Mixology Monday: A Winter Pear Cocktail

Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday LogoHalloween was skipped this year. Not on purpose, but Christopher and I found ourselves on a flight crossing coasts on the 31st. By the time we landed and arrived home, there was just enough time in the day to stare at the tv and zonk off to sleep due to jetlag.

When I woke up it was time for Thanksgiving. So, naturally, I need to start thinking about Christmas RIGHT NOW.

I’m using this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by the Booze Nerds, to do just that; think about winter holidays. The theme picked this month is “Resin”. What, you may ask yourselves, is that all about? You can read the full post on their site here, but mainly it’s using SAP (from Trees, not the accounting program).

My eyes drifted over in the direction of the front of my house, which is covered with rosemary plants. The likes of which you’ve seen as ingredients in my drinks here here and here. This month, rosemary is strictly a garnish as I bring out another beauty of the deciduous kind, Douglas Fir Eau de Vie from Clear Creek Distillery. I saw this on the shelf at a liquor store and picked it up for the sheer fact that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the smell of fir trees (i.e. Christmas Trees). This probably falls in at #3 on my list of favorite smells, which is a list that I have.

Pears are replacing apples right now as the seasonal fruit and I thought that a pairing of pear and fir tree is about as winter holiday of a cocktail as I can pull off right now. Adding cardamom also helps. And it works for the MxMo challenge.Winter Pear Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1/4 asian pear, cubed
3 whole green cardamom pods, pods discarded and seeds lightly crushed
1/2 oz lemon juice
1-1/2 oz Chopin Rye Vodka*
3/4 oz J Vineyards Pear Liqueur
1/4 oz Clear Creek Distillery Douglas Fir Eau de Vie

Garnish:
Pear wheel
rosemary sprig

Combine pear cubes and cardamom seeds in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add lemon juice and muddle well to full combine and break down the pear. Next add in ice about 2/3 up the way of the mixing glass. Pour in vodka, pear and fir eau de vie. Shake to fully combine about 20 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with a pear wheel skewered with the rosemary sprig.

Strong rosemary and cardamom nose with sweet, lemony notes. Flavor is juicy pear with a nice balance of tartness from the lemon. The presence of the fir is not subtle, as it stands out next to the pear, but it also compliments the sweetness by offering an unexpected earthiness and woodsy layer to the drink.

Thanks to the Booze Nerds for this month’s MxMo challenge and for making me break into this bottle, it was a delicious experiment and kinda like drinking a Christmas Tree.

*This bottle of Chopin 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.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Candy Corn Shooters

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Candy Corn Shooters // stirandstrain.com

Hey kids! This months Low Rent Cocktail is a layup. That Halloween party you threw Saturday night? You’re going to have one rager of a hangover Sunday morning. The solution: more booze. And candy. Candy is always the answer. Just before you passed out into oblivion I bet you tossed a bunch of candy corn into an almost empty solo cup of vodka. Well, that sat overnight and turned into a magical elixir… of candy corn syrup… that you can shoot back and start your day. Ok, first you need to take off that Vampira makeup. Or are you still in your Teen Wolf costume? Either way, this drink is going to put things back into perspective.

Maybe next you should go find a chili dog.

2 oz. of Vodka or any clear spirit
small handful of candy corn

Toss the candy corn into the vodka and let that sit overnight, or at least 4 hours. The candy should have broken down at this point, so give it a stir, and toss it back.

It’s a thick, syrupy, candy corn flavored elixir. Unless you plopped your candy corn in some rum, then it’s going to be rum and candy corn flavored. You get the idea.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Candy Corn Shooters // stirandstrain.com

Happy Halloween everyone! If you need some monster-inspired music, check out the #songaday selections on my Twitter.

Cocktails will resume in November!

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: A Shot of C

emergency-lrc-1I have a small staff that I manage at my day job. They’re an amusing lot. Conversations tend to be about food, not surprising considering where we work, my confessions of trashy tv I’ve been watching lately and occasionally cocktails. The other day my main assistant, or at least the one I yell over at the most, was describing “cocktails” that he and his roommates make at home and immediately I figured I’d use one for this month’s LRC.

Besides the obvious Red Bull and Vodka which I believe was one of their first choices for drinks at home, one rather timely cocktail for this winter was the combination of Emergen-C and vodka. To paraphrase my assistant, “It’s surprisingly good”.

