Fresh Lemongrass Sour a DIY project for your weekend

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWhat a week folks! In case you haven’t heard, I’ve been nominated again this year for Saveur Magazine’s Best Blog Awards in the cocktail category. A HUGE thanks to everyone who sent in the nomination. Now the voting begins for the winners. You have until April 30th to get that vote in. I super appreciate all of you.

Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMoving on… to cocktails. In an effort to make cocktails taste more like the foods I love, i.e. Thai Food, I’ve been concocting various infusions lately and experimenting with some bizarre flavor combinations (more to come here soon). One of the simplest though was fresh lemongrass. I compare lemongrass as the pastel cousin to winter citrus. While the oranges and grapefruits have this intense zestiness that I feel counteracts the depressing reality that is winter, lemongrass is a good match for the budding warmth of springtime. It’s floral, with some light citrus notes (but basically it’s the same smell as a citronella candle).Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

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…

OK! Let’s welcome in spring with some booze.Fresh Lemongrass Sour Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the lemongrass infusion:

4 lemongrass stalks
2 cups vodka

  • 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.

I created this recipe originally for Serious Eats this week

Chocolate Roundup for National Chocolate Day!

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that National Chocolate Day falls so close to Halloween. Whoever is coming up with these “holidays”, and I think it quite possibly could be a food blogger, is making it easy for me to come up with roundup posts at least once a month. Hey, mostly it means I get to re-introduce some older posts you all might not be familiar with. Like some of these:

Chocolate Rye Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Chocolate Rye Cocktail

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Smoked Porter Beer Mousse

Angostura Brownies // stirandstrain.com

Angostura Chocolate Luxardo Cherry Brownies

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Chocolate Chili Mint Vodka Fizz Cocktail

Spicy Tomato Water Martini

Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis is a sponsored post. 

Today I just realized that soon, tomato season will be over. This is a hard pill to swallow because somehow this summer sped by so fast that I don’t feel I indulged on enough tomatoes. To compensate, I went to the farmer’s market this weekend and I, perhaps, overbought by a pallet or two.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Lately, if you’ve been reading on here with any regularity, you might have noticed that I’ve been lamenting the summer produce as it starts to slowly leave the aisles of the local farmer’s markets. Using seasonal products has always been a priority on here, and really, for many people now, it’s not a very new concept anymore. However, after years of living with the same produce available all year round, I find that I’m still getting used to this idea. You mean I can’t have fresh tomato pasta in a few weeks? No more bruschetta? No more PEACH DAIQUIRIS?!?!

OK, I’m calm now but I still have this giant bag of tomatoes that have to get preserved somehow. Well, I can eat only so many of these guys, so then I turned to preserving the flavor of tomatoes. Yup, the flavor.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For this recipe, in partnership with Absolut Vodka, I get to hang on to that summer tomato flavor for as long as I have this bottle handy (which actually could get used up pretty quick in my house). Absolut is a good match because they also care about making things seasonal and local; in making Absolut Original they use local ingredients and keep farming and production in the surrounding community of Åhus, Sweden. They have a craft approach to details, like using crop rotation to naturally restore the area’s wheat fields, and making all the famous bottles at a 300 year old glassworks nearby. Their name for keeping everything in Åhus is One Source. They even feed the local farm animals the spent grains from production; talk about a happy cow!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the base, I chose cherry tomatoes over larger ones so that I could get a nice mix of tart, sweet and sour flavors to make the “water” more layered and not just a single note. I also decided to add a touch of salt to each individual cocktail instead of the larger infused batch. This was done so that serving this, guests who liked things a little salty could add more salt, and those who might even want to forego salt altogether could (although I wouldn’t suggest it).  The base itself then would remain a consistent flavor. Using the Absolut Original vodka also means that I have a consistent flavor and quality in all the cocktails.

The black pepper and thai bird chili give the base its earthy, spicy flavor and the heat factor is completely up to you (as it should be). I like enough heat so that the cocktail has some zip to it, but I don’t let it overpower the other star ingredients. Otherwise I would have made you a chili pepper cocktail.

Let’s make a drink!Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka
750 ml bottle Absolut Original Vodka (a little over 3 cups)*
3 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 thai bird chili peppers, roughly chopped with seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, whole

Combine all ingredients in an airtight container. Leave in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Strain ingredients through a cheesecloth lined fine strainer into a clean, airtight container. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months. This recipe can easily be scaled down or up.

Spicy Tomato Water Martini
3 parts Spicy Tomato Water Infused Absolut Vodka (recipe above)
1/4 part Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
pinch of good sea salt
cherry tomato and cocktail onions for garnish

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, add vodka, dry vermouth and salt. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with cherry tomato and cocktail onions.Absolut Spicy Tomato Water Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

*This post is sponsored by Absolut Vodka. If you’d like to find out more on their consistent commitment to exceptional quality vodka, please visit them here!

