Candy in cocktails? Sure, we’re all adults here…
Candy in cocktails? Sure, we’re all adults here…
Sometimes I feel like this site should be called: Stir and Strain… a site for one million Negroni cocktails. But here’s the thing! They’re so good! And they also bottle nicely since they’re all booze. So let me explain why we’re talking about this oh-so-simple bottled cocktail today.
It’s October, the time where you suddenly realize it’s about to get BUSY. Like, you suddenly have no weekends. There’s parties, there’s apple picking sessions followed by pumpkin picking trips followed by parent-teacher conferences followed by Friendsgiving then real Thanksgiving and then BAM. It’s just black out time until about the second week of January.
I see all this coming down the road. I see drinking a sub-par wine that’s been left in the fridge from a cookie decorating party two weeks prior because you’re juggling making a turkey with, you know, life. It worries me. So, while I still have moments of my sanity left, and some moments of leisure (like, when I give my kids a 600 count sticker book and say have at it) I decided I should batch up my cooking/happy hour cocktail of choice, a Negroni.
Now, while most bottled cocktails might be chilled and enjoyed as is, I always prefer a Negroni over an ice cube. Keeping that in mind, when I bottle up a Negroni, guess what? I don’t account for water dilution. I definitely do for some bottled cocktails, but here, I know I’ll pour it on ice and give it a stir because if I was making this on demand, I would just build it in the glass over the ice anyways. See… simple!
So, before the holiday crush hits you, whip up a few bottles and store them in your fridge. They’ll keep awhile and when you just can’t with that $4 handle of vodka someone left from your Halloween party, you’ll have this drink waiting for you.
And, as I know I have a variety of levels of expertise on here, if this is too simple a bottled cocktail for you, I highly suggest you check out the two linked above!
Approximately 4-5 servings
4 ounces Campari
4 ounces sweet vermouth
4 ounces gin, your choice but I went with a London Dry here
Over on Instagram I pushed Suze, the bitter, golden hued liqueur into the spotlight to see what everyone is using it in (chime in over there or comment below too!). For me, I have two go-to’s: Suze and soda, and a White Negroni.
Years back a made a frozen watermelon-infused White Negroni and always meant to follow that up with a stirred drink. Cut to now, whoops. So I’m writing up my usual formula (which diverges from the standard Negroni recipe you’ll notice). Suze is, well, aggressive in its bitterness and herbal notes. Here it needs to be cut back a bit so that it doesn’t overpower the botanicals in the gin, and the softness of the vermouth. There is no exact recipe or ingredients for a White Negroni, and you can find all kinds of variations and formulas online. But here, this is what I drink.
1-1/2 ounces London dry style gin (Beefeater)
1 ounce dry, white vermouth (I used Carpano Dry Vermouth here)
3/4 ounce Suze
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in gin, vermouth, and Suze. Stir about 20 seconds and strain into a rocks glass with a fresh ice cube. Enjoy!
This past week over on Instagram I unofficially declared it the week of crème de violette. Mainly I had been staring at a bottle of it on my shelf for way too long wondering how I was going to use it up.
The bottle is still there (I’m convinced it refills itself while I sleep), but I’ve definitely put a major dent in it and I’m still recipe testing! Anyways, I had asked the audience if anyone had any suggestions for this bottle that they currently love, and the Water Lily cocktail came up a few times. This recipe was created by Richard Boccato in New York, but I haven’t been able to pinpoint which bar it came out of due to references stating different places.
This cocktail hit a lot of marks for ingredients people were also already looking for: gin, lemon juice, ease of recipe, etc… Besides the crème de violette, most of the ingredients you’d find even in a not well stocked home bar, so I thought I’d share this, with my one small twist.
The drink is great on its own; well balanced, floral notes not too overpowering. But I found I enjoyed it slightly more with a small splash of cava as well. Just to add some dryness to it, and a touch of effervescence that brings a bit more of the floral out. This step is completely optional by the way, but just one more variation to play around with.
I hope you enjoy the drink, and please let me know if you have another use for your bottle of crème de violette!
3/4 ounce gin
3/4 ounce crème de violette
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
splash of cava, optional
orange zest for garnish
Combine all ingredients except cava in a mixing glass, stir well and strain into a coupe. Top with cava if using and garnish with orange zest.
I’ve unearthed this forgotten column that I started years ago since there has been a genuine interest in cocktail gardens as of late. Over on Instagram there have been a few conversations now about growing herbs, flowers, and plants for use in cocktails. This could mean just a garnish, or ingredients for an infusion or a tincture.
