Make It: Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

We are big fans of all things pickled around our house. My older kid’s first solid food was a bite of cornishon. She’d just eat pickles and olives all day long if you let her. My husband will sit and eat fistfuls of pickled spicy green beans. And if you left me alone with a jar of pickled cherries, I’m sure to finish the whole thing. So, when I started working with Angostura on some unique ways to use their products in food recipes, my mind at some point during R&D went to pickles.

Or rather, pickled beets. There’s still a part of my brain that, when I hear someone mention pickled food, it goes straight to a memory of a rather large, glowing jar of pickled eggs sitting on a counter. I can’t quite remember where this was, but I can very clear picture the jar. I had never eaten one, and my five year old self was repulsed at the idea of someone actually consuming one, but, honestly, I’d give one a try now. What I’m saying is, I’d eat most anything pickled. Pickling somehow magically transforms food into piquant morsels I will happily devour; that magic is your brine.

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.comChanging up your brine means you can have pickled beets 5 different ways if you liked. Today I’m adding in fennel and dashing pouring in some Angostura Orange Bitters. Orange is a great pair to beets and fennel and the subtle spice was a nice change to my usual brine. You’ll find a few floral notes in there along with the zesty orange.

As any bartender will tell you, bitters are like salt and pepper for cocktails, and you can think of them similarly with food as well. I mean, you’ll probably also need to salt and pepper your dish, but bitters can be yet another way to season your food.

If you’re looking for a fun DIY food/drink project for this weekend, I hope you’ll try out these pickled beets and fennel and taste how a little Angostura Orange Bitters can bring the flavor! Enjoy!

Make It: Angostura Orange Bitter Pickled Beets and Fennel // stirandstrain.com3 large beets (about 1 lb)
1 head of fennel
2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup sugar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1-½ tsp white pepper, whole
1 tsp celery seeds
2 star anise
1 tsp yellow mustard seed, whole
1 tsp coriander seed, whole
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 ounces Angostura Orange Bitters

In a medium stock pot, bring 8 quarts of water to a boil. Scrub beets and add to the pot. Boil for 30 minutes until tender. Drain the beets, reserving 1-3/4 cups of water. Once beets have cooled, peel and set aside.

Wash fennel and slice off stalks and 1/8” of the bottom. Halve, quarter, and then slice ¼” thick. Quarter cooled, peeled beets and place in a non-reactive, air-tight container. Add fennel slices and set aside.

In medium saucepan over high heat, pour in the reserved beet liquid, white wine vinegar, sugar, garlic, white pepper, celery seeds, star anise, yellow mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, and orange bitters. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and pour hot mixture over beets and fennel. Let cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate. Let sit at least 4 hours or overnight before eating. Best within 3 days and will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

If you’d like to learn more about Angostura and their products, please visit them at www.angostura.com

Whiskey Round the World Walnut Toffee Whiskey - Amontillado Sherry - Sweet Vermouth - Coconut - Bitters

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Cask & Crew. Recipe and ideas are my own.

My husband has this plate that hangs on the wall in our kitchen (yes, we have a decorative plate. Actually, there are two in the house. Laugh if you must but they’re pretty cool looking.). On the plate are two older gentlemen curiously hovering above a globe, one holds a magnifying glass and some papers while the other points at some uncertain location; it’s called Newfound Worlds. It’s also apparently a Norman Rockwell painting so you all can look it up and check it out too.

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.comWhat’s funny about this is, and how it connects to today’s drink, is the fact that these men are stationed comfortably in a library somewhere, discovering from the comfort of their armchairs. Are they really discovering new worlds? Maybe it’s a discovery for them, even if they are not actually there. My equivalent would be browsing travel sites, for hours, and not actually going on any trips. Sometimes one just needs a mental vacation.

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.comSo about today’s drink. Today we’re taking a tour around the world with our ingredients: we start in America, then head off to Britain, Spain, Italy, and then we dash down to some tropical islands. A delicious trip, but from the comfort of our armchair.

The star ingredient here is the Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey, a lovely balance of buttery sweetness, bitter walnuts and a punch from the whiskey. It’s tasty on its own, with a blend of 51% Canadian rye and 49% American corn, but it’s also great mixed into drinks where the notes of vanilla and spice shine through. For this cocktail, I wanted to heighten the nuttiness of the whiskey with some Amontillado Sherry and round out those spice factors with bitters and sweet vermouth. For an unexpected twist, coconut syrup adds a freshness that lightens the drink a bit. Sipping it from your armchair you experience both the familiar and the exotic.

