness to the final product. It’s still quite sweet, as it should be – it’s a syrup. That said I don’t see this as a blanket replacement for regular almond orgeat. The macadamia nuts would do well to balance out some sweeter flavors like coconut or give dimension to some blander fruits like banana.Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

If you make this, tell me what you found it worked best in!Make It: Macademia Nut Orgeat // stirandstrain.com

Now on to the recipe!

Adapted from Beach Bum Berry Remixed
Yields aproximately 1-1/2 liters

500 grams raw macadamia nuts
800 ml water
700 grams granulated sugar, organic
1 ounce vodka
2 teaspoons orange flower water (start here and gradually add more to taste)

  1. Start by roasting the macadamia nuts. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lay macadamia nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in the oven for 15-17 minutes until golden in color. If your oven runs hot, start checking around 12 minutes to make sure they don’t burn. Macadamia nuts are expensive and you don’t want to waste them.
  2. Cool the nuts and place them in a bowl. Fill with water to just cover them. Soak them for 30 minutes. Drain, place them in a freezer or Lewis bag, and crush them with a meat tenderizer (I found this work much better than with a rolling pin and I didn’t feel like busting out the food processor).
  3. Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 800 ml of water to it. Let stand for two hours. Strain the nuts and water into another large bowl through a layer of cheesecloth, squeezing the cloth to extract all liquid. Add the nuts back into the strained water and let stand for another hour. This removes the oils from the nuts.
  4. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I recommend making chocolate bark because… chocolate). Add the sugar to the pan and stir over medium high heat until sugar is dissolved (scrape the bottom occasionally with a spoon to remove any sugar that sticks). Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes, then add the vodka and orange flower water. Stir and store in a clean glass bottle or air tight container.

 

P.S. if you happen to be in Los Angeles in October on either the 6th or the 27th, you can taste this wonderful orgeat at The Coconut Club in our signature drink. Just saying.