The Bitter Irishman

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

You’ve heard it said, “Everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.” Well, I’m either one quarter or one eighth Irish, depending on which relative I consult, and I can tell you that, sadly, I don’t qualify as truly Irish on St. Patrick’s or any other day of the year. I’m not proud to say so, but it’s true. It’s not for lack of trying.

I went to an Irish Catholic school where several of the nuns were direct from Ireland, replete with charming accents– though the nuns themselves were rather sour. One of the nuns walked into my third grade classroom, declared that it was filthy, gave two boys a toothbrush, spat on the floor, and told the boys to start scrubbing. I sometimes think I might have known more Irish nuns than Irish families. The Irish families I did know lived in houses filled with crucifixes. I’m sure they must have had other decorative knick-knacks, but I only remember crucifixes. For me, everything Irish was a bit severe and austere– from the dour nuns to the simple cabbage and beef we ate on St. Patrick’s Day.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThen one Halloween, the Irish Catholic school burned down under suspicious circumstances, and I was relocated to the Italian Catholic school. The Italian school was completely different. Holidays were more cheerful. The clergy enjoyed themselves (and their wine) a good deal more than the nuns ever had. The food at church events tasted better. Cannoli, ravioli, stromboli. And suddenly, St. Patrick was eclipsed by St. Joseph. St. Joseph’s Day is two days after St. Patrick’s Day, and the Italians loved it. Everyone ate zeppole (a little like cannoli, but better, so, so good), and wore red and white, and went to the Knights of Columbus parade. There were flowers and candles, an explosion of color.

Mind you, I’m not trying to pick favorites. I’m just telling you what I experienced.

For this St. Patrick’s Day, I plan to forgo the green beer– in fact, I’ll probably pass up the beer altogether. Instead, I’m mixing up a cocktail with a bit of a mixed heritage: half Irish whiskey, and half Italian amaro.

Bitter Irishman Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

 

1 ounce Irish Whiskey, Bushmills 10 used here
1 ounce amaro, Averna used here
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 ounce demerara syrup
luxardo cherry garnish

Combine whiskey, amaro, lemon juice and syrup together in a shaker filled 2/3 with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

There’s a nice contrast between the light, floral whiskey and the spicy, rich amaro. It starts with a punch of sour flavor that immediately moves into sweetness, and the bite of the whiskey and the lasting bitterness of the amaro stay with you until the next sip. It’s a cocktail with a lot of character. Like those Irish nuns. And those Italian priests.

***This recipe was originally created for Serious Eats and appeared on the site this past week.

A Pitcher of Pisco with Grapefruit, Lime and Thyme

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWelcome back to brunch week on Stir and Strain. Today’s cocktail gets mixed up by the pitcher and also includes a long standing feud between two South American countries.

That’s right! We’re batching up some pisco!Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Why pisco today? Well, one reason is that it’s been awhile since I’ve made a cocktail on here with it. And two, well, I swallowed the pisco kool-aide (err.. punch?) so to speak.Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Back in January I attended the second annual Golden State of Cocktails here in Los Angeles. Three days filled with seminars, demonstrations, booze, tacos, science, more booze, some bar crawls, educational booths, and so much more booze. While there were some fantastic seminars attended, the talk on the history of pisco stood out the most for me. It made me… really excited about pisco. I can’t say for certain what it was exactly that made this particular talk so great: the enthusiastic speakers? The bottled punch? The sample after sample of pisco? Whatever it was, I knew I was hooked on the spirit and had to start using it more. Hey, the title of the seminar was “The World’s Most Mixable Spirit”. (And if you’d like a little more history on it, I touched on a couple points in my Serious Eats post you can read.)

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

So obviously I needed to start mixing with it. Consider this your gateway cocktail into the world of pisco (that is if you are still on the fence about drinking a Pisco Sour due to the egg white. OH, hey. I made a vegan version of that you should try). Here I’ve paired the pisco with the very much in season grapefruits that I had accumulated over the last several weeks from the farmer’s market. Yes, sometimes my seasonal cocktails are just a reason to get rid of some fruit I’ve over-bought. Then I spiked it with a little thyme and a splash of lime.

Pisco Brunch Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

For the Grapefruit Syrup:

Zest from one medium grapefruit
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice from 2 to 3 grapefruits (see note above)
1 cup granulated sugar

  • Combine grapefruit zest, juice, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. Strain into an air-tight container. Refrigerate until ready to use or up to 1 week.

For the Bottled Cocktails:

3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from 3 limes
9 ounces pisco, such as Encanto
4 1/2 ounces Grapefruit Syrup
6 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

  • In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle together thyme and salt. Add lime juice and stir. Fine-strain into a 24-ounce carafe or swing-top bottle and then pour in grapefruit syrup and pisco. Cap and gently shake to combine. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
  • For each cocktail, add one large ice cube to a double rocks glass. Pour in 2-3/4 ounces of the bottled cocktail. Gently stir and garnish with a sprig of thyme.