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.comOh, and the other decorative plate…it’s a white tiger in a tuxedo.

If you’re ready to take a mental vacation, let’s mix up this drink already!

Whiskey Round the World Cocktail with Cask and Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey // stirandstrain.com

1-1/2 ounces Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
3/4 ounce Amontillado sherry
1/4 ounce coconut syrup* (see note below about making your own!)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters

orange peel for garnish

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add in Cask & Crew Walnut Toffee Whiskey, sweet vermouth, Amontillado sherry, coconut syrup, Angostura bitters, and orange bitters. Shake 20 seconds and then strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Express orange oils over the drink and garnish with peel.

*If you’d like to make your own coconut syrup, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1 cup flaked coconut in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and let mixture come to just under a boil. Turn heat down to low and stir to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 1 hour. Fine strain into an airtight container (I like wide mouth ball jars for these) and store, refrigerated, for up to one month.

 

For more information on Cask & Crew, please visit them at caskandcrew.com!

The Holiday Elixr Cocktail tequila - chocolate - reishi - kombucha - lime - mexican vanilla

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Exotico Tequila. Recipe and ideas are my own.

We’re heading into full-on holiday mode today folks. You’ve given yourself permission to eat all of Santa’s cookies. You’ve said yes one too many times to the egg nog at your company’s holiday party. You may have already put the batteries in your kid’s toy car they’ve been asking for and took it for a spin around the basement.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

It’s a bit hazy whether you’re on the naughty or nice list. You might be thinking that you’ve got at least a week or so before you need to start questioning your life choices. So, I’m here to offer you a cocktail that’s on both lists; it’s a little naughty and a little nice.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.comWe’ve partnered with the award winning Exotico Tequila again this week to bring you this refreshing cocktail that will make you feel good for a number of reasons. Their reposado expression, made with 100% blue agave, is a fantastic base for: chocolate! Reishi mushrooms! Kombucha! What what what??? See, we’re balancing the good for you with gooooood for you.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

Sound a little crazy? Well, putting all the health benefits aside (like aiding in digestion, a good source of probiotics, its detoxing benefits, etc…) I will tell you that Kombucha makes a great mixer. It’s my favorite addition to cocktails because it adds bubbles and a little sweetness to a drink. The reposado Exotico has a lot of warm, spicy flavors and Health Ade’s Reishi-Chocolate kombucha balances that out with some subtle hints of chocolate and some surprising umami as well (by its own it tastes like a Tootsie roll!). To bring out more of the vanilla in the Exotico I added a splash of Mexican vanilla extract in lieu of a syrup. The vanilla extract adds the extra punch without adding more liquid and sweetness to the drink while also introducing some floral aromas too. A good dose of freshly squeezed lime juice rounds out the drink with some needed acid. The taste is similar to a Margarita with hints of chocolate, spice and an herbal/grassy finish.

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

It’s not too late to slow it down and rethink your cocktail choices. You can enjoy a drink this holiday season that not only tastes good, but also has ingredients you can feel good about.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Holiday Elixr Cocktail with Exotico Tequila // stirandstrain.com

2 ounces Exotico Reposado Tequila
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract, Nielsen-Massey used here
3-4 ounces Health-Ade Reishi-Chocolate Kombucha

lime peel for garnish

Build the drink: in a rocks glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in Exotico Reposado Tequila, lime juice, Mexican vanilla extract and Health-Ade Reishi-Chocolate Kombucha. Stir gently to combine. Express lime zest over drink and garnish.

 

For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com.

Make It: Homemade Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.

Peppermint liqueur and I have a bit of a… sordid past if you will. It was definitely a favorite of mine when I first discovered it among the contents of a family friend’s liquor cabinet. But now with time in-between us, a lot of time, I can revisit this old favorite of mine and class it up a bit for my current tastes. And that means making my own.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSo, I definitely am a little obsessed with holiday DIY projects. In my mind, friends and family look forward to this time of year as I bestow copious amount of boozy concoctions on them. This year is no exception.

