Skip navigation

Tag Archives: stirrings

Saturday, May 7, 2011

I’m sure by now you know that Animal Kingdom won the Kentucky Derby yesterday.  And I’m nearly as sure that if you had any interest in race at all that you had a mint julep while you watched it, wearing your best party hat, of course.  Gwen and I also settled in to watch the race, and yes, she did have a party hat on.  We also had mint juleps, but not your traditional julep.

Juleps were originally developed as medicinal “tonics” to cure whatever might be ailing you during the 15th century.  A mixture of herbs, sugar and water, eventually alcoholic ingredients such as brandy or Cognac were introduced.  Over time mint became the herb used in juleps and then in the late 1800’s Kentucky bourbon become the choice of liquor to use.  Thus, the modern mint julep was born. 

As with most classic cocktails, there are certain standards and controversy about how to make a proper mint julep.  If you really want to be proper you will use a silver julep cup.  Using a julep cup allows the outside surface to become frosted over from the ice in the cup and adds a touch of elegance.  However, if you don’t have a julep cup (I don’t) you can use any tall cocktail glass.  I used a collins glass for mine on Saturday. 

The second point of contention in the making of a mint julep is just where and how the mint is used.  Some will simply garnish the julep with a large bunch of mint leaves extending from the top of the glass.  This presentation gives you a nice scent of mint with each sip of the julep.  Others will muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass before adding the ice and bourbon.  And what do I do?  Why, both of course! 

I do enjoy a good julep, especially on Derby day.  However, this year I decided to make a variation of the mint julep to provide a bit more flavor.  Here’s my recipe for a Peachy Mint Julep.

  Peachy Mint Julep

  • 5-6 mint leaves
  • 1 bar spoon powdered sugar
  • 1/4 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 4 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon

In the bottom of a collins glass gently muddle the mint with the sugar and peach liqueur.  Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the bourbon.  Stir to mix and chill using a bar spoon.  Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves extending above the rim of the glass and serve with a straw.

The Stirrings Peach Liquer adds just a hint of peach flavor and sweetness to complement the mint and the charcoal, smokey notes of the Maker’s Mark.  This is particularly a good way to get your non-bourbon drinking friends to try a julep since it is a bit mellower than a traditional julep.

Cheers!

Day 321, Cocktails 326 & 327

Last Saturday, after the couple of tiki cocktails that I had whipped up, the girls were ready for something different.  There’s been a bit of a buzz over the last year for cocktails that are mixed with tea (and for liquor bottled with tea) that I’ve largely ignored.  However, with a couple of adult beverages already in me, my inhibitions were lowered and I decided to give tea based cocktails a try.

For this effort I pulled out my bottle of Evan Williams bourbon and my Stirrings Peach liqueur.  These are two flavors that go well together and also seemed a natural to go with a Southern inspired tea based cocktail – particularly since I’d be using Gwen’s sweet tea.  After fooling around with the bourbon, peach liqueur, tea and maple syrup (yes, that’s right, maple syrup – it adds depth to the flavor profile)  I settled on two versions of the same cocktail.  One is sweeter and one is more boozy, thus fitting Gwen’s and my tastes.

  Sweet Peach Tea

  • 1-1/2 oz Evan Williams bourbon
  • 1/8 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 4 oz sweet tea

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to chill and combine.  Pour into a collins glass, adding ice if needed.  Garnish with a peach slice.

This drink has a nice, sweetly mellow flavor.  I really had to cut down on the peach liqueur, having started with 1/2 oz.  Even that small amount overwhelmed the drink.  However, for my taste, this was a bit too sweet, so I adjusted it for my taste.

  Peach Tea

  • 2 oz Evan Williams bourbon
  • 1/8 oz Stirrings Peach Liqueur
  • 1/4 oz maple syrup
  • 4 oz sweet tea

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously to chill and combine.  Pour into a collins glass, adding ice if needed.  Garnish with a peach slice.

This version gets closer to the boozy cocktails that I prefer while still maintaining all its southern charm.  With more bourbon and less tea there is a deeper, smokier quality and the maple notes come through stronger as well, which make a nice compliment to the bourbon and peach.

By the time we got through these cocktails it was definitely time to call it a night…which, of course, we didn’t do.  The cocktail experimenting was definitely over though!

Cheers!

Day 225, Cocktails 222 & 223

Nothing like watching Monday Night Football with a win for your fantasy football team already in the books.  Except watching Monday Night Football with the number one seed already locked up for my fantasy football team!

As I watched the game I contemplated what to drink.  I was in the mood to use the Stirrings Peach Liqueur I had recently acquired, but didn’t know what.  I quick check of the Stirrings website didn’t really anything that excited me.  They had a few cocktail recipes that used the peach liqueur, but not very many and nothing that looked simple.  Not that complicated would normally deter me, but I was tired and wanted this to be easy.

So after a few minutes of thought I decided on Maker’s Mark as my base.  Peach flavors and bourbon work well together, so I knew this would be reasonably safe.  But I did want to push the envelope a bit and after a lot of bottle sniffing (doesn’t everbody sniff bottles of booze?) I settled on Domaine de Canton for my third flavor. 

My first effort was 2 oz of Maker’s Mark, 1 oz of Stirrings Peach liqueur and 1/8 oz (one bar spoon) of the Domaine de Canton.  My first sip was nice – the peach was out first with bourbon just behind it.  The ginger flavor of the Canton was a subtle note on the tail, but it was there.  My first impression was, mmm, not bad.  However, as I sipped this over the next 30 minutes or so the sweetness of the Stirrings Peach began to overtake the cocktail.  By the time I was done it was too sweet and syrupy for my taste.  A reformulation was in order.

  Just Peachy

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3/4 oz Stirrings Peach liqueur
  • 1/8 oz Domaine de Canton liqueur

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Stir to chill and combine.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I liked this version much better.  The sweet component of the Stirrings Peach never takes over and the ginger of the Domaine de Canton actually comes through a bit more. 

As for my bottle sniffing, I do owe an explanation.  Taste is a matter of smell.  You taste what you smell (if you don’t believe me take a mouthful of whatever you want while holding your nose – you won’t taste a thing).  So, by holding two bottles together and smelling them I can get a pretty decent idea of how they will taste together.  Try it – you’ll be glad you did!

Cheers!

Day 215, Cocktails 209, 210 & 211

Ahh, the day after Thanksgiving.  It’s Black Friday (a day that sounds like the plague) and like lemmings, Gwen and I got up at 5:40 to head to the local Menard’s for their 6am opening and a $100 TV.  We figured who would be at a home improvement store that early?  Well, as we drove up, the parking lot was full and the line at the door extended for several hundred feet.  We kept right on driving and went back home.  Thus, for the 3rd time now I’ll again vow to never shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The day after Thanksgiving also means putting up the exterior decorations.  (The inside stuff is also going up, but that takes Gwen the whole weekend and then some).  It was a brisk, but sunny day as I pulled out the lights and ladders.  With Cookie’s help we banged it out in just a couple of hours and then admired the lights from the curb after it got dark.  It’s my first year replacing my old fashioned C9 bulbs with LED C9 bulbs.  I know I’ll save a ton of electricity, but they are just not the same.  I’m sure I’ll get used to them, it’ll just take some time.

With the lights up and a movie on after dinner, it was time for a cocktail.  Since I had just finished putting up the outdoor lights, Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold seemed like the perfect inspiration for a new drink.  Bourbon seemed like the ideal base.  Remember the scene after the squirrel attack when Clark asks his dad how he got through the holidays and his answer was that he had a lot of help from his friend Jack?  Well, I don’t have Jack but I do have bourbon.  But what to add with it?  Peach is a flavor that works well with bourbon.  I tried a mix of 2 oz Maker’s Mark, 1 oz Stirrings peach liqueur and a dash of Peychaud’s bitters.  Hmmm, even Gwen thought that this was too sweet.  We also agreed that this wasn’t very emblematic of Clark.  This one will go back in the hopper and I’ll play around with it in the future.

So, what would a Clark Griswold taste like.  We batted around a few ideas and decided it would be cherry and chocolate flavors.  Back to mixing I went and tried 2 oz Maker’s Mark, 1/2 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur and 1/4 oz Kahlua.  I know, Kahlua is coffee flavored, but it ends up tasting like chocolate to me when mixed with bourbon.  I tested this out on Gwen and she though the maraschino was too strong and that it was still too sweet.  I enjoyed it (big suprise there) but did agree that the maraschino overpowered the rest of the drink.

The third time was the charm.

  Clark Griswold

  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark bourbon
  • 3/8 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 oz Kahlua

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.  Garnish with a cherry.

We both enjoyed this one.  Even my mom thought it was good.  Just the right blend of bourbon with cherry and chocolate overtones from the maraschino and Kahlua.  So now every time we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation we’ll be able to enjoy our very own Clark Griswold.

Cheers!

Day 190, Cocktail 188

As much as I’d like to say yes, that hunk of burning love in the picture is not me…at least not yet (and I hope not ever!).  But what better way to introduce tonight’s cocktail than a hairy belly.  So have you guessed it yet?  No?  Ok, another hint…think orange and think cute and cuddly…got it yet?

If not, well, then here it is.

  Fuzzy Navel

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1 oz peach schnapps
  • 1 oz orange juice

Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake, shake, shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange slice.

The name is supposed to be evocative of both a peach (fuzzy) and an orange (navel).  That works since the drink itself is very much a tasty blend of peach and orange flavors.  I enjoyed it and it’s a fun drink to have once in a while.

A word about the schnapps.  For this cocktail (and others to come) I picked up my very first bottle of Stirrings brand schapps (not to mention my first every bottle of peach schnapps).  Up until now my use of Stirrings products has mostly consisted of their real grenadine.  I typically avoid their (and others) premixed cocktail mixers, prefering to make my own.  I do have to give them kudos for the schnapps.  It is light, not overly sweet and very well flavored.  I’ll be sticking with Stirrings for my schnapps in the future and look forward to more of their products.

Cheers!