So in the name of curiosity, here we go…

1 packet of orange flavored Emergen-C
2-1/2 oz. vodka, chilled

Mix the two in a small rocks glass and shoot it back. No need to sip this one.

While this “cocktail” isn’t made with real citrus, it is close enough to fit in with the current theme of citrus cocktails. Right? Right. There’s vitamins in there somewhere.

Flavor-wise you’re looking at what you’d expect to taste with one of those vitamin packs, backed by a throat-ripping burn of vodka. FYI, do NOT ever drink this room temp.

emergencypack

Make It: Tangelocello

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.comTangelocello. The name makes me think of some late 70’s disco/synth band but there wasn’t any other way to describe this liqueur.

As I mentioned in this post, I was able to pick quite a bounty of tangelos from my backyard this year. The problem with these tangelos? They’re SUPER tart. It’s not like you can just peel and eat them. Unfortunately with a bag full of them I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with them all. Then I recalled my Limoncello experiment (found here and here) and realized if you can make tart lemons drinkable, then tart tangelos should also work. tangelocello-3

And you know what? It did work! In the end I had a sweet, citrus liqueur with some tang, but not enough to make my cheeks pucker and spit it out.

One small caveat. You’re going to need 8 weeks. It is a project, but really, let’s be honest. It’s a project where you barely put in any effort and you’re rewarded with liqueur you made with your hands that tastes awesome. That should be reward enough!

Making tangelocello falls into two major steps, and one small half step. I’m including everything here on this one post for convenience purposes.tangelocello-2

4-5 medium sized Tangelos
1-1/2 cups high proof vodka (I used Belvedere Vodka INTENSE 100 Proof)

Wash a jar large enough to hold the vodka and dry well. Add the vodka to the jar. Zest the tangelos and add those to the vodka. Juice the tangelos, put the juice in a ziplock bag, and throw that in the freezer. You will need it in two weeks. Seal the jar and place it out of direct sunlight. Shake the jar once every day for two weeks. I find putting it someplace in sight will help you remember to do this. After two weeks strain the zest from the vodka and get ready for Step Two.tangelocello-1

1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water
juice from the 4-5 tangelos, defrosted (if you had left it in the freezer)

First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool and add that and the juice to the vodka. Seal and keep in a cool, dark place for 6 weeks. No need to agitate this time.

After 6 weeks, strain again into a bottle and seal. Keep in the refrigerator so you always have chilled Tangelocello on hand for a digestif. Aren’t you fancy!?

The White Russian: Happy Halloween from the Dude

This classic sprang about due to a Halloween party this past weekend. We knew about this party, a 90’s themed Halloween party, for at least a couple of weeks, but all the ideas for costumes seemed to be slipping by. Stuck for ideas my husband asked me to just read off the highlights from each year of VH1s I Love the 90s. Then I read off The Big Lebowski.

“Stop”, my husband said, “that’s it.”

Now, it took me a couple times to really get into this movie. Around the time I hit 10 years in L.A. I watched it again and finally had my ‘ah-ha’ moment. And actually liked the film. While I can’t rattle off quotes, I do know what drink the Dude prefers: White Russians.

This was a Friday night when the costume was decided, Saturday was the party. The following day it took a trip to Target, a Halloween store, and a stop at Ralph’s to complete the costume. This was done by 10:30 am.

Part of the costume was to be an empty Ralph’s container of milk, however they only had pints of half and half around. Instead of dumping out the milk when we got back, I can’t waste food, we poured it into some containers and I decided to put it to good use making some White Russians, for help getting “into character”.  

I had to consult The Joy of Mixology since this isn’t a drink I often consume. Or actually, have ever had. But we needed to be authentic for the costume. It’s only changed slightly in that I built it in the glass and stirred it, and subbed out 1/2 and 1/2 for the cream. I know, there’s dairy in there, it should be shaken. But the Dude doesn’t go for that fancy stuff.

2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Kahlua
1 oz. 1/2 and 1/2

Build ingredients in a rocks glass. Give it a good stir to combine. Try not to get it all up in your mustache.

What’s it taste like? Sort of like sweet, spiked coffee. It’s rich, and I can’t fathom how one could continually throw these back. But to each his own.

Happy Halloween folks, from me and the Dude.

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Overnight Adult Slushie, in green

Do you like to get girl drink drunk?

Let’s acknowledge that these drinks are not for people who enjoy drinks. It’s that spoon full of sugar… For kids on spring break, or those yard-long plastic glasses mainly filled with sugar and a thimble of alcohol. You like those drinks? This one is for you.