I LOVE that readers have been getting more interested in this subject but I am not an expert in this field by any means. So recently I asked my friend Kristin from Dine By Design if I could interview her and talk about what’s growing in her incredible garden. You can catch the whole video on Stir and Strain’s IGTV or, even easier, just watch the video below!
During our discussion on herbs, Kristin introduced me to this lovely coconut thyme, which really smells tropical, but also of thyme, and I knew I had to make something with it. A few weeks ago I shared this delicate, vermouth based cocktail using your standard thyme, Thyme for Tea. And if you like that flavor then I really think you’ll love this more robust thyme cocktail.
Old Fashioneds are usually known for their whiskey base, but as you’ve seen on here they are also great with rum, or mezcal. But did you know gin can also fit into this equation? When creating new syrups and tinctures I like to try them out in a very simple cocktail to see how they initially will play with a spirit. Sometimes I just stop there and enjoy the drink. Today’s cocktail lets you enjoy the full aroma of the coconut thyme, via a simple syrup, against the subtle backdrop of a London dry style gin. Any more botanical gins are going to bury that flavor and aroma so steer clear of those. I’ve added a few drops of bergamot bitters to add a little complexity to the mix; it’s simple but works.
2 ounces London dry style gin
3/4 ounce coconut thyme syrup (recipe follows)
2 dashes bergamot bitters
In a mixing glass filled 2/3 with ice, pour in gin, coconut thyme syrup and bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
large handful of coconut thyme, cleaned
In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture has reached just about a boil and all the sugar has dissolved, remove from the heat and add thyme to the saucepan. Cover and let sit 1 to 2 hours. Strain into an airtight container. Discard thyme and refrigerate syrup for up to two weeks.
Now if you’re thinking, I don’t have a farm, or even a backyard, how am I going to create a cocktail garden? Well, you just need a window, or a grow light! A lot of the items we talk about in the video you can grow in containers, so if that was holding you back from starting your own tiny cocktail garden, consider this the nod to start.
Kristin will have a post soon that I will link to here with more informational links, but if you’re looking for a great resource to start with about growing and using plants in your kitchen or bar, start with The Cook’s Herb Garden. It has lots of photos and tips to help you along to creating a cocktail garden, as well as growing herbs to use in your everyday cooking including how to harvest, store and use what you grow.
I hope that you’ll find this information useful however you’re choosing to use flowers, herbs, and plants in your cocktails. Let us know below or contact us on social with what you’re growing in your cocktail garden.
This post is brought to you by Cinzano. Recipe and ideas are my own.
Vermouth is one of those jack-of-all trade bottles in your liquor cabinet. Have it for an aperitif to whet your appetite before a meal, pair it with your favorite gin for a classic martini, sip it alongside your meal, infuse it with interesting herbs and spices, or play off its flavors in a new cocktail twist. Do you have any particular brands that come to mind when you think of vermouth? For me, the classic vermouth I’ve been grabbing for ages is Cinzano.
And today we’ve got a wonderful cocktail that will be your spring and summer sipper: Thyme for Tea. This cocktail was made for outdoor garden parties. Fresh thyme is steeped in a green tea syrup, mixed with gin and Cinzano Bianco Vermouth, and kissed with the subtle scent of lavender and a touch of lemon. You could quietly sip one of these by yourself, lost in thought, or mix up a whole bunch and enjoy with some friends on a late summer afternoon.
1-½ ounces London dry style gin
¾ ounce Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
½ ounce thyme and green tea syrup (recipe below)
¾ ounce lemon juice
3 dashes lavender bitters
thyme sprig garnish
In a mixing glass ⅔ full, pour in gin, Cinzano Bianco Vermouth, thyme and green tea syrup, lemon juice and lavender bitters. Stir 20 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a fresh thyme sprig.
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
Handful of fresh thyme (about 8-9 grams)
2 bags genmaicha green tea
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, water and thyme. Bring to just under a boil, stir to dissolve sugar, and remove from heat. Add tea bags. Cover and let steep 30 minutes. Strain mixture into an airtight container and use immediately or refrigerate up to two weeks.
This post was made in partnership with Truvia®. Recipes and ideas are my own.
It’s January! Has your inbox become filled with emails that are telling you how to be your best self? Or how to lose some weight? Or how you can fix your life?? Are you just deleting them all because they’re all starting to make you feel…overwhelmed? I generally have avoided trying to make over my life every January and have instead opted to start thinking more about the state and quality of my life. I use January as a time to reflect upon the previous year, not rush into the future. Did I connect with family and friends last year? Did I treat my body right? If I answered no, then I’d think about what small ways I could make changes in my life so that I could improve the overall quality in the coming year.
These are no pressure approaches by the way. Being a business owner I have enough deadlines so the thought of adding to that list makes me cringe, so I look at these as fun assignments I will give myself and allow the space to let them happen. I also think of them as ways to incorporate more self-care into the day to day.
When I looked at 2018, I realized that while I was building new parts of my business, I wasn’t leaving much time to spend with friends and family. So for 2019, my assignment is to have more casual get-togethers at home. Nothing requiring lots of advanced planning, but an excuse to sit, eat and drink, and enjoy the company of friends and family. And I’ve already planned my first one with a longtime friend I feel like I barely got to see last year.
We’re calling it brunch, but really it’s an excuse to eat some pastries, buy some fresh flowers, and have some brunch cocktails. This is my ideal self-care weekend date.
We’ve teamed up with Truvia® to help plan a brunch cocktail for two with their Natural Sweetener packets. You just need one packet, split between two friends, to get the ideal amount of sweetness in your brunch cocktail (One packet provides the same sweetness as two teaspoons of sugar). Truvia Natural Sweetener packets are zero-calories and made from stevia leaf extract. The packets are also convenient to carry around, in case your get-together involves a park or a camping trip (if that’s the way you do casual!).
For our cocktail we’ll make use of the delicious, seasonal citrus fruit that is everywhere right now. I’ve always loved how citrus is a winter fruit, bringing a burst of sunshine into all those grey, winter days. Hopefully this cocktail, made with citrus distilled gin, orange blossom water, lemon bitters, club soda, and Truvia sweetener, will bring a little sunshine into your day. It also goes very well with a pastry plate.
Now let’s get brunching!
3 ounces gin, a new American style with citrus notes will work best
1 Truvia Natural Sweetener packet (if you prefer your drinks on the sweeter side, then you can use up to one packet per person)
1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
2 dashes lemon bitters
1/2 cup various citrus fruit segments such as Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges, clementines and kumquat halves
6 ounces club soda, chilled
In a shaker filled 2/3 with ice, pour in gin, the Truvia Natural Sweetener packet, freshly squeezed orange juice, orange blossom water, and lemon bitters. Shake well for 20 seconds and divide between two flutes. Add in your citrus of choice and top with chilled club soda. Cheers!
Today I bring you a weekend cocktail. A festive, fir tree scented drink you can sip on as you bake cookies, or wrap gifts, or use as a palate cleanser between licking all those damn holiday cards you still haven’t got out in the mail yet.
Wait… did she say fir tree scented???
Yes! You might be familiar with eau de vie spirits made from fruit, but there is one that is made from pine buds. I have three favorite scents in this world: lilac, wood smoke, and fir trees. So the first time I saw this brandy I went absolutely nuts over it and immediately started making drinks (see here and here). I bring it out during the winter months because that’s when I associate this particular smell, and it makes me a little homesick for the New England winters. And then I remember trying to de-ice a windshield in below freezing temperatures and driving my car into a snowbank one year and I snap right out of that fantasy.
So yes, it’s another groan-inducing variation on a Negroni; a twist on a twist as this stems from a White Negroni. But really, you can call it a Holiday Fir Tree Cocktail for all I care, but what I do want you to do is drink this, especially if you’ve never tried a spirit like this before.
For this drink, stick with a dry or extra dry vermouth, you want a little less residual sugar in there so that the fir tree aroma and flavor stands out. This is on the slightly less bitter side than a classic Negroni, as Bitter Bianco is used, which adds some citrus and delicate floral notes that really work with the pine forest effect of the eau de vie.
Totally optional, but I had a lot of fun garnishing the drink with what looked like snowy tree branches. If you’re trying to impress guests and want a festive garnish, go ahead and add these to the drink. It’s just powdered sugar and rosemary. I’ve made a note on making these following the recipe. Keep in mind though that rosemary imparts its own strong aroma, which can work here, but I would present the drink with the garnish and then remove before imbibing.
3/4 ounce gin, London Dry style
3/4 ounce Bitter Bianco
3/4 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce Douglas Fir brandy
optional: “snowy branch” garnish (how to follows recipe)
In a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice, pour in the gin, Bitter Bianco, dry vermouth and Douglas Fir brandy. Stir 20 seconds to combine. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally garnish with a “snowy branch”.
To make the “snowy branches”, take a cleaned rosemary sprig and coat lightly with egg whites using a silicone pastry brush. Shake off any excess liquid and immediately dip into a shallow bowl filled with about a 1/4″ of powdered sugar. Swirl the rosemary sprig around to coat and let dry. Once dry, use a garnish on your cocktail. Also looks cute on a some baked cake!
First, 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.
This 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…
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.