Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels No corn syrup recipe!

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The last of the Halloween decorations made their way back into the garage this week. The hold outs were the two trick or treat buckets still filled with candy that were slow to empty. Of course, all the good stuff went immediately. And when I say that I mean that my husband and I ate a good portion of the better candy immediately after the kids went to bed. Then there were the thousands of lollipops, off brand candy, and miscellaneous stuff thrown into the buckets that hung around too long. So those got chucked and the buckets, to my children’s surprise, mysteriously disappeared along with all the rest of the decorations by morning.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comThis holiday always symbolizes quantity over quality, and while I type that out I feel like that’s a lot of holidays now. So that got me thinking about how I can make some little changes for the remainder of the holidays this year to show quality, and thoughtfulness, in the gifts given to others. And for me, one way I like to show that is with handmade gifts.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comI’ve teamed up with Truvia® to craft some special holiday treats that can be used for hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, welcome gifts for out of town guests, or a special treat for someone “just because.” I feel like there’s always someone in your life who could use a little treat for that very reason. I come from a family who are makers. On both sides there are artisans, farmers, photographers, builders, crafters, seamstresses, and my grandfather and uncles can build a classic car from the ground up. Making something, crafting it with your hands, and sharing it with others is very important to me. But you don’t have to build a car. In fact, today I’m making caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon caramels! Quality treats, but for adults only. These little packages of deliciousness come together fairly quickly but require some stirring and a watchful eye. The hardest part is waiting overnight for them to set. The sweetness comes from Truvia Brown Sugar Blend, a blend of stevia sweetener (the sweet leaves of the stevia plant) and brown sugar, for 75% fewer calories per serving than regular brown sugar. You still get that deep, rich caramel flavor that brown sugar imparts, and the bourbon not only adds a little kick, but it also brings its own vanilla and spice flavors to the caramels.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comSo I think it’s time to get in the kitchen and make some treats!

A few notes on making the caramels:

  • Yes, there’s not a lot of volume here, but trust me, you will need a larger pot than you think for when the mixture boils later. Once the dairy is added it boils up but that’s normal!
  • Cream of tartar! Why is it here? Good question! Because corn syrup is not used in this recipe as it is in most caramel recipes, we need something to inhibit the formation of sugar crystals. Corn syrup is an invert sugar that does just that (honey is as well and sometimes you will see recipes call for that but I’ve heard conflicting opinions on how well it works) but cream of tartar introduces an acid to the mix that also will help inhibit those sugar crystals to form and give a smooth texture to your caramel.
  • Since we’re using Brown Sugar Blend it will be hard to tell when the mixture has started to burn, other than smelling it and you don’t want to get to that point. The last 50°  when waiting for your mixture to hit 350° goes rather quickly (getting to 300° usually takes awhile) so stay nearby watching the thermometer or using an instant read thermometer with an alarm for when it reaches temperature.
  • This is a bourbon forward recipe. Feel free to cut back to a 1/2 ounce for a more subtle flavor.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.comBourbon Salted Caramels

Adapted from Busy in Brooklyn

2 cups Truvia Brown Sugar Blend
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream, room temperature
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ounce bourbon of your choice
3/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt

Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides of the pan.

In a large pot, combine the Brown Sugar Blend, cream of tartar and water and set over low heat. Whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves completely, around 5-8 minutes. If sugar crystals appear above the surface of the syrup, wipe down the sides of the pot with a damp pastry brush (I keep a bowl of water nearby with a silicone pastry brush).

When the Brown Sugar Blend dissolves, clip an instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan so that the heat sensor is immersed in the sugar (if using a thermometer with a wire string, do not immerse the string). Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the syrup to a boil, whisking until bubbles begin to form, then stop stirring. Continue cooking the Brown Sugar Blend without stirring, brushing down the sides of pot if crystals form.

When the syrup reaches 350°F (this took about 20 minutes for me) remove it immediately from the heat and add in the heavy cream and butter. The mixture will start to bubble up at this point so use caution.

When the mixture settles, stir with a silicone spatula until smooth. Return the pot to the stove and boil until the mixture reaches 248°, around 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, add the bourbon and salt, stir to combine.

