What You Should Be Drinking This 4th of July 2018

Warning: do not attempt to set off firecrackers after drinking these cocktails.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.com

The Purple Halo Cocktail

Smoked Ice Hazy Sunset Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hazy Sunset Cocktail with Smoked Ice!!

Fun In Jalisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Fun In Jalisco Cocktail

Aquafaba: what is it and how to make cocktails with it! Like a Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz // stirandstrain.com

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle

Peach and Tequila Frozen Blended Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Peach and Tequila Frozen Blended Cocktail

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: The Snowden // stirandstrain.com

And the perennial favorite… The Snowden

The Purple Halo tequila - lime - agave - basil - sparkling blackberry pomegranate - butterfly pea flower

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comCocktails that stick with me tend to fall into two categories: those that tasted amazing and those that appealed to me visually. For example, I can tell you the first time I tasted bell pepper in a cocktail and fell in love with a whole new world of savory cocktails (Las Perlas in downtown L.A.). I can’t recall what it looked like, but I can remember how it tasted. I’ve gone to that flavor combination many times (and a few cocktail riffs have shown up on this website too).

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comAnd then there are those cocktails that, visually, wowed the pants off me. When I was in Chicago years ago for a trip I decided to pop over to The Aviary because a friend had recommended it. We went at opening and did not get a reservation as advised (Which seemed like such a crazy idea at the time. Oh how times have changed!) but lucked out and got a table with little wait. I can see the plastic bag filled with smoke, a cocktail glass hidden away within. I remember the small crack of opening the ice sphere that housed a cocktail. The feel of the paper bag wrapped glass bottle. But–– I could not tell you what any of these tasted like. I sat here and tried but it’s the memory of how they looked, more than taste, that has stuck with me.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comToday I’m hoping to bridge that gap for you all with this newest cocktail. With flavors both familiar and a little outside the box, and a touch of theatrics in the garnish, this cocktail, which I’m calling The Purple Halo (that will make more sense later) is both tasty and a stunner to look at.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comI’ve partnered again this week with Exotico Tequila, and long time favorite Mountain Valley Spring Water to make a cocktail you can impress your guests with all summer long. The base of the cocktail is Exotico Tequila Blanco, made from 100% blue agave and has a slightly spicy flavor profile that mixes really well here. I paired it with agave, lime, and fresh basil to play off its herbal notes. The cocktail then gets a good splash of Mountain Valley’s Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate Water. Mountain Valley has smaller bubbles, so it adds just a touch of effervescence to the drink without overpowering it. The all natural flavors also add subtle hints of flavor and don’t hijack your drink (or make it taste artificial) resulting in a nicely balanced cocktail.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comWhile delicious on its own, I wanted you to also remember this visually, and that’s where butterfly pea flower tea comes in. If you’ve come across those color changing cocktails on Instagram, this is where they are getting their magic from. You don’t need to be a cocktail wizard to pull this trick off; you just need to be able to order online and make a cup of tea. I was introduced to this tea a few years back when I was still making cocktails with the local Los Angeles pop up The Coconut Club. We made a welcome Ti’ Punch that changed color before the guests’ eyes. They got a kick out of it; we got written up in the local paper. And now your guests will remember your drinks and talk about it for years to come (I cannot guarantee this). The tea changes color, from a dark cobalt to purple or pink, depending on the pH of the liquid you add to it. In this cocktail, the lime juice will start that color change as the ice cube of tea melts into the drink, creating rings of color in the glass.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comThe butterfly pea flower tea is very, very mild and with the slow dilution does not contribute significantly to the overall flavor of the drink… but it does look cool! So, if you don’t want another box of tea bags taking up real estate in your pantry, you can leave this out and enjoy the cocktail as is.

Ok, so let’s make something cool now!