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comFriends, if you really want to impress someone with a DIY gift, make it sparkle. Seriously. “Hey, I made you some Peppermint Liqueur.” “Thanks.” “Oh, but look, it also sparkles and kinda looks like a lava lamp!” “OMGEEEEEE THANKS!!!”

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comSee, they’re going to love it because it looks like you spent a great deal of time researching and making this spectacular liqueur. You win the holidays. And no one will need to know it took you less than 15 minutes to make a big batch and divvy it up among bottles for gifts. It will probably take you longer to drive to Target, park, pick out some cute holiday cards, stand in line, drive home, and write a special note to attach to the bottles. And don’t forget some ribbon!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comIf you’re short on time, but want to give something special for the holidays, this is IT. Today I partnered with Everclear to help you folks win holiday gift giving with this super easy, Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur. You all know that I love using Everclear for my infusions, tinctures and bitters, and today it’s the base for this liqueur. Starting with a higher proof means I can adjust the ABV as I see fit. Maybe I want to go a little higher on one batch, a little lower on the next; I get to decide. Everclear also has a neutral taste so just the delicious, invigorating peppermint taste comes through, not notes of grass or potatoes, or, I dunno, tree bark.

Once you make this, you’ll definitely want to store it in some clear, air-tight bottles because NO ONE can resist holding it up to some light and swirling it around. NO ONE. Maybe stick some fresh greens and some ribbon on the outside and your gift is done.

Note: make sure you buy NON-TOXIC, EDIBLE luster dust. There are some luster dust products that are for decorative use only and not intended for consumption. Don’t buy those. Read the label. Also, do not put your head directly over the warm syrup when adding the peppermint extract. Any steam will send the extract right into your eyes! And it might sting!

Make It: Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur with Everclear // stirandstrain.comNow, let’s make some liqueur!

Shimmery Peppermint Liqueur

1-1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon natural peppermint extract (more or less to taste)
1 cup Everclear
1/2 teaspoon luster dust, pearl color (see note above)

  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add in peppermint extract and Everclear. Stir everything to combine.
  • To create shimmery effect, sprinkle luster dust in the bottom of the container you’ll store the liqueur in. Pour in the peppermint liqueur. Seal, and shake well to combine. Luster dust will settle to the bottom after awhile so shake well before serving.

This is great on its own, but if you’re looking to use it in a drink, here are a few suggestions:

  • Spike your Hot Chocolate
  • Stinger Cocktail
  • Peppermint White Russian (you’ll need to experiment on this one but I think it could be a winner)

 

For more information on Everclear and their Make It Your Own Campaign, please visit them at makeityourown.com

Let’s Get Fresh! what to make and drink with all that winter citrus

Winter is officially citrus season, which always seemed so bizarre to me. Why would this bright, summery feeling fruit be a winter crop? Maybe to cheer us all up during those dark winter days? Well, drink (or make!) a few of these citrus concoctions and you’ll be smiling soon.

When you have too many Meyer Lemons:

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup // StirAndStrain.com

Meyer Lemon Rosemary Syrup

Meyer Lemon Bitters

What about Tangellos:

Tangelocello // stirandstrain.com

Tangelocello

Rosemary-Tangelo Shrub

Lots of Mixed Citrus…make some punch:

Smoky Sage Punch

Brûléed Grapefruit and Mixed Citrus Punch with Vanilla and Piloncillo Reduction

Smoked Rosemary Rum Punch

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

And then there’s always the cocktail option:

Sugar, Spice and Citrus Play Nice Cocktail

Smoky Citrus Rum Old Fashioned Cocktail

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails

Fresh Lime Soda Sweet, Salty and Boozy

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktails

This post is brought to you by Everclear. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Are you browsing sites that are still offering to ship presents before Christmas? I am. I could have sworn I was done a week ago but there keeps popping up a missed gift or two. I’ve had to shoot a text to a few family members letting them know that their present might not make it in time (I wasn’t about to call and admit I forgot); an issue when your entire family lives 3,000 miles away and everything has to be handled by the post office or UPS and it’s obvious when you just plumb forgot.

I also found myself a little sad today that the holiday party season is coming to a close. My quota of warm punches and bottled cocktails was definitely not met. BUT! We still have New Years and I’ve been thinking about the perfect cocktail to serve for that, the last of the year’s parties.