Pour the caramel into the parchment-lined pan and bang it on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Let the caramels set for 6 hours, or overnight, in a cool, dry place.

Once set, caramels can be cut out to desired shapes and wrapped in parchment paper. Will keep at room temperature for up to two weeks.

Make It: Bourbon Salted Caramels // stirandstrain.com

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Loire Valley Wines. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The day after Thanksgiving I’m usually at my all time laziest. My slippers might not come off all day, and forget about those holiday sales… I am not leaving the house. But what happens when there is a house full of people still…  at my house?! What will they eat?! The answer: leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m a good host though. I may have slippers on, but I am going to provide a few meal options that are fresh, light, or just the right size for people who just ate their weight the previous day in turkey and pies.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSo pop open a bottle of wine with me, a bottle of Rosé d’Anjou to be exact, and let’s whip up a few dishes to pair with this Loire Valley wine that use up some of our leftover T-Day food. While you might be thinking it’s hard enough to plan for the holiday meal without also having to plan for the day after (or a whole weekend full of family!!), these bites can be modified to what’s on hand for super flavorful dishes.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

First, and very importantly, here’s my wine tip for you holiday celebration. Buy your wine by the case! Lots of stores and wineries give you a case discount which means you don’t have to worry about running out during a meal, or even by Saturday. We’ve teamed up with Loire Valley Wines for our Thanksgiving meal as wines from this region are the most diverse, producing wines in every style to make sure you have the perfect one for your meal. If that makes you feel overwhelmed, don’t worry! Loire Valley Wines are ideal food wines with moderate alcohol levels, refreshing acidity and minerality so chances are most will work with your dinner. They’re also a great price point, so buying a case, mixing and matching styles, gives you even greater success at pairing for your holiday!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comSince Loire Valley Wines are fresh and fun, we’re also going to be going that direction with our after Thanksgiving bites with these three options: Tart Turkey Lettuce Cups, Brie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes, and Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines. I’m going on the assumption that you’ll have some of the staple dishes at your meal like turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, a cheese plate, bread, green beans, pecans or walnuts, and various refrigerator condiments. If you’re feeling fancy, I’ve even got a few optional ingredients so you can win the day after Thanksgiving meal as well. But no pressure! Friday should be all about relaxing with family, not stressing over food preparation.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comOk, let’s pour ourselves a glass of wine and get cooking!

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comTurkey Lettuce Cups

Dressing:
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2/3 cup neutral oil, like avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or cubed
2/3 cup chopped green beans
1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, small dice
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped small

For serving:
one head of butter lettuce, washed, leaves separated
chopped herbs such as parsley, chives

First, make the dressing by combining the vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic oil and salt and pepper in a small bowl, whisking to combine. Or all combined in a jar and shaken 15 seconds (my preferred method!).

Next, combine the turkey, green beans, onion, bell pepper, cranberry sauce and nuts in a medium sized mixing bowl. Pour desired amount of dressing over and let sit 15 minutes. Stir again and serve in lettuce leaves with a sprinkling of herbs on top.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.comBrie Stuffed Pommes Noisettes

3 cups mashed potatoes
4 ounces brie
1-1/2 cups fine breadcrumbs
high heat neutral oil for frying

First, cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Next, scoop potatoes into 1-1/2″ balls. Place a dime sized amount of brie in the center of the ball and seal potato around it. Roll the ball in breadcrumbs and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. After chilling, pour about two inches of oil in a dutch oven. Heat to 350°F. Fry potato balls in the oil, gently turning every few minutes, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per batch. Allow space between the balls when frying, do not crowd the oil. Allow the oil to come back up to temperature before frying the next batch. Drain on paper towels.

Holiday Entertaining: Day After Thanksgiving Bites and Loire Valley Wine // stirandstrain.com

Bite Size Croque Monsieur Tartines

2 cups leftover gravy (or make your own bechamel sauce, see note below)
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
10 slices bread, toasted
dijon mustard
Gruyere or Parmesan cheese, grated
cranberry sauce for dipping
quail eggs, optional

Turn on broiler. Place toasted bread on a foil covered baking sheet. Spread desired amount of dijon mustard on bread slices (I used about a teaspoon per slice of bread). Sprinkle a handful of turkey next on the bread, followed by a dollop of gravy. Spread the gravy over the turkey and sprinkle cheese on top. Place under the broiler until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with leftover cranberry sauce! If you’re feeling fancy, add a fried quail egg on top. They make these little bites even more adorable.