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.comThe Purple Halo

1-1/2 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water
2 tea bags Butterfly Pea Flower Tea

1-1/2 ounces Exotico Tequila Blanco
5 basil leaves
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce agave syrup
2 ounces Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate

basil leaf for garnish

  1. First, make the butterfly pea flower ice cubes by bringing 1 cup of Mountain Valley Spring Water to just under a boil. Add in tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and let cool. Pour water into sphere molds and freeze overnight.
  2. To make the cocktail, remove ice spheres from molds and set aside. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle basil leaves with tequila. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and then pour in lime juice and agave. Shake 20 seconds and strain into an oversized coupe or double rocks glass. Add butterfly pea flower ice sphere and top with Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate. Garnish with basil leaf. Watch as the rings slowly start to form.

The Purple Halo Cocktail with Exotico Tequila Blanco and Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry and Pomegranate. It's a color changing cocktail! // stirandstrain.com

For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com. For more information on Mountain Valley Water, please visit them at www.mountainvalleyspring.com

The Tequila Mint Julep tequila - mint - bitters

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by El Mayor Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

This weekend we’ve got a double dose of reasons to celebrate. Saturday marks the 144th Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo, both happening on the same day. No need for a sad case of FOMO, we’ve got a drink that celebrates both: the Tequila Mint Julep.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comNot long ago a Mint Julep was a Mint Julep: bourbon, mint, sugar, silver cup. Bam. But as bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts have brought an inquisitive eye to old recipes, here today we’re riffing on this classic with our partner, El Mayor Tequila.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comEl Mayor Añejo Tequila is fantastic sipped on its own, but the tequila also mixes quite well in cocktails. Especially when the spirit needs to be strong and shine through a whole lot of crushed ice! The 100% blue agave añejo is aged in white oak barrels for 18 to 36 months, giving it the distinctive oak-y nose, golden color and slightly sweet and spicy flavor profile. If you’re going to use a tequila in a julep recipe, this is the one.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor this recipe I forgo the muddled mint (*gasp*) and instead opt for a creme de menthe liqueur to add the minty flavor and a touch of sweet. I like the bracingly cool mint liqueur up against the tequila. Also, if you’re serving this up at your party it’s going to save you some time since you won’t have to muddle all those mint leaves. To round out the drink, I’ve added in a few dashes of aromatic bitters and a touch more sweetness with some demerara syrup. The drink needs that last touch of sugar to balance it out along with the bitters.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comLastly, I gave this julep a crown of mint (I couldn’t leave the fresh mint out completely), like its own little laurel wreath. And you don’t have to make it rain powdered sugar on your julep for a garnish, but it sure does look pretty.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo, let’s jump start this Cinco de Derby party and mix up a batch of Tequila Juleps. It’s a sure bet!

The Tequila Mint Julep

2 ounces El Mayor Añejo Tequila
1/2 ounce creme de menthe
1/4 ounce demerara syrup (see notes below)
3 dashes aromatic bitters
mint and powdered sugar

In a silver julep cup, or double rocks glasses, pour in El Mayor Añejo Tequila, creme de menthe, demerara syrup, and bitters. Fill glass halfway with crushed ice and swizzle until glass is frosty, about 20-30 seconds. Fill with more crushed ice. Garnish with fresh mint and powdered sugar. Add a short straw if you’d like!

Notes:

  • To make demerara syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup demerara sugar in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Bring to just under a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. When all the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. Store in an air tight container, refrigerated, for up to one month.
  • Julep cups come in all different sizes but choose one around 12 ounces for this cocktail. A double rocks glass will make an acceptable substitute.

The Tequila Mint Julep with El Mayor Tequila // stirandstrain.com

For more information on El Mayor Tequila and their entire product line, please visit them at elmayor.com!

What You Should Be Drinking for NYE 2017

Let’s ring in the New Year with giant flowing bowls and sparkling cocktails. And shove 2017 out the door!

Desert Rosé Punch // stirandstrain.com

Desert Rosé Punch

The Stinger Royale // stirandstrain.com

The Stinger Royale

Róse Champagne Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Rosé “Champagne” Cocktail

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails with Everclear

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

 

And if you’re looking for a few last minute ideas to decorate your bar cart for your New Year’s Eve party, check out our latest Bar Cart Styling post HERE!

