{Now Closed} Giveaway // Fever-Tree 6 Pack Sampler

Fever-tree 6 Pack Sampler Giveaway // stirandstrain.comA few weeks ago I posted a photo of Fever-Tree’s Elderflower Tonic and we all agreed on one thing: we ALL love their tonics. So today I’m giving all my U.S. readers out there the opportunity to get your own pack of Fever-Tree products in this week’s giveaway. Wooo!

I’ve been using Fever-Tree on the site here for years because of the high quality of all-natural ingredients they use. And NO high fructose corn syrup (Which is in a surprising number of mixers on the market. Gross.). And now one lucky reader will get a 6 pack sampler including:

  • Fever-Tree Tonic Water
  • Fever-Tree Naturally Light Tonic
  • Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon
  • Fever-Tree Ginger Ale
  • Fever-Tree Ginger Beer
  • Fever-Tree Club Soda

Want to win this? Just check out the options below to enter and get up to 12 entries to win. Giveaway ends at midnight PST September 18th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. For more information on Fever-Tree products, please visit them at Fever-Tree.com Good Luck!

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Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.comSo you’re not into frozen fruit daiquiris. Although the peachy one looked tempting, it’s not for you. That’s cool; I’m not going to judge you. You want something more on the savory side? I can help with that too.

Cucumbers!

Cucumbers are that gateway vegetable where fruit isn’t going to cut it in your cocktail, but you sure as hell are not going to put kale in there. Please don’t put kale in here.

A daiquiri base is a simple yet beautiful combination of rum, lime juice and sugar. If you have great ingredients to begin with, you’re outcome will be fantastic. Although, one bad lime will completely ruin a drink (I speak from experience on that one). The base though is also super versatile and a little savoriness will do it no harm.Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Now, we’re not just going to add in cucumbers and call it a day. I’m not that lazy. Instead I tweak it just a little more with the introduction of Green Chartreuse. A little bit added here gives the whole cocktail a spicy punch: hints of licorice, some bitter citrus in there, and lots of other mysterious herbal flavors that make up the ridiculous amount of ingredients found in one bottle. Green Chartreuse balances everything out, taking a somewhat demure drink into very bold territory.

Yes, it might seem like suddenly frozen drinks are popping up on my Instagram feed like mushrooms in a forest, but trust me, this is all in the name of science (not really). I’m just here to make blended alcoholic drinks not suck. Again, as with the frozen peach daiquiri, chilling beforehand will give you a freezing cold base to start with, offering very little dilution when you add the ice. However, if you’re short on time, feel free to skip this step.

8 ounces white rum, such as Caña Brava
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 4 limes
1 1/2 ounces Green Chartreuse
2 ounces simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
2 cucumbers, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
4 cups ice cubes
4 cucumber spears and lime zest for garnish

At least 1 day before you’d like to serve the cocktail, combine rum, lime juice, Green Chartreuse, and simple syrup in an airtight container. Store in the freezer for at least 8 hours. Pour pre-chilled base into blender with cucumber rounds and ice. Blend until even in texture. Pour into serving glasses, garnish each drink with a cucumber spear and lime zest, and serve.

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

And if you’re on board the frozen daiquiri train now, you can always go back and check out that peach one.

 

*This post was originally part of a longer article I wrote over on Serious Eats.

{now closed} Cucumber Basil Caesar and a Caesars Cocktail Book Giveaway!

Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.comHappy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers out there! I know you exist (my stats tell me so). Today I honor all of you with your national drink, the Caesar.

However, I’m not excluding all of the rest of the world with this post, because I’m also opening up a contest for all my Canadian and US readers with a cocktail book giveaway on this very drink. For the next week, enter win your own copy of Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail by Clint Pattemore.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

And for everyone across the globe, I’m also giving you a cocktail to try out. Because you’ve read this far.

I have to admit it, I didn’t realize that a Caesar was specifically a Canadian invention. Like many drinks with a history, I had a vague idea of its origins. Wasn’t it a cousin to the Bloody Mary, just with clam juice? Well, I consider myself schooled now. The Caesar I still work into the realm of day drinks, or even Sunday morning drinks (or Monday morning if Sunday was rough). And today I’m gussying up the classic with some fresh Persian cucumbers and basil from my garden. It’s seasonal and refreshing and only has a touch of savory flavor to contrast against the bright vegetable flavor.Cucumber Basil Caesar Cocktail and a Giveaway! // stirandstrain.com

Try this, or one of the many (like, over 50) ways to create a Caesar from your own copy of the book. But! You have to enter to win a copy first!

