Serendipity is one of the best parts of the blogosphere.
Great example: earlier this week, I received a kind comment from the blogger behind Dr. By Day, about the Dragonfire cocktail. “Very nice,” he wrote. “I was looking for a decent protocol for handling habañero’s [sic].”
In real life, the odds of Dr. By Day and I meeting are slim at best; it’s hard to gather the details from his blog, but it appears that he’s a Los Angeles-based PhD candidate studying chemistry, and cocktail enthusiast with a tolerance for the spicy stuff. But thanks to the wonder of the online world, he has access to my cocktail library, and I have access to his.
And though limited, what a fun library it is. He’s got a great instinct for concocting drink recipes as well as drink photography – take a look at his ginger-y Oh Snap, the jalapeno-spiked Amoxicillin (yep, he’s entrenched in the medical world), and especially, the beautiful Red Queen, made with London dry gin, Peychaud’s bitters, peppercorn simple syrup, and fresh basil leaves. Seriously, that photo looks like a blossoming rose.
photo credit: Dr. By Day
I suppose it makes sense that cocktailing and chemistry would intersect. And it makes me happy that clear across the country, some giddy, over-tired student sees inspiration to make habanero-infused simple syrup as a great excuse to steal gloves from the lab. You go, Dr. By Day!
Like the hot stuff? Then you’re going to want to get your hands on the following products.
(And no, I have not been paid or otherwise compensated to mention any of these brands…or any others on this blog, for that matter. These are my opinions. Period.)
Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur: This tingly liqueur in the iridescent bamboo-shaped bottle has just the faintest hit of ginger-y heat, and blends seamlessly into cocktails. Imbibed in petite shots, this the perfect way to indoctrinate everyone you know into spicy drinks. I’d rate this one mild to harmless.
Mazama Infused Pepper Vodka: What do you mean you haven’t tried it yet? What the heck are you waiting for? Created by Oregon’s Bendistillery, the vodka is infused with a blend of six different hot and sweet peppers. The web site recommends blending it with mango juice and a dash of sugar. Sounds good to me. Rating: medium to hot.
Tanteo Chocolate Tequila: Think the rougher, tougher side of chocolate mole. I’ll be honest: the jalapeno infusion is a little brutal even for my daredevil taste, and I’d gladly see it toned down a bit so the chocolate can shine through more clearly. But at the bottom of it all, it’s a smooth tequila, and would be awesome in a spicy chocolate margarita, so it makes my shortlist. The marketing literature describes the flavor as “roasted”; I concur. Rating: HOT STUFF, handle with caution.
Modern Spirits Celery Peppercorn Vodka: It’s not just that Modern Spirits is an artisanal brand. It’s not just that the bottles and the labels are so very pretty. It’s not even just that they also own the organic Tru brand. To me, it’s all about the fact that this is a product that seems custom-made for adding to a Bloody Mary. They’ve somehow managed to capture the elusive freshness of celery stalks, and the peppercorn notes don’t overpower either. It’s delicate but not flabby. Rating: a very lovely medium.
Hangar One Chipotle Vodka – This is a limited edition product made with Fresno chile peppers, and I suspect it will sell out very shortly (let’s hope they plan to make more!). I spotted some on the shelf at Astor Wines & Spirits; it won’t be there for long. Check out the video of Hangar One’s Lance Winters on distilling chipotle peppers– he neatly sums up what’s wrong with many pepper-infused liquors (but none of the ones above): “all they are is hot & spicy, there’s no other identity of the pepper.” Amen to that. Rating: medium to hot.