I love the juicy, slightly citrus flavor that pears impart to cocktails and love them even more when they cozy up to some strong baking spices. My signature NYE cocktail will have all that with a touch more citrus bite from fresh lemon juice and a hint of smooth, rich maple to round the whole drink out.

The base of the cocktail uses Everclear to start and I infused that with cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, green cardamom and allspice using my favorite quick infusion method (cream whipper I love you). I keep that separate so that I can tinker with the adjustments to make the final cocktail perfectly spiced; it’s just of the ways I’ve used Everclear this season for cocktails. You can check out the myriad of ways Everclear is transforming craft cocktails as part of their Make It Your Own campaign.

If all these spices seem like a lot to go and buy, remember you can purchase in bulk online for cheap. I like having the option of whole spices at home for using in recipes or infusions, and when I need ground spices, I can make them fresh and keep some small jars on hand. It’s a little extra legwork up front for better tasting infusions and food down the line.

This cocktail also batches up well so, as the spiced Everclear base will make about 8 drinks. Feel free to adjust the recipe below to accommodate the number of guests you’ll be serving. No need to make individual drinks at the party this year; you can plop all this in the pitcher and mingle.

Spiced Pear Fizz Cocktail (~28 proof)

1 ounce spiced Everclear (recipe follows)
1-1/2 ounces pear nectar
1/2 ounce maple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 -4 ounces soda water, chilled
pear slices for garnish

  • Combine spiced Everclear, pear nectar, maple syrup and lemon juice in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice. Shake about 20 seconds and strain into a champagne flute. Top with chilled soda water and garnish with pear slices.

For the Quick Infused Spiced Everclear:

8 ounces Everclear
2 cinnamon sticks
4-5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 dried allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole black pepper
3-4 whole cloves

  • Into a whipping canister (I use the ISI brand canister), add Everclear and spices. 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 Everclear into a clean vessel for storage. Use spiced Everclear immediately or keep sealed in a cool, dark place for up to six months for optimal flavor.

Peppermint Mocha S’Mores Cocktails with brown-butter bourbon and marshmallow creme

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.com

This post is brought to you by Jackson Morgan Southern Cream. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Don’t ever let someone tell you s’mores are only for summer. Can you get your hands on a kitchen blow torch? Yes? Then you’ve got a reason to have s’mores all year round.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comToday though we’re going to be drinking our s’mores! Holiday style!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comWe’re back at the bar mixing it up with Jackson Morgan and their delicious, and very holiday appropriate, Peppermint Mocha Cream. I always associate peppermint and chocolate with Christmas time. It’s about the only time of year I bake something with that flavor profile because there is always a party I can bring them to. See, you are either a lover or a hater of that flavor combo. I, obviously, am a lover. My husband on the other hand…. Let’s just say if I make some Grasshopper Brownies and don’t have a reason to bring them out of the house, I am probably consuming that whole pan by myself. I’d tell you I would regret it, but I’d be lying.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comThis is also perfect for holiday time because it’s pretty decadent. When are you infusing browned butter into whiskey and topping your cocktails with marshmallow creme? During the holidays, when all bets are off. So let’s talk about what is going into this s’mores cocktail. First, Peppermint Mocha Cream, of course. Next takes a little prepping but it’s worth it for the final result and you also get extra to just chug straight if you choose: brown-butter infused bourbon. This gives the cocktail a subtle nutty, buttery component that you’d get from the graham cracker. And a s’mores cocktail wouldn’t be complete without marshmallows! I’m giving you an easy way and a homemade way to do this in the recipe below. Both will work but honestly, making your own version of marshmallow Fluff is dang easy!

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comYou might think that the consistency would be very thick and rich tasting, but the brown-butter bourbon cuts through the peppermint mocha cream for a nice balance. Served over ice the cocktail goes down very smooth and the peppermint is not quite as strong as it is on its own. Torching the marshmallow creme binds it together a bit so you can pop off pieces from the top while sipping on your drink. It’s like you have your own bar snack you don’t have to share.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comSome notes on the cocktail:

  • I’ve made the recipe for one but this easily doubles and batches well.
  • The brown-butter bourbon yields 16 ounces (2 cups) so there is plenty left over if you are going to batch multiple drinks.
  • The topping is marshmallow creme, not marshmallows. The marshmallow creme has a soft consistency and therefore easily piped.
  • If you are torching the marshmallow creme, use heat proof glassware. Even kitchen torches get quite hot and I don’t want to be held responsible if you explode your favorite vintage glass.