Note: to make a bechamel sauce, melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add in 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and mix for a few minutes until combine. Slowly pour 2 cups hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and whisk continually until well combined. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, pinch of nutmeg, and 1/2 a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese. Use immediately.

For more information on all the Loire Valley Wines, please visit them at loirevalleywine.com


Blood Ritual mezcal - agave - chocolate bitters - angostura - grapefruit - $50

Blood Ritual: Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned // stirandstrain.comWhoa. Yeah, I know. It’s not Halloween anymore so what’s up with the “blood” in the title? Well, I’ll start the story at the beginning here by asking a simple question: Who Are You?

Blood Ritual: Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned // stirandstrain.comYears ago when I first started writing in the small space on the internet known as cocktail blogging, I feel like I had a pretty good grasp on who else was also writing in this space. And folks, this was pre-Instagram days, you had to sometimes do a little leg work to find the other folks. I also had a good grasp on who my readers were. Mainly because people talked a whole lot more on blogs than they do now. But this wasn’t my full time gig, I was creative directing for a living for a company here in Los Angeles and this site was just a fun hobby that I popped in and out of. What that meant was that I also wasn’t super consistent and would disappear for months at a time. Readers came and went and then social media got super crazy and this little space expanded SO much and SO rapidly that it no longer felt so intimate and cozy.

Blood Ritual: Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned // stirandstrain.comLately then, when I do speak on here, it’s kinda just like yelling down a deep, dark well. And that’s no fun. I’m writing this for anyone who reads this site, and I’d like us to get to know each other just a little bit. So if you ever wanted to know a few tidbits about me, here you go:

  • I have zero formal training as a bartender
  • I have a fine arts background including photography
  • I have a degree in Art History that concentrated on Mesoamerican Art History (which is how I know about blood rituals and chocolate and how they all tie in together and that’s how this particular mezcal Old Fashioned got its name)
  • I have two kids that did not exist when I started writing about cocktails
  • I get motion sickness scrolling on my phone sometimes
  • I’m terrified of moths (and Ray Liotta and that’s still on my about me page which I should probably update)
  • I used to DJ all vinyl 45s of girl group and girl garage bands based from the late 50s to the early 70s here in Los Angeles for years before taking a break in 2014
  • I’m a morning person
  • Heat Wave by NARS is my favorite lipstick
  • I have ~75 bottles of bitters I will never use
  • I wanted to be a race car driver when I was 8
  • I had a blog in the early 2000’s about live music shows in Los Angeles. It’s still out there on the internet!

Blood Ritual: Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned // stirandstrain.comOk, now you!!! I’ve got a super short survey for you all. You don’t even have to answer all the questions if you want! And to make it worth your while, everyone who responds and leaves an email will get the chance to win a $50 e-gift card to Cocktail Kingdom. I like my readers. And I know some of you like pretty cocktail accessories too.

Take the Stir and Strain Reader survey now!

 

Blood Ritual: Mezcal Chocolate Old Fashioned // stirandstrain.comAlso! Old Fashioned Week is almost over so I thought I’d squeeze this recipe in before it’s too late. It’s rich and smoky and the chocolate comes through nicely. Don’t forget to express a little grapefruit oil with that garnish. It works best with that touch of bitter citrus.

Blood Ritual (A Chocolate Mezcal Old Fashioned)

2 ounces mezcal, use something more on the smokier side here
1/4 ounce agave syrup
3 drops chocolate bitters, Scrappy’s used here
1 drop Angostura bitters
grapefruit peel

In a mixing glass 2/3 with ice, stir together the mezcal, agave and both bitters. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Express the oil from the grapefruit peel over the drink and drop in the peel.

 

EDIT: giveaway is not affiliated with Cocktail Kingdom. Survey will close on November 26 and winner will be announced via email that week.