Actually, let’s make a drink first…

Slightly Adapted from the Caesars cocktail book
4 cucumber slices (preferably Persian cucumbers that you don’t have to peel)
4-6 basil leaves
3 dashes hot sauce (I use Tapatio)
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1-1/2 ounces gin
4 ounces Clamato

1 tbsp smoked salt, 1 tsp pepper, cucumber spears for garnish

Garnish your highball glass (or small goblet) first by rimming the outside of the glass with a cucumber slice then dip in salt and pepper mixture poured into a small bowl. In a mixing glass, muddle together cucumber slices, basil, hot sauce and pepper. Add gin and Clamato. Stir and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Finish garnishing with a cucumber spear. Straws are always optional!

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of Caesars: The Essential Guide to Your Favourite Cocktail! You can get up to NINE entries to win. Contest runs until midnight PST Wednesday, July 9th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below.

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Patriotic Bar Cart Gift Guide

For all of my non-US readers, if you’ll allow me a moment to indulge in a little red, white, and blue bar cart accessorizing I’d super appreciate it. And while together it’s a Patriotic Bar Cart fiesta, taken piece by piece they could work in your home too.

Patriotic Bar Cart Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

 

In a little less than a week, my neighborhood will be filled with illegal fireworks, barking dogs and the inescapable wafting aromas of food being grilled. It will also be filled with drinking galore. For those of you outside the city of Los Angeles, I’m sure you picture every day here like this (sometimes I’d agree with you), but next Friday in particular the country bands together to show our love of hotdogs and beer (and maybe something to do with history but you can turn on C-Span for that). For those of you hosting a party, here’s a little guide to up your bar cart game for the 4th. Buckets of crushed ice, colorful drink accouterments, and some fine liquor selections. Now go get some sparklers and confetti poppers!

1. Ice Crusher 2. Tumbler 3. Campari 4. Clase Azul Reposado Tequila 5. Bombay Sapphire East 6. Blue Straws 7. Hayworth Bar Cart 8. Red Foil Picks

Classic and Watermelon-Infused Frozen Negroni Cocktails

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.comIt’s summertime folks. Let’s all take a backseat to being serious and let our hair down and deep freeze our favorite cocktails.

That’s right. Snobbery be damned: I froze some Negorni cocktails. And they were TASTEEEEE!Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Now, please stay with me on this. First, shake off your assumptions that suddenly the lofty Negroni has gone the way of the 7/11 slurpee machine: believe me, this is nothing like that. Gone are the teeth-tinglingly sweet frozen drinks you’re used to downing in the summer. The wasted calories of footlong, electric blue “adult” slushies that have about a thimble of alcohol in them and more corn syrup than anything else. These frozen versions of the Negroni take the actual, delicious drink, and whiz it up with ice for all of the bittersweet flavor, only now you sip it through a straw.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Oh, and when I say versions, I mean you get TWO variations for this frozen cocktail: classic and a fruit-forward twist on a white negroni: watermelon. The watermelon version is inspired by a drink I just had at a friend’s wedding which was, essentially, a White Negroni whose vermouth had been infused with watermelon. The idea was playful and it was delicious and I knew I needed to make something like that for the site. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a bit more whimsy in my cocktails, I still enjoy the classics, but when you’re recipe developing all the time, your brain wants to go in warped places. At least mine does.Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Anyways, the idea was great, but I wanted some flexibility with the recipe. And since I wanted something a bit more versatile that I could use in multiple drinks, I infused the gin instead. It’s a short infusion, just two days, and you could always start tasting after day 1 if you don’t want a super-watermelon-y flavor and strain when you think it’s ready. Hint: if you want something over ice, instead of something made of ice, try the watermelon gin with some tonic; the sweet and bitter work well together.Frozen Watermelon White Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

OK! So let’s stop taking ourselves SO seriously, at least for today, and enjoy some frozen cocktails.

