Make It: Pistachio Orgeat

I need to apologize upfront to the reader who had asked about making this recipe two… three (??) years ago. At this point they’ve probably moved on, but I, however, kept this on my “to make” list and am finally, FINALLY, getting around to posting this. Sorry reader.

This will mark the third variation on orgeat I’ve done on the site (OK, one wasn’t technically mine) and I think this shows how adaptable some of these tried and true cocktail ingredients are. Sometimes plain old orgeat isn’t going to cut it and we need to sub in another kind of nut. Today we’re subbing in pistachios.

Pistachios give a savory, earthiness to the orgeat that you might be familiar with if you eat pistachio ice cream. It’s sweet, but hey, there’s a lot of savoriness in there too. Use this pistachio orgeat to pair with sweet tart flavors like passion fruit or berries.

A few notes on this recipe before you venture forward:

  • If you can find pre-shelled pistachios you will save a lot of time. You might even save yourself some broken fingernails (ugh).
  • Use WHITE sugar if you want to keep your orgeat a pretty avocado green. Yes, I constantly advocate for the use of unprocessed cane sugar, but if you use the unprocessed stuff with this pistachio orgeat, your color is going to turn a murky brown. It will taste fine, but won’t look pretty. Trust me, I know this for a fact.
  • Get yourself a nut bag for straining. Cheesecloth is fine but if you like these kinds of projects then a reusable nut bag will not only catch more of the fine bits while straining, but you get to reuse the bag over and over again. I like this bag, but any bag you prefer will probably be fine.
  • To orange flower water or not to orange flower water? That is the question with orgeats! Most recipes say optional but I say put it in. However, as always, it’s up to you.

Ok, let’s make this!

Yields approximately 2-1/2 cups

2 cups shelled roasted pistachios
2 cups water
2 cups granulated white sugar (see note above)
1 ounce vodka
1 teaspoon orange flower water, such as Nielsen-Massey (see note above)

  1. Place nuts in a bowl and 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 or mallet.
  2. Place the crushed nuts in a large bowl and add the 2 cups of water to it. Let stand for four 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.
  3. Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and set aside the nuts for another use (I still recommend making chocolate bark with the nuts). 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.

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!

Holiday Gift Guide: Black and White and Booze All Over

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…

Holiday Gift Guide: Black and White and Booze All Over // stirandstrain.com

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.

1. Gun metal black strainer 2. Marble coasters 3. Cocktail print 4. Geometric straws 5. “Bad Ass” muddler 6. Our/Los Angeles vodka 7. Black growler 8. Q Tonic

The Halloween Bar Cart 2016 Edition

Your bar cart isn’t stocked for Halloween?! OH THE HORROR!!!

Gift Guide: The Halloween Bar Cart 2016 Edition // stirandstrain.com

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!

1. Crystal Head Vodka 2. Vampire Wax Teeth 3. Skull Bar Spoon 4. Mask Bottle Opener 5. Black Dipped Glasses 6. Cassiopeia Smoky Black Tumblers 7. Black and Gold Shaker 8. Taurus Bar Cart 9. McClure’s Bloody Mary Mix

Salted Caramel & Peanut Infused Whiskey Cocktails

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThis 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!

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comBack 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.

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSalted 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!

Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel and Peanut-Infused Whiskey Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSome 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.

4th of July Drinking Guide

Fire up those grills and break out your blocks of ice.

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails with White Claw // stirandstrain.com

Black Cherry + Green Tea Cocktails

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

Vegan Sloe Gin Fizz

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

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch

 Fun In Jalisco Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Fun In Jalisco Cocktail

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Blood and Sand Cocktail

Aperol Spritz Break: Summer Adventure // stirandstrain.com

Aperol Spritz

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash (and some notes on blogging) // stirandstrain.com

Blueberry Basil Lemon Smash

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Improved Aviation Cocktail

Cucumber Seas Cocktail

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comThis 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.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comRight before I had left for the trip a coworker, who was born and raised in the Chicago area, told me I should check out the miniatures over at the Art Institute. I didn’t have time to do any research about what I’d find there prior to leaving, so it was going to be a surprise. I ended up booking a hotel about two blocks from the AI and since I am always keen to check out some art (I got that BA in art history you know…) I decided that I’d take some “me” time and stroll on over there. And it was AMAZING.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comGuys, I have a secret to tell you all: I LOVE manufactured environments. Disneyland, Vegas, countless restored houses in New England I frequented as a child, and these tiny miniature rooms…  This might be why I chose to make dioramas for all my book reports when that was an option (see list here). I’m sure someone out there could psychoanalyze why but who cares?

Today I’m taking that idea of the small, magical environment and turning it towards cocktails. Recently I stumbled upon these really unique cocktail glasses made by Czech designer Martin Jakobsen and it was love at first sight. The shapes and stylings had the gears in my brain turning at high speed: what to make first?

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comI loved how these looked like terrariums and my mind wandered towards air plants and sea grasses. And cucumbers. Not sea cucumbers mind you, but just the regular guys you see at the market. I had recently received a bottle of Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur and had developed a recipe using shiso and coconut milk. The dreamy liquid seemed to me the perfect base to display inside the globular glass and using the green elements from the drink, I could create my own little world in a cocktail.

The cucumber liqueur has a perfectly light and sweet taste that married well with the coconut milk. Together they create a slightly creamy cocktail with a tart, floral and subtle cucumber flavor. I chose a pinch of hibiscus salt for balance in the finish. The hibiscus gives another layer of floral to the nose and just a touch of bitterness. To make the sea grass garnish in the globe, I dehydrated cucumber peels at 200°F for 15 minutes in the oven. The effect is purely aesthetic but I do love the smell of dried cucumber too.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.comAnd guys, you don’t need these little globe cocktail glasses to make the drink. A double rocks glass will do just fine too.

Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Spirits are right up my alley. They use all natural, sustainably farmed, organic ingredients all made in small batches by people—not machines. I invite you to check out their Cucumber Liqueur and their entire product line at thatchersorganic.com.

Now let’s get shaking!

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur
2 shiso leaves
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
3/4 ounce coconut milk
Hibiscus salt and cucumber slices for garnish

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the shiso leaves with lime juice. Add in ice 2/3 up the shaker and then pour in the vodka, Thatcher’s Organic Cucumber Liqueur, simple syrup and coconut leaves. Shake hard for 20 seconds and double strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with cucumber slices and hibiscus salt.

Cucumber Seas Cocktail with Thatcher's Organic Cucumber Liqueur // stirandstrain.com

*For more info on sponsored products, affiliate links, and gifted booze, please visit the About page.

The Best Vodka Martini has garlic in it

The Best Vodka Martini: with garlic and black pepper // stirandstrain.comDo you all remember the first time you heard about blogs? I forget in what order these things go, but I know I paid attention to food blogs the most first. But then I forget that when I was younger, much younger, I created a site where I reviewed live music shows local to Los Angeles. This actually led to a brief period of my life where I got paid to write for music publications and got sent free music to review. At the time, this was akin to winning the lottery.

The Best Vodka Martini: with garlic and black pepper // stirandstrain.comFood blogs were an interesting mix of recipes and people spilling their guts out to the public (not much change there). Their casualness led to a renewed interest for me of cooking in the kitchen. These people clearly were not chefs and just look at what they were making! And then in 2010 I was preparing to get married and stumbled into the even larger and insane world of lifestyle/wedding/etc blogs that kept me up crying and hyperventilating into a paper bag. I still occasionally look at these for no reason at all, but I’m thankful that I only had to spend a brief period of my life picking out color schemes for napkins and talking about chair cushion choices.

And then came the drink blogs. I had no idea these existed but there was a period in 2009 when a whole crop of them (now mostly retired) sprung up. I make no secret around here that after reading Morgenthaler’s site I decided to start writing again and created a space (this space) to write down my recipes and to use the site as a reason to learn all I could about cocktails and such. I’m about to hit 5 years writing this thing and the biggest transition in my thinking, and what I see many bars and bartenders starting to follow as well, is to stop being a dick. OK, well, a snob. There is a lot less snobbery in the cocktail world now. What might have been a backlash at first again the conventional drinking world and a fight to bring back old spirits and even older recipes often resulted in people feeling ostracized and a whole lot of suspenders. None of this is news though, but looking back on early posts I can definitely see where I was echoing a lot of that sentiment. Especially when it came to vodka.

The Best Vodka Martini: with garlic and black pepper // stirandstrain.comDo I have vodka in my bar? Yes. Lots really. Brands send it to me and I try it, curious to see what this new one will taste like, if anything. Do I drink vodka martinis? Not really; I am used to the taste of a gin martini and I prefer all the flavor it has. However, I am not dismissing it. I am however going to make it fancy.

And I do have a favorite vodka martini recipe now. It is barely tweaked from a food blogger’s recipe, the vodka being swapped in for gin. Actually, it comes from this blogger’s book, because a lot of the earlier bloggers all seem to have books. This blog, Orangette, is an early blog. I feel like it touches upon the territory of when no one was writing them and maybe because of the unknown, it also didn’t quite fit that mold of “food blog”. There was a lot of writing, not many photos (or if there were, maybe not of food), and names of entries might have nothing to do with what the person was cooking. The site is pretty much the same, even after being around for over a decade. Her books read like an extension of her site, just a long format version and in between pages of what it was like for your husband to one day decide to open a restaurant after NEVER having any experience in the field whatsoever, there are a few well selected recipes. This martini recipe was one of those.

One note before you go trying this: one must enjoy garlic. Even if you don’t add the cloves back in after you strain it, the drink is still pretty pungent. Me, I enjoy the ever increasing garlic flavor that becomes almost a dare to finish when you’re down to the last few sips. And I finish it of course. The black pepper you can also adjust to your liking as well. I like a little bite, but I don’t enjoy crunching on every sip so just a few turns of the pepper grinder is enough for me. And if you couldn’t quite tell, it’s a very savory cocktail.

The Best Vodka Martini: with garlic and black pepper // stirandstrain.com

Garlic Black Pepper Vodka Martini

barely adapted from Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage

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.

Holiday Gift Guide: Say My Name (The Personalized Guide)

What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours but let’s not use a sharpie to personalize our cups anymore.

Holiday Gift Guide: Say My Name, the Personalized Guide // stirandstrain.com

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.

1.  Custom Glitter Garland 2. LED Display Medea Vodka 3. Custom Flask 4. Monogrammed Leather Ice Bucket 5. Brine Hound Customized Wooden Muddler 6. Monogrammed Stemless Champagne Flutes 7. Custom Maps Rocks Glass 8. Personalized Credit Card Bottle Opener 9. Ginbrew Custom Gin Kit 10. Engraved DeLeón Platnum Tequila

Catch up on all the gift guides here.

Holiday Gift Guide: Silver & Gold, Silver & Gold and brass and copper and titanium

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…

Silver and Gold Holiday Gift Guide // stirandstrain.com

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).

1.  Rose Gold Pineapple Shot Glasses 2. Ketel One Vodka 325th Anniversary Bottle 3. Gold Sequin Coasters 4. Pineapple Tumbler with Straw 5. Copper Industrial Bottle Opener 6. Japanese Style Gold Jigger 7. The Chandon Special Edition Bottle 8. The Champagne Cocktail Carry On Kit 9. Mid Century Silver Cocktail Set