It’s Black Friday. You have a lot of choices when it comes to impulse buying for the holidays. Thank you for visiting Stir and Strain.
Let the Holiday Guides Begin…
It IS beginning to look like cocktails. So let’s make some. Break out the vodka tonics for Mom and Dad. And don’t forget the coasters. Still stuffed from all that turkey? Muddle up something with fruit and tell yourself it will make you feel better. And then go shopping, just not at 5am.
Your bar cart isn’t stocked for Halloween?! OH THE HORROR!!!
What’s more Halloween than a giant skull filled with vodka? Maybe some Bloody Mary Mix or a tiny skull adorned bar spoon? We’re stocking our bar cart this year with some matte black and smoky glassware. OK and yes, just a touch of gold too. And our cocktail toppers? Wax vampire teeth of course! After all it is Halloween. Let’s get spooky!
This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.
By the time August rolls around I can see Fall off in the horizon and all I can think about is WHY CAN’T SUMMER BE DONE WITH?! The sad reality is, it’s still going to be hot in Southern California for like, two more months. And it was relentless this year. I find it funny that in an area where seasons aren’t too distinct, I just can’t help but go on and on about the weather. Gosh, I’m getting boring.
But you know what’s not boring? Today’s cocktail!
Back in April while I was at the WSWA show in Vegas, and happily sipping on some great–and, let’s be honest, not so great–liquors, I happened across the Jackson Morgan Southern Cream booth. They had some really fun flavors and after I tried out their Whipped Orange Cream…mmmm; I was in a happy place. The flavor was just heads and tails better over the usual batch of flavored cream liqueurs–they didn’t taste artificial.
So, I nabbed a bottle of the Salted Caramel and concocted a recipe today that is halfway in Fall but still lingering in Summer.
Salted caramel! Cinnamon! Fall! I’m more than happy to put these flavors in all my cocktails come September, but to keep it just a bit summer-y (I mean, it’s still only August), I’ve infused some whiskey with roasted peanuts. Combined, the resulting flavors are rich and warm with a fun pop of savory from the peanuts. It’s not too sweet with just enough creaminess in the mouthfeel. And since we’re serving it over ice, you can enjoy sipping on this cocktail even while the sun’s still out.
If the thought of infusions is giving you second thoughts, hold tight! There was the old way, where you combined your ingredients into a jar and agitated it every day, for like a week. Or a month. But some smartypants discovered the quick infusion using a whipping canister. Now, yes, this means having to acquire another piece of equipment for your home bar. However, it will save you a lot of time if making infusions and tinctures is your thing. Also, it’s a whipped cream canister. So, you get to have instant whipped cream any time you want!! Yay! I have my preferred brand which I noted in the recipe below, but seriously, any quality grade canister will do. Just remember you’ll need N2O cartridges for this, not CO2!
Some notes on infusions:
When I do infusions I tend to make them in smaller batches unless it is for an event, then I’ll usually go with an entire 750 ml bottle or two. Here I’m using 200 ml because I find the flavor dissipates over time and I don’t want to waste an entire bottle of whiskey if it’s not going to get used up immediately.
Another reason you want to keep this batch smaller is due to the oils the peanuts impart to the whiskey. It just gets a bit gunky if you let it sit for too long. You can remedy this to a point by fine straining a few times, but this is not necessary if you’re doing a small batch and using the whiskey up.
With quick infusion in a whip cream charger, always use N2O chargers, never use CO2 as you’ll get a metallic taste in your infusion–yuck!
Also, do not use soda siphons to do this as they are manufactured to be used with water only.
For the cocktail:
2 ounces Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel Liqueur
1 ounce roasted peanut infused whiskey (recipe follows)
1/4 ounce cinnamon tincture (or large pinch of ground cinnamon, recipe for tincture follows)
ground cinnamon for garnish
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel Liqueur, roasted peanut infused whiskey and cinnamon tincture or ground cinnamon. Shake hard for 20 seconds to chill. Strain over fresh ice into a double rocks glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon.
For the quick infused roasted peanut whiskey:
200 ml whiskey of your choice
1 cup roasted peanuts
Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add whiskey and roasted peanuts. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain whiskey into a clean vessel for storage. Discard peanuts or let them dry and snack on the whiskey flavored peanuts later. Use whiskey immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.
For the quick infused cinnamon tincture:
1 cup vodka
6 4″ cinnamon stick, crushed slightly
Into a whipping canister, add vodka and cinnamon. Screw on the top and charge with one charger of N2O. Discard charger and let the mixture sit for one minute. Release pressure, open the top and strain tincture into a clean vessel for storage. Tincture will keep up to one year in a cool, dark place.
This post is brought to you by Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Spirits. Recipes and ideas are my own.
Several years ago, when I was still working at a 9 to 5 job, I flew into Chicago for a boring conference. This was one of those conferences that not only had a floor devoted to awkward introductions and sweaty handshakes, but hours and hours of mandatory workshops. After 4 days I was exhausted in every way, but, thankfully I lopped on an extra day for sightseeing—I had never been to Chicago before.
*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
2 ounces vodka, Hangar 1 used here*
1/2 ounce dry vermouth, Vya Extra Dry used here
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 grinds black pepper, on the coarse side
In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, combine vodka, vermouth, garlic slices and black pepper. Shake hard for 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally add the garlic slices back to the glass.