Candy Inspired Cocktails

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with Master of Mixes. Recipes and ideas are my own.

The closer I get to Halloween, the more my brain starts chanting…candy candy candy candy candy. I mean, it’s actually Garfield chanting it, because I still think of that Halloween special from the ’80’s that I grew up on, and I still, to this day, identify with his love of sarcasm and, well, candy.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comYes, I love the spooks and the change of season, but free candy always topped the list of reasons why October 31st was THE BEST. Now, as an adult, I can hop in my car, or rather, have Instacart deliver, all the candy my heart desires. At any time of year. But I’ve learned restraint and I don’t usually buy any until the week before Halloween when stores start having candy sales. And then again the day before Halloween because I’ve eaten it all the past week.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

This year I made the exception and bought some candy a little early so I could make some treats for all of you! My readers! Working with Master of Mixes, I’ve crafted THREE tasty candy inspired cocktails you can make for yourself, or batch for your Halloween party this weekend. If you’re not familiar with them, Master of Mixes has been crafting high quality, delicious mixers for 40 years! They have more than 45 flavors in their catalog, but I narrowed down today to just three of my favorites: their Mint Syrup, Blood Orange Margarita Mixer, and Piña Colada Mixer. And my inspiration? Junior Mints, Sour Patch Kids, and Almond Joy.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

First up is the Junior Mint inspired cocktail. And it’s ALL about that super mint flavor. Here I’ve used Master of Mixes Mint Syrup to give me a strong punch of mint flavor. Their syrup is made with Pacific Northwest Spearmint and has a clean, fresh taste. I’ve paired this with vodka, cream, and coffee liqueur to mimic the creaminess of the candy, and instead of the richness you’d get with the chocolate, I’ve opted to use a strong coffee liqueur to make this more sophisticated.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

My love of sour drinks probably started with my love of Sour Patch Kids growing up. For this next cocktail, I’m taking the sweet and sour citrus flavors of the candy and crafting a Blood Orange Margarita with Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer. To get more citrus in, and to add a bitter element to this, I’ve mixed the blanco tequila with a touch of Dry Orange Curaçao. I’ve also created a “sour” sugar rim with citric acid and sugar to fool the taste buds. The blood orange mix is housed in an ice sphere that will make the cocktail sweeter as you drink it!

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comLastly, Almond Joy bars in my opinion are far superior to a Mounds bar. Because… almonds!! When I think coconut cocktails, I think Piña Coladas, and Master of Mixes has a perfectly balanced Piña Colada Mixer that will be the base of our final drink. A few drops of almond extract, vanilla vodka, and a chocolate float turns this drink into an over-the-top cocktail for Halloween. I’ve been calling it a Choco-joy-lada, but you can just call it delicious.

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.comSo grab some extra candy this year, a couple of Master of Mixes bottles, and let’s plan a sweet Halloween party!

Candy Inspired Cocktails with Master of Mixes // stirandstrain.com

Junior Mint Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Master of Mixes Mint Syrup
3/4 ounce coffee liqueur
3/4 ounce cream

In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in vodka, Master of Mixes Mint Syrup, coffee liqueur, and cream. Shake 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Pop a couple Junior Mints.

Sour Patch Kids Cocktail

4 ounces Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita Mixer
2 ounces blanco tequila
1/2 ounce Dry Orange Curaçao
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

First, to make the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere, you will need a spherical ice mold like this. Alternatively, you could also use a large ice cube mold as well. Pour the mix in the mold and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight (depending on your freezer). Next, combine citric acid and sugar in a shallow bowl large enough to fit the rim of your glass. Moisten the rim of your glass with a lime wedge and roll in the prepared mixture. Then, in a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the tequila and Dry Orange Curaçao. Shake and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Add the Master of Mixes Blood Orange Margarita ice sphere to the drink and stir about 20 seconds to start melting the mix into the drink. Take a few sips and try not to pucker your lips too much.