The Holiday Elixr Cocktail tequila - chocolate - reishi - kombucha - lime - mexican vanilla

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

We’re heading into full-on holiday mode today folks. You’ve given yourself permission to eat all of Santa’s cookies. You’ve said yes one too many times to the egg nog at your company’s holiday party. You may have already put the batteries in your kid’s toy car they’ve been asking for and took it for a spin around the basement.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

It’s a bit hazy whether you’re on the naughty or nice list. You might be thinking that you’ve got at least a week or so before you need to start questioning your life choices. So, I’m here to offer you a cocktail that’s on both lists; it’s a little naughty and a little nice.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comWe’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila again this week to bring you this refreshing cocktail that will make you feel good for a number of reasons. Their reposado expression, made with 100% blue agave, is a fantastic base for: chocolate! Reishi mushrooms! Kombucha! What what what??? See, we’re balancing the good for you with gooooood for you.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

Sound a little crazy? Well, putting all the health benefits aside (like aiding in digestion, a good source of probiotics, its detoxing benefits, etc…) I will tell you that Kombucha makes a great mixer. It’s my favorite addition to cocktails because it adds bubbles and a little sweetness to a drink. The reposado Exotico has a lot of warm, spicy flavors and Health Ade’s Reishi-Chocolate kombucha balances that out with some subtle hints of chocolate and some surprising umami as well (by its own it tastes like a Tootsie roll!). To bring out more of the vanilla in the Exotico I added a splash of Mexican vanilla extract in lieu of a syrup. The vanilla extract adds the extra punch without adding more liquid and sweetness to the drink while also introducing some floral aromas too. A good dose of freshly squeezed lime juice rounds out the drink with some needed acid. The taste is similar to a Margarita with hints of chocolate, spice and an herbal/grassy finish.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

It’s not too late to slow it down and rethink your cocktail choices. You can enjoy a drink this holiday season that not only tastes good, but also has ingredients you can feel good about.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract, Nielsen-Massey used here
3-4 ounces Health-Ade Reishi-Chocolate Kombucha

lime peel for garnish

Build the drink: in a rocks glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lime juice, Mexican vanilla extract and Health-Ade Reishi-Chocolate Kombucha. Stir gently to combine. Express lime zest over drink and garnish.

 

For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail tequila - maraschino - citrus - currants - walnut - cider

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I think fruitcake gets a bad rap. If someone gifted me one, I’d probably say thank you, dunk a slice in some milky coffee and enjoy my day. Who had it in for this fruit and nut studded loaf? Who made the association between fruitcake and a brick? Was it a slew of poorly made, overly manufactured cakes hitting the market all at once? These are the questions keeping me up at night, making me scratch my head and then making me wander into the kitchen looking for a piece of cake.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comSo today I thought I’d get a little unconventional and create a cocktail that evoked “fruitcake” but in some surprising ways. I also have your time in mind dear readers and wanted to make sure you had a holiday-ish cocktail in your back pocket you could whip out next week, or in the coming weeks, and not have to do any heavy lifting (No syrups or infusion making today! That’s next week!).

I’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila and their reposado expression made with 100% blue agave today as the base of the cocktail. Their reposado has lots of warm vanilla, dried fruit and spices in their flavor profile that make it the perfect compliment for those spices you’d find in the cake. I also like the tequila’s more savory notes to balance out the cocktail. To really bring in the fruit and nut flavors I muddled some citrus and dried currants along with maraschino liqueur and rounded it all out with a few dashes of black walnut and Angostura bitters. To brighten it all up it’s topped with just a touch of sparkling apple cider. The end result is tart with lots of spice and a hint of savory from the tequila and the walnut bitters.

It’s an easy to drink, holiday friendly cocktail. You might just find yourself reaching for a real piece of fruitcake too.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

A “Fruitcake” Cocktail

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 orange slice
1/2 teaspoon currants (or one large pinch to taste)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 1/2 a lemon
2 dashes black walnut bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounces sparkling apple cider
orange slice for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle together maraschino liqueur, orange slice and currants. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lemon juice, black walnut bitters and Angostura bitters. Shake hard about 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling apple cider. Garnish with an orange slice.