*This bottle of Hangar 1 was generously given gratis and appears here because I like drinking it. For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.
What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours but let’s not use a sharpie to personalize our cups anymore.
Instead, let’s engrave our barware, and hey, even our tequila! Vodka your thing? Say Merry Chrismukkah or whatever holiday you’re celebrating this year with bright LED lights flashing all over your liquor bottle. Drink so much of your bespoke homemade gin you forgot where you live? Put your street map on your rocks glass and never be lost again! And when you’ve just got to show off with glitter, say it with a big ass custom banner.
There’s a sizable stash of holiday movies in our house and I can’t throw them away…even if they are crappy transfers on DVD (or VHS!!!). If you hoard holiday classics, especially any of those 1960’s classics, you’ll recognize this song title. And if you don’t, who cares! Let’s get gifting…
Everyone wishes for silver and gold, so let’s add some sparkle to your holiday cocktails shall we? From glistening glasses, to heavy metal pineapples, and don’t forget the bottles that are pouring your booze! How do you measure its worth? Just by the pleasure it gives here on Earth (or your bar cart).
I’m also including a complimentary cocktail to go along with your pickled watermelon. It too uses scraps in the form of ginger knobs (My freezer is full of tiny bits of ginger because I can never quite buy the right amount and cannot bring myself to throw away anything.). A tiny bit of the brine goes a long way to perk up the cocktail, so definitely make both!
You’ll find that these tiny sweet and salty, slightly crunchy rinds are also a delicious bar snack to have around for the summer. And I’m sure any guests will appreciate these just a tad more than the jar of pickled eggs.
Pickled Watermelon Rind:
1 small watermelon, about 4 pounds
1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
2 cloves, whole
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, whole
Using a vegetable peeler, remove outer green layer of skin from watermelon (if you have a smaller watermelon, cut the bottom and top ends off so you can stand your watermelon up to peel. If it’s larger, cut in half to stand up). Discard skin. Cut rind into 1-inch cubes and reserve pink flesh for another use.
Combine apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, salt, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns, bay leaf, chili pepper flakes, cloves, and coriander seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add watermelon rind, return to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and carefully place a heatproof plate on top of the rind to keep it submerged as the mixture comes to room temperature.
Once cool, transfer entire mixture to an airtight container and let stand in refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks.
Combine vodka and ginger in an airtight container. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 5 days or to your desired spiciness, up to 14 days total. Strain into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 6 months.
For each cocktail:
1-1/2 ounces Ginger Infused Vodka
1/4 ounce dry vermouth, such as Dolin
3 ounces chilled Prosecco
Pickled Watermelon Rind, for garnish
Combine Ginger Infused Vodka and vermouth in a mixing glass and fill two-thirds full with ice. Stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into a small wine glass or coupe. Top with Prosecco and garnish with the pickled watermelon rind.
For this cocktail I’ve also added back in a little bit of zest in the form of limes and lemons (I guess I needed some zestiness to get me through the soul crushing time known as tax season. Why haven’t I scanned any of my 2014 receipts yet?!?!) to make this a take on a sour. Juice + bitters + zest = just the right amount of punchy citrus.
I’m using vodka as a neutral base for the lemongrass flavor to shine in the infusion. There are two ways you can go about infusing a lemongrass vodka this weekend depending on how much time you want to spend. The longer, more traditional way, requires nothing but time. You chop and bruise the lemongrass, cover with vodka, and wait about 1 to 2 weeks to extract the full flavor. The second way is quite quick, seriously quick, but requires some equipment. An instantaneous infusion can be made with a whip cream canister and two N2O chargers. Extra equipment, sure, but a very immediate infusion.
Instantaneous infusions are a blessing… and a curse. There is only so much room in my home for all these infusions and I don’t think I can drink them fast enough. A sampling party may be in order soon…
Clean and remove the outer layer of the lemongrass stalks. Chop the stalks into 1 inch pieces and bruise them by crushing them with the side of your knife. Add the pieces to an airtight container and cover with the vodka. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 week up to 2 weeks. Shake daily. Taste after 1 week and continue to steep up to two weeks to desired flavor. Strain into an airtight container. Will last up to 6 months.
Alternatively, to instantaneous infuse, take chopped lemongrass and add to a whip cream canister. Pour in vodka and seal. Charge with one N2O charger. Shake well. Charge a second time with a new N2O charger. Shake well and then discharge contents into a clean, airtight container over a strainer. Infusion will last up to 6 months.
For the cocktail:
2 ounces lemongrass infused vodka (recipe above)
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice from 1 lime
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
3 dashes lemon bitters
lime zest strips for garnish
In a shaker, add the lemongrass infused vodka, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white. Dry shake (no ice yet) for about 30 seconds to incorporate the egg white. Add ice and then shake hard for another 30 seconds. Double strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with 3 drops of the lemon bitters topped with the lime zest.
The lemongrass is a more subdued flavor that doesn’t take over the drink or muddle the flavors but provides a subtle floral backdrop to the cocktail. There’s a nice bite from the lime juice and an egg white is added for some extra silky mouthfeel and to add a lightness to the drink. The foamy head created by dry shaking with an egg white suspends the lemon bitters above the cocktail, heightening the heavenly layers of citrus aroma.