Almond Joy Cocktail

2 ounces vanilla vodka
bar spoon of almond extract
4 ounces Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer
1 – 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (or if you’re feeling extra fancy, then try it with the chocolate liqueur of your choice!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, pour in vanilla vodka, almond extract, and Master of Mixes Piña Colada Mixer. Shake 20 seconds and pour everything into a highball glass. Using the back of a spoon, float chocolate syrup on top of the drink. Grab a reusable straw and gently mix it together, or not. Cause sometimes you feel like mixing, sometimes you don’t.

For more information on Master of Mixes, loads of cocktail recipes, and more how-to’s, please visit them at MixologyPro.com

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy and let's talk about swearing

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comA few days ago I grabbed my phone, opened Instagram, scrolled down to a fellow cocktail blogger I follow and wrote something to the effect of “this is cozy AF” to describe their photo. And it was super cozy! But it got me thinking, when did we collectively decide that we want to curse, or rather, give the illusion of cursing, so frequently on social media?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comNow, I’m a seasoned swearer in my day-to-day life. Well, before I had children, and now I’ve adapted to effectively cursing with substitute words as if I was actually dropping an f-bomb (like when I screamed OH FUDGE immediately following a head-butt to my chin rattling my jaws shut the other night while trying to wrestle a kid into pajamas.). However, I have chosen, for the most part, to refrain from using obscenities on my blog or social media sites because it just felt… not necessary. However, there has been a subtle shift with our acronym usage over the past several years where I might not have spelled it out, but I definitely let a WTF slide into a conversation that was being publicly broadcast over twitter. And now, commenting nonchalantly that someone’s fall-themed cocktail is definitely cozy enough to warrant an “AF”.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comThis masked profanity usage made me do a second glance at an email recently as an online course in social media was being promoted as, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Make your photos cool AF on Instagram”. I mean, sure, I’d like my photos to be professional, cool even. But this marketing ploy felt kinda clumsy, and definitely not geared towards a level I would consider spending money on to become an expert. I half expect the course would show you how to incorporate some animated gifs of cats vomiting rainbows or the like.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comAll of this, while I accept it, still feels strange. Maybe it’s a turning tide of age lines, and that I have been doing this blogging thing for a while now and there’s a new crop of DGAF social media personalities that don’t want to be too polite (but polite enough not to spell out that they are, in fact, swearing). Or are they even aware that what they’re shortening is a curse word? Or maybe with our collective need for brevity we would all be cursing at each other but we just don’t have the attention span, or time. Well…shit. What do you guys think?

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comBefore we conclude, I actually AM feeling some fall feelings finally and since it got into the low 70s in Los Angeles this past week, I made myself a Hot Toddy! I’ve had “turmeric hot toddy” scribbled on a note for some time now ever since I started making a tea with ground turmeric, black pepper, honey and almond milk. How on trend you might be thinking. But! It actually came from my Indian mother-in-law who grew up drinking something similar when she was sick and suggested I drink it the last time I came down with a cold. Turmeric is supposed to help with inflammation along with the addition of black pepper, and improve immune functions, and blah blah blah, this isn’t WebMD so I can’t say any of this works for sure. What I can say, with certainty, since this is a cocktail blog, that it is very tasty with the addition of rum and apricot liqueur. The earthiness of the turmeric is balanced out nicely with the sweetness from the apricot and honey, then the sharp citrus cuts through so that it doesn’t lean too much toward the sweet side. The aged rum give the whole drink flavors of spice and vanilla.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comI might even go so far to say it’s tasty AF.

Turmeric Rum Hot Toddy // stirandstrain.comTurmeric Rum Hot Toddy

1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of freshly ground black pepper (2 turns on coarse in a mill)
1 tsp honey
3/4 ounce freshly squeeze lemon juice
1/2 ounce apricot liqueur, Giffard used here
2 ounces rum, Appleton Estate Rare Blend 12 year used here
3-4 ounces hot water

In a heat proof mug, pour in turmeric powder, black pepper and honey. Mix together until a paste forms. Then add in lemon juice, apricot liqueur and rum. Pour hot water into the mug and then carefully stir to combine. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Crafting a Sweet Cocktail Kit

