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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Mother’s Day Cocktail Roundup

Both my mother and mother-in-law are not big drinkers. So imagine this roundup more for those of you who have a booze lovin’ mamma. Or spend an afternoon at the club making the boys fetch you drinks while you never get around to playing tennis. Or better, perhaps, these are for the sons and daughters having to endure hours on Sunday being told you’re not coming around or calling enough. Yes, these drinks are for you.

Burnt Sage & Blackberry Sangria. One for you, one for mom. Or two for you.

sage blackberry sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Pitcher drinks mean all day drinking. Try this  Apple and Rosé Sangria with Sunday brunch.

Drunken Apple and Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

 

Need something quick but fancy? Try this Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail, takes but a second but super pretty to look at.

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

Sparkling Wine. Watermelon. Limoncello? What’s more impressive sounding than that? Whip up some Salty Melon Cocktails. They’ll be perfect with your edible fruit basket.

Salty Melon #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

 

Need more pink on Sunday? Electric Pink Fields is ALWAYS a winner.

Electric Pink Fields #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

And if you just need a stiff drink. Have a Smoky Manhattan.

Smoky Manhattan #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Gift Guide: Booze Filled Advent Calendars

Whisky and Gin Advent Calendars // stirandstrain.com

Living under the shadow of the Roman Catholic Church growing up, December 1st meant putting up the advent calendar. If you’re not familiar with this tradition, it’s pretty much a calendar for kids to use themselves in lieu of bugging their parents about “how many days until Christmas?”. At this point in life, I’ve forgotten any other symbolic meaning it may have. Anyways, one school year the teacher brought out what I thought was the best thing to happen since the invention of Christmas, a chocolate filled advent calendar. We all picked days and when our day came up in class, we got to open the door and eat the chocolate. And I remember it as pretty decent chocolate. That moment in time has stuck with me as the best advent calendar ever, until last year, when I spotted these two beauties from the Master of Malt site. You can pick either whisky or gin for 24 days of boozy surprises. This year they have premium editions of both making your only decision whether you go brown or clear. If you can’t decided, just get both.

Premium Whisky Advent Calendar // Craft Gin Advent Calendar

Mixology Monday: The Royal Affliction

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.comMixology Monday LogoWhen one hosts a month of Mixology Monday, I think there is a knee-jerk reaction to do as much as you can. You’re the host; you need to show off a little bit, right? But dammit if I didn’t think ahead a bit more and pump out all the other ideas I had. There is a smoker sitting on my porch right now, unused since two Thanksgivings ago when we smoked a turkey. I’m OK with that though. For this third and last post, I still got a hell of a lot of smoke into this drink. And my kitchen. And my clothes. Lots of delicious, rosemary infused smoke.

Last month, the company that does the PR for the Black Grouse invited me out to try their product at two Los Angeles bars where the bartenders would be showcasing the way they would serve this Scotch Whisky. They also generously provided me with my own bottle that I am using here. At the first bar, Sassafras, I learned that you can smoke rosemary for a drink using only a tea candle and a snifter glass. The simplicity and genius of this bar trick stayed with me. I knew at some point I would have to try this, and this month was the perfect opportunity to do so.The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Here’s the thing about smoking herbs: use organic, and if possible, from your own garden (that’s where mine came from). Not sure if your grocery store has organic you can trust? Go to a farmer’s market and ask the person selling the herbs if they use pesticides or chemicals on their herbs. Why go through all the trouble? Because crap in crap out. The smoke from this drink will be IN your drink and you are going to ingest it. Do you want weird unknown substances being brought to high temperatures and those fumes entering your mouth? You don’t care? You like huffing sharpies? Fine, you’ve been warned.

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The blackberries here in Southern California are starting to go tart, so for this cocktail, I wanted to use them up in a syrup, as they would not give enough sweetness just muddling them into the drink. FYI, this syrup is super thick. If you’re not sure what to do with the leftover syrup, there is only one way to go: PANCAKES.The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Rich Blackberry Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
heaping 1/2 cup of blackberries

Bring all the ingredients to a boil then simmer for a half hour; gently mash blackberries down while the mixture cooks. Remove from heat and let cool. Once cool, strain and bottle syrup. If not using all right away, add 1/2 ounce of vodka to mixture and keep refrigerated up to 3 months. (I refer to this as ‘rich’ due to the viscous nature of the final syrup. This is not a true ‘rich’ simple syrup, since I am still using a 1:1 sugar water ratio.)The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

And now the drink:

2 oz The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky
3/4 oz Blackberry Syrup (recipe above)
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
3 dashes Scrappy’s Celery Bitters
2 cleaned sprigs of rosemary, approximately 5″-6″ long

tea candle and holder (I found a jam jar worked great for keeping distance between the flame and the rosemary. You want at least 3 inches of clearance between the two.)
piece of card stock larger than the diameter of your glass
brandy snifterThe Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

IMPORTANT: get everything ready before you begin, this will move fast. Light the tea candle and place the rosemary across the top on the jam jar/candle holder. This will take a minute to warm up and start smoking. It’s best if your rosemary has not dried completely from cleaning (not wet, but not bone dry). In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add the first four ingredients and shake well until chilled. Set aside. Once the rosemary starts to smoke, place a snifter glass over the top so that the smoke fills the glass completely. Using the card stock, slide it over the top of the glass to “hold” the smoke inside until you pour your drink in. Remove the rosemary from the candle. When you are ready, quickly remove the card stock and strain the contents of the shaker into the glass.The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Woodsy, rosemary tinged smoke fills the glass. Those notes infuse through the lightly sweetened berry flavor with tart background highlights. The Black Grouse is mellowed out and given an almost honey quality, while also heightening the smoky flavor. Even when you no longer can see the smoke, it stays with the drink from first to last sip.

