This article was going to talk about out-of-the-box cocktail ingredients. After some consideration, however, I found the topic too far fetched. Who’s going to boil barley to create barley juice and blend almonds into milk or brew jasmine tea in Meyer lemon juice?
So I decided it should be about how to use basic, local ingredients to make delicious cocktails. Last weekend I got some local ingredients, two bottles of Thai rum and a friend. I was sure that we would crank out at least six different simple and delicious cocktails in a couple of hours.
Alas, we learned that creating a good cocktail is far from easy. Crushed pomelo with simple syrup, rum and ice tastes mostly of rum and very little of pomelo. Green tea with tamarind paste and a splash of rum over shaved ice was nothing short of a train wreck. And coconut water with rum tastes like an alcoholics version of coconut water. We tried a couple of other combinations but I’ll spare you the horrific details.
My delusions of grandeur led me to a very messy coffee table but to no delicious drinks. My mission was collapsing and I wouldn’t have much to report about except for my failures.
Then someone threw the word tom yam around. As in, why don’t we make a tom yam cocktail? I had made lemongrass and ginger syrup. We also had coconut milk and lime. The ginger would have to replace the galangal.
We put together lemongrass syrup, ginger syrup, juice of half a lime, coconut milk and the rum. At some point somebody had the idea to put Thai basil in it too. The whole thing went in the blender. To our surprise the concoction tasted delicious.
Dear reader, I failed miserably to give you six simple but delicious cocktails but succeeded in giving you one complex yet delicious cocktail. We called it the flying turtle, because of its greenish color. Although if any of you have a better name for it please let us know. Here’s how you make it.
The Flying Turtle
-juice of half a lime
-1 part lemongrass syrup (Boil equal amounts of sugar and water together with a lot of chopped lemongrass and let simmer for 40 minutes. Keep in the fridge.)
-1 part ginger syrup (Boil equal amounts of sugar and water together with a lot of chopped ginger and let simmer for 40 minutes. Keep in the fridge.)
-2 parts dark rum
-2 parts coconut milk
-a handful of fresh Thai basil leaves
-a lot of (preferably shaved) ice
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till you have a smooth and frothy drink, finish it by sprinkling some dried chili flakes on top. Please try it. I promise it’s delicious and I promise to write about other people’s cocktails in the future instead of my own.
Article by Alexander Eeckhout