Peppermint Mocha S'Mores Cocktails with Brown-Butter Bourbon and Brûléed Marshmallow Creme // stirandstrain.comFor the cocktail:

3 ounces Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme
2 ounces brown-butter infused bourbon
marshmallow creme (I made this recipe from The Kitchn, but store bought Fluff will work as well)
graham cracker for garnish

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, add in the Jackson Morgan Peppermint Mocha Creme and brown-butter infused bourbon. Shake well for 20 seconds and then strain into a heat-proof glass or mug filled with fresh ice. Pipe marshmallow creme on top. Using a kitchen torch,brûlée the marshmallow creme to desired “doneness’ (I like mine lightly toasted but I know some of you probably like your s’more’s marshmallows burnt to a crisp). Garnish with a graham cracker square.

For the brown-butter bourbon:

*Adapted slightly from Gabriella Mlynarczyk for NYT Cooking

16 ounces bourbon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter

  • Pour bourbon into a wide mouth jar or heat-proof container. Cut butter into cubes and add to a heavy-bottom small saucepan over medium-low heat. You’ll need to watch the pan as the butter will go from being nutty and golden to burnt pretty fast. Watch for the butter to start to foam and stir until you see some brown flecks on the bottom of the pan. At this point you’ll smell a nutty aroma, like hazelnuts. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool for a minute and then pour into the bourbon. Whisk together until well incorporated and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Then refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • The fat will separate from the bourbon while it cools. Use a butter knife to loosen the edge of the fat and it should pop right out of the container. Then strain bourbon through a coffee filter to remove any additional fat solids and debris from the butter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Make It: Irish Coffee Jello Shots Two Ways

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comProcrastination has gotten the better of me this week as we speed, much too fast for my liking, into the 3rd month of the year. March is looking to be the most jam packed month yet this year as I’ve said “yes” to maybe one too many events, my mother is in town, and we celebrate multiple birthdays, St. Patrick’s Day (I am a 1/4 Irish), and Easter. So of course, instead of working on projects, I’ve been covering my ears and eyes going NAH NAH NAH NAH NAH and making batches of brownies and spending copious amounts of time photographing my purse contents.

I did take the time to make you guys a little something special for St. Patrick’s Day though this year. I hope it makes up for those purse photos.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIt’s like a cocktail, but you eat it: Irish Coffee Jello Shots.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comSo here’s the thing. I enjoy an Irish Coffee from time to time; like, a few sips and then I’m usually done. It’s a lot of hot coffee and I’m usually drinking it late in the evening when a giant hot coffee is not really what I want right then. I’m also usually drinking them at a party or an event and bless their hearts for trying, but the coffee is usually not very good either. To control this situation for myself, and hopefully for you all, let’s get a delicious coffee and miniaturize it with the right amount of booze and not force people to drink giant hot coffees at 8pm.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comI went ahead and created a straight up Irish Coffee version, garnished with the tiniest of lemon peel, and then bastardized it and went crazy adding in chocolate and Fernet Branca because I love chocolate mint anything including my coffee and for this one occasion, with my whiskey. Ooooh, I’m so crazy…

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comThe original version of these has a strong, rich coffee flavor with a hint of whiskey at the finish. The cream is mixed in so you’re not trying to eat a delicate jello shot while whipped cream melts all over your fingers – gross. For the mocha-mint version, you get a lot of Fernet (a little goes a long way!) with a strong mocha finish and a more subtle whiskey punch at the end.

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comIrish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
lemon zest for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (I like these hemisphere molds from World Cuisine) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with lemon zests and serve!

Mocha-Mint Irish Coffee Jello Shots (Makes 24, 2/5 ounce shots)

2-1/2 ounces freshly brewed coffee, room temp
1/2 ounce brown sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
1 packet of gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 ounces near boiling water
1/2 ounce heavy cream
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
2 ounces Irish Whiskey, Bushmills used here
chocolate shavings for garnish

  1. In a large mixing glass with a spout, pour in coffee and brown sugar syrup. Sprinkle gelatine over the liquid and let it sit for 5 minutes to bloom. After the gelatine has bloomed, sprinkle cocoa powder over the mixture. Then pour in near boiling water and whisk to combine. Add heavy cream, Fernet Branca and whiskey and stir. Pour into molds (like these!) and let sit for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. To remove jello shots from rounded molds, carefully run a small spoon around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. If using square or straight-sided molds, run a butter knife around the edge and slowly invert the mold to pop out the shot. For other shapes or non-flexible molds, dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for 15 seconds, invert mold onto a baking sheet, and gently tap the mold to release the jello shot. Irish Coffee jello shots can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  3. Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve!