Frozen Negroni

4-1/2 ounces gin, such as G’Vine or Fords
2-1/2 ounces Campari
2-1/2 ounces Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Orange slices, for garnish

  1. Combine gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth in an airtight container. Place in freezer and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  2. When ready to serve, add chilled alcohol and ice to blender. Blend on high speed until uniform and smooth, about 30 seconds. Pour into rocks glasses or small wine glass. Garnish with an orange slice and serve immediately.

Frozen Watermelon White Negroni

1/2 cup cubed watermelon
1-1/2 cups gin, such as Broker’s or St. George Botanivore
4-1/2 ounces watermelon gin (see recipe below, line 1)
2-1/2 ounces Cocchi Americano
2-1/4 ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth
3 cups ice (for a thicker drink, add an additional 1/2 cup ice to each batch)
Watermelon and orange slices, for garnish

  1. For the watermelon gin: In an airtight container, combine gin and watermelon. Keep in a cool, dark place for 48 hours. Strain into a clean, airtight container until ready to use. Will keep up to one year.
  2. For the Watermelon White Negroni Slushie: Combine watermelon gin, Cocchi Americano, and vermouth in an airtight container and freeze for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to serve, add frozen alcohol to a blender with ice. Blend on high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Split between rocks glasses or small wine glasses. Garnish each glass with a watermelon.

First, drink these with an ounce of caution; they kinda go straight to your head if you sip them up quickly. Second, the chilling overnight is so your mixture does not dilute the ice too quickly while you blend (this step is optional). The classic Negroni tastes pretty much like what you’d get in its natural state. Even though the bitterness is still very present, with this icy state it’s lovely and the citrus notes are quite present. And not watered down tasting! The watermelon on the other hand is delicate with only a hint at the bitterness from the Cocchi Americano. While the fruity watermelon is present, it doesn’t overpower the drink as a whole – it’s a nice accent.

So choose one, or both, to make this weekend. I choose both.

I originally published this recipe on Serious Eats.

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Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash

Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThere’s a lot going on in that title. I know. Forgive me. I’m trying to shove all the fruits I’ve been eating lately into something I can drink. And when I say eat I really mean grill. 

Oh yeah. I’ve been grilling fruit again.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This time it was for the folks over at Serious Eats; they enjoy a good grilled fruit drink every once in awhile. One life altering aspect of this drink, besides telling people you own and have used a bottle of cachaça, is that you get to grill cherries. I’m sure you’re reading that sentence and going… and? No, but really, have you done this before? Have you experienced these awesome morsels that have somehow gotten transformed on the grill from just yum into the intoxicatingly rich, smoky, sweet bites? Do yourself a favor and grill a bunch of these, not just for the drink, and then while you’re sipping your cocktail, pop these in your mouth. By the handful. Also, I’m grilling lime wheels, which is sorta covering up the fact that I’m still finding sad, sad limes at the store.Grilled Summer Fruit Cachaça Smash Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Oh! So let’s talk about the cachaça for a second. Cachaça is the national spirit of Brazil and is a very close cousin of rum. In fact, we could just call them siblings. The only major difference, if we’re generalizing here, is that cachaça does not have to be aged, unlike rum which needs to be aged to some degree. It’s distilled from fresh sugarcane, like rhum agricole and has that funky aspect in the flavor profile. For this recipe we’re actually using aged cachaça, so if you just can’t get your hands on that, substitute a golden rum like Flor de Caña 12 Year (I tried both versions and quite frankly, am a fan of both for this drink).

So have I piqued your interests in grilling up some fruit? Let’s have at it…

Makes two drinks!
1 nectarine, halved
1 lime, cut into 4 wheels
4 cherries
1/2 ounce simple syrup
4 springs lemon thyme (or regular thyme with a pinch of fresh lemon zest)
2 cups crushed ice
3 ounces aged cachaça, such as Novo Fogo Barrel-Aged

  • Skewer halved nectarines, lime wheels, and cherries on three skewers (with one variety of fruit per skewer) and place on a hot, oiled grill. Cook until fruit begins to bubble and char lines are visible on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 4 minutes for cherries and 8 to 10 minutes total for nectarines and limes. Remove from grill and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut nectarines into quarters.
  • For each drink, muddle 2 cherries, 2 lime wheels, 2 nectarine quarters, one sprig thyme, and 1/4 ounce simple syrup in the bottom of a rocks glass until nectarine is broken up. Remove lime wheels from glass. Pack 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1 1/2 ounces cachaça and stir gently. Pack 1/2 cup more crushed ice into glass and garnish with second thyme sprig. Repeat for second drink. Serve immediately.