The Lazy Person’s Guide to Drinking on Labor Day

Yes, I’m aware there’s been quite a number of round ups on the site this summer. But you know what? It’s SUMMER. Give me a break. To continue the trend of taking it easy as we head into Fall, I’m giving you yet another list of cocktails ideas. This time though I’m making sure they’re batched and sitting pretty in your fridge, waiting for you to break out a pitcher or blender to wizz them up at the touch of a button.

Pro tip: get someone else to make the bases for you.

Frozen Negroni Cocktail Slushies // stirandstrain.com

Frozen Negroni Cocktails. In regular flavor and watermelon.

saltedpeanutoldfashioned-cocktails

Salted Peanut Old Fashioneds. You should already have these made and in your fridge.

Hibiscus Lime Cooler Pitcher #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Hibiscus Lime Cooler. Because you should.

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails. Cocktails you can eat are always a win.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria. I just love an excuse to make Sangria.

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

See? (Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria)

lazy sunday punch // stirandstrain.com

Lazy Cucumber Punch….

Happy long weekend everyone! Let me know what you’re drinking!

MxMo LXXXV Roundup of Aw, Nuts!

Mixology Monday LogoWell, it looks like this month’s theme may have drove some of you..errr… nuts. Sorry about that. All of your nutty puns were much appreciated by this here goofball.

First, a big thanks to everyone who took up this challenge. We had some newbies, some regulars, and some of you dusting off a few cobwebs on your return back here. I appreciate you all for keeping this monthly gathering going. We had quite an interesting bunch of entries, from DIY infusions and syrups to hesitant scoops of Nutella to a handful of tasty liqueurs. You guys really got creative and now I need to go buy more bottles for more infusions (and seriously need to consider where the hell to store it all). But enough chatter from me, let’s get on to the roundup (after the jump)!

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Sex on the Beach Sailboat Popsicles

Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.comI bought these sailboat popsicle molds last year with the sole intention of putting some sort of boozy frozen delicacy in them. And then a year went by, and I only just got around to taking them out of the box. And for a private dinner no less! I knew that if I put this post up on April 1st (yesterday) you all would have erroneously assumed it was some kind of practical joke. Sex on the Beach…popsicles?!?! So I thought it best to go up the next day to avoid any confusion with this recipe because it is, in fact, quite tasty.

The “cocktail” was developed after I was hired to make drinks for a private dinner party where the theme was “Seafood, Italian, 80’s Miami a la the Golden Girls”. The sailboats were the amuse course. The next four cocktails were all based on the four Golden Girls (you can check out some of those pics in my Instagram feed). My eyes popped wide open once I realized that I could use the sailboat molds – finally! At first I had thought I’d make a highbrow cherimoya-lime-spicy concoction. But then stopped myself. 80’s Miami? It HAS to be a cocktail riff based on one of those “classics” of the era; so a Sex on the Beach was made and enjoyed by all.Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

I made a few adjustments to the recipe to start. Cranberry juice is almost never making an appearance in my fridge, so instead I subbed in my homemade grenadine. Same goes with Peach Schnapps. Instead, a fresh peach puree was used in place. A few minor changes took this recipe from meh to ahhh, resulting in a great start to the dinner.

So now I’m sharing the recipe with you all. It’s a taste of the summer to come.Sex on the Beach Sailboat Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Note: you don’t need to have these sailboats on hand. Any popsicle mold will suffice, but just won’t be as fun.

1/2 ounce grenadine (homemade is always best)
1 ounce peach puree
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 ounce vodka, Aylesbury Duck from the 86 Co. used here
1/4 ounce G.E. Massenez Creme de Cassis

  1. In the bottom of your popsicle mold, pour grenadine in. Freeze to semi-frozen, about 45 minutes.
  2. Mix together peach puree, orange juice and vodka. Pour on top of grenadine. Freeze to semi-frozen, about an hour and a half.
  3. Drizzle creme de cassis on top of peach/O.J./vodka mixture. Add popsicle stick at this point and freeze until solid, at least 6 hours but overnight is best.
  4. To un-mold, squeeze mold to release sides of the popsicle. This should enable you to wiggle the popsicle out. If not, run under warm, NOT hot, water for 5 seconds to help un-mold.
  5. Eat immediately!

Why not WAY more alcohol? Because then they wouldn’t freeze well. I tried this with one ounce of vodka in the center and it never fully froze to a stable consistency. That said, you can still taste that these have some booze in them because clearly, that’s the point. They do have a nice fruity punch to them with the grenadine working well in contrast with the peach/orange combo. Depending on the creme de cassis you have, this can be left out (some flavors work better than others). Try one with and one without to see for yourself. I tried this with Chambord too but the flavor just didn’t work well here, somehow it became almost medicinal. Also, if you can get a giant seashell filled with ice to display your pops in, you win.

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!?