I’ve seen ‘adult’ frozen beverages done well. There seemed to be a surge of adult popsicles and the like this summer. This is not that. This is a drink you throw together when picking up after a party on a hot night, throw it in the freezer, and enjoy all over again the next day. And now, just when I was breaking out the sweaters and scarves, DAMMIT, it got hot again in L.A. This drink would have come around early September, but didn’t get a chance. So now for your sugary, neon buzzing pleasure– I give you your Low Rent Cocktail of the Month.

One night at a party someone brings you as a mixer a brightly colored soda. Let’s say it’s Watermelon Kiwi. And then you throw some vodka in and call it a night.

Right before you pass out, you empty the rest of the vodka into the last third of that soda. And since you’ve run out of ice cubes you toss it in the freezer.

In the morning, you re-discover this concoction in there and in lieu of a cup (none are clean anyway), you cut off the top and stick a straw in. Or two. Hey, that random person still in the house might like a cold drink as well.

1 cup vodka
3 cups of a fruity, all sugar, soda pop (save the bottle)

The flavor will all depend on what your base is. Or what mixers you had the night before. In this case, it tasted like Pop Rocks!

Chocolate Chili, Mint and Vodka Fizz Cocktail

A couple months back I had more mint syrup sitting in my fridge than I could ever use. I really stretched it out into as many drinks as possible, but still found that its volume was decreasing ever so slightly. Browsing on Foodgawker I caught sight of this drink on there. I filed it as a possibility and then forgot about it, and the mint syrup, until this week. Well, the mint syrup was in bad shape and had to get tossed out. But I still had an idea of reworking this recipe with the chocolate chili bitters I had from Miracle Mile bitters, and I had a bunch of fresh mint hanging around. It could still work, and in the end it did.

The drink came out smooth, minty and flavorful with a subtle kick from the chili in the bitters. The fresh mint and simple syrup were a fine stand in for mint syrup. Why did I keep it as a vodka base? Well, I had a bottle around the house and sometimes I need to come up with drinks for people who only drink vodka. This is one to file away for such a time.

I used a small rocks glass for this drink. It’s really almost a juice glass. But the smallness keeps the flavors vibrant without allowing too much space for melting ice, or for overfilling with club soda.

1-1/2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
6 medium sized mint leaves
2-3 dashes of Miracle Mile Chocolate Chili Bitters
2-3 oz. Q-Club club soda
sprig of mint

In the bottom of a rocks glass, muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup together gently just until a minty smell is released. Add the dashes of bitters, a few ice cubes and add vodka. Stir a few times to combine and top with club soda. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

What happened to September around here you ask? Well, I took my first trip to India. And then came home with a little India in my lower intestines and was horribly sick for WEEKS. Weeks. I’m not a fan of India, apologies to those of you who are. A friend of mine was there in February and had a fine time. Every day of our trip something went wrong. I landed and was sick for 4 days. An accident on a two lane road made a 3 hour trip into an 8 hour trip. A nation-wide protest delayed our stay in New Delhi due to a man lighting his truck on fire on a highway we needed to take. A drunk motorcyclist tried to drag our driver out of our car and beat him up. My Mother-In-Law got Dengue Fever, along with two other relatives. And I learned a baby can cry for 16 straight hours on a plane. The sickness I developed while back in the states put me on a medication that would make my blood toxic if I had any alcohol of any kind, even mouthwash! So that put the brakes on the blog for awhile. But I’m putting all that behind me now and getting back to normal around here. One wonderful thing about India was a drink that my Husband’s mom has been talking about for years that she used to drink growing up in India: Fresh Lime Soda Sweet and Salty. She couldn’t really remember what went into it, so as soon as we got into India, she ordered up a glass and I was impressed. Especially the garnish. I’d never seen olives and maraschino cherries dancing together in a glass before. One sip of this and I took notes and told myself to make this a boozy beverage when we got back to the states. I had this served several ways while in India. Most times everything was made and served to you in a glass, but with a small pitcher on the side of simple syrup to make it even sweeter if you wanted. Indians love the sweet stuff. Another time it was served up sweet with a salt shaker next to the glass. The last time I had it, I was served lime juice in a glass, with a bottle of club soda, a small pitcher of simple syrup, a bowl of salt, and an ice bucket of ice. It was great to make it exactly how I wanted it. And I encourage that here. I had to try a couple times to get the right amounts for my taste here. The idea is to balance the sweet and the salt. Do you like it more sweet? Less sweet? A salt lick? Go ahead and taste as you make this. 1-1/2 oz Vodka 2-1/2 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice 3/4 oz of simple syrup (as always around here I make a 1:1 ratio syrup, not a rich syrup) 1/4 tsp of kosher salt 2 – 3oz Q-Club Soda Garnish: lime wedge maraschino cherry (I used Bada Bing Cherries. An impulse buy,  but mostly because there is no red dye involved. I just can’t bring myself to buy those anymore.) Green Olive stuffed with Pimento (or not stuffed if you prefer) In the mixing glass of a Boston Shaker, fill with ice and pour in vodka, lime juice, simple syrup and salt. Shake well to combine. Strain into a Highball glass with several ice cubes (3-4 large cubes) and top with club soda. Spear the olive, cherry and lime wedge and garnish the glass. Add some festive elephants to remind you of those walking around the streets in India.