The nectarine flavor really sings in this drink, and the cherries add wonderful richness. One might think these fruits would be heading you toward the overly-sweet side. But the lime, once grilled, actually takes on a slightly savory essence that only gets more earthy with the addition of lemon thyme.

And one last mention here: the giveaway for the wine/ice bucket ends in just TWO DAYS! Enter now for a chance to win!

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.comI took a mid-week break this week and if you follow me on Instagram, or really any of the social media entities, you may have noticed I was visiting Las Vegas for the Saveur Best Food Blog Awards. It’s always a pleasure to get out and meet the faces and personalities behind the sites one reads; this time was no exception. Within the cocktail community, one naturally gravitates towards the like-minded, and for a few days I got to spend some time with Cocktail Blog Winners Death to Sour Mix and Bit By a Fox, as well as The Beeroness and Brunellos Have More Fun. They were all a fun crew (cause, duh, we all love booze) and I’d beg for you all to check out their sites if you’re not familiar with them.


Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

So, it’s Sunday, and as much as I’d like to go sit outside and continue to enjoy the weekend, I wanted to get this drink post out to you all since it’s both seasonally, and Sunday, appropriate. I originally wrote this recipe for the Serious Eats site a few weeks ago when they were looking for some more patio drinks to feature (and I love a reason to sit outside with a cold pitcher of something good to drink). This time around, instead of wine in a Sangria, I decided on featuring Lillet, and in particular, Lillet Rosé.Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

We’re still getting grapefruits here, although not the best since the season is ending, however their delicious flavor can still go a long way in a Sangria. Since I was set on using them up, I chose Lillet Rosé as a base since it’s very grapefruit forward and would only enhance that flavor. I followed that up with grapefruit’s best friend mint, and topped it off with Cava. Pretty simple, but super tasty. Now, as far as simple syrup is concerned, you’ll need to taste your grapefruit and see just how sweet it is, or if you just like your Sunday Sippers a tad on the sweet side, use the full amount suggested in the recipe. It’s up to you!

15 fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup simple syrup
1 cup fresh grapefruit juice, from about 2 Ruby Red grapefruits, plus 1/2 of one grapefruit, peel intact, cut into rough chunks
1 cup Lillet Rosé
1 bottle Cava, chilled

  • In the bottom of a pitcher, gently muddle together the mint leaves and simple syrup. Add grapefruit chunks, grapefruit juice, and Lillet Rosé. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, add Cava to the pitcher and stir gently. Serve over ice.

Grapefruit has a bitter, floral flavor that works really well with the sweet, cooling mint. Ruby Red is what is available right now, and these actually veer more towards tart than sweet (if you substitute white flesh grapefruits like an Oro Blanco you’ll need less sugar). The Lillet Rosé makes this a super grapefruit treat that is just a touch sweet and with the bubbly cava, totally summer in your glass.

Now if you all would excuse me, I’m going to go pour myself another glass of this and enjoy the rest of my Sunday, as should you. Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Beer Sangrita

Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMemorial Day weekend kicks off the official start of grilling season. It also kicks off cut off shorts season and burn until you look like a lobster season. It’s a season of magic.

In my efforts for making your drinking experiences more efficient this summer, I will have a bunch of upcoming recipes that are batched for your convenience. Take 10 minutes the night before, or first thing in the morning, to put together the bases, and then top off as needed day of. Easy.

First up is a drink I made for Serious Eats (guys, drinks is no longer its own site, it’s incorporated into just one big Eats site now, so don’t get confused) where I use BEER as the alcohol base. Yes, yet another beer cocktail on this site for the year. It is the topper for a spicy, smoky sangrita-like base that you can make ahead of time.Smoky Beer Sangrita Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sangrita-like might be stretching it; it’s really just sangrita made with a bunch of delicious citrus with a dollop of harissa. Not familiar with harissa? If you like spice and smoke you’ll like this peppery paste that has its roots in North African cuisine. It’s not normally used in drinks, but I love the extra level of spice it adds. Also, a little goes a long way, so you can keep it around to experiment with food later.