It’s a bright, delicious cocktail that you can easily have along whatever brunch-y dishes you might be cooking up. But still palatable for a pre-dinner drink too if that’s more your thing.

The Foaming Pineapple Yes, you CAN drink Tiki for brunch

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comWeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

That’s the sound of me squealing that we’ve got another round of The Coconut Club under our belts. This last run was the best yet. Not only were we set up in an actual, OG L.A. Tiki space, but we also had a seance and a giant glowing tiki god. Small fires aside, it was magical.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

When you go to events like this, or any event really, where custom drinks are served up, do you ever stop and think about all the drinks that just couldn’t make it to the table that night? Nathan (who also makes drinks for the Coconut Club and who you will see behind the bar more than me) and myself spend countless hours alone and together mixing up possible drinks that we think our audience will love. As much as we’d like to serve them all, some need to get cut from the line up due to timing and to prevent you all from getting alcohol poisoning from over indulging. We have your best interests at heart.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This drink came about during one of my R&D days but realized we already had the Piscolada Shrimp Cocktail, a customer favorite, already on the menu and the ingredients were too close to justify serving it.

So consider this the B-side drink. Turns out it makes a fabulous brunch drink. So, yes, you can drink Tiki at 10am.The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

This recipe utilizes frozen pineapple juice cubes for two reasons:
1. I had a huge amount of excess pineapple juice leftover from another drink and I can’t bring myself to waste things so I froze the juice up instead.
2. Frozen pineapple juice cubes mean way less watering down of your drink.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comIf you don’t want to go through the effort of making the cubes, then I would suggest chilling all your ingredients ahead of time so that you still get a nice cold base.

The Foaming Pineapple Cocktail // stirandstrain.comServes 4 – 6
4 ounces white rum
3 tablespoons coconut cream
5 frozen pineapple juice cubes or 8 ounces chilled pineapple juice (see note above)
3 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters

Champagne, Veuve Clicquot used here

nutmeg for garnish

  1. In a blender, combine rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice cubes and bitters. Blend until well combined and no ice remains; consistency will be more like a thin soup, not a slush.
  2. Pour about 3 ounces into the coupes and top with champagne.
  3. Grate fresh nutmeg over the cocktails.

An interesting effect occurs when you top the base with champagne: the cream causes the drink to bubble and foam on top. It looks like a beautiful pillow of coconut cream that smells faintly of pineapple. While the cream and juice are quite sweet, as well as some sweetness from the rum, the champagne cuts right through offering some bitter and savory notes for balance. These particular bitters lend some notes of citrus and spice for further flavor enhancement. The cocktail is super light and easy drinking. Perfect for your next brunch, breakfast, or mid-week snack.

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two and an excuse to turn off the internet

Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.comI told myself I was going to relax tonight and watch tv. That was two and a half hours ago right before I jumped on Instagram. Now I feel like I’ve wasted so much time I should just go back to work. Have you ever looked at so many photos of food that you felt sick? Instagram makes that a reality for me now.

But photos of booze? Can’t get sick from looking at that. Or maybe it’s just all the screen time making my eyes go funny. Maybe that’s what is making me feel sick.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Lately I’ve been wanting to put a ban on having electronic devices on at certain times at home. But with both myself and Christopher working out of the house, attempts to do this have been eagerly thwarted. If your office is in the same structure that you sleep in, then you can pretty much count on a 7 day work week. Unless you have the amazing ability to do such a thing as limit screen time. You, then, are an enigma to me.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

Regardless, there are always a few minutes in the day when neither one of us is holding on to a device. The best times are when we’re holding on to a cocktail glass and talking about not work things. Occasionally things get so busy around these parts that, to make things easy on ourselves, I batch up a cocktail and keep it in the fridge. It might be a Manhattan for later in the day (and yes, I might have made it at 9 that morning) or the base to something that can get perked up later on with something sparkling.

This drink is a little something like that.Chamomile and Tangerine Sparkling Cocktail for Two // stirandstrain.com

I had originally written this for Serious Eats as a more Valentine’s Day centered recipe, but I think the sentiment of taking a break from the internet to enjoy another real person’s company is even more fitting for the everyday.

For the Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup:

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
4 chamomile tea bags
Zest of 2 tangerines, white pith removed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a light simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags, tangerine juice, and zests. Steep for 6 minutes, then discard tea bags. Cover and let stand an additional 30 minutes. Strain zest and keep syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

For the Base:

4 ounces Chamomile-Tangerine Syrup
3 ounces white balsamic vinegar
4 ounces London Dry Gin, such as Tanqueray

Combine syrup, white balsamic, and gin in a swing-top bottle. Gently swirl to blend. Refrigerate until ready to use. Base will keep up to 4 days refrigerated.