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Halloween may have you thinking about those sweet treats filling up your jack-o-lantern buckets, but today we’re going to be talking about a different kind of sweetness…how we show a little sweetness to each other every day. And we’ve got a fun cocktail kit we’ll show you how to make when you want to give a little sweetness to a friend, partner, or yourself!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to find out “What motivates you to be sweet and kind.” Truvia and Upworthy.com are exploring what motivates individuals to be sweet. Some of the research might surprise you and they have a fun quiz you can take to find out what your sweetness personality type is too. There are four possible types: Purely Sweet, Reciprocally Sweet, Tactfully Sweet, and Graciously Sweet. Curious what kind of sweetness you are? Take the quiz and let me know! I am Graciously Sweet, which means I enjoy doing kind things with the goal of inspiring others to pay it forward. I admit I do love a teachable moment.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSo, today I’m going to use this post as a teachable moment. I’m going to teach you all how to put together a simple cocktail kit to give to a friend, partner or yourself. This could be a thank you gift, a hostess gift, something to give for the holidays, or an extra special treat you can tuck away for yourself when you need a little self-care.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comTruvia Natural Sweetener packets now come with uplifting sweet phrases on each pack, the perfect little bit of sweetness to add to someone’s day. They are also a great size and amount to sweeten a cocktail with. Adding these single serve packets keeps everything neat and organized.

Ready to sweeten someone’s day? Let’s look at what we’ll need to create this cocktail kit.

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comSmall box, tin, or basket
4 ounce amber bottle
1 ounce amber bottle
Whiskey of your choice
Aromatic bitters of your choice
2-4 Truvia Natural Sweetener packets
Label maker
Rocks glass
Mixing spoon
Jigger
Muddler
Index card and markers

For this cocktail kit, I’m putting together a Whiskey Old Fashioned recipe. For one reason, all the ingredients are easy to come by, and everything is shelf stable. Also, if your friend or partner is a novice when it comes to making drinks, this is super easy!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comFirst, find a container that will fit everything. A small box or tin works great. You can keep this simple by visiting a craft store or kitchen supply store to find small bottles and bar tools. Also, Amazon has lots of options. Label all the bottles so your recipient knows what’s inside and measure out the amount you’ll need for your recipes. You can choose to create 2 or more servings depending on the size bottles you get. Then create a recipe card with how much to measure from each bottle. You can optionally personalize the items too. Rocks glasses with initials are not hard to come by, and they show the person you went out of your way to find something unique. Finally, tuck the Truvia Natural Sweetener packets in the glass so they can see the sweet phrases on them. Package up everything and deliver to that special someone!

Crafting a Cocktail Kit with Truvia // stirandstrain.comI hope I’ve inspired you to show a little sweetness to someone in your life!

Fall Feelings Boozy Round Up 16 boozy ways to get in the fall spirit!

Put out some decorative gourds and make some cocktails! It finally feels like fall!The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple-groni Cocktail

Apple Elixir Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Apple Elixir Cocktail

Caramel Apple Jellies with Everclear // stirandstrain.com

Caramel Apple Jellies

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Sparkling Apple Sherry Cocktail

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Pairing Rosé with Apples

Make It: Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies for Halloween // stirandstrain.com

Black Licorice and Amaro Bat Jellies

The Negroni Nero Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Negroni Nero

The Private Club Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Private Club Cocktail

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

Whiskey Round the World

The Toasty Russian Cocktail with homemade toasted coconut milk // stirandstrain.com

The Toasty Russian

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Pumpkin Spice Coffee Old Fashioned

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon // stirandstrain.com

Spiced Pumpkin Bourbon

Crustafied, a rye whiskey variation on the Brandy Crusta // stirandstrain.com

Crustafied Whiskey Sour

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce // stirandstrain.com

Vanilla Bourbon Caramel Sauce

The Royal Affliction Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

The Royal Affliction

Low Rent Cocktail of the Month: Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise // stirandstrain.com

Fanta of the Opera & Fanta of the Paradise Cocktails

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Even though fall officially started last week, it feels like we’ve been in it for awhile now. Is it me, or is that certain pumpkin-spiced coffee drink arriving earlier and earlier each year? Now, while I LOVE all the pumpkin things, I really am not a fan of overly milky drinks (like those lattes). But I do love coffee, and it just happens to be #NationalCoffeeDay tomorrow, September 29! And what better way to marry pumpkin spice and coffee than to make a cocktail with them?!