Usually, sangrita is just the sidekick to a shot of tequila, but I love the rich flavors of tomato and citrus so much I thought it deserved its own spot at the bar (or backyard BBQ) as a cocktail. Since it’s a low alcohol drink, you could easily sip on these all afternoon, playing horseshoes or whatever it is people do outside.

Sangrita Base

1/2 teaspoon harissa, or more to taste
8 ounces tomato juice
6 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 grapefruits
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces freshly squeezed juice from about 2 oranges
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 lemons
2 ounces freshly squeezed juice from 2 to 3 limes

For Your Cocktail

Grapefruit wedge
Coarse smoked sea salt
4 ounces Sangrita Base
4 ounces Sculpin IPA, or any hoppy IPA

  • To make the base, in a pitcher, whisk together harissa, black pepper and tomato juice. Add grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon and lime juice. Stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 8 hours maximum.
  • To make the cocktail, wet the rim of a highball glass with grapefruit wedge, dip moistened edge in smoked sea salt. Add ice and 4 ounces of the sangrita base. Top with 4 ounces of IPA. Garnish with grapefruit wedge and serve.

Citrus is an ideal match for a hoppy IPA. The Sculpin IPA from Ballast imparts a lot of grapefruit and lemon in the flavor, as well as in the aroma, which not only compliments the tomato-citrus base, but also adds some needed bitterness to round out the drink. With beer cocktails, the effervescent quality will significantly lift a heavier based drink which can sometimes seem like a challenge to drink. It can also provide a smoother, creamy texture, making the drink feel more like a “cocktail” and less like juice (or in this case Gazpacho). If the Sculpin is not available in your area, look for a beer with this kind of citrus profile. And at the end of the day, if you run out of the base, this beer pairs excellently with barbecue too.

{now closed} Giveaway // Just in time for summer entertaining with the Beatriz Ball Vento Ice Bucket

Beatriz Ball Vento Ice Bucket Giveaway // stirandstrain.comThere’s a tangible electricity in the air. It’s just a little bit lighter every night. The invitations have slowly started trickling in: weddings, showers, BBQs. It’s the start of summer entertaining season. And I CANNOT WAIT.

Usually I make up gift guides featuring a handful of nifty items you can purchase for yourself. Today, however, I am happy to offer something awesome that you can WIN for FREE.

This is the first time I’ve offered a giveaway on the site and mainly it’s due to waiting until the right product came along. A few weeks ago I was sent one of these gorgeous ice buckets from Beatriz Ball. I’ve never seen anything quite like it: it has a classy vintage feel while being organic and unique in the way that only a one-of-a-kind piece can be (they’re all hand-made). Talk about an instant upgrade to your home bar.

The Vento Ice Bucket is cast from recycled aluminum (hello being green!) and is roomy enough for some of your larger bottles. Also, it looks cool. And I think you’d look cool with one too.

It’s so easy to enter to win one of these beauties! Just check out the options below to enter and get up to SEVEN entries in to win. Giveaway ends at midnight PST Friday, June 6th, 2014. Please see terms and conditions below. To find out more about the Beatriz Ball Collection, please visit their site here.

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Mother’s Day Cocktail Roundup

Both my mother and mother-in-law are not big drinkers. So imagine this roundup more for those of you who have a booze lovin’ mamma. Or spend an afternoon at the club making the boys fetch you drinks while you never get around to playing tennis. Or better, perhaps, these are for the sons and daughters having to endure hours on Sunday being told you’re not coming around or calling enough. Yes, these drinks are for you.

Burnt Sage & Blackberry Sangria. One for you, one for mom. Or two for you.

sage blackberry sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Pitcher drinks mean all day drinking. Try this  Apple and Rosé Sangria with Sunday brunch.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Need something quick but fancy? Try this Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail, takes but a second but super pretty to look at.

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

Sparkling Wine. Watermelon. Limoncello? What’s more impressive sounding than that? Whip up some Salty Melon Cocktails. They’ll be perfect with your edible fruit basket.

Salty Melon #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

 

Need more pink on Sunday? Electric Pink Fields is ALWAYS a winner.

Electric Pink Fields #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

And if you just need a stiff drink. Have a Smoky Manhattan.

Smoky Manhattan #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com