5 Quick Tips for Entertaining this Labor Day Plus what you should be drinking!

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Uh-oh! You’re reading this a few hours before you decide to throw an impromptu party and need help?! First, take a shot of something, anything. Your significant other’s fancy whiskey they’re saving? Sure! Some cheap vodka you found in the freezer? Yeah, that will work. Fireball shots? Um, Ok I guess. Your kid’s cough syrup. NO. Don’t touch that. They’re all going back to school this month and breed germs, you’ll need that. Put it back.

You know what I hate? Entertaining tips that are totally useless. As we celebrate a day of rest, I hope these tips will take some of the work out of your Labor Day party.

  1. BATCH BATCH BATCH!
    What’s easier than measuring out cocktails with your measuring cups? Nothing. Bring out a punch bowl–it’s festive. Or bottle some cocktails up if you have the time. The point is that you want to make being at the party easy on yourself, and your guests, and self service is the way to go.
    Sparkling Pomegranate and Cocchi Rosa Cocktails // Smoky Sage Punch // Salted Peanut Bottled Old Fashioneds
  2. Pre-freeze your frozen cocktails
    Making frosé this year? If you want to cut down on the amount of ice in your frozen cocktails, you’ll want to stick them in the freezer the night before. This goes along with batching your cocktails, but this step means less watered down drinks. And that makes you a good host.
    Frozen Watermelon White Negroni // Frozen Blood and Sand // Peach and Tequila Frozen Cockails
  3. Label what your guests are drinking
    If you’re making a few drink options (or even if it’s just one), save yourself from having to repeat ALL the ingredients in something a hundred times by writing out the name and ingredients and sticking it on/next to/on top of the drink. You can get fancy and make something on the computer, or a scribbled on index card will also work just fine.
  4. Have your booze delivered
    Yes, it may seem a bit indulgent, but I’m trying to create less work for you guys. There’s a slew of great delivery apps/services out there who will bring you booze. And some even bring you food too. You decide how much $$$ you want to shell out.
    Saucey ($10 credit for you guys too) // Drizly // Instacart (also with $10 credit)
  5. Invest in a large cooler or mini fridge
    Not all your guests are going to want cocktails so you’ll need beer and water and whatever else people drink besides cocktails. You know what’s great? Your guests have access to all the drinks they want at arm’s length. You know what’s not great? Having people rifle through your fridge. Get a cooler.

If you’ve got a hot tip, let us know! Leave us a comment or reach out to us online. We’re listening.

Holiday Entertaining Tips: What to Do With Leftover Wine

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThis post is brought to you by Banfi Wine. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Of all the holidays over fall and winter, I’d say that Thanksgiving is the holiday where we drink the most wine. Maybe it’s because we’re matching all that food that is being shoveled down our gullets, or maybe it’s always a thoughtful gift to bring to the party. Inevitably, after the meal, and the dessert, and that second meal at 1am, there are always a few stray bottles that have just a little too much wine left in them to finish off standing over the sink. So what to do?

This holiday season I’m going to give you guys a few quick and dirty tips to make entertaining easy for you. First up: leftover wine, because it happens.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comThere’s a pretty easy solution that probably has never crossed your mind: freeze it into ice cubes. Because wine has a low alcohol proof and is made of a higher percentage of water, it will freeze. Now, it will never get a solid as an ice cube, but it will freeze and hold a shape. I would suggest freezing the wine for a full 48 hours before use, and to store in the ice cube trays (I like these big guys). You might want to cover with plastic wrap as well so the wine will not brush off onto other items in your freezer.

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comI used Banfi Wine’s Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce for my ice cubes. This Lambrusco is a sweet red wine that is a perfect match for your holiday table. The sweetness of the wine is a nice addition in ice cube form when mixing up drinks so you won’t need much (or any) added sugar.

And just how should you use up those wine ice cubes? Here’s a few ideas for you all:

  • Instant Sangria: slice up some oranges and apples, add a wine ice cube and give the whole thing a generous splash of sparkling water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes.
  • Wine spiked cocktails: wine ice cube + liquor (gin, whiskey, rum) + a slice of lemon or orange = tasty.
  • Wine granitas: instead of freezing in an ice cube tray, add the wine to small ramekins (like these), give a good spritz of lemon juice, a scant teaspoon of sugar, mix and freeze. After a few hours give it a stir, then do the same again a few hours later. When frozen to the consistency you desire, take them out and eat right from the ramekin. YUM!

Entertaining Tips: Banfi Wine Ice Cubes // stirandstrain.comDo you have a trick for using leftover wine? Leave your ideas in the comments below!

For more information on Banfi wine and the Bell’Agio Rosso Dolce Lambrusco, please visit their site at banfiwines.com!

Florals generously donated by BloomsyBox.com

Spring Drinking 2016

Spring Drinking 2016 // stirandstrain.com

It may not feel like Spring where you are, but here in Los Angeles many of us are scratching our heads asking where is this wet, cold weather we were all told was coming. But in just a few weeks it will be Spring, so everyone’s new cocktail menus are going to start rolling out around town. (In fact, they’ve already started and you can peep a few like these above ^^^) Keep your eyes tuned to the Stir and Strain Instagram and Snapchat for the next few weeks as we test drive some menus here (and beyond!).

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

Source It: Punch Bowls for Springtime

Springtime! A reason for garden parties and gathering outdoors (both of which I need MORE of in my life). Where cocktails flow from giant bowls and ladles, all laced with bits of fruit and maybe a flower or two… Excuse my fanciful daydreaming for a moment. I’ve been nose-deep in another Jeeves and Wooster novel this week and the English Countryside is calling my name. It’s also calling for the procurement of another punch bowl set in my house.

These punch bowls have caught my eye recently and perhaps they’ll pique your interest too. What’s a home bar without at least ONE fanciful punch bowl? Undignified; that’s what. Ok, maybe not that but take a look.

Source It: Punch Bowls // stirandstrain.comGreen Bowl / Rosé / Multi-Color / Orange / Mini Cobalt / Silver Set

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Cocktails. On a Boat.

Probably every year about this time I start feeling uneasy and mumble to myself, “I’m not ready yet”. Purity jokes aside, it usually means I’m all a fuss about the upcoming holiday season. I mean, it’s 80 outside. It sure doesn’t feel like Santa is hiding in my chimney, ready to come down and scold me for not baking enough cookies this year.

But just because I’m a bumbling mess doesn’t mean YOU have to be. This year I’m trying to be more proactive and bring you, readers, timely gift guides. Not like those I threw out in March, even though, well, St. Patrick’s Day is also a relative holiday in my field.

Today we’re going to ease into just thinking about fun gifts for those cocktail lovers/enthusiasts/entertainers in your life. Or you can make a list for yourself! Who cares?! I don’t; you should see my “to buy” list, many items of which will actually be appearing here in the next few weeks.

Since it is still pretty balmy out here in Southern California, I’m taking you on a boat trip – with boozy gifts.

You’ll need a good Navy Strength Rum on this boat, and a couple of shatter-resistant glasses (for when it gets rough). Who wants to carry a bunch of full size products when you can have mini bitters on board? Adult ice pops? Yes. Just don’t forget the ice bucket!

Nautical Cocktail Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

1. Loop Rocks Glasses 2. Vintage Nautical Bar Tools 3. Sailboat Stir Sticks 4. Smith & Cross Rum 5. Sailboat Pops 6. Scrappy’s Bitters Travel Pack 7. Nautical Ice Bucket