For Each Cocktail:

5 ounces chilled dry sparkling wine, such as Cava

Measure out 2 3/4 ounces of the base into a Champagne flute or cocktail glass. Top with sparkling wine.

 

So yes, I ventured out into the land of floral ingredients here with the chamomile, but it’s subtle and mild. For a sweet note, I used the in-season tangerines, and combining their tangy juice and zest with a good dose of chamomile flowers gives a fragrant sweetness without being too perfume-y. It’s a fresh, tangy base with very subtle floral flavors in the background. To make it more zippy in flavor, white balsamic adds some needed acidity while a London Dry style gin adds another herbal layer with just a touch of juniper in the finish. While this base is tasty on its own, it really comes together when you top it off with some sparkling wine. I tried a few varieties and a dry cava brut is best to offset the syrupy base.

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide 2015

…Because nothing says I love you more than beating a brightly colored donkey until booze falls out of it.

Valentines Day Gift Guide 2015 // stirandstrain.com

Are you having that oh crap moment where you just remembered you need to buy some meaningless gift for someone by Saturday? Well, if you miss the date, make up for it with something so amazing they’ll totally forget they might dump you come Tuesday. A sexy bottle of Absinthe perhaps? What about a slightly sexualized cocktail shaker? And if you get to smooching, coat your lips in some Old Fashioned-flavored lip balm. If all else fails, gather up your friends and spend your hard earned cash on a gilded mid-century ice bucket. You deserve it.

1. Plum Cocktail Shaker 2. Mod Ice Bucket 3. Nipyata Donkey 4. Absinthe 5. Whiskey After-Shave 6. Tiki and Old Fashioned Lip Balms 7. Antique Coupes

For more gift guides than you could possibly need, click here.

{Now Closed} Giveaway // Chocolate Love with SelvaRey Rum

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.comLast year I had the pleasure of working with SelvaRey Rum in conjunction with The Coconut Club. While their white rum is delicious, I thought that for this week, since Valentine’s Day IS right around the corner, that I’d introduce you guys to their other rum: SelvaRey Cacao. While our chef at The Coconut Club made this his special ingredient in the finale dessert of the night, obviously it’s good in drinks too. Cacao Old Fashioned? YESSSSSS!

So let’s drop that silly idea of surprising your loved one with a box of chocolates. Instead, offer up this award winning, 5 year dark aged rum (in bourbon casks!!) and infused with natural chocolate. You will win this holiday season—promise. You can find SelvaRey in select markets, but today you have the chance to win your very own bottle. In fact, TWO of you are going to win a bottle because it’s the season of giving.

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.com

No wait, that was Christmas.

Giveaway with Selvarey Cacao Rum // stirandstrain.com

Anyway, you guys have 12 ways to win a bottle of this delicious cacao-infused rum. Enter below, but remember: You MUST BE 21 and OLDER to WIN. Open to US residents only. Giveaway ends at 11:59pm PST February 11th, 2015. Please see terms and conditions below (some states unfortunately are excluded from shipping liquor to). For more information on SelvaRey Rum, please visit them at selvarey.com. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Steak Island Cocktail

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIt’s Super Bowl weekend. I only know this because I was asked to come up with a cocktail you would want to drink at a party celebrating this fact. Well, it’s a drink that I would want to drink at this kind of party. And I guess the name is quite telling that I’d name it Steak Island, however, let’s talk about why I gave it this name.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

I go into this a little in the article I wrote on Serious Eats, but let me elaborate on this just a wee bit here. Since this is a safe place to ramble on and you readers are somewhat more forgiving of these overly long explanations (well, some of you aren’t and you know who you are).

For the most part, I like to live an uncluttered life.. actually, let me stop you here if you’re just searching for “super bowl cocktails” and you’re still reading at this point. Might I suggest you just scroll down to the recipe? Anyways, I’m the type of person who loves, with a capital L, to throw stuff away and have lots of clean surfaces. I’m a believer that an uncluttered space means an uncluttered mind and yes, I might just use the excuse that the studio space is too cluttered to photograph in right now so I’m just going to be over here watching tv and procrastinating. But mainly I’m not a person who holds on to stuff. However, I do have a few exceptions for collectibles. The major collections I have are my Tiki mugs, which need a new cabinet (see, I still need to sequester the collections) and, since I used to DJ out here with much, much more frequency than I do now, my 1960’s girl group and girl garage band 45s. That was mainly it for stuff I held on to that took up space. You know what doesn’t take up a lot of space that is fun to hang on to if you’re into cocktails: vintage drink stirrers. These are highly curated because I can’t justify keeping more on hand than what will fit in a Highball glass.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