Irish Coffee Jello Shots 2 ways // stirandstrain.comAre you guys into these? I have a few more ideas up my sleeve I’ll be rolling out over the next few months.

The Not-Your-Ordinary Valentine’s Day Wine (Report) with Robin Watts!

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comYou’ve got options for Valentine’s Day folks. Sexy, sexy wine options.

Robin Watts is back this month and he’s gone and picked an impressive line up of wines for your weekend. Pop open a few of these for a loved one, or do what I did: get thirsty reading these descriptions and finish them yourself. It’s going to be hard to pick just one…

-Elana



When I set out to pick a few wines for the impending Valentine’s Day weekend I thought I would end up going a possibly cliche route and selecting only French or Italian wines. So “romantic” and European! Truth be told, I was seduced by some domestic stuff as well and I think you, and maybe someone else in your life, might be too.

 

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Broc Cellars Love White
California
Retails apx. $20

This is a California white that I would recommend to any white drinker who doesn’t usually, or won’t, drink California white wine. This blend of Marsanne (85%), Roussanne (12%), and Viogner (3%) has some very distinctly European sensibilities about it. Aromatic and floral with overtones of pear and bit of honey I think that this wine works well as a starter or even accompanying an entree of lighter fair. And lets be honest, this holiday places a lot on aesthetics and this is nice looking bottle with a couple hearts on it. It’s called Love White!!! This wine will help you fit in with the cliche and trite parts of the holiday while its corked but surprise you and spoil you once it’s uncorked.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Gragnano from Poggio delle Bacanti
Italy
Retails apx. $15

There is not a lot of information to be found on this wine but for around $15, and sometimes less, you’ll be drinking this so fast you probably won’t care. Mildly effervescent, it pours and froths like a lambrusco but drinks relatively still (and dry!). I prefer it with a decent chill on it and think its versatility lend it to any day part but, if pairing it with food, go heartier. Being from Napoli, and for some reason very mysterious, I have to assume this is Aglianico and Piedirosso which explains the earthy, leathery quality. There is something satisfyingly vegetal about this, almost as if an olive and a cranberry had a baby but it was raised by a beet and an eggplant. I recommend finishing this savory dry surprise the day you open it but I doubt that should be a difficult task.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.comL’Unique Gaz de Schiste
France
Retails apx. $24

Just go buy this. I should just say that and tell you to trust me. Pink? Check. Bubbly? Check. Delicious? Check. Seems perfect for Valentine’s Day. I think its perfect for any time, any place, and probably any person. 50% Grenache/50% Mourvedre and six month of bottle maturation make for one elegant bottle of bubbly. A little bit sweet, this sparkler is a tart, minerally, grapefruit-y, creamy treat. At first, it smells like you’ve opened the most exquisite bag of gummy worms (I mean that in the best, most respectful way) and the first sip conjures up images of the most impressive fruit trifle and leaves you with a macadamia kiss. Yeah. I’m not even a little bit embarrassed to say any of that. This stuff is that good and functions perfectly as an aperitif or dessert. Get a bottle for someone you love, especially if that person is yourself.

Sexy February Wines with Robin Watts // stirandstrain.com2014 Bow & Arrow Gamay
Oregon
Retails apx. $24

Bow & Arrow knows what they’re doing. This Willamette Valley Gamay is soft, luscious, velvety, and just the slightest bit dirty, but in a good way. A very good way. Valentine’s Day appropriate for multiple reasons, the label, covered in tiny arrows, will help you play up holiday Cupid motifs while impressing your sweetheart with a wine that is reminiscent of a dark chocolate bar filled with cherries and almonds. Perfect for someone who thinks they’re afraid of tannins, though be warned, they are there, this wine just gets better as it opens up. Halfway through your first bottle I’d suggest opening a second if for no other reason than to smell that luscious mulberry aroma one more time. Great acidity makes this a lovely food wine but its just as satisfying by itself. This is a wine you can proudly pour with confidence in hopes to impress a special someone new or remind a longtime partner that you can still enjoy the good stuff without breaking the bank.

Ask Robin all your wine questions on twitter @RobinNWatts and find all his wine picks here at Wine Wine Wine

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The Hot Ward 8 Cocktail

hotward8I tend to go back and forth on bottled cocktails. Will the juice taste fresh enough? Should I even bother with juices or should it be all booze and bitters? Can I just drink this whole bottle and not share it?

The best thing about bottled cocktails though? The convenience factor. Batch up a couple to bring to a party and you’re fawned over like you invented cute puppies. But what if you need to take that cocktail on the road? And what if it’s freezing outside because some friend convinced you it would be an awesome idea to go camping? In winter…

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comLet me introduce you to your new best friend, the insulated thermos. Keeping your hot cocktails hot, and your sanity in check this winter.

When you’re making hot cocktails there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll be adding in hot water so you want to keep your juices to a minimum (if your cocktail requires them). Why water your cocktail down even more? I’ve found the best way to work around this is to make an oleo saccharum to ensure you have that bright zesty citrus flavor in concentrated form and none of the excess juice.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comSecond, you want to keep your cocktail hot. For my thermos cocktails, I use a Stanley Classic Vacuum thermos. It’s old school looking; like something my Dad would bring with him to work to keep his soup hot. And this guy keeps it hot for HOURS. At 1.1 quarts it also holds enough drinks for you and some friends so no one need go without a drink. But don’t just pour your drink into the thermos! If you preheat it while you’re making the cocktail it will prevent heat loss when you pour the drink in. So, to do that, just add boiling water and stick the cap on while you’re doing the mixing. Anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes is sufficient time to get that thermos nice and hot. When you’re ready to pour the finished cocktail in, dump out the water and you’re good to go.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThird, make a cocktail that actually tastes good hot. For my first venture with the thermos, I made a variation of a Hot Ward 8, Boston’s only real pre-prohibition contribution. I’d love to tell you the history on this but there is so much competing information out there as to its true origins that putting anything down in print seems like hearsay.

I chose this for a few reasons. I thought it would taste good hot, and it uses up some seasonally appropriate produce (Are your kitchen counters filling up with citrus yet? Mine are.). You could always go with some cocktails that are already served hot. Some nice Hot Toddies while you’re ice fishing, or some Irish Coffee while you’re out snow-shoeing, or whatever you do in the snow.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comThe Ward 8 delivers a bit more complex flavor here with sweet and spicy rye and that bright citrus from the oleo saccharum. I also add in a touch more syrupy citrus sweetener with a dry orange curaçao and round out the drink with tart fresh pomegranate juice (the last of my season’s batch). For a spicy/bitter finish, a few dashes of Angostura are added in to the mix to keep it from getting too sweet.

There’s plenty of cold months ahead of us, so let’s start planning on a few hot cocktails to get us through. And don’t forget your thermos.

Hot Ward 8 Cocktails // stirandstrain.comFor the Oleo-Saccharum:

Zest from 2 lemons
Zest from 1 orange
4 1/2 ounces (130g) sugar

  • In a heatproof container with at least a 36-ounce capacity, toss together lemon and orange zests with sugar. Muddle for 30 seconds to release the oil from the zests. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

For the Cocktails:

8 ounces (235ml) boiling water, plus more for preheating thermos
16 ounces (475ml) rye whiskey, such as Bulleit 95
4 ounces (120ml) unsweetened pomegranate juice
2 ounces (60ml) dry orange curaçao, such as Pierre Ferrand
8 dashes Angostura bitters
8 lemon zest strips, for garnish (optional)

  • Pre-warm thermos by filling with water just off the boil and let stand. Meanwhile, pour rye whiskey, 8 ounces boiling water, pomegranate juice, orange curaçao, and bitters over the oleo-saccharum. Stir well until sugar is completely dissolved. (If you find you’d like your drink hotter, pour everything except the rye into a sauce pan and heat to desired temperature. Then add in rye and continue with the recipe)
  • Discard hot water from thermos, then carefully strain rye mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into thermos (a funnel can help avoid spills); discard spent zests. Seal thermos.
  • Optionally, when ready to drink, add new lemon zests to your cocktail, expressing the oils over the top first.