The Awful Awful Mudslide

It’s with a fair amount of certainty that I say I’ve never had a Mudslide before. I cannot be fully sure because there are nights at bars where I’ve hung around a wee bit too long and have asked for all kinds of drinks or shots to be thrown my way. A Mudslide was definitely not what I had set out to make myself as I sat down at the computer ready to work, but I just happened upon a page that had it listed right there.. a fairly quick drink to make and an excuse to use up that gigantic bottle of Baileys-like alcohol in the fridge. Also I was in the mood for something a bit sweet and chocolaty tasting… well, what I really wanted was a mint chocolate chip awful awful (that’s a shake) from Newport Creamery, but since I am 1. on the wrong coast for that and 2. they filed for bankruptcy over a decade ago, that dream wasn’t exactly happening too soon.

So I decided on the next best option… I guess. Add some mint bitters to a mudslide and see what magic happens. Oh… disgusting yummyness indeed. I find it so bizarre when a bartender/mixologist/whathaveyou, can create something in cocktail form that so closely resembles the characteristics of something else. But dang, about 5-6 drops of Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters in there and it, somehow, hit the spot. If you feel so inclined, here’s the recipe:

2 oz Vodka
1oz Baileys
1oz Kaluha
5-6 drops of Fee Brother’s Mint Bitters

In a shaker filled with ice, combine all the ingredients and shake like crazy until WELL mixed. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Close your eyes and imagine you’re not drinking a Mudslide.

The Yale Special

Recently a copy of The Savoy Cocktail book arrived in the mail. It was a belated Valentine’s Day gift from my husband. Belated not because of him, but because Amazon couldn’t decide if they wanted to ship it to us or not. Emails kept popping up in the inbox saying things like, click this link if you’re really certain you want us to send this to you whenever it comes in stock; the outlook was grim that this would ever arrive. But then it did.

I’ve been trying to find drink recipes to use up the bitters I bought and I thought the earlier cocktail recipe books could help in that category since they were dropping them in to all sorts of drinks back then. Scanning the book I came across the Yale Cocktail. However, I realized that I would immediately have to make a couple changes as I have still not bought any Angostura bitters (I know… I know…). Also, the recipes are coming directly from the original book and the measurements are kind of all over the place. Sometimes there are just fractions and other times it just says to put in a wine glass full of something or in this recipe, a glass of Gin. Now, my idea of a glass of gin and Harry Craddock’s idea could be on opposite sides of the room. I’m sure out there somewhere someone has compiled the measurement translations… but why make it easy on myself?

Well, all I had in the house was Hendrick’s and for this cocktail, it just wasn’t working. So then I remembered that I had a 2oz bottle of Finlandia Tangerine Fusion (it came with a much larger bottle of regular Finlandia) and thought maybe that I would use it here. It worked! I had to up the amount of orange bitters to really give it the extra flavor I was looking for, and I went with 1/2 the juice of a tangelo instead of a squeeze of lemon. The end result: spicy and then fruity, which was the right combination for me. Next I need to work on proportioning glasses to the drinks.. I always seem to come up with too much room in the glass.

2 oz Finlandia Tangerine Fusion
6-8 dashes of Fee Brother’s West Indian Orange Bitters (original recipe called for 3 but the flavor was just not there)
2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
1/2 juice of a tangelo
club soda to top

In a mixing glass with ice combine all the ingredients except for the club soda. Stir to combine, and strain into a small chilled cocktail glass. Top with club soda.