Fruitcake Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comFor more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

What You Should Be Drinking This 4th of July

And then George Washington took out his Margarita machine and said, “Let there be frozen drinks!”. Happy 4th folks!

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle // stirandstrain.com

The Blue Crush Tequila Swizzle

Frozen Negroni Cocktails (regular and watermelon)

Frozen Cucumber and Green Chartreuse Daiquiri Cocktail

Frozen Peach, White Pepper and Green Tea Daiquiri

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail

Peach and Tequila Frozen Cocktail

Frozen Peach, Rum, Coconut Blended Cocktail

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: The Snowden

Festival Ready Bar Cart Styling (it's a party for your booze)

If you’re anything like me, scrolling through endless Instagram photos of kids out at a festival, profusely sweating and pretending to smile at the camera, you’re SO happy you didn’t wait in line 45 minutes for a watered down margarita. You get to drink yours with 2 ounces of top shelf booze in front of the air conditioning. You win.

Still miss that 104° heat? Make your home bar into your own oasis. Here’s how…

Do they even serve alcohol at these festivals? Who cares! You have a well stocked bar cart at home. Throw up some cactus photos, maybe in #milleniumpink and match your glasses to that desert vibe. Crochet. There has to be lots of crochet things. A hanging chair to sip cocktails in? YES! And maybe some hanging crochet fruit baskets to match. Add in some tassels and some leather fringe. And if your festival look veers off in the electric art dream in the desert, might I suggest uranium glow-in-the-dark mixing glasses and colorful rainbow ice cubes? You can always use that glow stick to mix a few drinks with too.

1. Desert Distilling Vodka 2. Blush goblet 3. Cactus Print 4. Hanging Chair 5. Tassel Swizzle Sticks 6. Manila Bar Cart 7. Leather fringe flask 8. Cactus tumbler 9. Arette Tequila 10. Glow-in-the-dark mixing glass 11. Rainbow Ice Cubes

 

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

Indian Summer Switchel Cocktail

Indian Summer Apple Cider Switchel Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSwitchel what?

Switchel is a delicious non-alcoholic drink that was enjoyed as far back as the 17th century and was what we talked about on the site yesterday. You can read more about that here! But if you just want to get to the cocktails, well then let’s do that!

Indian Summer Apple Cider Switchel Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThe base of this cocktail starts with our Autumn Apple Cider Switchel recipe and then gets a kick from Añejo Tequila and floral lime juice. I see it as that clashing of seasons in September where you want it to be Autumn but the thermometer reminds you it’s still summer. I could have gone my usual full Fall route here and made this with a gold rum (as my Apple Cider Warm Up I make every October contains. There’s no real recipe for that–mainly apple cider and rum thrown together in a stock pot on the stove while adults imbibe and dangerously carve pumpkins. Do so at your own risk.). However, the aged tequila brings out those spice notes but still keeps the drink light and refreshing while the limes gives another sour and sweet layer to the drink.

Indian Summer Apple Cider Switchel Cocktails // stirandstrain.com3 ounces Autumn Apple Cider Switchel
1-1/2 ounces Añejo Tequila, 1800 Tequila used here
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
apple slices for garnish

In a mixing glass, combine the Autumn Apple Cider Switchel, Añejo Tequila and lime juice over ice. Stir 20 seconds to chill and strain into a double rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with apple slices.

Pitchers of Cocktails for Your Labor Day Weekend

I seriously received no less than 6 emails from PR companies pitching me “Labor-less cocktail ideas” over the past two weeks. Eye rolling aside, I get it. No one wants to spend time outside at their Labor Day BBQ making single drink requests for every person that stops by. It’s time for PITCHERS OF COCKTAILS! And I have a few ideas for you guys. Check them out below.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Savory Lemon Suze Sparkling Pitcher Cocktails

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

sage blackberry sangria // stirandstrain.com

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Pisco, Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme Pitcher Cocktails

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction // stirandstrain.com

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction