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This post was made in partnership with The House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

I live in an old house. I’m in Southern California, so not that old like New England, or like, Rome. Ok, actually it’s only 50 years old so by those standards it’s pretty new. But anyways, when the house was bought it included things like appliances, and central air; these too were all old. 1980’s kinda old. And since they all did their jobs without much complaint not many were replaced. As the decade wore on they slowly started to die and everything now except the air conditioning unit, which is over 30 years old, has been replaced. This beast makes me tremble when the summer electric bill statement appears. I know the bill will be high. It’s always high this time of year. However, this thing just WILL.NOT.DIE. Every summer, usually when we hit peak highs and the thing is running 24/7, it breaks down. Home insurance gets called, 3 to 5 days later the machine is up and running again. Repeat the next summer.

I keep waiting for the repair man to finally come over and tell us, Sorry, this unit is done for and the home insurance to cough up the money to replace it. Because really, we’re not spending 10k+ ourselves on a whole new unit anytime soon. So when it gets this hot out, I simultaneously hope that it won’t blow out on us and cause the internal temperature of the house to go over 90 (that has happened to us a few times now) and also sorta want it to just DIE ALREADY so we can get a new, energy efficient model. The joys of home ownership…oy!

Well, I don’t know whether to chalk these scorching summer days up to climate change or just admit that Los Angeles is the desert and this is part of the package you get when you move here. Sure, you get warm, sunny days in January, but then you have to take those 100+° days in the summer (and early Fall). To help ease these heat-aches, I partnered with The House of Angostura for a chilly, boozy treat this week (and yes, just in time for #NationalIceCreamDay on 7/15).

Did you grow up eating/drinking ice cream floats? We didn’t get them all too often, but I do recall stopping by an A&W when I was a kid and having a root beer float. In retrospect, whichever family member took me and my sister there and gave two small children ice cream floats in the car to eat was a rather brave soul. Today we’re not only refining that childhood treat with some black cherry soda and super premium vanilla ice cream, we’re also adding in RUM. And bitters. And Luxardo cherries! All the good adult stuff but with enough kid stuff to still have a whiff of nostalgia.

The Angostura 7 Year Rum has lots of cinnamon and vanilla flavors that make it a great match for this boozy adult treat. I’ve added in the Angostura Bitters and their Orange Bitters to punch up the spice of the cherry soda and to cut through some of the sweetness. The orange aroma in the nose is an unexpected and pleasant surprise when you take your first sip. For something so fun like an adult ice cream float, I found this combination to be much more complex with lots of subtle flavors. It was also a great way to forget about the heat for just a little bit too. Fingers crossed that air conditioner makes it through one more summer.

Ready to dive into your own float? Let’s make one!

Angostura Rum & Black Cherry Soda Float

2 ounces Angostura 7 Year Rum
3 dashes Angostura Bitters
2-3 scoops vanilla ice cream
4 ounces Black Cherry Soda, chilled
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Orange slice and Luxardo cherries for garnish

In a mixing glass filled with ice, pour in rum and bitters. Stir to chill 20 seconds and strain into a soda glass. Add ice cream to glass and top with black cherry soda. Dash orange bitters on top and garnish with orange slice and cherries.

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

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Cocktails that stick with me tend to fall into two categories: those that tasted amazing and those that appealed to me visually. For example, I can tell you the first time I tasted bell pepper in a cocktail and fell in love with a whole new world of savory cocktails (Las Perlas in downtown L.A.). I can’t recall what it looked like, but I can remember how it tasted. I’ve gone to that flavor combination many times (and a few cocktail riffs have shown up on this website too).

And then there are those cocktails that, visually, wowed the pants off me. When I was in Chicago years ago for a trip I decided to pop over to The Aviary because a friend had recommended it. We went at opening and did not get a reservation as advised (Which seemed like such a crazy idea at the time. Oh how times have changed!) but lucked out and got a table with little wait. I can see the plastic bag filled with smoke, a cocktail glass hidden away within. I remember the small crack of opening the ice sphere that housed a cocktail. The feel of the paper bag wrapped glass bottle. But–– I could not tell you what any of these tasted like. I sat here and tried but it’s the memory of how they looked, more than taste, that has stuck with me.

Today I’m hoping to bridge that gap for you all with this newest cocktail. With flavors both familiar and a little outside the box, and a touch of theatrics in the garnish, this cocktail, which I’m calling The Purple Halo (that will make more sense later) is both tasty and a stunner to look at.

I’ve partnered again this week with Exotico Tequila, and long time favorite Mountain Valley Spring Water to make a cocktail you can impress your guests with all summer long. The base of the cocktail is Exotico Tequila Blanco, made from 100% blue agave and has a slightly spicy flavor profile that mixes really well here. I paired it with agave, lime, and fresh basil to play off its herbal notes. The cocktail then gets a good splash of Mountain Valley’s Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate Water. Mountain Valley has smaller bubbles, so it adds just a touch of effervescence to the drink without overpowering it. The all natural flavors also add subtle hints of flavor and don’t hijack your drink (or make it taste artificial) resulting in a nicely balanced cocktail.

While delicious on its own, I wanted you to also remember this visually, and that’s where butterfly pea flower tea comes in. If you’ve come across those color changing cocktails on Instagram, this is where they are getting their magic from. You don’t need to be a cocktail wizard to pull this trick off; you just need to be able to order online and make a cup of tea. I was introduced to this tea a few years back when I was still making cocktails with the local Los Angeles pop up The Coconut Club. We made a welcome Ti’ Punch that changed color before the guests’ eyes. They got a kick out of it; we got written up in the local paper. And now your guests will remember your drinks and talk about it for years to come (I cannot guarantee this). The tea changes color, from a dark cobalt to purple or pink, depending on the pH of the liquid you add to it. In this cocktail, the lime juice will start that color change as the ice cube of tea melts into the drink, creating rings of color in the glass.

The butterfly pea flower tea is very, very mild and with the slow dilution does not contribute significantly to the overall flavor of the drink… but it does look cool! So, if you don’t want another box of tea bags taking up real estate in your pantry, you can leave this out and enjoy the cocktail as is.

Ok, so let’s make something cool now!

The Purple Halo

1-1/2 cups Mountain Valley Spring Water
2 tea bags Butterfly Pea Flower Tea

1-1/2 ounces Exotico Tequila Blanco
5 basil leaves
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 ounce agave syrup
2 ounces Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate

basil leaf for garnish

  1. First, make the butterfly pea flower ice cubes by bringing 1 cup of Mountain Valley Spring Water to just under a boil. Add in tea bags and steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and let cool. Pour water into sphere molds and freeze overnight.
  2. To make the cocktail, remove ice spheres from molds and set aside. In the bottom of a shaker, muddle basil leaves with tequila. Fill shaker 2/3 with ice and then pour in lime juice and agave. Shake 20 seconds and strain into an oversized coupe or double rocks glass. Add butterfly pea flower ice sphere and top with Mountain Valley Sparkling Essence Blackberry Pomegranate. Garnish with basil leaf. Watch as the rings slowly start to form.

For more information on Exotico Tequila, please visit them at exoticotequila.com. For more information on Mountain Valley Water, please visit them at www.mountainvalleyspring.com

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It’s a three day weekend. Time to grab a watermelon, eat some frozen champagne and dress up like a cocktail!

It’s the official start of summer. So let’s tap a (watermelon) keg, freeze up the champagne (pops), and break out the patriotic bunting and vodka. You’re going to need some shades out there in that sun, so they might as well resemble your favorite cocktail. And if that’s too loud a statement, put your favorite spritz on your shoes instead.

1. Bunting 2. Cocktail Sunglasses 3. Aperol Spritz Shoes 4. Tiki Pin 5. Frozen Champagne Pop 6. Watermelon Keg 7. Watermelon Martini Pop 8. Star Swizzle Sticks 9. Crystal Head Vodka

Catch up on all the gift guides here!

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If you’ve been over to the Stir and Strain Instagram page lately (and if you haven’t, what are you waiting for?!), you might have noticed a colorful trend starting to appear down the page: tiki mugs!

I’ve been a long time collector of tiki mugs but what good is having a collection if you never take them out to admire them, right? So I thought I’d get a little personal and share some favorites every Monday until I feel like I’ve shared enough.

So, if you’re a lover of tiki mugs, soon-to-be lover of tiki mugs, or just get a voyeuristic kick out of looking at other people’s stuff (all you Hoarders show fans…I’m looking at you), then click on over to our Instagram, give us a follow, and oogle along with us every Monday.

And hey! It’s not just my mugs. I’m encouraging Stir and Strain fans to show off your mugs too by including the hashtag #sstikimugmondays on your posts so everyone gets a look!

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This post is brought to you by House of Angostura. Recipe and ideas are my own.

May is teeming with twofer drinking holidays and this weekend is another. Is Mother’s Day a drinking holiday? (This lady says YES!)

It’s also World Cocktail Day on Sunday, so I thought we would offer up this cocktail that could work for both holidays. It’s called Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail, a tea cocktail made with Angostura’s Amaro.

You might be asking yourself, “Mmm. I love amaro, but who is a Siegert and what does he have to do with this cocktail?” Well! In 1824, Dr. Johann Siegert produced his first aromatic bitters as a medicinal tincture designed to alleviate stomach ailments of soldiers while serving as the Surgeon General in Angostura, Venezuela. By 1850, Siegert was exporting This magical potion to England, the Caribbean, and United States. From there the manufacturing became a family business with his sons in Trinadad, and Angostura Bitters went on to win awards and become an integral part of cocktail culture to this day.

A fitting little tidbit as we celebrate World Cocktail Day with an ingredient that is as big a star in the cocktail world as the cocktails themselves. Now on to the drink!

Tea! Tea service! Mother’s Day! It’s also Mother’s Day on Sunday so we’re serving up a sparkling cocktail made with aromatic Earl Gray tea syrup. Combined with a little acidity from the lemon juice and the richly complex Amaro di Angostura, it’s layered with spices, subtle citrus and just a pop of effervescence from the tonic water. This cocktail would go great with brunch or listening to Mom tell you about how much better your other sibling is doing with their life. (OK, so maybe in that case you should have this drink.) Either way, it’s delicious. Enjoy!

Siegert’s Sparkling Cocktail

Earl Gray tea syrup:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 bags earl gray tea

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring sugar to a boil and then remove from heat. Immediately add tea bags to the simple syrup and let stand 15 minutes. Remove tea bags and discard. Let syrup cool and store in an airtight container for up to one month.

Cocktail:
2 oz Angostura Amaro
3/4 oz Earl Gray Tea Syrup
1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 oz tonic water
Garnish: lemon peel

In a shaker ⅔ filled with ice, add in Angostura Amaro, Earl Gray Tea Syrup, and lemon juice. Shake 20 seconds and strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Pour in tonic water and stir gently to combine. Garnish with lemon peel.

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

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Forever on the lookout for ways to decorate my home bar and bar cart, I came across these new cocktail prints from Art & Hue recently and had to share.

I, like many of us (as the Mad Men phenomenon has us believe), am enamored with that mid-60’s Golden Age of flying. The luxury, the glamor, the booze! These colorful prints from Art & Hue highlight bits of architecture from modernist airports (like LAX’s iconic shapes), as well as pop art styled air hostesses and in-flight services.

These prints got the spirit of that era down. And the best part? You can order custom color combos to match your home bar’s decor. Me? I think I’m a big fan of the cobalt and blush.

Online at artandhue.com/jetset

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