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comWe’ve teamed up with Truvia® to create a Pumpkin Spiced syrup to use in the base of our coffee cocktail. It’s made with less sugar than what you’d get at your local coffee shop AND it’s made with real pumpkin too. So you end up with way fewer calories than a traditional sugar syrup. The Truvia Natural Sweetener comes in a spoonable jar for ease of use in the kitchen, and ½ teaspoon of Truvia Natural Sweetener is equal to 1 teaspoon of sugar. So you don’t need to drown your cocktail in syrup to get just the right amount of sweetness in there.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comNow, when I say I love coffee, I mean I love it. My last thoughts before going to sleep usually involve me thinking about how good that first cup of coffee will be in the morning. And I cannot start my day until I’ve at least had one sip of that invigorating elixir. Naturally, then, I also will put coffee in my cocktails whenever possible.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comAn Old Fashioned cocktail is a satisfyingly simple drink, and if you’ve been on this site before, you’d know it’s also one of my favorite drinks to use as a base for a new creation. At its most basic, an Old Fashioned is just spirit, sugar and bitters, and even those elements can change into whatever you’re in the mood for. And I’m in the mood for pumpkins and coffee.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.comThere’s a myriad of ways you can infuse coffee into cocktails but today we’re going the quick and easy way with coffee liqueur. We’ll spend our time instead on making a rich, spicy pumpkin syrup that will make your house smell AMAZING when you’re warming it on the stove. The syrup doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to make, so don’t worry, you’ll have your cocktail in no time! And what a flavor bomb! Bourbon forward but with deep coffee aroma and sweet pumpkin and spices in the finish. And don’t forget those bitters—they balance out the whole drink and prevent it from becoming too sweet.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

P.S. Coffee Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
1/4 ounce Truvia pumpkin spice syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes aromatic bitters
orange zest and cinnamon stick

In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in bourbon, coffee liqueur, pumpkin spice syrup, and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over a large ice cube into a rocks glass. Garnish with orange zest and cinnamon stick.

PS Coffee Old Fashioned Cocktail with Truvia // stirandstrain.com

Truvia Pumpkin Spice Syrup

1 cup Truvia Natural Sweetener
1 cup water
2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

In a medium sized saucepan over medium-high heat, combine Truvia Natural Sweetener and water, stirring constantly until Truvia is dissolved. Add in pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice and ground ginger. Stir until everything is well combined. Let simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit five minutes. Strain through cheesecloth over a strainer or use a nut milk bag (this one is my fav!). Syrup will keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Apple-groni With apple chips!

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comFirst, we can all acknowledge that I could have come up with a better name for this cocktail, but really, it’s almost Fall and we’re all about the apples around here. So I’m not even going to try and be fancy.

Second, the cocktail itself. If you’ve been on my Instagram at Happy Hour, or skimmed through the recipe archives on this site, you know that I love a Negroni, and I have no qualms whatsoever about perpetually riffing on this drink. Now, I’m not a one-trick pony here and I can make some pretty darn tasty original cocktails (again, check the archives), but when I have to quickly throw together a drink for Happy Hour, there’s a good chance I’m reaching for gin, sweet vermouth and some Campari right now.

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.comThis week I’m looking at the first sightings of apples in my produce box and I remembered how much I enjoy apple chips. They are so very easy to make as long as you have time. And if you don’t have time to watch an oven, then you might want to invest in a dehydrator. I, unfortunately, have hit max capacity for the amount of stuff that can sit on my counter or be tucked away in a closet, and also I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, so I really do take objects in my hand, thank them, and then decide whether or not to chuck them out. And that’s a lot of work so I’d rather just not buy crap.

Anyways, apple chips! Thinly slice an apple up and then dry it out in the oven for a few hours on low heat. Do you folks really need a recipe or can we just leave this here? They make a tasty Happy Hour snack and you can eat a whole bunch and not feel gross. Also, they make beautiful garnishes. They’re wonderfully “Fall” on your glass and when you’re done with your drink you can eat that too. Can’t do that with an orange peel.