Knowing that I liked some of these kitschy treasures from restaurants and bars that once were, a friend of mine found herself at a flea market somewhere in Arizona a few years ago and happened upon someone’s stockpile of stirrers for sale. Sifting through the amazing variety of brightly-colored sticks, she selected what she thought I’d most like to have (and seriously did an amazing job). One of my favorites though was this black stick with gold lettering that just said “steak island” on it with this little grass hut. Either it was the bizarre combination of this little tropical hut imagined to house giant steak laden plates, or that it was coming out of Texas and I was to believe there was something tropical-like there, but either way, I immediately knew someday I’d need to make a drink in honor of this establishment’s namesake. Super Bowl Sunday seemed like the most appropriate “holiday” to make such a drink.Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.com

So what better to wash down plates of rich, meaty foods than some light and refreshing effervescent cocktails…made with beer! And… steak sauce!

Steak Island Cocktails // stirandstrain.comIf I was going to make a cocktail that included the word steak, then I figured some steak sauce as an extra special ingredient was in order. So what you get is a drink close to a Michelada with a heaping amount of tangy, umami-filled A1 Steak Sauce (or whatever sauce you’d like). Personally, growing up I was not a fan of steak, but I did like dipping the steak in A1 and then sucking all the sauce off the meat and tossing the meat away (I wasn’t a picky eater but the texture of steak I found to be most offensive to my young self). Now I skip the formalities and just drink the sauce here.

Intrigued? You should be, so let’s make some cocktails!

Yields 6-8 drinks for a party
8 ounces red and yellow bell pepper slices
14 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice from about 14 limes
4 ounces steak sauce, such as A1
1/4 ounce freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
48 ounces lager, such as Pacifico
Lime wheels and additional bell pepper slices for garnish

  • In the bottom of a pitcher, muddle together the bell peppers and lime juice. Add the steak sauce and pepper. If your sauce is not on the salty side, add some additional salt to your liking. Cover and refrigerate the base at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
  • To serve, add beer straight to the pitcher and stir gently to combine, serving into ice-filled glasses. Alternately, you can pour about 2 1/2 ounces of the cocktail base into a highball glass filled with ice. Top off with about 5 ounces of the beer and stir gently to combine.
  • Garnish glasses with lime wheels and bell pepper slices, serve.

Like I said, it’s super refreshing and easy drinking, a great pair to richer foods. The steak sauce has a touch of sweetness and adds some underlying umami to the cocktail. Mixed with fresh citrus juice, it adds both a base note and a tangy brightness to your fizzy beer mixer. Muddled bell peppers offer a subtle vegetal flavor and complexity that’ll keep you sipping. I chose to top it all off with a lager so that the beer doesn’t overpower the drink with too much hops or bitterness or whatever special flavor it might have been brewed with. I enjoyed with Pacifico, Christopher liked some Foster’s with his.

Happy New Year Everyone! Sparkling, punches, and other ideas for tonight!

I’ve got a last minute round up of some drinks for all your parties tonight. Whether you require something sparkly, something overflowing, or maybe something not-too-boozy to start your night off, I’ve got some good picks for you. See you all in the New Year, and thanks for stopping by. I appreciate all of you!

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling and Spiced Winter Sangria

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Grapefruit and Lillet Rosé Sangria

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch // stirandstrain.com

9 Ladies Dancing Scotch Punch

Smoky Sage Punch // stirandstrain.com

Smoky Sage Punch

Raspberry Amaro Spritz Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Raspberry Amaro Spritz

Sparkling Hibiscus #Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Hibiscus Cocktail

Amaro Highballs // stirandstrain.com

Amaro Highballs

Holiday Gift Guide: Hop to It (the beer lovers guide)

I may not be the biggest lover of beer, but boy do I have a lot of friends who absolutely obsess over it. You might too. So this list is for YOU!

Beer Lovers Gift Guide 2014 // stirandstrain.com

The accoutrements are important: the right glass, the right koozie (or is it cozy? or coozy? or.. whatever), the right growler, that coaster that tells people to stay the hell away cause that is YOUR glass. If you’re looking for a gift that keeps on giving, a subscription is always nice. And for that person who is never happy with what you give them, well, then they can make their own damn beer.

1. Hangovers Beer Tap Coat Rack 2. Beer Chiller 3. Beer Growler 4. Beer Savers 5. I Like Fun Beer Koozie 6. Mine and Yours Coaster Set 7. Beer Advocate Magazine 8. 3 Sheets Tilted Glass 9. Summer Citrus Blonde Ale Beer Making Kit

 

Check out all the past gift guides here!