On the celery bitters: these you CANNOT leave out. You will not taste celery, but what they do is provide an amazing amount of balance. Without them, the drink is both too sharply tart and too sweet. A few drops and it balances everything out. Kinda amazing how bitters do that.

Mixology Monday: Green Hell Cocktail

green hell cocktail // stirandstrain.com
Mixology Monday Logo

My fist submission this month for Mixology Monday actually became a recipe idea about a few months ago from a recommended drink at a bar. It’s a part of why this month’s theme was SMOKE. Out at a local restaurant, asking for the bartender’s recommendation while waiting on some friends to show for dinner, we were served a dram of a Whisky called Brimstone. My eyes rolled back in my head as I tasted this incredibly strong, insanely smoky liquid. It was akin to someone just pouring smoke down my throat, and I loved it. I’ve waxed poetic enough on this site to let you all know that woodsmoke is a heavenly smell for me. And being able to drink down that wonderful aroma is like a drink of the gods. Or something in a similar vein.

So we picked up a bottle to have on hand and realized one thing about it, it is really strong, like, one and I’m done strong. Mainly in part because the smoke really is so powerful. Sometimes even I can’t handle that much smoke. That is when the quest to find a cocktail to put this guy in began.

There are many bottles on my shelf that are relegated to the back positions. Not because I don’t know what to do with them…. only I don’t know what to do with them right now. My beautiful bottle of Chartreuse was one of those bottles. Then one day looking through some older cocktail recipes I happened upon the Bijou drink and gave it a whirl. It was sweet and vegetal and I couldn’t stop making them. It also seemed like a great match for the Brimstone.green hell cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Initially I tried tweaking the ingredients to see if I could add an Amaro in for the vermouth, but the sharpness of the vermouth is really needed here to balance out the herbal chartreuse and sweeten the whisky.

And the name of the drink? The combo of the green chartreuse and a smoky whisky called Brimstone immediately made me think of the song Green Hell by the Misfits. I wouldn’t even call the Misfits a guilty pleasure (that would be the housewives franchise). In fact, I realized some time ago while playing the ‘stranded island’ game, that I would take the Misfits collection with me for music I could listen to on said island. I love a crooner’s voice and would, with all sincerity, put Danzig in there as a crooner. Even if he’s singing about dead cats and serial killers.green hell cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1-1/2 oz. Balcones Brimstone Corn Whisky
1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes Regan’s Bitters

3-4 mint leaves for garnish

In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients except mint and stir until cold (20-30 seconds). Strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish a side of the glass with mint leaves so that they stick up like little green flames. To do this, drag the bottom half of the leaf through the drink and up on to the side of the glass. The leaf should stick to the inside of the glass. (This could take a try or two).

Woodsmoke is the first aroma that will hit your nose. The color is a deep amber (nope, not green at all). The taste is of woodsmoke with a bittersweet finish. And there are light herbal notes from the chartreuse with hints of citrus.

So this is my first entry for this month’s Mixology Monday. I will have some more smoky fun coming up later in the week. To check on what other’s are submitting, see the announcement post! You can also follow me and Mixology Monday on twitter for retweets and updates.

Smoky Manhattan

I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Regan that the Manhattan is the “best cocktail on earth” (see Joy of Mixology). And while I thoroughly enjoy creating new, or (re)discovering old classics, sometimes I just want one. See today. I finally got to check out Bar Keeper in Los Angeles and as excited as I was to finally have the Mezcal from Del Maguey in my hands, I suddenly got a bit overwhelmed with what I wanted to make. Really, what I needed was a drink to have while perusing the PDT Cocktail Book I’d also just picked up. So my eyes went to the High West Campfire whiskey (a blend of rye, bourbon and a blended malt scotch whisky) and I thought to myself, why not a Manhattan with that?

On this gigantic shopping spree I went on in that tiny store, I also acquired a bottle of Carpano Antica. A lightly sweet and bitter Italian sweet vermouth that I see on just about every cocktail menu here in L.A. serving up a Manhattan. To balance out this drink I decided to stick with the Angostura bitters. I also upped the sweet vermouth since I found that the delicate nature of Carpano Antica was going to be competing with that Campfire whiskey. I’m thinking of trying this next time with a more assertive sweet vermouth so there would be less need to add extra.

2 oz. High West Campfire Whiskey
1-1/2 oz. Carpano Antica
3 dashes of Angostura bitters

1 Tillen Farms Bada Bing Cherry (or if you got them on hand, a Luxardo)

Drop the cherry into a chilled cocktail glass. In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, add all the ingredients. Stir and strain into the glass.

The taste? A wonderful mouthful of smoke from the peated scotch whisky. The Carpano Antica rounds out the drink with its sweet and bitter notes, heightened with the spicy bitter of the Angostura.

It’s pretty powerful, and as such, not for everyone. The smokiness was too much for my husband at first (he’s not a scotch fan), although he’s coming around after another.