This Apple-groni is pretty basic. There’s more of the suggestion of apples with baking spice and bittersweetness in the finish. The riff is so minor I wavered back and forth about whether to publish this or not. I still like content to live on this site though and not just on Instagram where it gets lost almost instantly when I do do a quick ‘gram. So here you go…

The Apple-groni Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

1 ounce Caorunn gin (it’s infused with apples!)
1 ounce sweet vermouth, Vermouth di Torino used here
3/4 ounce Campari
2 dashes apple bitters
apple chip for garnish

Combine gin, sweet vermouth, Campari and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir 20 seconds to chill. Strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube. Garnish with apple chip. Think Fall.

Pairing Rosé with Apples, 3 Ways With 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comThis post was made in partnership with 90+ Cellars. Recipes and ideas are my own.

Here is Southern California, September is a tricky month. While much of the country is starting to get cooler temps and fall into sweater weather, here we get scorching temperatures. Weirdly, if you journey into the mountains, barely an hour away, the apple farms are heavy with fruit ready to be picked; there’s a bit of a disconnect. But that means we can continue to savor summer just a little bit longer and make some cocktail and wine choices that transition between these two seasons nicely.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comToday we’ve partnered with 90+ Cellars to show you how you can meld a summery, sparkling rosé wine with fresh Autumn apples. It’s what to make when you’ve over-picked at the orchard and bought way too much cider.

The 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé is made from Pinot Noir grapes planted in vineyards throughout the regions of Trentino and Alto Adige in Northern Italy. It is vinified as a dry rosé prior to second fermentation using the Charmat method. What does that mean you ask? The second fermentation happens in a tank as opposed to the wine bottle. This method preserves the flavor and aroma and allows for quicker production, without sacrificing taste. (Throw that fact out at a dinner party!)

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

With a light bubbliness, aromas of berries and rose, and a slight acidity, pairing with sweet, tart apples is a perfect pair. These three dishes we’ve picked out work as part of an appetizer spread, on their own, or even as part of a larger meal, and they all pair very well with this rosé.

“Holiday entertaining” might still be a few months away, but we think there’s always a reason to celebrate with a party and this transitional time between months, with a few extra hours of sunlight left in the day, is definitely reason enough for us! Now on to the pairings!

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comTo start: Apple Jelly with cured ham and Manchego

  • An easy and quick appetizer to assemble! On water crackers or bread, layer a piece of cured ham, Manchego cheese, and a dollop of apple jelly. The fattiness of the meat and cheese with the smooth, sweetness of the apple jelly pair are lovely with the small bubbles of the wine.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comPalate cleanser: Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita (full recipe below)

  • Enjoy this cool treat on its own, or between meals as a palate cleanser. Just don’t forget your wine! That acidity in the rosé pairs with the slight acidity found in the apple cider and lemon juice in the granita.

Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.comWith the main meal: Spiced Apple Chutney (full recipe below)

  • While a rich, spiced chutney might seem like a heavy match for rosé, the 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé lightens the dish up and the spices work really well together. The chutney can be enjoyed on a slice of toasted bread, or alongside a main dish like pork.
Apple Appetizers Three Ways with 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Sparkling Rosé // stirandstrain.com

Sweet and Spicy Apple Granita

3 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1-1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine all the ingredients and bring to just under a boil. Remove from heat and whisk to combine. Pour into a 9×12 baking pan and place in the freezer. After 30-45 minutes, whisk mixture to break up any ice chunks. Wait one hour and with a fork, scrape through the mixture so that it is chunky. Wait an additional hour and scrape the fork through again, fluffing up the mixture. Freeze until ready to serve.

Spiced Apple Chutney

(adapted from Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 diced and peeled apples (I used Gala)
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water

Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add apple; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in raisins, mustard seeds, sugar, pepper, cloves, ginger and salt. Add vinegar and 2 tablespoons water; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until apples are tender and most of liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or let cool and transfer to an air-tight container. Refrigerate for up to one week.

 

If you’d like to find out more about 90+ Cellars Lot 49 Rosé and all their wines, please visit them at: ninetypluscellars.com/